The Gospel of Madeleine L’Engle

I realize the subject matter of this post is a little off the beaten track for the Hope Blog. A friend recently described the growing influence of occult and paranormal  themes in children’s literature.  A trip to the children’s section of any bookstore will show just how true this is.  Like many parents, I have witnessed an acceleration of this in recent years.

The Gospel of Madeleine L’Engle is written by Claris Van Kuiken, an author and researcher I have known for over 25 years. While it is off the beaten track for my blog here, the spiritual nature of the subject matter makes it highly relevant.  One of the early children’s authors to blatantly introduce occult concepts and terms to children was the late Madeleine L’Engle.  The article details just how extensive these ideas are within her books, both for children and adults.  For Christian parents, it’s worth knowing.



Book Treasures for Children


Emily reading a very old book from my friend, Donna. We treasure it.

Emily with a very old book from my friend, Donna. We treasure it.

My mother gave me my love for reading. We didn’t have a TV until we were much older, so she read aloud to us from her brown, upholstered rocking chair that had seen better days. As girls, Mom read to my sister, Lisa, and me from Anne of Green Gables, Mandy, The Secret Garden, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, the entire Little House series, and many more. She also bought us books for Christmas every year, some of which I still have on my shelf.


Those are cherished memories with my sweet mother, and I will always be grateful she introduced me to wonderful children’s literature.

Our youngest is now reading some of the Little House books and visits my bookshelves of children’s literature I have saved through the years from our older children. She pulls them off the shelf and asks me what each book is about. I look forward to her getting to know all my old friends.

I came across this post from the Deep Roots at Home blog. The author gives 100+ book titles, age-appropriately listed, for your children or grandchildren. She writes:

We are all aware that there is a battle raging in our culture for the minds and hearts of our children, but how do we as parents prepare them to live in the world? How do we teach values and build character at home on a day to day basis to equip them for a lifetime?

One of the best ways is to choose and read books that will champion and uphold what is noble, good, right and true. Most of these will be found at your library, or you can request they get it in for you, but I’ve also included Amazon links so you can see what the book looks like and read reviews, etc.

The author has compiled  a fantastic book list, and it is right in line with the literature used at our youngest daughter’s school. (I can’t say enough about the classical approach to education. No reading textbooks, just real books! But that’s another post.)

In our post-literate age when being able to read well and understand can’t be taken for granted anymore, we must give our children not only the treasures of literature, but pass on the essential values the books convey.

Dad and Emmy reading before bed. Christmas 2014

Dad and Emmy reading before bed. Christmas 2014

Reading to Little Ones: Let Them Reach Up

windinthewillowsThis morning as I got my kindergartner ready for school, it hit me how much she is learning just through our conversations. The array of subjects covered is mind-boggling. Every day it is something new. Every few minutes, a fresh question, a new thought, a just-crafted knock-knock joke.

I have always believed that if you use a varied vocabulary in speaking with children, they will fill their mental storehouse with words they can use all of their lives. I have always loved words and language.  I found a box of vocabulary words once when I was young and played a game of memorizing new words. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how many of those words stayed with me and served me well in my work.

When reading to young children, we sometimes avoid reading words we think our children will not grasp. They may not grasp the words immediately, but by context and with explanation, they are hearing the words and learning.

I have told my own children that if they ever encounter a word they don’t know, they should look it up immediately and try to use it in the next few days. After that, they own that word.

Both of our grandchildren, Peter and Max, are highly verbal. Peter is not yet three and has an astonishing vocabulary and way of using words. His parents read good books to him, and his vocabulary reflects that. Max is right behind him.

I have just begun reading Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham to Emily. It is rich language, somewhat above where her comprehension is. But we are taking our time. She loves the characters and gets the thrust of the story from my explanations for those things she doesn’t understand. She is hearing the language and learning so much.

Last week, I came across an article (Thanks Judi) that addresses the importance of explaining up, rather than dumbing down what we read to children. Literacy begins at home in the earliest months of a child’s life. Conversation laced with evocative and descriptive language and good children’s literature all serve to increase a child’s vocabulary and understanding.

Here is the article, Explain Up, Don’t Dumb Down: Why Little Kids Need Big Words

Here is Emmy from last May. I came into her bedroom to find her “reading” to her friends. And yes, I cannot believe how she has grown this last year!