My Whit’s End Book Club–Book Review–Good Book Lists

Honey for a Child's Heart

I love to read, but I love to read good books.  I wrote the following for my My Whit’s End Page, but I included it here.  It describes my love for reading.

Books are part of my heartbeat.  My thoughts, feelings, and language have been molded by them.  I buy books by the arm load and have trouble parting with most of them–except to give to a fellow book lover.  Of course THE BOOK is the Word of GOD.  Above a book it is GOD’s message.  Divinely inspired and living.

I was privileged to hear one of my favorite authors speak The Alexander McCall-Smith of “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.”  I was in love with his books, but when he came out in a kilt, I feel in love with him.  It has to do with my Scottish roots; I am sure.  Alexander McCall-Smith was asked which book had most influenced his writing, and his answer was, “the Anglican Hymnbook.”  My answer to the same question would have to be “the King James version of the Bible.”  I grew up with “thees” and “thous” and “hither to fors.”  I love the richness of the language of the King James Version of the Bible.

The second two books that have become a part of the rhythm of my thoughts is Kipling and Joel Chandler Harris.  I was a MK (missionary kid) and I remember my mom reading “On the banks of the great grey-green, greasy, Limpopo River all set about with feber-trees sat an Elephant’s Child. . .” the day we drove to the Brazilian Botanical Gardens.  The book came alive through the reading and became concreted in my thoughts when we toured the Botanical Gardens.   So if you hear me say, “O Best Beloved” or “‘satible curiosity”, it’s the Kipling rhythm coming out.

My mother often read aloud to us, and being born and raised in the South she could read with a southern dialect when the writing required it.  And so, we were introduced to Uncle Remus and Brer Bear, Brer Fox, and Brer Rabbit.  If I ever slip into a southern drawl and use some southern talk, it is Uncle Remus holler’n at me ‘cross the years.  He sure like to spin his yarns on summer porches and winter fi-airs.

I met another fellow book lover in the book Honey For a Child’s Heart.  A friend gave me her much underlined copy, and I added my own highlights, then I passed the book on.  I bought another copy, and pass that copy along as well.  I don’t actually know how many copies I have passed on, but each one was handed over to another book lover with much love.  Let me tell you why I love the book, Honey For A Child’s Heart so much.


This book is actually a book list–which means it contains a list of good books for kids.  And I love her book suggestions.  But what drew me to this book is the first six chapters in which she explains, why we need good books, what makes a good book, and then her list of good books.  Here are some of my favorite quotes.

In books we meet friends:

“We knew about Eeyore, Pooh, Piglet, Owl and Christopher Robin.  We had met them in a book together and our life would always be richer because they had become our friends.  To this day I feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t made their acquaintance.” p. 13

Through good vocabulary we enrich our world.

“Somehow a limited, poverty-stricken vocabulary works toward equally limited use of ideas and imagination.  On the other hand, the provocative use of the right words, of a growing vocabulary gives us adequate material with which to clothe our thought and leads to a richer world of expression.” p. 15

“Chatter does not enrich; the right words do.” p. 15

Books give us experiences

“Facing failures and tragedies with the characters of a story may vicariously give children the experience of courage and loyalty.  Weeping with some and rejoicing with others–this is the beginning of a compassionate heart.” p. 20

Good books build.

“Great literature has a way of building people.” p. 21

“Good literature teaches more than we know.  Example always speaks louder than precept, and books can do more to inspire honor and tenacity of purpose than all the scoldings and exhortations in the world.”  p. 54

Good books plant seeds in the heart.

“. . .instead of pouring out so much knowledge on a child;s soul that it is crushed, we should instead plant a seed of an idea that will develop from the inside.” p. 40

Reading aloud a good book is a binding experience.

“It’s lonely not to have someone else share a book which has touched you in some way.  Family closeness is not suddenly developed when children reach a certain age; it must begin from the first.” p. 53

The final chapters of Gladys Hunt’s book is filled with short descriptions of many, many, many books.  It shouldn’t be used as a check list, but more as a treasure chest of information.  A place to discover new authors and artists–because illustrations are very important.  Honey for A Child’s Heart’s book list is separated into rough reading levels.

Books Children Love (Revised Edition): A Guide to the Best Children's Literature


Another good book list for read-aloud books is Books Children Love by Elizabeth Laraway Wilson.  Her booklist is organized differently that Honey for A Child’s Heart.  Elizabeth Wilson’s book list is divided by subjects.  Each book is given a short write-up that includes the approximate reading level.  Her chapters include: . . .(I will list one book she recommends under each subject just to whet your appetite.)

  • Animals–Village of the Elephants by Jeremy Schmidt
  • Art and Architecture–A Praire Boy’s Einter by William Kurelek
  • Bible/Spiritual and Moral Teaching–The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
  • Biography–The Kidnapped Prince:  The Life of Olaudah Equiano adapted by Ann Cameron
  • Celebration Days and Seasons–The Kids’ Winter Handbook by Jane Drake and Ann Love
  • Crafts, Hobbies and Domestic Arts–My Family Tree Workbook: Genealogy for Beginners by Rosemary Chorzempa
  • Dance and Drama and Other Performances–Frogs and the Ballet by Donald Elliott
  • Growing Plants, Outdoor and Indoors–Garden Crafts for Kids by Diane Rhoades
  • History and Geography–The Small Woman by Alan Burgess
  • Humor–Ballpoint Bananas and Other Jokes for Kids by Charles Keller
  • Language–The Day Eddie Met the Author by Louise Borden
  • Literature Level I–Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
  • Literature Level II–The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden
  • Literature Level III–A Gathering of Days by Joan W. Blos
  • Anthologies–The Children’s Book of Virtues edited by William J. Bennett
  • Poety and Rhymes–Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O’Connell-George
  • Mathematics–Twenty Is Too Many by Kate Duke
  • Miscellaneous–Look-Alikes by Joan Striner
  • Music–Hush Little Baby: A Folk Song with Picture illustrated by Marla Frazee
  • Nature and Science and Technology–Wild and Swampy:  Exploring with Jim Arnosky by Jim Arnosky
  • Outdoor Activities–other than group games–Handmade Secret Hiding Places by Nonny Hogrogian
  • Physical Education and Organized Games–The Hockey Book for Girls by Stacy Wilson
  • Reference and Research/Study Skills–The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events by Bernard Grunn
  • Special Needs–Don’t Feel Sorry for Paul by Bernard Wolf
  • Supplemental Teaching Resources–Trash Artists Workshop by Linda Allison

WHEW! that list is about all-inclusive.

And since my oldest boy just turned 12, I figured I had better get Honey For a Teen’s Heart.  I was reading the first chapter and these two quotes hit home with me.

“We can strip the knight of his armor, to reveal that he looks exactly like us, or we can try on the armor ourselves to experience how it feels.  Fiction provides an ideal opportunity to try on the armor.”  C.S. Lewis

“Pop culture “strips the knight of his armor,” as C.S. Lewis observed. . .It reduces everything to its lowest lever.  Teens lose the vision of what they could be, of what they were meant to be, created in God’s image.  Our thesis is that good books allow a young person to try on the armor and see what it feels like to be a knight.” p. 21

One last list.  Here is a book list I found on a South African Homeschooler’s blog.  This summer I printed it out and we tried to read some books off the list.  What I found is that many of the books that looked intriguing were by British authors and therefore a little difficult to find.  This made the quest all the more intriguing.  Thankfully, our librarians are very helpful and don’t mind filling out Inter Library Loan forms.  Enjoy.

Of course not everyone will love the same books.  Not everyone will agree with every book included in these lists.  I am just passing them along as I find them helpful when buying books or checking books out in the library.  Glady’s Hunt makes the point that “children don’t stumble upon good books by accident”, but they must be presented–usually with the words “I loved this book!”

Happy Reading,


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9 Responses to My Whit’s End Book Club–Book Review–Good Book Lists

  1. Bel McCoy says:

    Librarians are usually so very helpful, and that the books are FREE makes it a great place!!


  2. Kelly K says:

    I discovered Gladys Hunt’s book about 5 years ago; such a treasure. I think I’ll take your suggestion and try the teen book, for my 13-year-old 10-year-old!


  3. Susan says:

    Read Gladys Hunt’s book a couple years ago. I think I will request both your recommended books from the library. Thanks for sharing.


  4. pJ says:

    Thanks for all the great ideas!


  5. Kathy Tanner says:

    my favorite reads lately are cookbooks. I ordered one you suggested last summer and i just kept adding to my collection. I do entertain quite a bit – my favorite guests are ladies. They appreciate any new and different detail ..from the invitations to the farewell. My next party is coming up in January. It is especially for those of us who love cherry cake ( formerly called fruit cake ). But I am rambling. The book I am viewing on the table in front of me… For God So Loved the World. by Dandi Mackall. I shared it with our oldest grandkids on their last visit. John 3:16. Need I say more. Bless you lots, Kathy


  6. Penny says:

    One more comment – I recently got to read “Mrs. Mike” by Benedict & Nancy Freedman, and it was SO amazing. Touching, raw, true, loving. Definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it yet!


    • whitsendmom says:

      OH! Loved that book! I read the sequel as well about their Eskimo daughter. Still, Mrs. Mike is truly a classic! Thanks for reminding me, maybe a reread is in order this summer.


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