I love Januarys. They usher in the new year with all it's fresh starts and possibilities. I'm learning not to make a hundred resolutions (which I fail to accomplish in the first week), but to prayerfully consider how God would like me to use the time he's given.
In January, I evaluate and reprioritize my life. It encourages me to know I can make alterations. For me, this process always includes a booklist. Just like new stationery motivates me to write letters, the written word inspires me to change.
During our homeschooling years, I was always reading about six books at a time - devotionals, biographies, and historical fiction with the kids, as well as instructional non-fiction for me (like The Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer or The Heart of Homeschooling by Christopher Klicka).
Although I'm no longer homeschooling, I still categorize my booklist - devotionals, non-fiction, children's and young adult fiction (so I have something to talk about with young people), and fiction (for fun).
As you journey into 2020 and make alterations of your own, why not add a couple of books to the mix. Here are some which have brought me joy and encouragement.
Non-Fiction: (A)Typical Woman by Abigail Dodds surprised by motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker
Children's and YA: The Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones Quinn's Promise Rock by Christie Thomas The Door Within by Thomas Batson
Fiction: At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers
Happy New Beginnings!
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)
Books Recommended by Younger Readers*
Reviewed by Nicholas F., Age 7
The Biggest House in the World by Leo Lionni:
The Biggest House in the World is about a slug who wanted to be big, but his dad tells him a story of why he shouldn’t have a big house. I like the colors and the pointy things on his shell and I like the story. If I were a snail, I would like to have a small shell.
Lionni, Leo. The Biggest House in the World. Dragonfly, 2012.
* We'd love to hear from your children! Send us reviews of your favorite picture books and we'll post them in future editions of the KidLit Journal. Please include: Title and Author, Reviewer Name and Age, One paragraph Synopsis and Recommendation. Send toKidlitjournal@gmail.com.
Winter Where I Am
KidLit Author, Bethany Den Boer Michigan
Bethany is a wife and mother of three young children. She has a passion for children and teaching them to love Jesus. Bethany writes devotionals for Keys for Kids, teaches Sunday School, and speaks at her daughter’s kindergarten chapel. She's always looking for opportunities to share God’s love with children.
Yesterday was 45 degrees in Michigan. A dark, heavy fog the smothered the city and hid the sun. While it covered everything in fine, wet mist, the warmer temps melted the snow into icy, wet mud puddles all over our yard and streets. Needless to say, it was a gross day.
But, in the middles of this messy, muddy day, my kids were delighted. They threw off their coats in the ‘hot’ weather, splashed in puddles, dried off the swings and slides, and slid right into the mud. Although they were a muddy mess, they enjoyed every minute of it.
It is hard not to smile as my children find delight in the winter mess. Michigan has many of these days. Almost always cloudy, the weather fluctuates from freezing, snowy days, to warmer muddy days. It is hard not to complain, feel depressed and crabby.
Yet, even as I hated going outside yesterday, my children reminded me to find delight and grace in all the messiest circumstances. Even on the darkest days, God is present and gives us reason to delight in him.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV
KidLit Author, Belinda Grimbeek
Originally born and raised in South Africa, Belinda has recently been replanted in North Carolina, where the mix of southern accents is almost as interesting as the stories surfacing in the fresh mountain air. She feels extremely blessed to be loved by her hubby and shared among her three amazing children. Writing and illustrating Picture Books for children ages 4-8 has been a growing passion since 2006 and Belinda hopes that her stories will engage children with heart and humor. Belinda’s current work in progress is a story about fostering, a topic close to her heart. RED’S NEST is set for an April 2020 publication.
Winter calls out cold whispers in white snowflakes and wispy winds.
Winter seems harsh, lying dead in dormancy,
But deep below, in hidden chambers,
Winter cradles the seed and the frosty root.
She’s often misunderstood,
It matters not to her.
She works in dark, thankless, hours.
To present life once more for Spring.
Then, to disappear at thaw,
Forgotten at the sight of bloom.
It matters not to her,
That neither seed nor root felt her care, or even knew she was there.
Winter takes her bow, slips down into earth’s dark rock.
She will know when again to wake,
To do the task none would take.
I love this poem because it makes me contemplate winter differently. I am struck by the idea that winter is perhaps the most unappreciated season of all.
Active birds and bees in spring, stunning flowers in summer, and colorful leaves in autumn all divert my attention. Once the leaves die and fall and the distant hills become prominent, the earth seems to sleep.
It makes me think about other things which take place in the background, in unseen places, like healing, processing, changing, and growing.
We are eager for seasons of hurt or change or difficulty to be over. But after reading this poem, I can appreciate - a little more - how our own seasons of winter are necessary and actually, very, very good.
I love how poems lead us along a path of discovery. As you read this poem, winter may take on a new meaning for you as well.
KidLit Author, Laura Ann Miller Florida
Laura is a published author, photographer, and artist. She combines her artistic abilities with photographic talents to create whimsical writings for children's books and thoughtful posts on her blog at LauraAnnMiller.net.
Winter Where Are You?
By Laura Ann Miller
The evergreen is not one tree
But plants and grass and palm frond leaf
The holly berry does not grow
Does not contrast through whitest snow
The clouds provide no snow, no sleet
The sun shines down abundant heat
The shovel does not press heavy in my hand
This plastic toy carries only tiny grains of sand
No pair of boots, no scarf, no wooly hat
My towel under an umbrella is spread out flat
Winter, where are you?
No darkness, no chill, no icy powers
I’ll stay right here, in this land full of flowers
Ponce de Leon landed on the shores of the sunshine state in 1513 and named this place la Florida, meaning flowery or full of flowers. And it’s true! Florida is full of flowers all year long!
I used to miss the changing of seasons when I first moved down here twenty-three years ago, but I’ve come to love and appreciate the beauty of this ever-green and lush place.
Summer and fall can be brutally hot and humid, but when winter comes it is a gift to live here. If you’re in need of a little sunshine and some tropical moods this winter follow me over on Instagram. I’d love to share the warmth with you! @lauraannmiller
KidLit Author, Nicole Lisa Schrader Florida
Nicole Lisa loves writing for children. She is a retired homeschool mother of three and currently lives in central Florida with her husband and English bulldog.
She reads to and with children and actively encourages mothers of young children online, in homeschool groups, churches, and in her community. Nicole incorporates humor with purpose.
Her first picture book, Darwin Finds Freedom, will be released in May 2020!
Over the years I've encountered a great deal of concern regarding the socialization of my homeschooled children, but truly stay-at-home-moms are the ones at risk of being unsocialized.
You too may be in need of socialization, if you:
Wear the same clothes for days in a row
Have a dazed expression on your face by 3pm
Stare blankly in response to “What was the highlight of your day?”
Don’t even try to keep children out of the bathroom while you are using it
Eat most meals standing at the counter, perhaps even while breastfeeding
Need to look at your ‘to do list’ to figure out what you should be doing next
Use words like poopy, yucky, booboo, etc.
Find yourself counting to 3 incessantly
If you're at home with young children, this list is more true than humorous. A mother's need for social interaction is no laughing matter.
Winter can be a lonely time for stay-at-home moms - even in Florida. I felt alone and isolated when my children were young. Although I planned play dates for them, took them to story time, and enrolled them in ballet and little league, I had very few uninterrupted conversations with adults.
When I overheard other mothers discussing plans to have lunch or play tennis together, I battled envy, discontent, and self-pity.
The solution to my loneliness came from my homeschool support group. The women who attended our monthly mom's meetings were transparent with their personal failures and victories. They were sensitive and approached me with compassion and love.
This became a safe place for me to be vulnerable. Those relationships were a balm for my soul. They provided the encouragement which helped me persevere. It is comforting to know there are others struggling with the same things we do.
Perhaps your children aren't school age yet and you are a stay-at-home mom dealing with loneliness. There are support groups for you too. Look in your area for MOPS (Mother's of Preschoolers https://www.mops.org) groups or similar meetings for moms.
My youngest child is moving out this week. I now have time for the lunches with friends I once coveted. But I would not give up the riches of years spent with my children for any afternoon on the tennis court.
KidLit Author, Susan Holt Simpson Kentucky
Susan is a freelance writer living in Kentucky with her husband, one mostly-grown son, and a jittery dog. Susan’s first book, “Family Dog,” will be published in 2021 by Familius Publishing. When she’s not writing, you can find her in the garden with either a hoe or a camera in hand. Find out more about Susan at her website, www.susanholtsimpson.com.
As a native northern Kentuckian, I’ve known only one snowless winter. Our typical season demands snow shovels, insulated gloves, and bags of ice-melting salt.
On frosty snow days, we often pushed aside stacks of homeschool books in favor of white paper and scissors. Experimental folding and cutting yielded uniquely handcrafted snowflakes. These wonky paper snowflakes plastered windows and dangled from the ceiling all winter.
I hope you make time to create some snowy bits of art this winter. Before you do, check out snowflake artist Mariellen VanDyke Brown’s book “Snow.”
This lovely book celebrates and elevates the simple fun of paper snowflakes.
Christie is the mom of 3 young boys who love having an author as a mom. She was a Children’s Pastor for 12 years and loves to write stories that help kids understand God in fresh and interesting ways. Her books Quinn’s Promise Rock and Quinn Says Goodbye teach kids about the faithful presence of God. Wise for Salvation is an interactive Bible study book for preschoolers. Christie also writes to encourage and equip Christian moms at christiethomaswriter.com.
She's the Bedtime Devo Mama.
The Bedtime Devo Mama
Helping our kids embrace the mystery of Christianity ~ by our own Christie Thomas
There is much mystery in Christianity, as an enthusiast child knows with all her heart. How you help your enthusiast child embrace the mystery of worship and prayer while still loving God with their minds too?
Jersak, Brad, and Ken Save. Children, Can You Hear Me?: How to Hear and See God. Fresh Wind Press, 2016.