Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman

You may be familiar with Gary Chapman as he wrote the popular book The Five Love Languages. I have read another one of his books called The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted as well as The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted Bible Study.

I enjoyed reading these together and appreciated how they complimented each other. I didn’t find the study guide to be just a repeat of the book, which is often the case I’ve found with books/study guides. They went together but with new information and stories. One thing I really liked about the Bible study was looking up the answers to the questions in the Bible. Some of the verses are included in the text but some you have to look up yourself. It seems many times in other Bible studies a Bible reference is made and then the answer is given. The reader has to think and come up with his own answers in this study, which I liked. I found the questions to be appropriate and thought provoking.

Topics covered include forgiveness, positive response to anger, sexual fulfillment, money, listening, agreeing, and prayer.

I enjoy Chapman’s writing style because it is easy to read and has stories from real couples related to each topic. It is easy to relate to him and understand the points he makes for marriage.

I highly recommend this book and study guide for you. It would be great to do as a husband and wife or with a small group.

Have a day of blessings!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Book Thief

I reviewed "The Book Thief" last week and found it to be a powerful book to read. It was very hard to get through, because it's about the Holocaust, but still a good read.

If you would like to enter, please leave a comment on this post. The contest is open until next Thursday, the 1st of October.

Winner of Love Has a Face

The contest to win "Love Has a Face" is over.

Using random.org I generated a number between 1 and 6. It came up with the number 3.

Number 3 is Kim P, a friend from a church I used to go to. And it just so happens that I already have plans to see her today! So that's handy. Thanks everyone for participating! I will be posting a new giveaway soon. Take care!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Wonder Why

by Ruth Hummel
ISBN 0570084768

"The Concordia Sex Education Series"

I believe this book has also been revised and republished under another name but am not sure which. This book is for ages 6 to 8. It is the second in the series, after "Each One Specially".

As a parent of a 4 and 7 year old, I know it will be part of my job to teach my children how to view their bodies in relation to God's will for their lives. I looked at this book to see if it would be a good resource to teach my children about their bodies.

After comparing two series of Christian sex education books I have to say I prefer these over the others. I believe the authors do a good job of teaching children age-appropriate information without giving too much away. These editions are pretty dated in the illustrations but I think they have been republished with new illustrations.

This book is in a story form, with a dialogue between a mommy and her daughter. The mommy is pregnant and getting ready for the new baby. We learn that families have more love to give no matter how many live in the family, and that all families look different and are at different stages of growing up.

The family goes to the museum and learns about the miracle of birth. We learn that a woman has a uterus and that babies grow there, and that the mommy grows bigger as the baby grows bigger. We learn that when it's time for the baby to come out, the opening in the uterus gets bigger too. We learn that only women can be mommies, and only men can be daddies, but that everyone can be a pilot, or a cook, or a fireman.

We learn that babies need lots of care and lots of love, but that mommies and daddies have extra love for the older kids too.

We learn that every baby begins with a sperm from the daddy and an ovum from the mommy. When a man and a woman love each other, they get married, and sometimes hold each other very closely, and their bodies "fit together in a wonderful way." This is when a new baby can begin. I think that this is an age-appropriate amount of information to share about creating babies.

We also learn new vocabulary, such as v**gina, uterus, vu**va, p**nis, and te**ticles, and scr**tum.

We learn that new babies sometimes get their milk from their mommies breasts (an illustration of this is shown) and sometimes they drink from a bottle (also illustrated). We learn that this is all part of God's plan.

Overall I think that the amount of information given in this book is very appropriate for ages 6 to 8. I would definitely read this and discuss it with my children at this age. I would like to see the revised versions of these to see how the text and illustrations compare.

highly recommended.

How God Makes Babies

By Jim Burns
ISBN: 978 0 7642 02100

"Laying the foundations for healthy sexuality: an age-appropriate resource for ages 6 to 9"

This is the second in the series by Bethany House Publishers. The first one is "God Made Your Body."

As a parent of a 4 and 7 year old, I know it will be part of my job to teach my children how to view their bodies in relation to God's will for their lives. I looked at this book to see if it would be a good resource to teach my children about their bodies.

I have to say I had high hopes for this series but this one was just too mature for 6 to 9 year olds. I know I am old-fashioned and overly modest and all that, but I think that this age group is not yet ready for all the topics covered in this book (and it would be too hard to skip the affected pages). I prefer the book "I Wonder Why" for ages 6 to 8.

From the beginning:
We first learn about God's plan for families, i.e. that a man and a woman get married and love each other.

Then we learn that a husband and wife do many different things together, like praying and holding each other "in ways they would not do with any other person". Then we learn the term: making love, or having sex. WHAT? Telling a child of this age those terms? Am I this sheltered? I don't think that my children need those terms. Perhaps they will hear them in school and want to know what they mean, but I don't think it's a good idea. I would love to hear from my readers as to their opinions; am I over-reacting here?

We learn more about girl and boy-specific parts, such as v**gina, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, p**nis, scr**tum, and t**sticles. We learn that these parts are private, covered with swimsuits, and who should look at those parts (parents and doctors). We talk about keeping those parts private from everyone else.

The next thing that I think is too mature is that we learn that the husband puts his p**nis into the wife's v**gina. I just think kids of this age (6 to 9 year olds) are too young to need the details here. How many inquisitive kids are going to try to figure out how that works? We then learn how the sperm travel to find the egg, and that not every session of "making love" results in a baby.

Then there are more details about pregnancy, all of which are pretty neat and not too mature, how the baby grows at different stages of pregnancy. There are nice illustrations and pictures.

We learn about contractions and that labor is hard work, and that most babies are born at the hospital.

Then we learn that sometimes a c-section is called for, and what that is. I think this is too much detail for a child of this age group.

We learn that most babies get nourishment from the breast (a real picture is shown here but it is focused enough that it doesn't look sexual at all), and that some babies use a bottle. We learn that new babies are learning and growing a lot. God made all different kinds of families, including adoption.

Overall I loved the pictures and illustrations and thought that they were very age-appropriate and well done.

I did not love the vocabulary at all. I will not be telling my children about "making love/having sex", c-sections, and p**nises entering v**ginas for a long time. I think 10 or 11 years is a good time for that.

You decide for yourself if your 6 to 9 year old is ready for this book.

Each One Specially

By Carol Greene

Concordia Sex Education Series for ages 3 to 5
This is the first in the series; the second is "I Wonder Why."

I believe this book has been revised and republished to be "How Boys and Girls are Different" with the ISBN 978-0758614155, but I'm not sure how well they compare.

This book is the one my parents had when they were teaching me about my body, and I personally prefer it to the other one I reviewed today, "God Made Your Body."

As a parent of a 4 and 7 year old, I know it will be part of my job to teach my children how to view their bodies in relation to God's will for their lives. I looked at this book to see if it would be a good resource to teach my children about their bodies.

This is the first in the series and is specifically geared towards children ages 3 to 5, although especially with this type of book I recommend previewing the book on your own first to make sure it only has topics you think your child is ready for. Each child matures at a different rate and it's important to stay slightly ahead of them in their understanding, yet not give them information that is too mature.

This book starts off by saying that different kids like to do different things, but that God made all kids.

Then we learn that God gave us different parts of our bodies (mouths, ears, etc.).

Then we learn that God gave girls a v**gina and boys a p**nis. (I have to put asterisks or I will be in google's search engine for topics that I don't want this blog to be focused on).

Then we learn that there are lots of "shes" and "hes" in our lives and that they do all kinds of different things, like paint or drive a truck.

How did God make us? We learn that sometimes a man and a woman love each other, get married, and decide to have a baby. Then the baby grows inside the mommy, and that after nine months the baby comes out of the mommy's v**gina.

Then we learn about different types of families, small ones and big ones, etc. They do different things together. God also puts us into a church family (I liked that they talked about this).

I appreciated that the book gives children some proper vocabulary without giving too many details. I recommend this book for ages 3 to 5. You decide for yourself if your 3 to 5 year old is ready for this book.

God Made Your Body

By Jim Burns

"Laying the foundations for healthy sexuality: an age appropriate resource for ages 3 to 5"

This is a new book from the Bethany House publishers. They sent it to me to review.

This is the first book in the series; the second one is "How God Makes Babies."

As a parent of a 4 and 7 year old, I know it will be part of my job to teach my children how to view their bodies in relation to God's will for their lives. I looked at this book to see if it would be a good resource to teach my children about their bodies.

This is the first in the series and is specifically geared towards children ages 3 to 5, although especially with this type of book I recommend previewing the book on your own first to make sure it only has topics you think your child is ready for. Each child matures at a different rate and its important to stay slightly ahead of them in their understanding yet not give them information that is too mature.

This book starts off by showing pictures of kids in all shapes and sizes. It talks about facial features and skin color and hair types all being different. Then it tells us that different kids like to do different things. Then we talk about what features God gave to both boys and girls (toes, etc.)

Then we find out that little boys have a p**nis and tes**icles (I have to put asterisks or I will be in google's search engine for topics that I don't want this blog to be focused on).

We find out that little girls have a v**gina and a womb. Each of these pages has a cartoonish diagram of the body parts talked about.

Then we find out that mommies and daddies come in all shapes and sizes.

One thing I think is a little too mature for even my 7 year old yet is the idea of "making love". I don't believe young children are ready for any types of euphemisms. For example I refused to teach my kids a euphemism for boogers for a long time because I didn't want them to use any of the vocabulary. I don't think my kids need to be asking me about "making love." This book just says that the mommy and daddy "come together" and giving parts of themselves to make a baby (sperm and egg).

Then it talks about babies growing in mommy's tummies and that most babies are born in hospitals. The way the author talks about these topics is, I think, very age-appropriate. Then we talk about different types of families, including adoption, grandmas and grandpas, and single parents. The idea of non-mainstream families (same-sex marriages, etc) is not specifically introduced.

I loved the pictures and illustrations in this book, and without the phrase "making love" I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. You decide for yourself if your 3 to 5 year old is ready for this book.

I personally prefer the book "Each One Specially" for this age group.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Love Has A Face

By Michele Perry
ISBN: 978 0800794781

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself."

Michele Perry's book "Love Has A Face" is a reminder of God's great love for us and a testimony of what his love is doing in Sudan.

Michele is a missionary at an orphanage and she shares stories and lessons learned from her time there. She is constantly reminding us that Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem us from our sins and give us eternal life. He's coming back to take his believers to heaven.

This book helped me remember the faces of people I help, and that they are individuals, not just good deeds done.


Win this book! Leave a comment on this post before Tuesday, September 21, and let me know what intrigues you about the book. I will randomly draw a winner on Tuesday next week.

The Saturdays

by Elizabeth Enright
ISBN: 0805070605

I know I keep writing about this author but she is just so excellent. If Carolyn Haywood is my new favorite author for 2nd and 3rd graders, Elizabeth Enright is my favorite for 4th and 5th graders. She treats children and their ideas with respect and with just the right amount of independence.

In this book the Melendy family decides to pool their resources and send one person with all of the family's allowance into the city each Saturday. This way each one has enough to do something really great. I loved the adventures that each child went on and I loved the way the author deftly deals with problems and issues the children encounter.

Highly recommended. 8 and 9 year olds.

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak
ISBN: 978 0375831003

young adult fiction

This book is haunting and sad. It's written from the perspective of "Death," a poetic narrator who watches one particular German girl throughout the second world war.

I have mixed feelings about the book.

On the one hand I think it's important for children and everyone to know about the Holocaust and about the atrocities that were done during that war. On the other hand it's hard to know which details to tell which age. I would definitely say this book is for at least 13 year olds and should be read with an adult who can explain some of the themes and issues. It's very mature but I can see that some details were left out so that it might be okay for a teenager. It's definitely got more details about the Holocaust than Number the Stars, or The Hiding Place, but it's not nearly as horrific as Schindler's List.

An interesting perspective in this book was that not all of the Germans were entirely supportive of Hitler. The author definitely treated the plight of the Jews with respect while at the same time helping the reader realize that life was really crummy for Germans during the war as well. I appreciated that the main characters helped hide a Jew and feed some people even with the threat of punishment.

Thimble Summer

by Elizabeth Enright
ISBN 9780312380021
Juvenile Fiction

Garnet Linden finds a thimble one summer and amazing things start happening. Is the thimble magic? The drought is ended, new friends arrive in the area, and many other amazing simple things happen.

I enjoyed this small chapter book. It reflects the careless free feeling in summer and the kids go on some fun adventures. One of the themes was a little more mature; probably would be good for a 9 or 10 year old rather than a 7 or 8 year old. One of the friends of the family has a mean guardian who often gets drunk and mistreats the boy. Nothing is described but it is not the most innocent of books.

Recommended for 9 and up.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Four-Story Mistake

by Elizabeth Enright
ISBN: 0805070613

juvenile fiction

The Melendy family has four children and a widowed dad, similar to the Penderwick series I mentioned yesterday. This quartet of books was written in the 40s during World War II.

I really enjoyed the story in this one; the family moves to a new house and of course it's a fabulous house with forests and hidden rooms and attics and all the sorts of things that a kid would love to encounter. The descriptions are wonderful and not too frilly. (I am not a big fan of long frilly descriptions).

Even though the words and reading level was more for a 5th or 6th grade level, there were no mature themes that would limit a younger advanced student from reading it. As I look for books for Emlyn to read I am more and more impressed by these books that were written back mid 20th century. Maud Lovelace's books are another series that is similar. There are few gratuitous sketchy events, and they seem to help kids feel adventuresome anyway. Call me old-fashioned but I really like them. There are three more books in this series about the Melendy family and then some collections of short stories by this author. I will be saving these for about another year for Emlyn and then let her read them.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

by Jeanne Birdsall
ISBN 9780375840906

I enjoyed both The Penderwicks and this companion novel. The family of four little girls who are being raised by their widow family encounters a new idea: dating. Daddy is being pressured to date and the girls are unsure of this development.

I love the spiritedness of the girls and the way the author develops their different personalities. They are 12, 11, 10, and 4 in this book. They sorta remind me of "Little Women" in the fun ideas they have and the family togetherness.

I definitely think these books are for middle school or above. Some of the themes addressed are death, dating, lying, and growing up.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Are We Living in the End Times?

Tim La Haye and Jerry Jenkins
ISBN 0842336443

By the same authors of the Left Behind series, this book interprets prophecies and Scripture in a factual manner instead of fictional.

I appreciated their many Scripture references and attention to detail, as well as their candid attitude.

As far as whether I agreed with them or not as to their conclusions, I found that the deeper I got in the book the harder it was for me to follow their line of thinking. The first third or so answers the question in the title, and I was able to follow their interpretations fairly well. The rest of the book interprets exactly what the end times will look like and the characters that will be present. I didn't appreciate this part as much and didn't agree with all they were saying.

However throughout the entire book the authors humbly admitted they couldn't know exactly how things would come about, and did present alternative viewpoints. They were careful to keep most specific dates out of the book.

This is an interesting read and good introduction into studying the prophetic literature in the Bible. It definitely made me want to study those parts of the Bible in more detail.

The Lacemaker and the Princess

By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
ISBN 9781416919209

Young adult historical fiction

Isabelle is a tradesperson lacemaker in France just before the Revolution. She becomes friends with the princess and has to face her ideas about fairness, revolutions, and freedom.

I thought this book taught a lot about the French Revolution and was an intriguing story with suspense and beauty. At times the fact-presenting seemed a little overt to me, like having the girl talk about how she did enjoy being flea-free while at the palace but disliked being flea-ridden at home. I know there were differences between the classes but some of it felt forced. On the other hand this was a fairly tame introduction into class struggles and French history.

Recommended for 10 year olds and up


By Pearl North
ISBN 9780765320964

Young Adult Fiction
Not recommended

I thought it was only fair that I put a review up of a book that I was not impressed with.

The basic premise of this book was intriguing: in the future there is a city that cares for books of the Ancients. One girl can hear the words (think quotes from Charlotte's Web for example) of all the books. There is one particular book that can save the "good" people from the "bad" people.

All good so far.

Then suddenly we have a torture scene. This is supposedly a young adult book but the author is going into great detail about the electric and knife torture.

I have enough crummy stuff in my life without reading a torture scene. That ended this book for me. I will never know if good triumphs over evil in this book.


Betsy Books by Carolyn Haywood

We have recently discovered some chapter books from the 40s and 50s that my second grader loves and I happen to love them as well. Since that is such a rare occurrence in many households I wanted to share them with you.

Carolyn Haywood was a prolific writer in her time. She wrote books about little kids doing what little kids did back then, and as someone not raised in that time I was surprised and discomfited with the idea that our children these days are sheltered.

Ten year olds were building large projects with real tools, taking their four year old siblings to their friends' houses, delivering papers, going on rides in the local ice cream truck, and any number of exciting times. The stories are wholesome and fresh. Some of them were re-published with exciting "up-to-date" covers so they are attractive to kids who might not want to read an old book.

I love love love them and so does Emmy. The average reading level is AR 3.5.

Some of the books we have read in just the last week are:
Back to School with Betsy
Betsy and Billy
Betsy's Play School
Betsy's Winterhouse
Betsy and the Boys
"B" is for Betsy

There are many many more and they are not all about Betsy.

Latter-Day Cipher

By Latayne C. Scott
ISBN 9780802456793


I have admired the writings of Latayne Scott in the past and when I found out about her new book I was immediately intrigued.

This is a murder mystery that also draws the reader into little-known facts about Mormonism. I found myself unwilling to stop reading each night to find out the conclusion to the story.

Set in Utah, the protagonist is an out-of-state journalist who is roped into reporting on a group of murders. She uncovers clues about the murderer and deals with some issues in her own life as well.

I was very impressed with the writing and the story. I cannot recommend this book any more highly.

Fields of Grace

by Kim Vogel Sawyer
ISBN 9780764205088

Historical Christian Fiction

Fields of Grace is a bittersweet book about making the best of hard situations. Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt leave their home in Russia to make a new life in America. The family encounters many hardships on their way to Kansas but their faith in God stays strong. I liked the Mennonite history although sometimes the italicized vocabulary got a little old. I would have preferred the new words to be in the back for me to look up if I wanted to.

I also really enjoy stories of pioneering. It's neat to see how different communities could have been formed and how families adjusted to life on the prairie.

God's grace is a major theme in the book. Not only does He save us from our sins, but this grace also means that He is continually renewing us, day by day.

I was able to glean some wisdom about dealing with grief. I appreciated that.

Overall it was definitely worth my time and fit in nicely with its genre.