NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, August 4th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Well, it’s the first Tuesday of the month, so that means it’s time to welcome book reviewer Emily Whitten for our Classic Book of the Month.
Thanks for joining us, Emily.
EMILY WHITTEN, BOOK REVIEWER: Happy to be here, Mary.
REICHARD: What book should we talk about today?
WHITTEN: I thought maybe we could up the ante and talk about 600 great books for Christian families. How much time do you have, Mary?
REICHARD: Probably not that much.
WHITTEN: Ok. In that case, why don’t we talk about one book that will cover all those books for us? I’m talking about Jamie C. Martin’s Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time. And it’s basically a book full of reading recommendations for Christian families with kids.
REICHARD: That sounds timely. I keep hearing about families choosing—or being forced into—some kind of homeschool situation.
WHITTEN: Right. Covid-19 has a lot of us thinking outside the box. I hope today’s selection can help families in a lot of different situations.
REICHARD: Ok. Tell us about it.
WHITTEN: Probably the first thing families need to know is that this book builds on an important tradition started with another book. Back in 1969, a Christian mom named Gladys Hunt came out with a book titled Honey for a Child’s Heart. The book offered hundreds of book recommendations to help Christian kids learn to love reading. It also included essays to help parents use books to shape their child’s values and family culture.
REICHARD: Well, that’s one I haven’t heard of. Sounds like I missed out!
WHITTEN: Well, lots of people didn’t miss it, because it sold over 250-thousand copies and is a classic among many Christian families. The author of our selection this month, Jamie C. Martin, made this comparison when I talked with her recently:
MARTIN: Honey for a Child’s Heart is really focusing on classics of literature. So if you don’t even know where to start, that’s a great book to go to. If you’re wondering, why should I read aloud, things like that. Mine is really if you want to branch out globally and take that focus. I think there’s a place for both in someone’s library.
Like Hunt, Martin provides book lists as well as thoughtful essays. But unlike Hunt’s focus on classics, Martin focuses on more recent books set in many different countries and time periods. She sees books as passports to other lands that can spark kids’ imaginations and inspire a life-long love of God’s Creation.
MARTIN: Give Your Child the World to me is like a love letter to other parents who want their kids to grow up really loving and appreciating the diversity of God’s world and those who live in it specifically through being able to introduce their kids to stories that take place all over the globe…To me, it’s just the easiest and cheapest way to allow our children to visit other places, especially right now as we find ourselves in, as a country, as a world, with the coronavirus pandemic.
So, Mary, let’s say a mom wants to teach her kids about Australia or Africa. She can turn to that section of the book and find a list of titles set in that part of the globe.
REICHARD: So convenient. So, kids read these books to learn about a new culture and a new place?
WHITTEN: Exactly. You could use the book as the basis of a geography and social studies curriculum, or you could use it to find books to read aloud as a family—not as curriculum but just something fun to learn about together. Some families might even want to read about countries where your church supports missionaries to pray for them better. You could use a map and Youtube videos to expand your learning. One more tip—Martin also includes an index that organizes the books based on historical time period, so you could use the book for history studies as well.
REICHARD: I love a good index! That sounds like a great way to explore the world. Tell us a bit about the kinds of books Martin includes—are we talking mostly fiction, nonfiction?
WHITTEN: The books included are a mix of fiction and nonfiction. And that’s by design, because she says, nonfiction stories often give us the facts of a place but fiction stories give us the heart. And she says, kids really need both.
Many of the books Martin recommends came out after Hunt wrote her book in 1969. Some might be considered classics, but many came out more recently. To give you a flavor, I’ll let Martin tell us about two books set in Africa she recommends:
MARTIN: One of my favorites is Anna Hibiscus. This takes place in Africa. It’s perfect for your younger ages. So maybe ages 5, 6, and 7. It’s about a little girl growing up in Africa, “amazing Africa” she always calls it. It’s just darling. If you have teens you’re trying to connect with, another great book set in Africa is called A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. That is an incredible story. It does encompass some hard themes, but I think teens can wrestle with those. And it also reminds us how fortunate we are to have such easy access to water in our country.
REICHARD: Those sound like they’d be worth checking out. That brings up another question, would parents need access to a library to get Give Your Child the World?
WHITTEN: A library definitely would help. Some folks may not have access to a physical library, but they may be able to order books from their library online and pick them up curbside. Other families might join a nearby public library with a digital collection. Areas will vary, but when I lived outside our city limits, I used to pay $25 a year to use the Nashville Public Library. Other options might include an ebook membership service like Amazon Unlimited or Epic.com. If you really prefer physical books, maybe get together with friends and build a small library to share.
REICHARD: I like physical books, too. You can write notes in the margins. Useful suggestions!
WHITTEN: One final point, Mary. Some older Christian homeschool lists focus on books set in America and Britain. Martin’s list, on the other hand, reflects more of the diversity of the real world, the world God made. I might quibble with one or two of the 600 books that she recommends. So keep in mind, you always want to be discerning about how a book might affect your child.
But overall, Give Your Child the World can be an important resource for Christian families. It can help kids fall in love with God’s very big world, one story at a time.
REICHARD: Thanks for these recommendations today, Emily.
WHITTEN: You’re very welcome, Mary. Happy reading!
REICHARD: For August, Emily recommended Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin. She also recommended Gladys Hunt’s classic, Honey for a Child’s Heart. For more classic book ideas, just search for Classic Book of the Month at worldandeverything.org.