In a wonderfully unexpected way, growing up with Cystic Fibrosis and daily breathing treatments opened the door for me to grow up exploring the world.
It let me meet a hundred friends. It let me gallop on horses and sleep under stars in a covered wagon and travel from the coast of Ireland to the Norwegian fjords in a Viking ship called the Seabird.
How, you ask? Through my amazing mum gathering my sister and I on the couch and reading us hundreds of books. I don’t exaggerate, I tried to count them all once upon a time and there were over 200–not counting picture books. She transformed hours that could very well have been hard and tiring and she made them into something magical.
Mother’s Day inspired me to share some of our favorites. These are books that had us laughing ’til our sides hurt, made us cry and became quoting material that has stuck around to this day. And the nice thing about these is that they’re all series, so the adventure continues. I’ve been beyond blessed by the hours and love my mom pours into us (in so very many ways) and the stories she read to us have helped to shape my life and heart. Thank you, Mum. ❤️
There’s something beautiful about sharing stories together, its such a joy when you and your family know the same characters, feel the same excitement, share the memories together. Be it reading to younger siblings, having a book club, reading to your grandparents or something else, I highly recommend it.
Book blurbs taken from Good Reads.
Without further ado, here are a few of our favorite read-alouds!
The Millie Keith Series by Martha Finley
Life is an adventure, not a tea party my dearAunt Wealthy
The Millie books are part of the Life of Faith series, adapted from the original works by Martha Finley. They follow Millie Keith, a girl with an affinity for adventure (and mishap), love for Jesus, and younger siblings who are in the habit of riding cows and keeping pet skunks (among other things). Adventure, truth and endearing characters made these books one of the only series we read multiple times. Sadly they aren’t in print anymore, but I couldn’t make this list without them.
While Millie was our favorite, we also enjoyed reading the other Life of Faith Series. Sometimes they can be found at thrift stores, so if you like this kind of story, snatch them up 😉
The Green Ember Series by S.D. Smith
A story to make us brave.Ember Rising
Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.
Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.
Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?
The quote I put under the picture is short but that is what this series is: a story to make us brave.
When my mum first pulled out The Green Ember I was fifteen and reluctant to sit through this story about rabbits with swords. Surely, my seven year old sister would enjoy it but I prepared to be bored. I chuckle now remembering how just a few months later I was shouting at the author for writing such amazing characters and then breaking his readers hearts (not actually at him, of course, but I was fired up enough to). If I could speak to S.D. Smith in person, I wouldn’t shout, I would tell him thank you for writing a story that spoke a fiery hope into my soul when I was struggling to hang onto faith. In fact, the phrase “for the mending” that will pop up in the blog sometimes comes from The Green Ember.
The Viking Quest Series by Lois Walfred Johnson
Courage to win.Raiders From The Sea
When Briana O’Toole rescues a stranger from drowning, she doesn’t realize that her actions may have put her family and village in danger. Then, in one frightening day, Viking raiders capture Bree and her brother Devin and take them away from their home in Ireland.
All of the Irish prisoners are at the mercy of Mikkel, the proud young leader of the Vikings. Separated by Mikkel, Bree and Devin each face different journeys to courage. As Bree sails toward a life of slavery in Norway and as Devin struggles to survive on his own, they must choose to trust God in spite of the troubles they face.
When everything is against them, where will Bree and Devin find the courage to win?
Okay, I love these books. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland and this series is one of the reasons. Lois Walfred Johnson is an author I look up to, she weaves stories of adventure and courage and love, not to mention excellent character arcs. These books were the kind that made it so hard to stop reading and go to bed.
The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
Never judge a book by its cover.Does anyone really know who originally said that?
Since The Book of Three was first published in 1964, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures of Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his quest to become a hero. Taran is joined by an engaging cast of characters that includes Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli—all of whom become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain.
Judging a book by its cover was precisely what I did with this series. In fact, I convinced my older sister to put them back on the library shelf. It wasn’t until later when my mom convinced us to just give them a try that we finally discovered the world of Prydain. If I thought the cover was bad, the synopsis was worse. This was a book about an assistant pig keeper? Who has to find an oracular pig? What had become of fantasy literature?
Well, I’m happy to say that I was wrong. We quite enjoyed these books, mostly for the characters and the fact that each book got stronger as the series went along. The second book, The Black Cauldron won a Newberry medal but in my opinion, the fourth book of the series, Taran Wanderer, was the crowning jewel. Wisdom, friendship and meaningful character growth earned these stories a rightful place on the bookshelf. If you’re feeling daring, I challenge you to try these lesser known fantasy adventures. 😉
The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.Little House in the Big Woods
The nine books in the timeless Little House series tell the story of Laura’s real childhood as an American pioneer, and are cherished by readers of all generations. They offer a unique glimpse into life on the American frontier, and tell the heartwarming, unforgettable story of a loving family.
When I asked my mom what our favorite read-alouds were, this was the first one she said. These stories were a part of home; from listening to my mama’s voice sing Pa’s songs and whisper and shout along with the characters to hours of playing “Laura and Mary” with my older sister. If you haven’t read these, I can’t promise that they will hold the same warmth and magic as they do for me, but I do say they are well worth the reading, especially if you have a little in your life you can share them with.
Hinds Feet on High Places: Delightfully Illustrated and Arranged for Children by Hannah Hurnard, arranged by Dian Layton
“She had the feeling that somehow, in the very far-off places, perhaps even in far-off ages, there would be a meaning found to all sorrow and an answer too fair and wonderful to be as yet understood.”
I had to add this one because it is my favorite. In Much Afraid, I saw myself. I saw my struggles and doubts and longings, and I saw the Good Shepherd. In these pages, both listening to the abridged version and later reading the original by myself, I found whispers of courage, conviction, and hope. God used this story in my life greatly.
Well, that will do it friends. Have you read any of these stories? Do you have any favorite read alouds? What stories have impacted your lives?
May the Lord bless you and keep you. For the mending,