A storied summer

"Fiction is truth's elder sister."  -Rudyard Kipling

There are few things that bring me more joy right now than a good book list and a good story.  And not just the stories themselves, but what makes them so.  The inspiration comes in part from my author-friend whose book club I joined last year, where I got a behind-the-scenes glance at the writing of a set of novels inspired by her own life.  And partly because a lot of what I personally have been reading lately are books about books.  And finally, because the more children's literature I read, the more I get to know the difference between a good story and a bad one.  Choosing quality children's literature, or "curating", as I like to think of it in fanciful terms, has become one of my favorite pastimes.   Lest you think that fiction is just for fun (Jesus, after all, told stories about seeds and house-builders to demonstrate truths about His Kingdom), or that children's books are just for kids, consider Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.  We just finished this book last week.  Themes of the story that stand out to me, from just one read-aloud, are friendship, loyalty, love, and loss, along with the power and potential of a few well-chosen words (five, to be exact) to change someone's life.  The story takes place in a barn and the main characters are a pig and a spider.  Who knew that a small grey spider had the ability to teach us a lesson on the value of seeing and speaking truth into others?   I've already used this as example of why and how what we say matters.

In honor of good stories, summer, and book-lovers everywhere, here are some of my favorite bookish resources I'm loving right now:

1) Read Aloud Revival.  This is my go-to for book recommendations for Ellis.  If you want a smile today, listen to two grown women gushing about their favorite picture books on podcast #45.  There's nothing better than a person passionate about picture books, and Sarah Mackenzie is as enthusiastic as they get.  She lives in WA and just published a book called the Read Aloud Family which I will be getting my hands on as soon as I have access to Amazon.com again!
2) The What Should I Read Next? podcast by Ann Bogel is causing my to-read list to grow exponentially, so I may have to hit pause sometime soon....but it is addicting.  Ann is also one of the very best question-askers I have ever come across, so I love listening to her talk with people who love books.
3) Storyformed is a website and podcast that always sets me scrambling to get to the library with their great recommendations.  Some of my favorite listens are What makes a great story and cultivating your child's imagination.

Have a story-filled summer!

"On 95, just before the Delaware line there is a road sign I invariably look for. In the 14 years I’ve
travelled that road this one sign has been the high point of an otherwise monotonous super highway. The sign reads “Northeast Rising Sun.” For years I had a fantasy that I would simply turn off the freeway at that point and drive until I found that Shangri-la, that Brigadoon of Maryland named by an ancient poet, “Northeast Rising Sun.” Then one day as I was smiling at my sign a horrible thought struck. Suppose there was no such place? Suppose there was no village nestled in the eastern hills answering to that wonderful name. I didn’t want to know but that ubiquitous left side of my brain decided to ferret out the truth. I heard myself asking my husband, quite against my will, if it was possible that Northeast Rising Sun was not actually the name of a town. He was driving and entirely missed the quavering tone, replying very matter-of-factly that he thought it wasn’t. Again, I let it lie. After all, husbands aren’t always right, even mine. But the demon of brutal realism refused to give up. It drove me at last to a large map of the state and forced me to look in the northeast corner. Alas, as I had suspected, but was so long to loathe to acknowledge there is no such place on the map as Northeast Rising Sun. There are, rather, two towns: Northeast on the east side of 95 and Rising Sun on the west. My poetic sign board was a fiction. And fiction, though it may be true, is not the truth anymore than a sign post is a place. But it can be a sign post. Fiction is not the Gospel but it can be a voice crying in the wilderness and for the writer and the reader who know grace it will not be a cry of despair but a cry of hope, a voice crying in our wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” 
-from A Sense of Wonder, by Katherine Paterson

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