Thursday, May 17, 2012

Character-Building Christian Literature

This week I've been listening to the seminars at the Lamplighter Publishing website. They are truly transforming, and while very serious in topic, they are also quite entertaining. If you get a chance this week, listen to a few of them and let me know what you think. You might also want to hop over to and check out the current episodes of one of their audio dramas. We listened to a  "A Peep Behind the Scenes" recently and it was very moving, as well as fascinating. I read the online version of the book in just a few hours and absolutely loved it. The audio version is adapted, but still very good. Some of the topics are pretty heavy (alcoholism, death), so it may not be one to read with your youngest children (though all of mine listened to it, and we had some in depth discussions about sin), but the message is timeless and the ending is uplifting.

Lamplighter Theater Life Transforming Mark Hamby. He is both transparent, convicting, and amusing. A wonderful mix. Husbands will enjoy these, too.

Lamplighter Theater "A Peep Behind the Scenes" audio story (for a limited time) Episodes 1-4
Read  A Peep Behind the Scenes online (alternate format of the book)

It is so important to make sure that what we are reading and listening to is building us up instead of tearing what we are working on day by day down. It is easy to go for the simple fix and turn on the television to a cartoon or children's show (yes, I do it) that may not be particularly harmful, but neither does it do anything to edify. Why not (at least some of the time) choose selections that teach very good lessons to everyone (including the parents), and develop in your kids an appetite for quality literature and stories? I know I am going to try to do a better job of adding more of these Christian Classics to our reading list.

You can do this by reading books, especially older titles, which are written specifically to teach  moral lessons. They may not be silly, or have a pink frosting happy ending (I like those, too), but you can find stories that are rich in character, deep in message, and full of blessings for your entire family. Start small (with 15 minutes or so), perhaps even starting by fitting it in after you read your usual bedtime stories, or while the kids eat dessert or do the dishes. I'll bet you will find that it is not long before your kids are wanting to hear more, and begging you for just one more chapter.

Here are some classic book titles of a spiritual nature that I found online last night to get you started:

(Some of these are available on the Lamplighter site, and have the introductory audio available for listening might get the family interested in the story by listening to the audio episode, then reading the rest of it out loud to them).

The Basket of Flowers by Christoph Von Schmidt
Beautiful Girlhood by Mabel Hale
Teddy's Button by Amy Le Feuvre
Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (audio available)
In His Steps by Charles Sheldon
The Hedge of Thorns by Mrs. Sherwood
Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss (or on audio)
Saved at Sea by Mrs. O.F. Walton
Christie's Old Organ or Home Sweet Home by Mrs. O.F. Walton
Poppy's Presents by Mrs. O.F. Walton
The Lamplighter by Maria S. Cummins
Greasy the Robber tr. by Charles Lukesh
Jessica's First Prayer by Hesba Stretton
The Robber's Cave by A.L.O.E.
The Boy of Mount Rhigi by Charles H. Peirce
Ishmael: In the Depths and Ishmael: Self-Raised by E.D.E.N. Southworth

Here are examples from John Ploughman's Talk.
You could teach your children the verses...

John Ploughman's Talk (Plain advice for plain folk) by Charles Spurgeon
John Ploughman's Pictures (More plain advice for plain folk) by Charles Spurgeon

Collection of Little Colonel Books by Annie Fellows Johnston online (I have not previewed these, but they were mentioned other places)

Collection of G.A. Henty Books online (alternate source here)
Collection of R.M. Ballantyne books online

Check out many more books on The Baldwin Project site. 

Project Gutenberg has over 39, 000 free e-books. You may find some of them to not be in the easiest form to read, but if there is an old classic you want to check out, you can check there and have a good chance of finding something.


Of course, you can't forget about Amazon...Tex and I have collected over 500 free classic books from Amazon and put them in our Kindle collection. Initially, I simply downloaded the Kindle app for computers and he read them from the computer, but recently (for Mother's Day), Hubby was nice enough to give me a Kindle Touch so that I could have the kids read the books from there.

You can find all sorts of old family favorites for free there...books that while not necessarily quite as deliberately character-building as some of the books listed earlier, are sweeter, cleaner, and more innocent than the usual book you find being published today. We've found may of the Bobbsey Twins books, all the Henty and RM Ballantyne books, the Thornton Burgess nature stories, E. Nesbit tales, Robert Louis Stevenson, Clara Dilingham Pearson, James Baldwin, Andrew Lang, Hugh Lofting, L. Frank Baum, and many, many more.

What I did first was to download the free Kindle app for PC from the Amazon site. Then I typed in keywords in the search bar like "free Thornton Burgess Kindle" (these are a favorite of my children, especially Tex, who loves the Reddy Fox stories and Aesop's Fables) and waited to see what came up. You then just go through the "one click" process to add the books you want. 

I find it faster to open up lots of tabs with the books I am interested in, then I go to each one and click on the "buy this book now" button, and move to the next tab. I can "buy" all of the books first, then go back to the beginning and start closing the tabs, because the transaction is completed. Just leave one open to start exploring more from again later. I find new books I want by looking at the "other people who bought this book also bought..." section towards the bottom of the screen. I do take the time to read through the reviews, if there is a book with which I am not familiar. Usually I find the reviews to be fairly reliable.

Here's Amazon's take on how to start finding free e-books for your Kindle.

Jimmie has a nice article on Squidoo about using the Kindle in your homeschool.

Marcy at Ben and Me compiled a great list of FREE Kindle books from Amazon. Her list is an excellent place to start. It will keep your kids reading for weeks...

Here's a list of FREE! Kindle books for homeschoolers on Amazon. I simply Googled " free kindle books homeschool" and found it. There might be more, since this list says it is list number four. I just have to wait until I have some free time to explore it...

Ambleside Online has a great reading list to give you ideas of books to look for. Their curriculum is free, and the books in the list support it. It is a Charlotte Mason approach, which uses Living Books as the core teaching method, so you can be sure that the book choices will be good.

Another huge book list is from the Classical Education website.

Heritage History will give you access to a plethora of FREE! history-related titles on their website. To add them to your Kindle or other reader, you must make a purchase, but if you just want to read from your computer screen, try them out for free online.

**Another family-favorite source of classic literature, but in audio form, is My Audio School.

You can also head over to Librivox and look up any book you haven't found yet. I can't guarantee the reader will be interesting (some are very soothing to listen to, while others are a bit of a snore. You just have to give them a try...).


Speaking of audio books, here are some quality audio story sites  from my homeschool-for-free website your family might enjoy listening to together. They are favorites of my kids.

**Adventures in Odyssey is a permanent family favorite in our household. I can't think of a more pleasant way to while away the miles on a long trip than to join the well-rounded characters from Odyssey on a new adventure. This charming Christian radio drama is produced by Focus on the family. Your kids cannot spend time listening to these stories and not gain a tremendous amount of Bible knowledge. Here's another link with an extensive collection of episodes at FAIO.
**Down Gilead Lane is a wonderful radio drama from CBH Ministries centered around small community life. My kids have listened to it for year and higly recommend it. Your kids are certain to engage with the interesting characters and story lines, and will build up their own character in the process.
**Your Story Hour is a classic Bible-based broadcast for kids of all ages. These lovely broadcasts help develop strong Christian character with mrmorable stories from the Bible, famous people, and folks just like you and me. The motto of the ministry is: "Making boys and girls of today, better men and women tomorrow." *Interested in a Bible Study program for your kids? This ministry offers a program through the mail, and every time your child returns two lessons, he receives a new CD from the Life of Jesus Series. By the end of the study, he will have the entire 13 CD set. Now that's a freebie I will look forward to receiving!
Paws and Tales is a broadcast from Insight for Living that teaches Biblical principles to children through stories of friendship and adventure. These stories incorproate music and lovable animal characters, so they will be especially appealing to younger children.

Okay, I won't say that this site is a character-building site on the same level as some of the other more serious content I have listed (can it be when it is so much fun?), but Jelly Telly, from Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales, is hysterical at times, and Biblically informative at others. You can watch full episodes of Adventures in Odyssey and Last 
Chance Detectives here, and it is a good solution on a day when mom or kids are feeling under the weather and need a bit of cheering up. Be sure to check out the Sunday School Lady. She's a hoot.


Well, that's all I have for today. I hope you discovered a few new treasures. If you know of any more FREE! quality character-building literary and audio materials that we might like to add to this list, please feel free to leave a comment with a link so that everyone can see them. Thanks!

Schedule for the week:
Monday--What is good character and Who needs it??
Tuesday--Why must we deliberately train for develop good character?
Wednesday--How can we develop good character in our children? (with links to character-building freebies and our favorite not free character training resources.
Thursday--How reading aloud to your family will help strengthen character and your family. (With links to online/downloadable free quality literature and audio books)
Friday--When do we train for character and who benefits...Developing character in your children through serving others.

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1 comment:

Kristina said...

we love Lamplighter books!

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