Our good friend Mary Hines is a registered nurse, mother of three, grandmother of four, and wife of Bob Hines, who is a minister in Crawfordsville, IN. Her mother and late father have also been dear friends of ours. She has put together this unique book of 216 pages that contains 52 literary works: short stories, poetry, personal letters, and historical accounts. Each one is accompanied by a short biography of the author, along with a scripture reference, a Biblical principal that applies, a question about the work, a discussion question, and a "Something to Do" activity. It is a wonderful resource for anyone with children and would be especially appealing to those who homeschool because it combines literature, history, and life lessons with scripture and Biblical principles.
In the Preface, Mary wrote, "There are four things we must encourage our children if we are going to help them be saved. First, we must see to it that they learn to listen. Then they must be invested with a tender loving heart that finds joy in giving. Thirdly, our children need to be discouraged from squandering their lives on vain things. And last of all, they must be empowered with the knowledge of and pleasure in what is good and noble...It is after all what Christ wanted in the parable of the seed and the sower. This parable tells of the different sorts of people and their responses to the gospel...So we as parents are in this parable every step of the way, tilling, fertilizing, watering, nurturing, weeding, and ensuring that our children are the right soil to be planted with God's gift, the gospel of Jesus and His church...You started by taking your children to worship. Now talk to them. These little stories are just a place to begin, a story to sit and read of an evening, something to chat about...One thing they will always remember and that is you, what you stood for, how much you loved them, and how earnestly you labored to enlighten them...."
Some of the items included are as follows: "A Letter to Mrs. Bixby" by Abraham Lincoln, "Androcles and the Lion" by George Bernard Shaw, "Journalism in Tennessee" by Mark Twain, "Cuff and the Woodchuck" by John Burroughs, an excerpt from "The Story of My Life" by Helen Keller; "The Eruption of Vesuvius" by Pliny, "The Cynic" by Henry Ward Beecher, "Born Without A Chance" by Edmund Vance Cooke, "Maud Muller" by John Greenleaf Whittier, "On the Death of Little Mahala Ashcraft" by James Whitcomb Riley, and many more.
The publisher said, "Many of you homeschool your children. It is our belief that this book will serve as a reading book for children from 6th grade up through high chool...They are selections from a large variety of authors. Some of them are thoughtful, some are humorous, and many of them are difficult for me to read to or with children without crying. Mary's intention was to compose selections from literature that would illustrate Biblical principles. In this way perhaps children can see that the principles of the Bible have broad application and not just to church affairs. I believe that you will be interested in the book. We are already working on future editions of the same material, but I believe you will find it good reading. I suspect that as many adults will read the book as children. It is worthwhile."
I have been reading this book, and it is wonderful. Somewhat like Bill Bennett's Book of Virtues, it has the added benefit that not only do the classic stories, poems, and other items from great literature illustrate general principles of virtue, but they also are used to illustrate specific Bible principles with the Bible passages included. It would make a great book to read aloud to children, to use in special Bible studies regarding important character traits, to use with older students as a reading/literature book, or just to sit down and read for your own enjoyment. I heartily recommend this book.