Forgotten childrens classics make for good summer reads

Forgotten childrens classics make for good summer reads
Forgotten childrens classics make for good summer reads
FORGOTTEN CHILDREN’S CLASSICS MAKE FOR GOOD SUMMER READS Summer reading is my favorite kind of reading, a time when books exist solely for enjoyment, for transporting ourselves from the breezy heat of the old porch swing, or from the rainy day window seat framed by flowery drapes, into another land or time period. Even better when it can be shared with children who, but for a good book, are quick to pronounce their boredom with the slower pace of life this time of year. I have rediscovered two books, decades-old classics, that I’m sure may be new to many children and adults alike. And even if there’s not a child in your immediate vicinity, I find these two stories to be so impactful and memorable as to be enjoyed by any age. The first one is “Across Five Aprils” by Irene Hunt, published in 1964. It is a coming-of-age story set during the Civil War. It follows the wartime experiences of Midwestern farm boy Jethro Creighton. This story’s uniqueness comes from the fact that the reader never sees any of the war itself firsthand, yet we still understand the horrors of it and its effects on every family in the land through letters Jethro receives from his older brothers fighting in the war as well as from Shadrach Yale, the teacher he idolizes. Through their different personalities and varied experiences, he comes to face the realities of death, of a brother on the run as a deserter, and even a brother who chooses to fight for the Confederacy, thus exposing his family as a target for prejudice and vengeance. We see how starkly real and penetrating the effects of war could be for even a young boy miles away from its blood-stained battlefields. Jethro faces adult feelings and dilemmas and draws us into the everyday life of the civilian, often proved to be nearly as unpleasant as the soldiers’ lot. His pleading, inquiring letter to President Abraham Lincoln is a touching connection between the fictional story and the period of real history it portrays. A powerful read, and my favorite Civil War-era classic. The second book I have recently enjoyed is also a work of classic historical fiction but so different in its scope. “A Lantern in Her Hand” by Bess Streeter Aldrich was first published in 1928. The age of the book is evident in its rambling, amateur style, with nearly every sentence, it seems, beginning with the words “And then…”. I was well into the book before I saw the point of it, but when I did, I found it to be insightful and brilliant. It is the story of fictional pioneer mother Abbie Deal, who as Will Deal’s new wife, moves with him to the Nebraska frontier of the 1850s. Where the wonderful Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder tell of frontier life through the eyes of a little girl, “A Lantern in Her Hand” shows the point of view of a mother whose adult struggles and concerns go largely unnoticed by her children. When she was young, Abbie dreamed of excelling in the arts. She has the voice of a songbird, a passion for painting and capturing her landscape observations on canvas. But life gets in the way; goals are put off and later forgotten as she and Will work side by side to carve out a farm on the prairie and build a community that may someday provide the opportunities that so eluded her as a girl. When her children grow up to know the good life and to develop the talents their mother never had the chance to use, they never really realize how much she gave up for them. We, as reader, are in the enviable position of viewing an entire life from beginning to end, a perspective we would rarely observe in real life. Adults and children may be gently reminded that inside every elderly woman or man, a young, idealistic person used to be. And in reading about Abbie, we know that a young heart still exists that wants to sing on the top of a windy knoll. I can highly recommend this book for its wonderful perspective.
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Forgotten childrens classics make for good summer reads 9 of 10 on the basis of 969 Review.