2 Must Read Character Building Fiction Books for Tweens

2 Must- Read Character Building Fiction books for Tweens


Today I have the honor of writing this article, 2 Must-Read Character Building Fiction Books for Tweens, over at LikeMindedMusings.com, as part of Lee Felix’s 30 Days of Tween Parenting Encouragement!

For each day of May, Lee is featuring another blogging mom of tweens on her site to talk about this phase of parenting. There’s so much information out there for the years of parenting babies and toddlers, and then it feels like the older your kids get, the less people want to talk about it.

Here’s a snippet of my post. Be sure to check out the other 30 days as well!

“Farmer Boy was an easy sell for my boys. (I don’t have any girls.) They were definitely not excited about this next one, Secret in the Maple Tree, by Matilda Nordtvedt.

They protested at first, but then they grew to love it.

Yes, in this book, the main character is a girl. Her name is Hilda, and she is one of the most real, relatable characters you will ever read. Almanzo in Farmer Boy was naturally a very well-behaved boy. Hilda has to work much harder at it. This character is based on the author’s mother-in-law, Mrs Ebertina Erickson Nordtvedt, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, who migrated in the late 1800s.

Also, I have more good news.”

Click here to read the rest.


Be sure to subscribe to the other 30 days if you are a parent of tweens!


What I’ve Been Reading and That Famous Niemoller Quote

What I've Been Reading and That famous Niemoller Quote

I recently finished reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The funny thing is that I chose this book because I was confused. I was mixing Bonhoeffer up with Niemoller. I was so excited to learn more about the man who said this:

What I've Been Reading and That famous Niemoller Quote

Martin Niemoller

I took that photo on our 2012 trip to Boston.

Bonhoeffer had a lot in common with Niemoller, except he was executed about 2 weeks before Hitler killed himself. Hitler personally selected Bonhoeffer to be killed because Bonhoeffer was part of a large conspiracy of German aristocrats to assassinate Hitler.

In fact, they tried to kill Hitler and failed several times without Hitler even knowing it, until that last time when the bomb actually did explode, right at Hitler’s feet, and the evil murderous man didn’t die.

You’ve heard of the Gestapo, but have you heard of the Abwehr? That was another German government intelligence agency. The Abwehr was full of guys who wanted to kill Hitler in order to save millions of lives and to save Germany. It was dissolved by the Nazis in 1945 when they realized it was full of conspirators.

Bonhoeffer was a part of that group. Niemoller was not. Niemoller had already been in prison since the beginning of the war.

Don’t let Niemoller fool you. He was humble. He spoke out so boldly against the Nazis, from his pulpit, as a Lutheran pastor, that he spent pretty much all of World War II locked in a German prison cell. His support for Hitler was extremely short-lived. When Hitler first rose to power, some people just thought “Yay! Not Communist!” It didn’t take too long for the gloves to come off.

Did you know that when Alan went to Iraq he learned that their whole middle eastern society was indoctrinated to believe that the Holocaust never happened? They all believe it was a giant myth. They say it was propaganda put out by the Jews, because there is such a strong hatred of Jews over there.

History tells the true story. There are survivor stories, photos, videos, piles of their hair, remaining buildings of their death camps, and first-hand journal accounts of what happened to the Jews and to anyone else who stood in the way of the Nazis.

Niemoller and Bonhoeffer did know each other long before either of them were imprisoned. There was mutual respect there. They ran in the same circles. They knew many of the same people. They lead the Confessing Church movement, which pulled away from the German Church, blatantly disagreeing with Nazi policies.

It was so interesting to learn about WWII from more of a viewpoint on what was happening inside Germany.

No quote in the book beat Niemoller’s quote on apathy. There’s a reason it’s so famous, but here are a few quotes from the book on Bonhoeffer that I found interesting.

I loved what Bonhoeffer wrote in his Advent letter of 1938 to Confessing Church leaders. I love it because the fact is that good is not always winning. Sometimes evil is winning, but that doesn’t mean you should not do the right thing:

“And we simply cannot be constant with the fact that God’s cause is not always the successful one, that we really could be “unsuccessful”: and yet be on the right road. But this is where we find out whether we have begun in faith or in a burst of enthusiasm.”  (Bonhoeffer, p. 318)


Not every nation’s churches folded under the pressure of the government as Germany’s did.  Germany occupied Norway from 1940-1945, and their church leaders fought back, even if their government didn’t.

“In March Quisling overreached again, establishing a Norwegian version of the Hitler Youth. A thousand teachers immediately struck in protest……On Maundy Thursday, Bishop Berggrav, the heroic leader of the pastors’ resistance, was put under house arrest. So on Easter, April 5, every pastor in Norway did what their bishops did six weeks earlier and what Bonhoeffer had begged the German pastors to do in July 1933: they went on strike.”  (Metaxas, p. 395)



A different 9/11.

In Europe, they write dates with the day followed by the month and then the year, so 9/11 is November 9th. Germany’s 9/11 was in 1938. It is called Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass. The Nazis beat up and killed Jews, destroyed their businesses, burned their synagogues, and destroyed and looted their homes. Broken glass was everywhere. The result thereof was only more terror.

Here is a little bit of what Bonhoeffer wrote in response to it. He read Psalm 74, the 2nd half of which reads “They burn all of God’s houses in the land.”

“This was when Bonhoeffer most clearly saw the connection: to lift one’s hand against the Jews was to lift one’s hand against God himself. The Nazis were attacking God by attacking his people. The Jews in Germany were not only not God’s enemies; they were his beloved children.” (Metaxas, p. 316)

Whether you agree with Bonhoeffer or not, he was a fascinating man who walked very closely with God. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more not only about him but about WWII Germany. If you can hang with the first half of the book, which is slower, you will be richly rewarded by the second half.

  $8.92?? What? I paid a lot more for it back at Christmas time. *sigh*
And here’s an Amazon affiliate link in case you want to read this book too. Just be forewarned. It’s like 600 pages, but you will learn a ton.

And for my next book, I have decided to read something quicker. I’m going with a Christian fiction novel involving some espionage and action. Excited to get into this one too.

What have you read lately that’s good? Leave me a note in the comments.

Our Favorite Books from Homeschool Year 2

favorite books from homeschool

There is a time of day that is my absolute favorite. It’s the hour at the end of the day when I read to the big boys. The children love it too because it means spending time with Mom. Do you think Joshua and Caleb would ever, in a million billion years, have chosen to read the entire Little House on the Prairie series?


They LIVE outdoors, so actually they have plenty in common with little Laura Ingalls.

This is a series of books that takes the time to describe the common things that little girls did every day in the late 1800s. There are chapters in which Laura describes their dresses, the color of their hair, and how to make maple sugar.

No, never, ever would my boys have chosen these books.

 But you know what? We LOVED them. They groaned a little through the first one, but once the Ingalls started having run-ins with bears or wolves, I had them hooked. We are now almost finished with The Little Town on the Prairie, which means there’s only one book left, and we are Sadness.

I cannot tell you how much the boys have learned from listening to this series. We have learned how they built the railroad, how they plowed fields, and how children were (and still should be) expected to behave. We’ve learned about blizzards that lasted for days, grasshoppers that destroyed people’s livelihoods, prairie chickens, and literary societies! We’ve learned from Almanzo a better work ethic and from Laura that sometimes it is so very hard to be good, but it’s worth it to help others.

Their vocabularies have expanded. They understand the western expansion period of American history in a way that you can only get from a first-person account.

Oh! And the morals! You know I adore the high moral value of these books.

The boys’ favorite part, though, is always the wolves or bears. Anytime wolves or bears show up, we are tickled pink. They also despise Nellie Olsen and delight in seeing Laura get the upper hand.

The Little House books have been my favorite part of home schooling, by far.

You can see why I so badly want to try a cross-country road trip, and squeeze in a visit to a Little House museum.

Here are a few other books that are also fantastic, most of which the boys actually did pick out.

To say that Caleb likes this book would be a gross understatement. Caleb LOVES this book, mostly because there are two pages about Megalodon, an enormous extinct shark that he’s sort of obsessed with. Like seriously. Lately most of his artwork is shark art.

The boys would much rather focus on science reading than history, especially Joshua. He is supposed to be “Writing through Ancient History” with his writing class, but writing lessons have improved 100% for us, since I started letting him write on science or sports topics rather than history.

This is Joshua’s current favorite. It’s highly educational, but even the photos on the cover are so gross that Caleb makes him place the book facedown on the table. Of course, grossing us out is what makes it fun, so Joshua keeps taking this book to Classical Conversations and using different sections from it for his presentations.

This one both Joshua and Caleb like. I have also learned a lot from it. Who am I kidding? I’m always learning just as much as they are!

This next book has been my greatest purchase of the year, for Caleb:

I have no idea what brought it on, but Caleb suddenly decided that he wants to keep a diary, and he wanted it to be like Greg Heffley’s. Oh my goodness, I’ve never ordered something so quickly. See, what you don’t realize is that I’m actually just as “thrifty” as Alan. Alan saves money by working sales. I save money by trying to never buy things. (I can just see my mom reading this with scrunched eyebrows. Okay. Yes, this does not apply to clothes. No one can ever purchase too much clothing.)

Caleb has been diligently writing and illustrating in his new journal. He even has it divided up into chapters. It is serious business, and all of this with no begging, like I usually have to do to get him to write! So I’m beyond excited. (Did he already have a perfectly good spiral notebook to write in? Yes, he has several, but whatever inspires him, I guess!)

We also still read Elephant and Piggy. For kids ages preschool-2nd grade, I’m telling you, you can’t go wrong with Mo Willems.

 These are also helpful for young readers. They are called Pathway Readers:


Whether you are a homeschool family or not, give these history stories a try!! They are in chronological order, and I promise you will learn just as much as your children. The stories are all short and interesting and packed with little-known historical facts. I read them out loud, but the big kids could read them too. We also have them on audio book. Joshua hates the audio book version, but Caleb actually asks to listen to them in the car!

There are even worksheets you can buy to go along with it, but I confess that we never get around to the worksheets or the color sheets. I figure they’re getting enough with the stories and the copious amount of map drawing and labeling that we do in CC.

I could talk books all day long, but the Dan Man is here asking me for milk.

What are your kids’ favorite books??

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