Our First Five Reads of 2018- Kids Edition!

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By Jaime Showmaker

Two weeks ago, my Storyformed podcast partner, Holly Packiam, shared on the blog her first five books of 2018. It generated such a lively response and many questions, so I thought that I would share with the same list--with a twist! Here's the first five reads of 2018 in the Showmaker household--the kids edition!

The Wanderings of Odysseus by Rosemary Sutcliff- My older two boys began reading this over the fall semester with our local homeschool community, and we have been finishing up the last few chapters during the first weeks of 2018. It is a wonderful retelling of Homer's Odyssey and I have been pleasantly surprised at how engaged they have been in this ancient epic. The tales of Odysseus' journey home from the Trojan War and his encounters with creatures such as the Cyclops, the Sirens, and others are told in a way that is both engaging and appropriate for younger ears. If you can find a used copy, the edition illustrated by Alan Lee is particularly beautiful (caution: that edition does contain some nudity consistent with classic artwork portraying ancient Greek goddesses). 

The Last Archer: A Green Ember Story by S.D. Smith- We are huge fans of The Green Ember series, and this latest installment was just as beloved as the rest of the series. Set in the same time period as The Green Ember (book one in the series), this novella tells the story of Jo Shanks, an archer in the same battalion as Picket Longtreader, and his journey from Halfwind Citadel to Cloud Mountain. It is a thrilling story, revealing the perspective of a minor character from The Green Ember during a crucial moment in the epic adventure. My boys really loved the action and character in this book, and I was enriched by the depth that it brought to the rest of the series. 

Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving- Last Autumn, all three boys were in fits of giggles as we listened to Homer Price by Robert McCloskey. In the course of Homer's adventures, one of the characters mentions Rip Van Winkle, and so (of course), they wanted to know all about him. We listened to this initially in the fall via Audible, but they requested to read it again during Morning Time after our Christmas break. It was a short read, but they love the story of the man who falls asleep and wakes only to find that he has been sleeping for over twenty years! There are many editions out there, but the one illustrated by N.C. Wyeth is particularly enchanting. 

The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis- This is also a second reading for most of our family, but it will be the first time that we introduce the world of Narnia to our 4-year-old. In this beloved classic by C.S. Lewis, four English children are transported to a magical world via an old wardrobe, where they must choose between following a witch who causes perpetual winter in the land, and the lion Aslan, who has come to rescue with the dawn of Spring. We are going to see a live production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe this Spring, and so all three boys are eager to enter this magical land again!

The Princess and The Goblin by George MacDonald-  This extraordinary fairy tale, written in the 19th Century, captivated my boys from the very first chapter. Princess Irene lives on a mountain with goblins beneath her castle, and when they hatch a plot to kidnap her, she and her friend Curdie, a miner's son, must follow an invisible thread through the underground caves and back to safety. George MacDonald was particularly gifted with writing novels that combined fantasy and deep spiritual truths, and The Princess and the Goblin is one of his most well-known and beloved. And good news! If you are a member of Cultivating Life With Sally, starting February 1, we will be sharing an in-depth author study George MacDonald, so don't miss it!

(Note: My boys are 8, 6, and 4 years old)