I read this book by myself and aloud with my family and found new creative fascination and spiritual insight with each read. L’Engle’s classic tale of the stubborn Meg, her abnormally intelligent little brother, and their gangly, gallant friend Calvin is an adventure tale to begin with, as the children travel galaxies in search of Meg’s scientist father who vanished in the midst of an experiment. Guided by the amusing and rather awe-inspiring Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which into the depths of the universe’s beauties, and its darkness, this is a story exploring the power of love to redeem, heal, and resist the power of evil. A book with humor, a tale rich in affirmation of the world’s beauty, this is a classic to be read again and again.
By Gene Stratton Porter
An all-time favorite in the Clarkson home, this is Porter’s tale of a thin but doughty orphan dubbed “Freckles,” whose grit and daring get him a job as the guard of the valuable timber in the “Limberlost.” Challenged by the timber-stealing Black Jack, and smitten with the grace and verve of the “Swamp Angel,” Freckles is a boy who does not flinch, his strength of mind and good heart helping toward the goal of doing his job and discovering his past.
Justin Morgan Had a Horse
By Marguerite Henry
A classic tale of a horse and his boy by a writer who knew and loved to write about horses, this book follows the story of how a boy named Justin, and the horse he raised, created the new breed of the Morgan saddle horse. Based on a true story.
By Esther Forbes
An outstanding novel of the Revolutionary War, this story of a young silversmith apprentice named Johnny, delves into the causes surrounding the American Revolution, introducing child readers to the history and culture of those times through the story of one boy’s adventures. This is truly history in a story.
By Ralph Moody
Based on a true story, this first title in the “Little Britches” series offers a glimpse into life in pioneer times in Colorado, a taste of the hard, wind-bitten work of making a good existence in a new land, the struggle of it, but also the sweetness that comes with love, family, and endurance. Great theme of a father/son relationship and based on Moody’s memories, this is a great series for boys. I like to think of it as the boy’s rough equivalent to the “Little House on the Prairie Series,” with Moody’s boy hero as the pioneer counterpart to Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Otto of the Silver Hand
This is Pyle’s medieval tale of the wise and faithful Otto, son of a German warlord, a boy with a strong conscience who is taken captive by his father’s enemy. Caught up in a world of revenge, war, and battle, Otto endures through it to become a man revered for his wisdom and peace and his silver hand. Great, classic drama with Pyle’s matchless illustrations.
By Sterling North
The charming story of an eleven-year-old boy and the raccoon who becomes his boon companion in escapades galore, but also in the hard work of learning to say goodbye when it is time. Based on the author’s own childhood in Wisconsin, this boyhood memoir offers readers a taste of what North himself called “a better era.”
The Black Arrow
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson’s historical adventure novel about a brave boy on his way to knighthood during the War of the Roses. When a black arrow flies through a castle window with a note promising an arrow for four more of the castle residents, including Dick’s uncle, a mystery begins in which Dick begins to question his father’s mysterious death. Forced to escape after a confrontation with his uncle, Dick eventually encounters “The Black Arrow,” a mysterious outlaw. Great historical drama, classic portrayals of nobility and courage. The Scribner’s edition has illustrations by the matchless N.C. Wyeth.
The Bronze Bow
By Elizabeth George Speare
One of my favorite’s of Speare’s novels (and she has several great ones), this story of Daniel, a young boy who witnesses his father’s cruel death at the hands of the Romans, comes back to me still. Living with outlaws, struggling with his hate, Daniel meets a curious new rabbi, a strange teacher named Jesus who takes his turmoil and begins to teach him about… forgiveness. (Caution: Daniel’s father meets a cruel death by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans.)
The Cosmic Trilogy
By C.S. Lewis
OPD: Out of the Silent Planet in1938, Perelandra in 1943, and That Hideous Strength in 1945
Lewis considered this trilogy of space-travel adventures a “fairy tale for adults.” Don’t be put fooled by the space-travel nature of these books, in many ways they have a medieval flavor in keeping with Lewis desire to “re-enchant” the modern imagination with the wonders of, not cold, empty “space,” but the golden dance of the “heavens.” The first book finds a philologist named Ransom (based, according to several sources, on Tolkien) on an unexpected journey to “Malacandra,” (Mars), where he encounters the presiding spirit of that planet and discovers why earth is, in a universe of singing, dancing stars, called “the Silent Planet.” The second book follows him on his second planetary journey to Perelandra (Venus), where he must assist that planet’s Eve in resisting the temptations of the “unman.” The third book takes place right on earth, with Ransom and the planetary powers pitted against the dark machinations of the N.I.C.E. A strange, vivid, convicting story in which Lewis imagines what might happen if the principles of “scientism” were seriously applied to education and society, this book can offer an uncomfortable commentary on our own materialistic age. Great moral drama and fantastical travel all made with Lewis’ vivid imagination and vibrant prose.
By Elizabeth Yates
The Journeyman is Elizabeth Yates quiet but luminous story of a young, artistic boy in colonial America, misunderstood by his family but given the gift of an apprenticeship to a journeyman painter. I loved Jared, the boy who learned to create color and beauty in the homes of farmer’s and homesteaders in early New England. A boy who was stronger in heart than in body, and offered a long, faithful love to those who took many years to see its beauty. The Journeyman offers a view of integrity, a picture of a strong man that is very different from those presented by culture today.
The Prince and the Pauper
By: Mark Twain
Twain’s classic tale of two boys, one a prince, one a beggar, who switch roles for a day… or a few more as it happens. Told with Twain’s usual wit and vivacity, the story follows the growth of the two boys as their minds expand with the exploration of their new worlds, teaching them how to better live, and rule, within their own.
The Sign of the Beaver
By Elizabeth George Speare
Another favorite by Speare, this is a grand boy’s book about a young boy left to fend for himself in early Colonial days when his family leaves him for a brief time. Befriended by a local tribe of Indians, the boy learns to survive in the woods by following their ways, and grows to love their fellowship. Torn between awaiting his family’s return and following the tribe, he must learn to weigh the hard questions of loyalty, survival, and faith.