Raising Godly Children in an Urban Climate

by | Raising Children, Reading Aloud | 4 comments

Dear Laurie, I am in the process of getting rid of many of my children’s books. As we read through them my son was either upset about these horrid stories or I was skipping over stories, meanwhile being barraged with questions why. However, I need something else to read to my son. I have little success at my small urban public library, which is extremely liberal and small. I also incur many late fees. Can you recommend an anthology and some picture books to keep us busy for a year or two? We read for an hour every day. My little guy is four but he will sit for many long stories. We have the Little House on the Prairie, but we also need some shorter stories. Does Nathaniel’s booklet, Hand that Rocks the Cradle, cover this question?

Also, can you write something about raising Godly children in an urban climate? We are in the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale. It’s not Manhattan or anything, but we live in a condo and have very little space for gardening. (Although I have great plans for our fifteen feet of land!) We certainly can’t raise horses, and my son will be with mom and sister 60 hours per week as Daddy works in the city. I am praying for change, but in the meantime…perhaps there are suggestions you can make? Thanks! S…

If your little boy can handle the Little House books, then how about these:

Shasta of the Wolves by Olaf Baker
Black Fox of Lorne by Marquerite De Angeli
The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong
The 21 Balloons by William Pene Du Bois
The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds
Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marquerite Henry

All these and many more are listed in Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

Yes, raising children in the city can be challenging, especially if Daddy is working long hours. My first suggestion is that when Daddy is home, perhaps the little boy can be with him as much as possible. But in the meantime, Daddy’s homecoming can be anticipated and celebrated with great delight. We can make pictures and cards and gadgets out of toothpicks and popsicle sticks for Daddy to surprise him. We can memorize Bible verses and poetry to recite for him in the evening after supper. We can cook him delicious cookies for his lunch (some boys are better at this than others).

We lived in town for 7 years, from 1975-1982, and, although we had a moderately sized yard for the children to play in, I distinctly remember the children and I circling and circling the block in an attempt to get the wiggles out. I suggest that you give the little boy a small part of that yard of yours for his very own. This can be his first attempt at dominion. Of course you will teach him the responsible use of his land and hold him accountable for its upkeep. Perhaps Daddy can give him a small tool chest along with some kid-sized lumber and the boy can use his hammer and nails to build a fort, and when Daddy’s home they can paint it. Of course, you know that all these suggestions will not win for you a place in Better Homes and Gardens, and I suppose the other condo dwellers would rather you not mess up the place but just send the kid to preschool. Oh, well, it’s only temporary.

Young children need plenty of time to play, but they also need to learn to work and make themselves useful. That’s why our suggestions run along the lines of buying tools instead of toys. They need to know that they are an essential part of your family, even at four years old, and that you really need their help — not in the way that a master needs a servant to do work for him, but in the way that a business owner depends upon his partners.


  1. HolyExperience/Child's Geo

    EXCELLENT book list.
    And very thoughtful advice…as always.
    Warm thanks,
    Ann Voskamp

  2. BETTY

    OH!! I can so relate to this post, I live in Miami! We are at times overwhelmed with the worldliness of living here. It exposes my children to so many things that I wish they never had to have shoved into their faces. We’ve prayed and even tried to move, but the Lord has closed the doors for now. So, we have come to understand that the Lord has us here for a reason and we need to take advantage of the unique opportunities to living here while we can.

    One thing we try to do is to learn about the different cultures that live here (including mine–I’m Cuban!). We cook up different ethnic foods and have fun talking to different people. We also try to show some special attention to the elderly population that lives here especially on holidays like Veteran’s Days. Your son could meet some real heroes this way!

    In the past, we have been involved with a weekly homeschooling park group, which planned wonderful fieldtrips every month. We discovered places I had never even heard of. Now, instead, we take a nature day and have picnics at a park with a pond, in hopes of sighting some nature. We have downloaded blueprints for building birdhouses and birdfeeders and the boys (8 yrs. old) have done this with dad. We’ve planted tomoatoes, beans, cucumbers, and milkweed plants and have learned alot about raising plants and butterflies. We have birdfeeders all over the yard, and have seen such surprising varieties of birds, especially this time of year. Don’t forget the fun of Lego’s, Knex, and Lincoln Logs and Thomas trains! These are the types of toys that I’ve focused on as they really encourage the children to all play together and my dh still finds it fun and nostalgic to join them! Anything from the Vision Forum catalog for boys is sure to bring your son and dh together!

    My dh works long hours also. So when he is home, I try to have all housework done so that we are free to go on nature walks, picnics, or build things. We also like to travel with dh when he needs to for work. We spend the day either in the hotel pool or at a museum and then meet my dh for dinner!

    I really recommend the William Northey Old Homestead books as well as anything by Sam Campbell. These lively stories will teach you so much about nature that when the Lord does provide an opportunity for a change of scenery, the nature you see will already be familiar. For picture books, we’ve found that the book list for Five In A Row is wonderful! We used the curriculum too! Sugar Creek Gang audio series has also been a favorite of our boys. It’s amazing how many times they will listen to these. They are full of good, wholesome boy fun!

    Sorry so long. I’ve never lived anywhere else but here. I know how bad it is at times. But the Lord is in all places and He can bless the time you’re here. We’re looking forward to the day He provides an opportunity to live outside a city for a more wholesome, nature friendly environment and lots of room to explore!

    Blessings, Betty

  3. Jammie

    I also have a 4 year old son. We took the advice of buying tools for our 4 year old. He LOVES them. We bought them for his birthday. They are inexpensive and he keeps them on his plastic tool bench. He also has several 2×4 boards, each about a foot long. He is constantly hammering them, coloring them, using wood glue and clamps, etc. Also, my husband brought home a couple of pc’s that were no longer useful. He has loved taking all of the screws out of it and disassembling it. It is messy at times, but he really loves doing this. All of this he does indoors while I am working with his sister on her TATRAS.

    Re: …15 foot of outdoor space. I must recommend the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. He has a website as well (www.squarefootgardening.com). It makes gardening easy for anyone with any amount of space.


  4. Lori

    I benefit greatly from the homeschool catalogs that I receive in the mail. They are filled with books, books, books. If you choose not to buy all of them, you can look at the library for the titles recommended. Veritas Press, Sonlight, CBD, Rainbow Resource, Vision Forum, Bethlehem Books and American Home-School Publishing are just a few. There are also books with lists of recommended books: Honey for a Child’s Heart, The Read-Aloud Handbook, The Book Tree, TruthQuest History, Who Should We Then Read, Books that Build Character, Let the Authors Speak, etc, etc, etc. Happy Reading Lori


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