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.