Skip to main content

Culture Children's Books

Times past

Children’s Books

Times past

Learning lessons from stories rooted in history

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink: Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series will also enjoy Carol Ryrie Brink’s story about the Woodlawn family, pioneers living in Wisconsin in the 1860s. The book, based on the life of Brink’s grandmother, follows the adventures of Caddie and her siblings as they get into scrapes, make friends, and learn life lessons. As a tomboy and free spirit, Caddie struggles with learning to be a lady when all she wants to do is have adventures like her brothers. The stories include humorous moments and poignant lessons about loss and growing up. A classic work of frontier literature for children. (Ages 8-12)

Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray: Adam is the son of a minstrel, and he wants nothing more than to travel with his father. He’s overjoyed when he finally gets his wish. But when another minstrel steals his dog, Adam finds himself on an adventure requiring him to make his own way in the world for a time. He encounters colorful characters as he journeys from fairs to courts, schools to farms, inns and beyond. The author deftly weaves into the plot historical tidbits that expand the modern reader’s understanding of 13th-century medieval life. (Ages 8-12)

Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John: This story of revenge and forgiveness centers on Annette Burnier, a girl living in the mountains of 1950s Switzerland. After her mother dies giving birth, Annette endeavors to help her father raise her little brother Dani. Despite hardships, the two live an idyllic life with their father and grandmother. But when a neighbor boy hurts Dani in a fit of meanness, it sets off a long-running, icy feud between him and Annette. The book offers a clear presentation of the gospel and what it means for our relationships. (Ages 8-12)

The Journeyman by Elizabeth Yates: Jared Austin is different from his family and friends, which makes it difficult for him to fit in within his post–Revolutionary War community. When a journeyman painter visits his farm and offers to take him on as an apprentice, Jared seizes the opportunity. As Jared grows into a man, he learns how to stencil walls to make Americans’ homes beautiful, but he also learns about beauty, loss, patience, dedication, and what it means to invest his talents for God and the good of others. In this beautiful and compelling story of perseverance and love, Jared must work hard and overcome obstacles—including the judgment and misunderstanding of his community. (Ages 8-14)


Before Walt Disney’s animated Robin Hood debuted an anthropomorphic fox, Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood served as the definitive tale about everyone’s favorite outlaw. This classic book is a rollicking, episodic adventure of friendship and ­mischief, full of colorful descriptions and the lovable rogues from Robin Hood’s world. The tripping, antiquated English could be a challenge for children but will encourage them to stretch their linguistic ­muscles—and pull out the dictionary now and then. The language makes the story more immersive, allowing the reader to feel fully engaged in Robin’s world of merry old England. It will especially appeal to middle-grade boys who are ready to expand their reading skills. —R.L.A.

Parents who enjoy reading other classic stories with their children may find David Swayne’s Treasure in the Tales (Kindling Press, 2019) a helpful resource. Swayne unpacks 12 well-known fairy tales like Pinocchio, Cinderella, and Peter Pan to help families use the stories to teach gospel themes. —Kristin Chapman