Nine Books You Should Have Read As A Kid

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1. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I just loved this book as a kid. It has everything a good children’s book needs—adventure, fantasy, whimsy, and a good life lesson or two. The book follows Milo, a little boy who gets bored and drives his toy car through a magic tollbooth, on an epic adventure through the Kingdom of Wisdom. The Phantom Tollbooth is witty, heartfelt, and playful.  And for all the English nerds out there, this book has all kinds of good wordplay.  Enjoy.

2. The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg is a story about friendship, bravery, and finding your tribe.  I just love Konigsburg’s writing style—which may just be why she shows up multiple times on this list!

3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. The simplest (and best) way to describe this books is to say that its about friendship—real, genuine, no-matter-what friendship. The friendship that blossoms between the most unlikely pair, a pig and a spider, has something powerful to teach us about what can happen when we take care of one another and realize that we all need to be rescued sometimes.

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4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling is just gold. I won’t gush about Harry Potter (too much), but every kid should read the Harry Potter series…and every adult for that matter.  This is the kind of book that can make a kid fall in love with reading.  It is about magic, yes. But it is also about good versus evil, growing up, figuring out what you believe in, friendship, and standing up for what is right and good and true. I honestly can’t wait to read these books to my kids.

5. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar is a hilarious book about a school that was built 30 stories high and the wacky things that happens there. My second grade teacher used to read us a chapter from this book at the end of each day, and we loved it. This is the book for the kid who doesn’t like to read, and I can guarantee that it will have him rolling on the floor laughing.  Sachar just gets kids, and this book totally reflects that. Bonus: there are also two other books in the series that are just as wonderful.

6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a science fiction novel that follows a little girl named Meg’s journey through the fifth dimension to rescue her father.  There are a lot of difficult concepts in this book, but the writing is beautiful and honest and authentic.  It also teaches us that there’s nothing wrong with being the girl who is super smart and a little weird…in fact, it’s pretty awesome.

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7. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis might just be one of my favorite books of all time. C.S. Lewis possesses the rare ability to communicate effectively with both children and adults and to tell a story so vivid and tangible that it captures your heart and imagination and won’t let go.  The world that Lewis creates in the Narnia series is a captivating and beautiful portrait of who God is and his role in our lives. This is another series that I’m super excited to read with my own kids one day. 

8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has so much to teach kids about empathy, patience, and being a voice for justice. It’s also the kind of book you can read over and over again—and you should.

9. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg tells the story of two kids who run away from home to go live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.   I mean, what kid hasn’t fantasized about running free in a museum at night? I love how the author combines the main character’s thirst for adventure, mystery, and quest for identity with a fascination for art and history. This is definitely my favorite Konigsburg book.

What would you add to the list?

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Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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This weekend feels like the calm before the storm. We have a few quiet days then our next few weeks are full of Christmas celebrations, meetings, gatherings with friends, work functions, traveling, and lots and lots of Christmas movies. We’re about to head into the holiday season at full speed, so these next few days are about rest, finishing up our Christmas decorating, and just being together.

Here’s to hoping your weekend brings fun and relaxation. And Christmas movies. XO

For your weekend reading pleasure:

  • This excerpt from Anne Lamott on asking for help.
  • More gift guides! I love this one from Lauren Conrad—someone in my life is getting that wine. And also that elephant bottle stopper. And that someone may be me.
  • Earlier this week I wrote about Advent, and this piece from Sarah Bessey captures it perfectly. I love her voice and her raw, vulnerable honesty. The weary world is still waiting.

On Advent

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This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent.  If we’re not careful, Advent is pretty easy to miss. Christmas lights go up mid-November, holiday music starts playing sometime shortly after Halloween, and everything feels festive and merry long before Christmas day. Advent, with its somberness and quiet, gets swept under the rug. We light a few candles, but our hearts barely register what it means.

The season of Advent is about yearning, waiting, and anticipating. It is about creating space in our chaotic lives and hearts for the coming of Jesus, for the Word made flesh. It acknowledges that the twinkling lights and Christmas trees and familiar carols don’t tell the whole story—that before rejoicing there was longing. And it was hard.

Longing is something we all understand. Maybe this year we understand it better than ever before.  We understand the deep ache for something that is yet to be and the hunger for what is not yet ours.  But Advent offers more than just waiting. It offers a promise. It offers a promise that God made a long time ago that no feeling of brokenness or loneliness or emptiness is too great for his power and love to heal. It was a promise that he would send a Savior to heal this pain-stricken world and remind us all that this is not the end.

Advent, at its very core, centers on the belief that everything is going to be okay. It is about expectation and anticipation and longing and waiting, but most importantly, it is about hope. Yes, there is darkness and pain, but wait—there is more! There is a light coming, and that light will shine in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. Yes, there is hurt and brokenness and despair, but there is also rejoicing for a weary world whose cries have been heard. Yes, sometimes it feels like life is not worth living, but a new way of living is on the horizon, and it is good and holy and so, so worth it. And we have the promise that everything is really and truly going to be okay.

One of my favorite authors sums it up kind of perfectly:

“I believe deeply that God does his best work during times of great heartbreak and loss, and I believe that much of that rich work is done by the hands of people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over. There are years when the Christmas spirit is hard to come by, and it’s in those seasons when I’m so thankful for Advent. Consider it a less flashy but still very beautiful way of being present to this season. Give up for a while your false and failing attempts at merriment, and thank God for thin places, and for Advent, for a season that understands longing and loneliness and long nights. Let yourself fall open to Advent, to anticipation, to the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found, no matter how many times it’s been lost.”

-Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

To me, Advent is about hope. It’s about knowing that something better is coming, and this season I’m holding tightly to that truth.

What are you hoping for this Advent?

*Photo Credit

Weekend Adventures

We had a lovely weekend in Charlotte with some of our favorite people. My husband is a huge NBA guy, so it was a big deal for him to get to a Hornets game–and I’m just a sucker for good friends and good food.  We went with my college roommate and her husband (who just so happen to be our neighbors now), and we had a blast! Despite me being a sick, sniffling mess the entire trip, we had a great time exploring downtown Charlotte, finding delicious places to eat, going to the Hornets game, and stopping by Ikea on the way home.

The older I get, the more I’m finding that relationships require intentionality. They need us to carve out time and energy if they’re going to continue to grow. I’m making more of an effort to create time and space in my too full days to go on adventures and make memories with the people I love, because these are the moments that heal and renew my soul. It’s not as easy as opening my door and walking down the hallway to hers, but in a lot of ways I think it’s even better. And it’s definitely worth it. photo 1 photo 2   photo 5   photo 4