Books to Strengthen Resolve and Inspire Integrity

While I love fantasy, I didn't truly delve into it until well into high school. My Dad had whet my appetite with The Hobbit and stories from The Lord of the Rings, and we read Lawhead's Dragon King trilogy together as a bedtime story when I was 8 or so... but as we lived in France, far from libraries of English-speaking books, I read in French and what we had around the house (and what I got for Christmas!). The French aren't known for their fantasy or sci-fi (with the notable exception of Jules Verne). My favorite genre was historical fiction; my bread-and-butter and dearest joy. Sure, I loved mysteries, but they never impacted me like history did. I was forever changed by reading "La Jeunesse d'Une Petite Reine" (the youth of a little queen), a history of Mary, Queen of Scots-- it was the first book to make me cry, and birthed in me a lifelong love for the monarchies and family trees of Europe. That said, here are some of my favorites, roughly in order of age appropriateness:

- Ben & Me, Robert Lawson
- Time Cat, Lloyd Alexander
- Huguenot Garden, Douglas Jones
- Ink on His Fingers, Louise Vernon
- Captive Treasure, Milly Howard
- Sarah, Plain & Tall, Patricia MacLachlan
- Sir Gibbie, George MacDonald
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick - the illustrations make this book a unique experience
- Little House in the Big Woods and all its sequels, Laura Ingalls Wilder (probably single-handedly responsible for my love for "the frontier")
- Life in the Great Ice Age, Michael J. Oard
- The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare
- Around the World in Eighty Days, Jules Verne
- Anything by Scott O'Dell; my favorite was The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt By Day
- A Gathering of Days, Joan W. Blos
- The Midwife's Apprentice, Karen Cushman
- The Christian Heritage Series, Nancy Rue (I read "The Salem Years" titles, because they were what I had, but I'm sure the following Williamsburg and Chicago sets are just as good).
- <North to Freedom also called I Am David, Anne Holm
- Kidnapped and Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
- Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (yes, it's a loose definition of "historical fiction")
- Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt
- Rifles for Watie
, Harold Keith
- Hans Brinker (also called The Silver Skates, Mary Mapes Dodge
- The Count of Monte Cristo (my favorite book as a 5th grader), Alexandre Dumas, pere
- The Bronze Bow,Elizabeth George Speare (helped me to love Jesus as never before)
- <Little Women and Little Men, Louisa May Alcott
- Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott
- - The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
- The Slave Dancer, Paula Fox
- I've heard that the G. A. Henty books are really well-loved, especially by boys, but I've never tried them.

- Queen of the Reformation, Charles Ludwig
- The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom (not fiction)
- Mimosa, Amy Carmichael (not fiction)
- Missions & the Millers (short missionary biographies)

One of my favorite things about the "classical method" of teaching is that it roots everything in the flow of history. So a literature unit will often revolve around books set in the time period or place which the student is studying in history or geography. That's when historical fiction comes in SO handy, biographies, too! (Of course other genres are brought in easily, tied in by their thematic elements. And kids are encouraged to read on their own for fun, without being told to do it!)

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