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Helping an Abused Family in Distress: An Important Note from Valerie

Book lists, reviews, and discussion for homeschooling families

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I'm Valerie Jacobsen, mom of eleven children aged 28 to 11, 8 daughters and 3 sons. I've been educating my children at home for 24 years now, and I have five children still at home, learning together with me.

My parents read my first books to me when I was six weeks old, starting me on a lifetime journey with good books, and one of my greatest joys as a mother has been sharing the very best and greatest books with my own children. We live in an incredible time, when families of very modest means can build and maintain libraries of incredible quality. Valerie's Living Library is my effort to share some of our family's literary experiences with you. While I do occasionally sell books here, the heart of my site is a large and growing collection of free lists and reviews, to help you find and rescue some of the world's finest literary treasures, especially when you can find them for a dollar or less at your own local library's book sale!

Just like a healthy body, a child's mind, imagination, and heart desperately need good, nutritious food! We do not live in a time of high culture. What is currently passed off as essential to childhood is often worthless, or worse. Some books, which are recommended as fun, are the equivalent of fluorescent frosted sugar cookies--cheap, empty words and pictures with little beauty, depth, or quality. Others, which are said to be nutritious, are no better than canned vegetables--no fun, very bland, and almost depleted.

Our children need very good and great books that engage their minds, inspire their imaginations, and thrill their hearts. Reading isn't merely for the sake of decoding and comprehending text. If it were, then any meaningless, soulless, or even poisonous books would do. But reading was given to us by God to help us to know Him, to know ourselves, and to know our world. God's gift of reading is a mandate to us, to seek the best and truest books for ourselves and our children. Our parental efforts to supply the very best for our children reflect our Christian yearning for the perfections of the New Heavens and New Earth, which we will see, if our lives are hidden with Christ in God. In the greatest way, and in every small way, the things that are very beautiful and true are very good and desirable.

So, what are the best books for children? The years from about 1945 to about 1965 were what I call The Golden Age of Children's Literature. Some of the very best children's books ever written in the English language were published during that time. While some wonderful books were published before and since, there was an abundance of creativity during that time and many of these books are now long out-of-print, with the last remaining copies waiting to be rescued at library book sales.

As much as I am able to do so, my thinking and reviews reflect my belief that the best and most wonderful book is the Bible, the living word of our Creator. While you are collecting fine fiction, gripping histories, and engaging science books, don't miss or neglect God's kindness and good will to reach us through His Word. With shorter readings of 15 minutes a day, you can read through the Bible every year. With longer readings of 45 minutes a day, you can read through the Bible in just four months, encountering each living chapter with a lively memory of every other chapter. Reading and re-reading the Bible in this way, you will begin to see patterns and themes emerge from the pages of Scripture, and you will learn to know God better.

Reading the Bible aloud to your children will benefit both you and your children. For your children, it will help them know God's Word and develop a listening habit that will serve them well when they come together with the Church to hear it preached. For you as parents, reading the very word of God with your own voice to your own children, ready to answer their questions, will tend to increase your own understanding and retention.

Reading the Bible thoroughly and often is one means toward identifying the world's best books, but then these almost return the favor by giving our families a grasp of Story, metaphor, and language which prepares us to read the Bible with ever greater understanding.

Our family uses various readings plans but this is one of our favorites.

Our first lists and reviews were posted to the Internet in October 1998.
Our virtual library continues to grow.
I mark recent additions as "
Pages with recent additions and changes are marked "UPDATED".

Helping an Abused Family in Distress: An Important Note from Valerie

The Great Big List of Lists and Reviews--

Scroll DOWN for more information on collecting and using great children's books in home education.

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Supplemental Lists
I do not collect these, but many families do, and love them. (I had to stop somewhere!)


Please consider reading my essay,
"Book Lists:  Handle with Care"

Caring for a Collection:

While you are visiting my pages, be sure to see my Resources for Book Collectors for links on cleaning, repairing, evaluating, storing, and USING collectible books.

You are also welcome to view my description of Organizing a Christian Homeschool Library.


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