No one denies the importance of reading in the life of a child. The difficulty for parents is choosing from the vast array of literature available. It is challenging to find books that meet the requirements of Philippians 4:8, that encourage a love for story and strengthen personal character, and that are easily available. Enter, The Book Tree: A Christian Reference for Children’s Literature (Second Edition) by Elizabeth McCallum and Jane Scott (Cannon Press, 2008).
A Superior Guide
This guide is superior to other books about books in that it provides ample summaries for each book selection. Without giving away the stories, the writers interest us in each title. I have used these descriptions to choose appropriate read-aloud and independent reading assignments for my children, and I have handed The Book Tree to a child and asked him to mark selections that interest him.
The number of titles presented does not overwhelm me, as with many guides. Categories divide the books: Preschool (up to age six) Literature, Elementary (grades one to five) Fiction, Middle School (grades six to eight) Fiction, Elementary and Middle School Biography, High School Fiction, and High School Biography. But as the authors recommend, do not limit yourself only to the category that applies to the age of your child. You may miss a treasure. The four extensive indices make it easy to find selections by title, author, illustrator, and subject, which is a boon to homeschoolers using the unit study method. The biography sections form an excellent foundation for history study.
If you already own the first edition, is it worth the money to buy the second edition? I believe so. The over one hundred additional book reviews make it worth the price as do the enhancement of illustrations. Many of the additions included some of our family’s favorite books. If you do not own the first edition, run, do not walk, or better yet, climb into the branches of The Book Tree for a reading treat.
By Kara Murphy
—Originally published in the “God’s Word Does Not Return Void” issue (May/June 2009) of Homeschooling Today magazine