One thing I have always hoped our children would get from their parents is a love for reading. I smile inside as I tell my children they need to turn of the flashlights, set aside the books and get to sleep. What I don’t tell them is how happy it makes me that they all love to read. It’s even better when they snuggle together to share a book. That has been the case as our 14 year old daughter and her 9 year old sister have been enjoying the latest series by author Susan K. Marlow. Kregel Publications has just released Circle C Stepping Stones, Christian fiction for girls and boys. The first two titles, Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top feature 9 year old Andi Carter and her pony, Taffy.
My nine year old daughter is finding Circle C Stepping Stones to be perfect for her. Her reading level is a bit below her age, so she is not reading this independently. I expect a typical (if there is such a thing) third grader would find this appropriate as far as difficulty and chapter length. Each book has new words defined at the beginning, with pronunciation for tricky words like calliope. Twelve chapters, each 10 pages or less, half-a-dozen or so illustrations, and few pages of historical information round out the book. With 100 pages give or take, this book is the perfect length that my daughter feels like she is reading a real book, but not so long that it is overwhelming. Additional, and much to her delight, there are coloring pages and activity pages to download freely and a lapbook set (covering the first two books) for purchase. With these additional resources, this moved up from “just-for-fun” reading to language arts.
Throughout these books, we have really appreciated the Biblical worldview. The Wild West is a rough time period. Growing up has challenges and learning experiences. I really appreciate that my children aren’t being exposed to more than what I want them to be (though this isn’t a world in a bubble where nothing bad happens). When Andi is faced with decisions, or makes bad choices, it is clear, from a Biblical point of view, what is right and wrong. The story is not preachy, but this is presented as the normal way of life for Andi. I like to think (and pray) that this re-inforces for my children that God’s way is right. I like the examples that prayer and looking to an older sibling or adult are the right thing to do if (when) you get into a sticky situation.
Wholesome Fiction for Children
I’m looking forward to my youngest daughter growing up with Andi Carter. Just the mention of that name and my daughters want to know which book you are speaking of (and can fill your ear with all they know). They have read (nearly) every book in the four different series. Our introduction to Susan K. Marlow and her wonderful, engaging, wholesome fiction for children began with the first series chronologically, Circle C Beginnings. This series introduces us to a 6 year old living on a ranch in the Wild West of the 1870s. The next series chronologically is the new Stepping Stones series. The third series, Circle C Adventures, continues the adventures (and mis-adventures) of twelve year old Andi. This series launched Andi’s story and captured the hearts of many horse-loving girls. The fourth and final series, Circle C Milestones, is the happy conclusion to Andi (now Andrea) and her growing up years. Susan has also written a series featuring a young man of 12, Goldtown Adventures. Both my sons and daughters enjoyed these series, though my son wasn’t as interested once we reached the third series when he was very concerned with boy things vs girl things.