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So, having analysed what sold well last year, and what appeals to 11-14 year olds on a Pathfinder Venture, I also have a list of new books to stock this year. Having bent publisher Jonathan Carswell’s ear off about this (and I guess someone’s been doing the same to Tim Thornborough), both 10ofThose and The Good Book Company have published books for teenagers this year. It’s great to see some new Christian books for young people published in the UK. And some of them are particularly suited to the younger end of the spectrum, where the selection seems weakest.

I’ve just discovered that The Good Book Company’s camp page has lists of suggested books for camp, many of which I already knew about, but which also has some new ideas for me. You may find it helpful if planning your own bookstall!

So this year, I shall be supplementing last year’s favourite books with the following – and others if you have any good suggestions…

Lost by Jonty Allcock (£3-4) – A retelling of the Prodigal Son suitable for young people, challenging them to meet Jesus.

 

True by Sarah Bradley (£4.50-5.50) – A book encouraging girls in their Christian lives

Genuine by Cassie Martin – a series of studies of young people in the Bible aimed at older Pathfinders

Bibles – This year we’ll be stocking pricier ones (I rather like the patriotic Union Jack one) but also More Than Gold’s On Your Marks edition of Mark’s gospel, which is only 60p.

No Girls Allowed/Friends Forever – Undated gendered devotionals (different from last year’s) from Scripture Union which may appeal to some.

Puzzle Book – this seems like a fun way to get younger or reluctant readers to grapple with some systematic theology!

Bible from Scratch by Simon Jenkins – this fun cartoon bible overview was a favourite of mine when I was a teenager and hasn’t dated – great to see it available again.

YP’s Guide to Starting Secondary School – We’ll have a good few Year 6s with us on camp this year, so I thought it might be worth stocking a few of these.

The Back Leg of a Goat by Penny Reeve – The Queen enjoyed reading this a while back and I’d forgotten about it when I was planning last year’s bookstall. Penny Reeve has written a couple of other books for this age group which I thought I’d try out too this year.

I am also going to read through a few more of Kathy Lee’s books to work out which would be good to stock to ensure we have a good fiction range, alongside some Patricia St John and any other Christian fiction that I can find and think might work for lovers of stories.

Any suggestions and ideas will be gratefully received. I will be ordering our bookstall over the next couple of weeks and will blog the final order so you can see what I’ve ended up with. I am also starting to think about advertising the bookstall. As we’ve an Olympics theme this year (suspect this will be the case for every activity for young people this summer) I am planning on promoting ‘Training Manuals’ and using the Joker and the Engineer as Fit and Flabby who train with contrasting equipment eg Nintendo DS vs Bible etc.

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Now it’s June, we’re into the preparing-for-camp season. My Facebook timeline is strewn with appeals for helpers for various ventures around the country, Rocky and Bee are busy confirming exactly who is coming from our youth group and making sure we have the funds, the Vicar has booked the minibus and now my thoughts are turning to the bookstall that I’ll be running again this year.

Last year I had lots of fun planning the stall and reviewed a few books in the process. We had 50 or so 11-14 year olds from a range of booky and non-booky backgrounds. That younger secondary school end covers a wide range of abilities and maturity. Some kids were from Christian homes, some didn’t come to church at all. So the bookstall aimed to cover a pretty wide base.

We got our bookstall from the always-obliging 10 of Those, who have just launched a special camp bookstall service which I’ll be using this year. If they don’t have the book you want on their website, they will get it for you.

Bibles – we had great value NIVs costing about £5 which went like hot cakes, but these will be more expensive this year because there’s a new translation out. So I’m not sure how many we’ll sell. This year we’ll be studying Mark’s gospel at camp so I’m going to stock them – and they will be affordable, even if whole bibles are too pricey.

Bible reading notes – I stocked XTB (for 7-11s0, Discover (11s-14s) and Engage (14s-18s). They didn’t sell all that well.

Bible guide – We sold a good few copies of the YP’s Guide to the Bible – it only cost £2.50 and was affordable and interesting to look at.

Boring Bible series and 50 Weirdest/Goriest/Wildest Bible Stories (and similar by Andy Robb) – these cost £4.50 and are undated bible devotions. They were very popular and I’ll be stocking up this year.

For Girls Only & No Girls Allowed – These gendered devotional books sold well – I stocked a couple of each, but could have sold more. These are a little more expensive – around £8.

Grill a Christian – We sold this book at £2 – it’s packed with apologetics. Very popular with older Pathfinders (and with folk at church where I sold off some spare copies after camp).

The Case for Christ (Youth Edition), Case for Faith for Kids, Case for Christ for Kids – these sold well too.

Deadly Emily by Kathy Lee – I was very encouraged to sell this book to a couple of girls who aren’t great readers. I will be stocking more fiction for those who find non-fiction (even biographies) a bit heavy going. I am increasingly convinced that teenagers and preteens who love to read stories (like the Queen) should be reading stories with a Christian worldview. You can tell the truth in fiction.

Trailblazer biographies – we sold a bunch of these shortish books at £3. They are biographies and we stocked a variety, including ones of John Newton, Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael etc. There are lots of these, including a new Eric Liddell one, which will be on our stall for our Olympic theme this year.

Lightkeepers (Ten Girls/Ten Boys series) – these are also short biography books. They also sold well at £3.

Sneaking Suspicion, If I were God I’d… (by John Dickson) – We sold these to some of the older teenage boys.

School Survival – An excellent book on school life.

Peril and Peace – we sold this book of church history to an older Pathfinder who was looking for something stretching. This is one of a series of 5 Chronicles of the Ancient Church.

We sold a few booklets like: Why did Jesus Die? Why did Jesus Come? Why did Jesus Rise? How do I know I’m a Christian? How do I show I’m a Christian? These were only 20p so a few kids picked them up.

I also bunged a few books on the stall for leaders – including the excellent Enough by Helen Roseveare.

 Later I’ll post a list of some new books I’m planning to stock this year. Both 10ofthose and The Good Book Company have published books for younger teens this year.

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We’ve had many favourite kids’ bibles over the years in the Vicarage (and previously in the Curatage, the Ordinandage and the Engineerage). Top reads have included The Jesus Storybook Bible, the Big Picture Story Bible, the Praise Bible (sourced in a secondhand shop) and (when they were very little) The God Loves Me Bible. For a while the Engineer was very keen on the Veggietales Bible Storybook, and whilst I wouldn’t recommend it for teaching kids great doctrine or anything, his enjoyment more than made up for the struggles we had with reading about Dave and the Giant Pickle repeatedly. I think he learnt to read his first words from that book. As I recall, they were ‘God’ (yay!) and ‘Dave’ (not such a yay for that one).

Our kids love variety so we are always hunting for the newest best bible. All our kids can read a ‘proper’ bible now and the Engineer had been using an International Children’s Bible and the excellent XTB bible reading notes. He’d just finished a set of notes when I went on my conference the other week, where there was a hard-to-resist bookstall where they were selling The Gospel Story Bible.

I had a look through and decided that the 7yo Engineer might enjoy reading through this for a change from his bible notes. The way in which the bible stories are told pointing to Christ are so helpful. And each story comes with a few questions to help the child clarify what they’ve read and learnt. And this evening the Engineer skipped into the kitchen just before bedtime and told me he’d read three bible stories all by himself. He was so excited to communicate all that he’d learnt about the plagues and the Passover.

That’s a winner of a bible for me. Which bible do your kids read or have read to them? Do you have a family favourite?

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Kids find it hard to sit still at the best of times, but as I read with children at our church school I’ve noticed a few who just can’t keep themselves in a single place when they’re reading aloud, let alone doing it whilst listening to others read or reading to themselves. I liked this illustration of the phenomenon I found recently:[HT: Abraham Piper]

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I know I know, Lent began yesterday. But just in case you’ve meant to start something and forgot. Or maybe you’d just like to try something extremely worthwhile without worrying about exactly when you begin or end: the Bible Society have got a fantastic idea – wouldn’t it be great to listen to the whole of the New Testament? It will only take 28 minutes a day if you listen every day for the 40 days of Lent. They have a special new recording of the CEV, from Riding Lights theatre company. They also have a Welsh language version available. There’s also a free CD pack available. The Bible Society are obviously keen that we would contribute towards their work if we benefit from this project, but the audio downloads are free on the website.

Here in the Vicarage, we’re trying to listen to a chapter (or two) of the bible at teatime this Lent – we’ve been playing the audio on Biblegateway.com on the kitchen computer. We’ve been impressed by how quiet the kids are as we listen. Early days yet, tho’. But we have found the audio bible a good way to nourish ourselves with larger chunks of scripture.

If you have a tablet, or a smartphone, you can do the same thing using the free Daily Bible app.

So I think it’s worth a listen. Even if I don’t manage the whole New Testament in exactly 40 days, I’ll have taken in more scripture than usual, and that’s only going to be a help since

… faith comes through hearing…

Romans 10v17

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My three kids are all pretty good readers. The Queen, who’s ten, chomps through literature at a terrifying rate and the Joker (aged nine) loves poems and joke books. The Engineer is seven now and just at that tricky reading stage between picture books and proper story books with chapters. Our series of choice at this stage of reading is by Chris Riddell and begins with Ottoline and the Yellow Cat.

Ottoline is a little girl who lives in an apartment with Mr Munroe whilst her explorer parents travel around the world. Mr Munroe is a creature who comes from a bog in Norway and is covered in long hair. Ottoline likes to solve mysteries and she and Mr Munroe do this successfully in the first book and continue their adventures in Ottoline Goes to School and Ottoline at Sea.

The hardback books are beautifully produced and have a quirky retro style. The black and white illustrations (which have single colour tints) are exquisite. It was the first book that the Queen ever desparately wanted to read again as soon as she’d finished it. The Joker read them over and over, and now the Engineer loves them too. The vocabulary is interesting and includes stretching words like ‘distractedly’, ‘llamas’ and ‘knickerbockers’ (to give a few examples from Ottoline at Sea).

The Engineer has now decided that he wants to attend World Book Day (1st March, when you dress up as a literary character for school) as Mr Munroe. So I am off to Birmingham’s Rag Market on Friday to purchase fake fur. You don’t seem to be able to get a readymade Mr Munroe costume anywhere, curiously enough.

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The Reading Rule

Last month the Vicar and I spent some Nectar points on a garden swing. Sitting on it is incredibly relaxing but we had to make some rules about usage by children as we anticipated that over-vigorous swinging might ensue.

So the rule is:

You can only sit on the swing seat IF YOU ARE READING

This is working very well. I occasionally break the rule myself, but as it’s my rule I think that’s okay. Sometimes I just sit there with the Vicar or a friend and talk. But today the kids were on the swing, obeying the rule, which I found very heartening:

Reading (from L to R) Dr Who, Roald Dahl and Harry Potter

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In my quest for suitable books for the young people on our Pathfinder venture this summer, I picked up School Survival by Catherine and Louise House. Louise is Catherine’s school age daughter and some of this book is based on the experiences she had when she moved school. And although it’s called School Survival, it’s particularly about friendship and working that through, with a single chapter about starting in a new school. It is very suitable for the Pathfinder age group (11-14) as it covers many issues faced as young people move on to secondary school.

The book is a combination of stories, quizzes, activities and bible study and is split into 14 chapters, including ones on making friends, bullying, gossip, prayer and church. It might be suitable for a Year Six primary school leaver to study over the summer holidays, or for family devotions or even as an outline for a church Pathfinder group to study over a few weeks (the chapters are uneven in size, so some could be combined). I’ll be ordering a few copies for our camp bookstall.

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Last week my two younger kids were in bed, but they were having trouble getting to sleep. That was mainly because some of their classmates were still playing loudly in the street below our house. The youngest of the kids still playing out was eight. And it was 8.30pm, so I thought it probably appropriate that they go home and possibly even consider going to bed themselves.

When I proposed this to them, they were incredulous. They didn’t want to go to sleep yet. So I suggested that perhaps they could get into their pajamas and read a book before bedtime. The eight year old then emphatically told me:

Books are for BABIES!

A report from the National Literacy Trust has been in the news this week, talking about how book ownership is linked to educational attainment. We have lots of work to do here if the children of our parish are going to reach their potential. And be able to read their bibles so that they can know the living Word.

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Last week I blogged about some poetry books that I like to read with my own kids, and with the schoolchildren that I spend time reading with each week. The other resource that I use every week at school and that my gang at home have loved are a series of short stories, two in each book which come in a series as ‘A Pair of Jacks’.

There are four books in the series, written by Michael Lawrence and illustrated by Tony Ross. Each story is about 60 pages long, with large print and good pictures. What makes them great for readers all through Key Stage 2 (the Juniors to those of us who went to school before the National Curriculum) is that although there are not many words, there is much rich vocabulary and lots of fun with literary form in just a few pages.

Fiction-averse boys have enjoyed these stories as much as the girls – they are clever and humourous. They often play around with classic stories – the first one in the book shown above is called ‘Jack and the Broomstick‘ and is a parody of Jack and the Beanstalk – great for more able kids to think about how the original story has been subverted, but simple enough for the less able to enjoy aswell. This week I was reading from Jack-in-the-Box with a few of the children and we were discussing the meaning of ‘console’, ‘magnanimous’ and ‘ingrate’ as well as the frequency of orphan stories in children’s literature.

I’m planning a bit of a Jack-fest this half term with my kids – I’m going to see how receptive they are to guided reading with Mummy. Wish me luck – it’ll not be the books that are the problem if it goes wrong…

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