Great Biographies – Learning History the Fun Way
Don’t have enough time to read a large volume? If you have enjoyed some of the recent stories on my blog about some courageous women and would like to read more, but are too busy to engage in a 300 to 400-page book, try some of the following books.
I read books that are written for middle school-aged or high school-aged girls often. I choose ones that are well written, historically accurate, and very interesting. The fact that I can read them in one or two sittings makes them all the more enjoyable.
The books that I am reviewing in this posting are suitable for your 9 and above girls and YOURSELF! They are from the “Trail Blazers” series, published in the U.K.
These books would be great to share with your daughters. Each one has an appendix called, “Thinking Further Topics” with questions and answers for each chapter. There is also a summary time line at the back of the book that includes worldwide events that were going on at the time. For example, the book on Gladys Aylward lists her birth, 1902 to her death, 1970. There are 31 chronologically ordered events throughout her life so that the reader can put Gladys’ life into context with history. (1914 – WWI, for example) This is one of my favorite parts of the books. You and your child will get a better feel for history. And I always tell my children and grandchildren, “The most fun way to learn history is to read good biographies!”
One of my granddaughters has some mild difficulty with reading and so these books are wonderful to share with her. She loves the attention when someone will read with her. You will be edified and encouraged by the stories of these brave women who sacrificed much to serve God and others.
In my “Movie Reviews” posting (September, 2010) I did a review of “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”. This movie tells the story of Gladys Aylward’s mission in China. Part of her story takes place when the Japanese invade China. Gladys must help the orphans in her charge get to a safe place. Both the book and the movie are exciting.
— Howat, Irene, Isobel Kuhn: Lights in Lisuland, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K., 2001).
Isobel was not a likely missionary candidate as a child. She had many doubts about God. This story will encourage your heart as you read how God met her need and then Isobel gave her whole life back to God in gratitude for her salvation.
— Howat, Irene, Helen Roseveare: On His Majesty’s Service, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K., 2007).
Helen Roseveare was a medical doctor from England. She went to be a missionary in the Belgian Congo (as it was called in the 1950’s). Here too war played a part in her service to the African people. The communists were taking over and in the 1960’s the country became independent and changed its name to Zaire. Today that country is called the Democratic Republic of Congo. Helen helped to set up hospitals and train nurses. She was captured by the wicked rebels in 1964 and beaten and tortured. She was eventually freed and sent home to recover. This courageous woman loved her African people so much that she returned to serve them again. Eventually she went back to Britain and spent many years traveling around the world and telling her story. As of this writing I believe that she is still living (she must be 88 if she is) and living in Ireland.
— Howat, Irene, Patricia St. John: The Story Behind the Stories, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K., 2008).
Patricia St. John is one of the world’s greatest storytellers for children. Perhaps you might have read, “The Tanglewoods’ Secret” or “Treasures of the Snow”. These are great stories. Patricia St. John’s own life is a great story. War enters her story like so many others. In this case, during WWII, when the bombs were falling in London, Patricia helped out as a nurse. She later helped her brother at his hospital in Morrocco. Patricia enjoyed life very much and was able to capture the excitement and put it into stories for children.
— Mackenzie, Catherine, Joni Eareckson Tada” Swimming Against the Tide, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K., 2003).
Many people have probably heard about this amazing woman who was left paralyzed from the shoulders down after a diving accident. This book tells the whole amazing story of Joni’s accident and her struggles with depression and learning to function with her disability. There are addresses for how to contact Joni and become involved in her programs in the back of the book. Joni also authored several books and you can find information on getting those in the book also. There is even a full-length feature film, “Joni”, in which she has told her life story. It has been translated into 15 languages around the world.
— Watson, Jean, Corrie ten Boom: The Watchmaker’s Daughter, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K., 2003).
Here is another biography of a great woman of courage. Again, war enters our story. During WWII in Holland, the Germans had made many rules against the rights of the Jews. Corrie and her family tried to help the Jews. For this they were arrested. Corrie and her sister spent time in the most horrible women’s concentration camp in Europe. Corrie’s faith in God helped her get through this terrible time. There is also a great movie that tells this story, “The Hiding Place”. I highly recommend it.
Ok, now. Don’t let lack of time be your excuse any more. Get some of these or other books in the “Trail Blazers” series and be edified and encouraged. There are many more books in this series, even for boys!!