On Growing up (or not), Books and the Usefulness of the Bloggernacle

By: Hedgehog
January 16, 2014

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Cor. 13:11

We’re a geeky kind of family, and maybe we parents are not yet grown up, since for the most part we still enjoy some childish things. We do geeky things together, like booking first entry of the day to see the Harry Potter Studios the first week they opened, and spending 5 hours in there. And making geeky observations, such as how small the sets were, and what kind of lenses must they have had on the cameras, and how must the actors have had to move differently in the space. We love Miyazaki anime, especially Totoro. Then there’s my love of duplo lego (because it’s big enough not to strain my eyes looking for the smaller pieces), and especially intelli-train (sadly no longer made). You get the picture.

Most particularly, however, I love children’s books. Reading is my form of escapism, and I especially loved introducing my children to books and the pleasures of reading. They had library tickets from a few months old. With the advent of Harry Potter a whole world of new escapist writing for children, unavailable to me as a child, has emerged. Together we have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy whole series of books (including Harry Potter). I admit it, I find I prefer children & teen fiction to adult fiction. That part of me is definitely still a big kid! So first, some recommendations of series we have enjoyed or are currently enjoying:

  • Ali Sparkes – Shapeshifter series*
  • Jenny Nimmo – Charlie Bone
  • Angie Sage – Septimus Heap
  • Holly Webb – Rose, Lily
  • Caroline Lawrence – Roman Mysteries, PK Pinkerton
  • Gerald Morris – Squire’s Tales
  • Val Tyler – Greenwich Chronicles
  • Michael Molloy – Witch Trade
  • Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Kane Chronicles
  • Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl
  • John Flanagan – Ranger’s Apprentice
  • Michelle Paver – Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Gods & Warriors
  • Philip Reeve – Mortal Engines, Larklight
  • Scott Westerfield – Leviathan
  • Alex Scarrow – Timeriders
  • Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider, Power of 5
  • Mark Walden – H.I.V.E.
  • Chris Morphew – Phoenix Files
  • Andrew Lane – Young Sherlock Holmes
  • Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games
  • Joanne Harris – Runemarks
  • Marissa Meyer – Lunar Chronicles
  • Teri Terry – Slated
  • Alison Croggon – Pellinor

Of course, as my children get older (they’re both teens now) they start to put away childish things. The duplo only comes out for visiting nieces and nephews these days. They begin to make their own explorations into books, and ideas, and religion. I am gratified that they seek to share their finds with me. My daughter likes to talk about feminism. Or to point out articles in the New Era she disagrees with. She’s always been fierce. My son, in addition to his computer obsession, likes to talk about the Book of Abraham, and the origins of scripture. The other day I found him reading the Book of Tobit (or perhaps about the Book of Tobit) on his Kindle. The Bloggernacle is an amazing resource when it comes to being prepared for all those conversations; I can point my son in the direction of a post by Kevin Barney on the Book of Abraham, and reassure my daughter that we aren’t the only ones to dislike that New Era article.

  • In what ways are you still a child?
  • Do you have any book recommendations for teenagers?
  • How do you use the Bloggernacle?



*Actually these were incredibly helpful. At the time, our son was frightened of everything, and a story about a boy who was so terrified he turned into a fox, but who learnt he could control his fear, and cope with risk, was really good for him.

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15 Responses to On Growing up (or not), Books and the Usefulness of the Bloggernacle

  1. Kevin Christensen on January 16, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    The best books for the Post Potter mind, best written and freshest.

    Terry Prachett’s four books about Tiffany Aching, starting with the Wee Free Men, A Hatful of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight. They take place in Discworld.

    Jonathon Stroud, the Bartimaeus Trilogy, starting with The Amulet of Samarkand, followed by The Golem’s Eye, Ptolomy’s Gate, and the prequel, The Ring of Solomon.

    Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle and WItch Week.

    Scott card, Seventh Son

    Roger Zelazny, 9 Princes in Amber

    Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book and Anansi Boys.

    To name a few.

    Kevin Christensen
    Bethel Park, PA

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  2. Nate on January 16, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    Hi Hedgehog. I don’t have kids yet, and I wonder how much of the Bloggernacle I would expose them too. It’s interesting that you have your teenagers reading articles like that one at BBC. Do you worry that they might be exposed to too much doubt to soon, or do you think its best to innocuate at an early age? My impression is that children and teenagers are black and white creatures who don’t handle nuance very well, so I would be inclined to give them a very orthodox view growing up. But maybe that would be disingenuous. Anyway, I have some time to think about how I would approach it, but I’m unsure right now.

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  3. bwv549 on January 16, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    That’s a great list. My wife and I have enjoyed discovering this genre with our kids; we’ve read many on your list and will have to check out the others. Thanks for sharing!

    Brandon Mull’s “Fablehaven” series and “The Beyonder’s” series are some of the very best in this genre, IMHO.

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  4. Hedgehog on January 16, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    To set your mind at rest, my children were the first to raise those topics, not me. I’m just glad they feel able to talk to me about them. I was walking back from his weekly seminary class with my son the the other evening, got a very brief answer to my question on what the lesson had been about ( Ammon and Lamoni), and then launched into an explanation of the documentary hypothesis for the OT, and how the BoM was essentially Elohist in the writing. He later forwarded me a link to an old Dialogue article on the subject. I’m certain none of that was in the seminary lesson. Goodness knows what other things he’s reading during online meanderings in breaks at school – the school do have filters, but not for religion I think. He also told me he has the Latin Vulgate on his kindle…
    So yes, I’m following them, and trying to keep up.

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  5. Hedgehog on January 16, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    *he then launched into – I was doing the listening…

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  6. MB on January 16, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    I recently canvassed a bunch of younger relatives about the books they particularly remembered enjoying or learning from between the ages of 13 and 18. Here are some titles from the long list they compiled, in no particular order:
    Redwall Series, Brian Jacques
    The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings
    Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
    The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
    Loser by Jerry Spinelli
    Inkheart By Cornelia Funke
    The Giver by Lois Lowry
    The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
    Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine
    A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
    The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy
    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kakwamba
    To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee
    Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    Man’s Search for Meaning- Viktor Frankl
    Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
    Night – Elie Weisel
    Notes from Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
    Silas Marner by George Eliot
    Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
    Why Geography Matters – Harm de Blij
    Eight Cousins, Lousia May Alcott
    Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott
    Sorcery and Cecilia, P.C. Wrede and C. Stevermer
    Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskill
    The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
    The Ramsey Scallop, Frances Temple
    The Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
    The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
    It Happened on the Way to War, Rye Barcott
    The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
    The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
    Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, Philip Hallie
    Dibs in Search of Self, V. Axline

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  7. New Iconoclast on January 17, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    I loved Barney’s post on the Book of Abraham. Thanks for the link. He refers to Karl Sandberg’s 1989 Dialogue article on Joseph’s translation method, too. Br. Sandberg was a friend of my in-laws, and I met him after my baptism, a couple of years before he wrote that article. I wish I had known him better; he died in 2000. I’d have loved to ask him about all of that. He was an extremely knowledgeable and erudite man.

    My kids actually did like Stephenie Meyer, if I won’t be banned from commenting for mentioning her, but I’d second MB’s endorsement of The Lord of the Rings. When someone tells me they’re an LOTR fan, I always ask them how many times they’ve read the books. If the answer is “Never, but I’ve seen the movies a bunch of times,” I know I’m dealing with a poseur.

    I also enjoyed Dune, by Frank Herbert, although none of the sequels were very good, and the follow-ups written by his son (a sort of pre-history) are actually terrible.

    Anything by Robert Heinlein except Stranger in a Strange Land.

    Isaac Asimov’s Robot stories, especially the novels The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun.

    For starters, those are some of the ones that kept me engrossed as a pre-teen and teen. I used to check books out of the “Teen Corner” at my local library, and I was always afraid they would card me and find out I was only 10 or 11. :) I guess it was good practice for my freshman year in college bars.

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  8. New Iconoclast on January 17, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    He also told me he has the Latin Vulgate on his kindle

    Good for him! Does he sing? I can think of many times when singing choral arrangements in Latin, someone has asked what the words meant, and I was able to refer to the KJV translation due to at least a passing familiarity with the Latin of the Vulgate (and a mission in Italy).

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  9. Naismith on January 17, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Diane Duane’s Young Wizard series that starts with So You Want to be a Wizard, And her cat wizards, too.

    Shannon Hale’s series that starts with Goose Girl. (I like her YA much better than the books supposedly for adults.)

    I guess I don’t understand the controversy around the New Era article. If the girl had been trying to talk her friend out of being a veterinarian, sure that would be problematic. But all she was trying to do was not be put down for her own choice.

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  10. Hedgehog on January 18, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    Thank you to everyone who has recommended books.

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  11. Hedgehog on January 18, 2014 at 1:14 AM

    NI, thanks for that link.
    My kids study Latin at school, and really enjoy it. My son doesn’t sing, though he did say knowing what the Vulgate already says in English (KJV) does help him with sorting out the declensions.

    My daughter’s problem with the article was not the girl’s desire to be a mother per se, but that it was a lousy plan. What was she going to do if it didn’t work out? She ought to have some kind of backup plan. And she did feel that this girl came across as feeling superior to the girl who was planning to train as a vet.

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  12. honey on January 18, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Anything by Garth Nix!

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  13. Naismith on January 19, 2014 at 6:13 AM

    Regarding the article, the YW was explicit that she DID have a backup plan and she was going to college. And yes, the YW was confident and sure of herself. But she never said anything that demeaned the prospective vet’s choice. What IS an acceptable answer when someone says that you’re too smart to be a mother at home?

    I don’t think it is a bad thing to prepare for an option, because if you don’t, you will not be prepared when the time comes. And while full-time parenthood may be common in some places, it is very rare in others, and not a bad thing for our youth to be exposed to the idea.

    I have a non-LDS friend who is a department chair of top-tier university in the midwest, a clear professional success. But the truth is that after she became a mother, she wished she could spend more time with them and felt trapped in the tenure track. She felt she had been lied to by feminists who said she could do it all. She said on several occasions, both to me and to others, that I was her hero and if she had realized that she could do interesting work and sill be home with her kids after school, she would have just gotten a masters and not gone the academic tenure route. But that was the only path for which she got any encouragement as a “smart woman.” Her regrets and bitterness are as deep as any women who feels the church teachings have stymied her career ambitions.

    I also have two non-LDS friends who recently retired and are struggling financially. They came of age in the 1970s, and they never learned to cook or sew, because that was beneath them. They were new women, strong and self-supporting. They intentionally never learned the skills that will allow them to save money, contributing to the family budget that way. Not that it is every too late to learn them.

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  14. Hedgehog on January 19, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    Naismith, the backup plan wasn’t at all explicit however. Get an education to do what? What kind of education? It was very nebulous, this “just in case”. In this country, at my daughters age, the students are already having to choose which subjects they will take for their GCSE examinations. They are already having to think about the kinds of things they might want to study in the future so they can be sure that they choose subjects that will lead on to being able to continue to study things that interest them in greater depth. We start to specialise from age 14. The students in my daughters year have undergone detailed assessments looking at the subject areas that interest them, the subjects they are good at, and coming out with a myriad of possible career options and the subjects they would need to choose should they wish to go down any of those routes. For my daughter, the girl’s backup plan might as well not have existed, whereas the plan to train as a vet was very explicit, and had the advantage of being required everywhere people own pets, or otherwise have animals, and ought therefore to be seen as a viable choice, even for someone wishing to be a SAHM. Same for GP. I’m not at all convinced the girl’s teacher gave her the appropriate advice from my reading of the article.

    I think you and I have very different backgrounds so we probably see this issue through different lenses. I was very much raised hearing the girls should marry, raise a family at home thing in the church. Where I grew up there were those in the church who didn’t believe any education beyond the age of 16 (the then minimum school leaving age) was necessary. I ignored it, and did my own thing. Many didn’t.

    Anyway, my point in my post was, that with the bloggernacle it is possible for her to find support (myself aside) for how she feels about this subject, and she feels very much an outlier in YW in our ward.

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  15. Bookslinger on January 19, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Saw this on the Internet somewhere:

    “We never really grow up. We just learn how to behave in public.”

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