Posted in Reading & Literature, Subject Bible & Theology, Subject History & Geography, The Robinson Booklist

G.A. Henty and the Christian Worldview

Sabbath Eve

As a Robinson Curriculum user, I found this post by Daniel J. Mount to be very interesting.  Basically, Mr. Mount argues that Henty’s books actually undermine a Christian worldview by promoting ecumenism, masquerading as gods, astrology, occultism, witchcraft, evolution, racism, and objectionable language.  This is good to know for anyone considering using Henty’s books in their homeschool so they can decide what is appropriate for their children.

Although the Robinson Curriculum promotes the books, we don’t actually use them, although we do own The Cat of Bubastes and In Freedom’s Cause.  I have read The Cat of Bubastes and it didn’t blow me away.  Delightful only made it through a few pages before she asked to try something else.  If anyone is looking for an alternative to Henty’s books that has a more Christian worldview, I heartily recommend any of R.M. Ballantyne‘s books instead.

In the meantime, here are some quotes from Mr. Mount’s article showing how Henty portrayed Protestants, which is not how I generally want my religion to be portrayed to my children (although with some children books like this can inspire great discussions):

All But Lost:

“He hated the shop, he hated business, he almost hated his father. Heartily did he envy his associates in the shop, who at least, when the day’s work was over, could take their departure and be their own masters until the shutters were taken down in the morning. His drudgery never ceased, for when the shop was closed, his father, a great part of whose daytime was occupied by City business, would sit down with him at the desk and go into the whole accounts of the day’s sales until half-past nine. Then upstairs, where the servants would be summoned, and his father would take his place at the head of the table with a large Bible before him, which he would read and expound in a stern harsh manner, eminently calculated to make the Scriptures altogether hateful to those who heard him. This with prayer lasted for an hour. Then to bed; to begin over again in the morning.”[22]

Won By the Sword: A Tale of the Thirty Years’ War:

“My father brought me up a Protestant like yourself, and when I was quite young I had a very dreary time of it while he was away, living as I did in the house of a Hugenot pastor. After that I attended the Protestant services in the barracks, for all the officers and almost all the men are Protestants, and, of course, were allowed to have their own services; but the minister, who was a Scotchman, knew better than to make his discourses too lengthy; for if he did, there was a shuffling of jack-boots on the stone floor and a clanking of sabres that warned him that the patience of the soldiers was exhausted. In our own glen my father has told me that the ministers are as long-winded as those of Geneva; but, as he said, soldiers are a restless people, and it is one thing for men who regard the Sunday gathering as the chief event in the week to listen to lengthy discourses, but quite another for soldiers, either in the field or a city like Paris, to do so.”[23]

The Curse of Carne’s Hold:

“The missionaries made pets of them [the Hottentots], and nice pets they turned out. It is just the same thing in India. It’s the very dregs of the people the missionaries always pick up with.”[32]

[22] Henty, All But Lost, volume, chapter 3.

[23] Henty, Won By the Sword, chapter 6.

[32] Henty, The Curse of Carne’s Hold, closing paragraph of chapter 10.

Read more of Mr. Mount’s article here:

Posted in Reading & Literature, Subject English

100 + Whole-Hearted Books To Fight Back the Culture


A great list of books from Deep Roots at Home:

100 + Whole-Hearted Books To Fight Back the Culture

Posted in Reading & Literature, Subject English

The Increased Rage For Novel Reading!

Adelaide-Claxton Wonderland2

A look back at an older perspective on novels:

The increasing rage for novel reading!

(Theodore Cuyler)

Fiction has often been a wholesome relief to a good man’s overworked and weary brain. Many of the recent popular novels are wholesome in their tone, and the historical type often instructive.

Exclusive reading of novels is to a person’s mind — just what highly spiced food and alcoholic stimulants are to the body. The chief objection to the best of them, is that they excite a distaste in the mind for any serious reading. The increasing rage for novel reading betokens both a famine in the intellect, and a serious peril to the mental and spiritual life.

The honest truth is — that too large a number of today’s fictitious works are subtle poison. The plots of some of the most popular novels are based on immorality, and the violation in some form of the seventh commandment.

They kindle evil passions;

they varnish and veneer vice;

they deride marital purity;

they uncover what ought to be hidden;

they paint in attractive hues — what never ought to be seen by any pure eye, or named by any modest tongue.

Two of the perils which threaten American youths, are a licentious theater and a poisonous literature. One  who has examined many of the novels printed during the last decade, said to me: “The main purpose of many of these books is to knock away the underpinning of the marriage relation of the Bible.”

If parents give house-room to trashy or corrupt books, they cannot be surprised if their children give heart-room to “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” When interesting and profitable books are so abundant and so cheap, this increasing rage for novels is to me, one of the sinister signs of the times!

“Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness!” 2 Timothy 2:22

[Editor’s note: One can only wonder what Culyer would say about the immoral and insipid media which paralyze, pollute and poison the minds and hearts of the vast majority of professing Christians today!]


Posted in Grammar & Vocabulary, Homeschooling, Our Adventures, Reading & Literature, Subject English, Writing & Penmanship

Designing Our Own “English Lessons Through Literature”

Enfant écrivant-Henriette BrowneThis past year, Delightful worked her way through English Lessons Through Literature Level 3.  I really enjoyed having everything in one place and ready to go.  For next year, I was considering using Level 4 and asked Delightful what she thought about that.  Her response?

“Well, I want to do ELTL exactly how it is but with different poetry and different books and less diagramming because it’s too hard!  But I still want to read the short stories because those are really good!  So maybe you could buy me Level 4 so I can read the short stories and then I can do different things for the other parts?”


Ultimately, I agreed to make our own version of ELTL (I do still highly recommend the program, although it does move quickly and the grammar is quite challenging).  Here is the “plan” we came up with, although we never end up sticking to our plans:

Artist study:  Already done with the family once a week, so no replacement needed.

Poetry: Favorite Poems Old and New

Fables: I am considering Indian Fables, West African Folk Tales, and/or The Red Indian Fairy Book, all free at the Baldwin Project.  I am also considering Christian Light’s 5th grade reader. This is too easy for Delightful to read (she can read and understand their 12th grade literature text with ease) but I like the God-centered focus of the stories and would like to use some Christian materials in addition to the type of stories included in ELTL.  Starting at the 5th reader will give us the opportunity to enjoy a reader a year up to Grade 8, as well as two texts for high school.  I also have the McGuffey readers.  I schedule about 1/3 of a reader each year for reading comprehension and oral presentation.  Since Delightful completed the Second Reader, which is for Grades 3-5, a couple of years ago, I may just start her on the Third Reader this year.

Literature: Miscellaneous books chosen from our bookshelves.  I’m waiting until the end of summer to finalize our list since Delightful is already reading one of the books I was considering using.

Grammar: Fix It! Grammar Student Book 1: The Nose Tree (Grades 3-12)

Writing: Writing With Skill 1 and possibly Write With The Best 1 (writing component only), mainly because I already have these programs on my shelf.  This would be accompanied by oral and written narrations and creative writing as Delightful chooses.

Technically, following a Charlotte Mason method, no writing instruction is needed in Grade 5 beyond working on written narrations.  However, Delightul is quite proficient at written narration and also writes 10+ page typed stories for fun.  As such, I thought she could handle WWS1 and might learn some ideas for honing her writing from it.  WWTB1 would fill in instruction on different types of documents such as letters.  I would use that once a week and spend about a month completing each lesson.

So that’s the plan-in-progress.  It will be interesting to see how close to reality it ends up being.


Posted in Reading & Literature, Subject English, Subject History & Geography

Little House Freemasonry

Laura Ingalls Wilder cropped sepia2I came across a post, Little House on the Prairie and Freemasonry Connections to the Ingalls Family, that really opened my eyes to Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Ingalls family.  It turns out they were heavily involved in freemasonry; so much so that there’s even a book about it: Little Lodges on the Prairie: Freemasonry & Laura Ingalls Wilder.

It’s always good to learn something new about history and historical figures!  I didn’t notice anything masonic in the Little House books, so now I am curious to know if any there are any references in them.

Posted in My Life, Reading & Literature

What Books Have Most Influenced You?

Fritz von Uhde - Das Bilderbuch I (1889)Here is a list of the books that influenced C.S. Lewis as he was growing up:

I definitely did not have such an advanced reading list as a child.  However, this post got me thinking about the books that have shaped me.  Here is a list of some of the fiction books or series that influenced me from my childhood into my early adulthood (not all of these are “classics”):

  1. 1984
  2. A Farewell to Arms
  3. A Little Princess
  4. A Wrinkle in Time
  5. Animal Farm
  6. Anna to the Infinite Power
  7. Anne of Green Gables series
  8. Behind the Attic Wall
  9. Black Beauty
  10. Call of the Wild
  11. Charlotte’s Web and other E.B. White books
  12. Devil on My Back and other Monica Hughes books
  13. Emily of New Moon series
  14. Harry Potter series
  15. Hunted and Harried and other R.M. Ballantyne books
  16. The Hunger Games series
  17. Lo, Michael and other Grace Livingstone Hill books
  18. Lord of the Rings trilogy
  19. Love Comes Softly series
  20. Mansfield Park and other Jane Austen books
  21. Nancy Drew series
  22. Prairie Winds trilogy
  23. Sherlock Holmes and other Arthur Conan Doyle books
  24. Stepping Heavenward
  25. The Basket of Flowers
  26. The Giver
  27. The Secret Garden
  28. The Singing Stone
  29. To Kill A Mockingbird
  30. Uncle Tom’s Cabin

This does not include shorter works like Fairy Tales and picture books as that would be a whole other list.

There are other books that probably should be on this list but that I haven’t managed to finish yet (cough, The Pilgrim’s Progress).  I also have other favorites that were made into movies but I only ever saw the movies growing up (The Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, The Wizard of Oz).

What about you?  What books have most shaped you?

Posted in Homeschooling, Our Adventures, Reading & Literature, Subject English

Back to 100 Easy Lessons

Albert Anker - Mädchen, ein Buch betrachtend (1907)Last year, Feisty completed Kindergarten with the ability to read simple books like the “I See Sam” series.

This year I wasn’t exactly sure where to start to move Feisty, 6, forward with her decoding skills.  Her main struggle has been to remember all the different rules and exceptions that go along with phonics.  For instance, “ou” sometimes sounds like “oo” as in “group,” but it can also say “ow” as in “loud.”  Let’s not even talk about words like “rough.”

While continually reminding Feisty that (often) “when two vowels go together, the first one says its letter,” it occurred to me that I needed something to train her eyes to look in the right places of words in order to better sound them out.

Then it hit me: isn’t that what Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is all about?  So, with some trepidation I pulled out the title that we have struggled with off and on for the past couple of years.  And guess what?  Feisty actually “got” it.  We started about 20 lessons in and read all the way to the end of the book.  At that point, a child is supposed to be reading at about a Grade 2 level.

We are now working our way through “Little Bear,” and although I still need to offer reminders and help sound out some words, reading is going more smoothly than ever.  Yay, Feisty!

Now I can breathe a little easier…at least for a few months…until the process starts all over again with Enigma…