Do you need new ideas for immersing yourself in the culture of life? You and your family can enjoy fiction that promotes the value of every human being. Here are four books  I particularly recommend. Two focus on the beginning of life, two on the sick and disabled.

All ages: Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman

Angel in the WatersI used this book to announce my last 2 pregnancies to our boys.

Beautiful illustrations by Ben Hatke accompany Doman’s lyrical text about a baby in utero and his guardian angel. Echoes of the creation story and John’s Gospel delight the ear. “In the beginning, I was,” the story starts. And later, “Sometimes it was dark, and sometimes it was less dark.” (See the parallel with Genesis 1?)

The story details a conversation between the baby and the angel that continues into infancy. The baby complains that the world outside the womb is too big and cold. His angel replies, “It is very big, but you will grow big. It will feel better and warmer when you are bigger. But there is another, bigger world outside this one. Someday I will take you there.” This nearly repeats the words he spoke before the child’s birth. The message: the child in the womb is on a journey to another world, like the rest of us.

If your children read this often enough, they may not need any other instruction to see the beauty of an unborn baby.

Pre-K to Grade 2: Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie de Poala

Cover of "Now One Foot, Now the Other"

Bobby and his grandfather are best friends. When Bobby was a baby, his grandfather taught him to walk. “Now one foot, now the other,” his grandfather Bob would say. Later, their favorite game was to build a tall block tower. Then Bob would pretend to sneeze and knock it down to Bobby’s laughter.

Bobby loves to hear how Bob (yes, he calls his grandfather by his first name–the only thing I don’t like about this book) taught him to walk.

When Bobby is 5, Bob has a stroke and can’t talk. Bobby is scared at first. But, gradually, he coaxes Bob out of his silence by building a block tower. Eventually, Bobby helps his grandfather re-learn to walk. “Now one foot, now the other.”

This is a touching story about how love continues even when a loved one falls ill or becomes disabled.

Grade 5 and up (younger, if read aloud): The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli

The Door in the Wall10-year-old Robin is alone with a few servants when he falls seriously ill. His father is at war. His mother is serving the Queen. It’s the Middle Ages, and the plague is sweeping through London. Robin does not have the plague, but another illness that leaves him lame. Unable to get out of bed, he is eventually abandoned by everyone, until Brother Luke brings him to a nearby monastery.

Brother Luke teaches Robin how to whittle and to swim to strengthen his arms. Robin makes his own crutches and becomes adept at using them. Soon Brother Luke and a minstrel named John take Robin on the journey to his godfather’s castle, where he was supposed to train as a knight. His duties are modified to fit the state of his health. All along he wonders, will he ever walk normally again?

Brother Luke tells him, “God alone knows whether thou’lt straighten or no… Fret not, my son. None of us is prefect. It is better to have crooked legs than a crooked spirit. We can only do the best we can with what we have.”

And Robin does do his best. His crutches enable him to help save the castle from a Welsh attack. Who would guess that a crippled boy in rags is a secret messenger?

This Newbery Award winner from 1950 is steeped in the faith and well worth a read.

Mature Teens and up: Adam Bede by George Eliot

adam bede

Based on the experience of Eliot’s aunt, a Methodist preacher who visited the imprisoned, Adam Bede is a must-read for those in the pro-life movement.

Adam is a carpenter, in love with his pretty neighbor Hetty Sorrel. But Hetty is led into an affair with Captain Donnithorne, son of the local squire. After the Captain returns to the army, Hetty discovers she is pregnant. She agrees to marry Adam, who know nothing about her condition. As their wedding day approaches, Hetty disappears. She has gone in search of the Captain.

The next Adam hears of Hetty, she has been arrested for child murder. They say she has killed her own infant. Adam is crushed and distraught, but he doesn’t abandon Hetty. Meanwhile, Hetty’s cousin Dinah, a Methodist preacher, visits her in prison. She leads Hetty to repentance and peace of soul.

Eliot handles all the characters sympathetically, while not ignoring the horror of their sins. Hetty is selfish and cold-hearted, but also very young and desperate. After the murder, she can’t get the sound of her baby’s cry out of her head. Change a few details, and she would look like many post-abortive women of our day.

This is one of my top-ten favorite books.

Written by crossini4774

    11 Comments

  1. Nancy January 22, 2013 at 9:54 am

    What a wonderful list of recommendations. I love that you have something for all ages. I had heard of Angel in the Waters, but your review is what has tipped the balance toward making me decide to get it for my grandchildren – and for me. I nearly had tears reading about the others (who cries reading book REVIEWS?!).

    • Connie Rossini January 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      I’m glad you gleaned something from this post. Books are one of my great loves (read: disordered attachments).

  2. Siobhan January 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    And once you’ve finished educating your children, you can read about the mother’s right to life as well http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/14/ireland-woman-dies-after-abortion-refusal

  3. Connie Rossini January 22, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Siobhan, thanks for visiting. Of course, everyone has the right to life: mother, child, elderly, or disabled. But no one has the right to kill an innocent human being. I have no medical training, so I can’t comment on the best response to such a tragic situation as the one you refer to. But we can never do evil to achieve a good result.

    • Siobhan January 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      I suppose it depends upon your definition of evil. For me, it is certainly unethical, if not evil, to make a woman suffer a slow miscarriage in agony as she loses an unviable fetus which she and her husband have been told there is no hope of saving and to refuse her life saving medical treatment because the fetus still has a heartbeat.

  4. Connie Rossini January 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    A few points. First, whether or not the “fetus” was unviable is irrelevant. We were all unviable fetuses at one time. A human is a human is a human. We either all have the right to life, or it is simply a matter of the strong lording it over the weak.

    No one “made” this poor woman suffer, any more than someone is made to suffer from cancer, a car accident, or any of the other tragic accidents of life. Neither the baby nor the doctors were aggressors. She was killed by septicemia (as far as I understand the news reports), not another human being. We live in a broken world where tragedies happen. I have experienced several in my own immediate family. Believe me, I wish there were no suffering of any kind for anyone. But there is. And often we can’t do anything about it Sometimes we are limited by science, sometimes by time, other times by basic morality.

    Now maybe the doctors were incompetent and could have saved the mother without directly killing her child. I don’t know. Again, I have no medical training and news accounts are vague and often inaccurate on these details.But once we say it is okay to intentionally kill an innocent human being, then none of us is safe.

    • Connie Rossini January 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Let me clarify that first point. I mean the viability of the baby makes no difference to his or her right to life. Of course, there are situations where a baby beyond twenty weeks can be delivered early in order to save the mother. Whether that would have been the case here, if the pregnancy had been more advanced, I don’t know.

  5. 31 Cups January 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Well said Connie! 🙂
    D is going to be reading The Door in the Wall next month. 🙂 We are excited to start it! I will be looking into Adam Bede as well. I had never even heard of it. Thanks!

    Gretchen
    http://www.31cups.blogspot.com

    • Connie Rossini January 29, 2013 at 10:31 am

      I think you’ll really like them both. We can compare notes sometime this spring.

  6. mosomoso February 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I had a go at a pro-life piece, though the theme is pretty well submerged till the end. Please feel free to delay reading or ignore altogether, since short fiction is just a late life hobby for me. I have no idea of the quality of what I’m doing. Also, the Australian setting may make the yarn less accessible. Nonetheless, this is it:
    http://withtwist.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/woy-woy/

    All the best

    Rob

    • Connie Rossini February 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      I started reading Woy Woy. I’m about half-way through. My first impression is, it’s really good. And I don’t say that when I don’t mean it. I’ll let you know when I finish it.