Grace and Truth Books
It’s hard to find books these days that model the character qualities we want to see in our children. Often, while the modern story offers exciting adventures and unique characters, it’s light on moral truth and virtue.
We recently received two titles from Grace and Truth books, part of the Children’s Character Building Collection. With 11 volumes, the Children’s Character Building Collection is Grace and Truth Book‘s all-time best-seller for Christian family reading.
The two titles we read were:
The Reward of Childhood Truth, (retail $6.00), which is the tale of how telling the truth, though it might hurt at the time, eventually led to a positive outcome and salvation in the end. There are two shorter tales in this book. The first, “Truth Ensures the Future for Charles and Harry”, describes the encounters between the Benson family, made up of two boys, Harry and Charles, and their widower father, and their grumpy older neighbor. This well-to-do neighbor, Mr. Arnold, was an avid gardener, and when the boys were young, they made a careless mistake that ended up destroying his favorite plant.
He was extremely angry at the Benson boys, though he had no proof that they were the guilty ones. Their father was dismayed, but certain that his boys would tell the truth if they were to blame. When questioned, the boys admitted culpability, and offered to make restitution, which only angered Mr. Arnold more – as if they, poor as they were, could make amends to one as wealthy as he. A second attempt, later on, was taken even more badly.
Years passed, and eventually Mr. Arnold learned that the Benson boys had also lost their father, and one of them was attempting to get a job at a bank where he was known. Mr. Arnold was approached to see if he might be willing to vouch for the young man. For many years he had thought on his behavior, and the way he had reacted to the boys’ actions; he had come to realize that the blame for much of his anger and hurt lay on his own shoulders. He chose this time, to help the boys, much like he’d once been helped himself – and it eventually led to a close friendship that became the family he’s never had.
Truthfulness is something I prize beyond all; it takes a brave and selfless person to admit the truth, even when harm might come to them as a direct result. “Truth Ensures the Future for Charles and Harry” exemplifies the spirit of this admirably, in ways which a parent could try for an entire childhood to explain, and never reach in such an eloquent manner.
The second story, “Little Mary’s First and Last Falsehood”, is a short and sweet tale of a small girl, who, when playing with her older brother, was hurt while they were using a forbidden pitchfork to increase the size of a haystack. They later lied about the cause of the injury to her parents, and the story follows her thoughts and feelings during the days and weeks following. She feels a great sense of guilt, and despite confessing her sin to God, does not feel the release from forgiveness that she expects. Her conscience still bothers her, and eventually she hears a sermon in which she learns that for some sins, she must confess and seek forgiveness not just from God, but from those that she deceived.
Mary’s story is much more sweet and simple than the first, but it’s likely to evoke strong feelings in those who read it, especially younger children who are or have recently found themselves in the same situation as Mary. It would be an excellent tool to have on hand if a parent were concerned that their child was hiding something, and felt they needed something to broach the subject.
The Little Medicine Carrier, (retail $6.00), which is a tale of a poor boy, George, who works to earn money for his mother by delivering medicine for the town doctor. It begins as a warning tale of temptations, almost a stereotypical list of possibilities that a young boy encounter: the lazy employee, the dawdling child, thievery, quarreling, and even envy. As George resists each of these temptations, he is rewarded in increasingly greater ways for making the right decision. Eventually, he learns that the wealthy girl, Miss Beatrice, that he envies for her pets and fine things is actually very ill, and wishes she had his health.
As the story continues, they become friends, and he learns that she is very kind and generous. At this point, the tale changes slightly – where before, it had been clearly a morality tale, here, it makes a huge tug at the heartstrings. Because George has grown so fond of Miss Beatrice, we are drawn fully into the character’s viewpoint, and the reader feels his pain as he comes to understand that Miss Beatrice is losing the battle with her illness. (What illness she has is never mentioned, and it’s largely irrelevant to the story, though my kids did query me – they also wondered at the mention of her “bright eyes and red cheeks” and why that meant she was extremely ill, rather than healthy. My best guess would be fever, but there’s no real indicator in the story… which sent us off on quite the unexpected tangent.)
Again, with this book, The Little Medicine Carrier, is one that can have the whole family listening and curious as to how it turns out. The character development is fully three-dimensional – these aren’t the cardboard cutouts that make up modern “character” stories, or those often used in public school classrooms, where there’s no opportunity to become emotionally attached to the character, so that the reader cares what happens to them.
It’s only by having that emotional attachment and personal feeling of involvement that any type of character improvement can happen – otherwise, the reaction is always going to be that “they’re talking about someone else, not me.” This is the kind of thing that *works.” And, you can count it for literature, too.
What really surprised me with both of these books from the Children’s Character Building Collection was that, even though these stories are reprints that were originally written in the 19th century, there really isn’t anything that would blatantly indicate that in the tales. The kids were surprised to learn that the stories were that old – and I think perhaps that may be why Grace and Truth Books has such success with them. They don’t have that “dated” feel that one often encounters with reprints from times gone by.
Another thing that I noticed – and much appreciated – was the tone. While they are clearly Christian stories for children, they lack both the “talk down to children” patronization and the preachy feel that one often encounters in character-building efforts.
Grace & Truth Books states that the Children’s Character Building Collection is a favorite among all family members, not just the kids, and I can understand why – they worked very well as family read-alouds in our house. (I’d gone ahead and pre-read The Reward of Childhood Truth, so I could see what it was like before deciding to read it to the kids out loud, and I read it all in one sitting, because I was curious to find out how it ended!)
These two books are titles well worth having in the children’s reading library – and I’d imagine the other nine titles are of equal quality. The best deal, of course, is to buy the entire series at once. The Children’s Character Building Collection is currently priced at $49 directly from Grace & Truth Books, though the regular retail is $59. Individual titles are retail priced at $6, but currently selling for $4.75.
Other titles include:
The Bible in the Wall
Godliness is Great Gain
The Weed With an Ill Name
Roses and Thorns
Tampering With Temptation
Little Daisy and the Swearing Class
Theobold the Iron-Hearted
A Little Rebel Becomes a Saint
Your Child’s Profession of Faith, by Dennis Gunderson, a title for parents. $9.75 retail.
Raising Maidens of Virtue written Stacy McDonald, created for mothers & daughters ages 8-15
Courtship or Dating: So What’s the Difference? by Dennis Gundersen, helpful parents or mature teens
Of Knights and Fair Maidens, Jeff & Danielle Myers, aimed at ages 14-19
With the Children on Sundays, Sylvanus Stall, all ages, especially good for ages 4-10
Too Wise to be Mistaken, Too Good to be Unkind, Cathy Steere, for parents of those with autism or other special needs
Two books from the Boys Heritage Series, which has 9 volumes in all.
The titles reviewed were Gerrit and His Dog,
written for boys ages 8-12 and The Young Christian, for boys ages 10-14.
**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.**