10 Favorite Thanksgiving Books

We’ve been reading about pumpkins and the changing leaves, busy squirrels and migratory paths. But apple harvests coming to an end and busy little squirrel friends storing away for the winter means it’s time to get out a new set of story books!

We purpose to make Thanksgiving a very treasured day, and enjoying these sweet books with the children is part of the anticipation and celebration of the holiday. These are the days to clasp a mug of warmed cider while cozied on a quilt in the living room with a stack of books.

Some of the books we recommend are from our own shelves – we visit them every year, and some are newly borrowed from the library.

The First Thanksgiving: A Counting Story moves along very quickly because it’s written in lively rhyming verse and vivid illustrations. The book explains the story of the preparations for the first Thanksgiving feast while counting 1-12. There are hidden surprises in the art and a bold turkey on every page! Do you have a sharp eye?

Sharing The Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story is a collection of paintings set in the 19th century that exude familial affection. The simple rhythmic four-line verse mirrors the ease in which this family works together to prepare their special Thanksgiving Day meal.

Saying Grace: A Prayer Of Thanksgiving is a journey back in time to the hardships and blessings of some of the first settlers. It’s the most delightful story of a young child’s faith and prayer as she recognizes God’s bounty.

Thanksgiving Day Alphabet is filled with historical facts about the special holiday. The plentiful scenes are painted in rich fall colors. Children will learn a treasure trove of details about the English settlers of 1620. Everyone will delight in the descriptions set to each letter of the alphabet.

The Story of the Pilgrims is a nice simplified version of how Thanksgiving started. The text is clear and plain which helps the little ones follow the story while focusing on the illustrations. Perfect for the preschool-aged children!

Squanto And The Miracle Of Thanksgiving is a favorite of the boys at our house! This book captures the remarkable and providential true story that so few people have ever heard. This book clearly depicts Squanto’s Christian faith and the religious roots of the holiday. The illustrations are realistic renderings which all ages will enjoy.

Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration offers the basic history behind Thanksgiving then explains how the holiday sill has meaning for us today. Recounting the difficulties of the Pilgrims and their gratefulness to God. The illustrations are old-fashioned with a wood-cut feel. A wonderful teaching tool! This Thanksgiving story is a classic read-aloud. It is a little long for one sitting, but certainly a cozy read. A great non-fiction introduction for little ones!

Molly’s Pilgrim is the heartwarming modern story of a Jewish family who have immigrated from Russia to escape religious persecution. Anyone who has had to move to a new place will understand the difficulties that Molly faces. This book has been the girls’ favorite read-aloud! They love glazing at the penciled illustrations! With a powerful message to live in peace an safety, this is a wonderful book for the Thanksgiving season!

A Cranberry Thanksgiving is a lighthearted and maybe silly story set in New England. It’s a cold and lonely cranberry farm at the edge of the sea, but on Thanksgiving, the house is warm and full of tradition. It’s a fun holiday read and includes Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread recipe!

Thanksgiving: A Time To Remember is our family’s all-time favorite! We read short portions of this book at the dinner table everyday in November. This book refreshes our memory of the courage and sacrifice that the Pilgrims made and of God’s provision for them. It is a moving account of the Mayflower crossing and the first winter in the New World. This book will help you establish a tradition of sharing your gratefulness with one another at home. It encourages families to build a legacy of memories and thankfulness and celebrates faith, family, and freedom.

Every year we discover a new gem! What are some of your family’s favorite Thanksgiving books? Leave a comment sharing yours!

with love. Damaris

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Taking Time to Evaluate and Refocus

I recently shared here how much I enjoy having the children home and the delight of spending the moments learning together. I am grateful to be their encourager, for the time to get to know them and they me, as well as the satisfaction it brings me to complete all the homeschool tasks of the day. I thrive on list-making and getting things done, so every subject for every child is that many more opportunities for me to cross something off my list : )

Although we can all admit that a job completed is rewarding, it is equally important to take a bit of time to evaluate how the days and weeks are going. As much as I love checking lessons, tests, and reviews off the list, it’s good for me to stop and see where I need to refocus. These are some questions that I found to be helpful*:

  • Did I feed myself with the Bread of Life today?

  • Did I discipline my children to love God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength?

  • Did today’s homeschooling give my children a clearer picture of who God is, what He has done, how He sees them, and how He calls them to serve Him?

  • Did I prioritize learning wisdom at the feet of Godly teachers over academic achievement today?

  • Did I focus on character and help my children apply their learning to life?

  • Did we worship God in the chemistry experiment (or the math class, etc.)?

*The complete chart is on generations.org.

I also wanted to share some of the verses that help me to refocus on my calling. We have these verses hanging with a magnet on our schoolroom whiteboard:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

With love, Damaris


The Joy of Having Them Home

We now have over a month of completed schooldays, and there are so many things I am pondering.

I adore this season! I’ve been loving this September weather with chilly mornings that turn to warm afternoons. The leaves on the maple outside the schoolroom will be glowing golden soon enough. Even though I love the apple orchards, the sweaters, the colorful leaves, and the hot cider, I mostly love what this season represents – a fresh start. The intentions, goals, vision, and perspective that come with a fresh beginning.

This summer was a fun-filled adventure, as summer should be! However, I’ve been good and ready to inch back into a flow of more home-days of learning. This last month of homeschool has brought that rhythm, and I have to acknowledge the delight it brings to my soul. Taking care of our home and the people in it while consistently schooling is a daily act of worship. These are a few of the reasons that having the children home bring me joy:

I am grateful to be their encourager.

Many layers of learning concur while we spend our day together at home. There is emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual training that happens not only in the children, but in me as well. I find great delight in encouraging them and hearing them encourage each other. I love to see them learn to serve one another even in the little things like buttering toast at the breakfast table.

I love the time to get to know them, and they get to know me.

The multiple opportunities for discipline and correction are truly a privilege. I am able to see the problem, address it, and pray with them for forgiveness and God’s merciful help. I get to know the kids, and just as important, they get to know me. The moments reading Scripture, praying, confessing our sins, eating every meal, and just being gathered in the same room is a joy.

I thrive in the satisfaction of completing a task.

As I think about these last few schooling weeks, I smile because I love the routine – the early morning coffee, the quiet rooms (everyone working), and the reward of tasks accomplished. Perhaps these are more superficial joys though gratifying none the less. As much as I admit to embracing simple and slow, I love to work hard and get things done. I gravitate towards productivity, so the fulfillment of giving a spelling test, finishing the first phonics book, completing and grading math lessons, working through two diagrams, and reviewing the memory work by lunchtime makes me very happy.

With love, Damaris


Daily Homeshool Schedules

Last week we shared how we prepared this year for back to homeschool. One of the things we did was take time to make each child’s daily schedule. Then Nathan and I reviewed it and went over it with each child. Now their daily structured learning is written out on a small card and taped to their workspace.

At this point in our homeschooling, we mostly have three learning stages. Just as a broad view of the day, Alexander is in Classical Conversations Challenge B and follows those daily tasks. He does schoolwork until 3ish. Eva and William have the same rhythm because they do the same amount of subjects, and they can be done by lunch with their formal learning. Isabel and Nora are both learning or improving on phonics and share a smaller subject load than the rest of the children. Isabel and Nora have time to read and play after their lessons before it’s even time for lunch. Providence has a letter and number tracing workbook, and she joins in our singing, nature walks, art, and whatever intrigues her that day.

It never ceases to amaze me the wisdom and direction that the Lord gives us as we find a rhythm with each new school year! Every year has a different set of circumstances such as a new baby, a house move, new books or added subjects, toddlers that need entertained, but I can testify that as we begin our ninth year of homeschool, He has been faithful to provide the time, energy, creativity, and all that has been needed for a healthy home routine.

We’re all up by 7 and at the breakfast table by 7:15. I read to them a short devotional and by 7:45, the children are doing/finishing morning chores (laundry, wipe bathrooms, empty trash bins, feed animals). 8 means everybody at their workspace ready for daily Bible time. They each have a Bible or devotional book that they read. This could take 10 – 15 minutes. At this point, the daily tasks become more individualized.

Alexander is following Challenge B, a course with Classical Conversations. He is taking a once a week seminar-style class on his own with friends and developing the rest of the learning at home through research, writing, and discussion. The work load has been a big change for our home’s rhythm, but he loves it and is thriving! His daily structured studies are math, Latin, logic, astronomy, writing, and debate.

Eva and William have math, handwriting, spelling, grammar, and writing. They also join Isabel and Nora for Classical Conversations memory work in a little math, Latin, science, history, and a timeline. In the afternoons, both Eva and William have self-directed and independent research/reading. Usually it’s books from the library about a place, culture, person, or event in history. This independent study will often inspire them to do mapping or illustration. In the afternoon they also practice their instruments and finish an uncompleted subject from the morning (we try to avoid this from happening).

Isabel and Nora have Bible time where Isabel reads the Bible story aloud and has a little bit of copywriting and drawing. This means that Isabel picks one sentence from the story and illustrates it on the same page in her notebook. Isabel and Nora move on to math and handwriting followed by phonics (different levels). By this point, Eva and William should be ready for reviewing the memory work from our Classical Conversations with Isabel and Nora. I try to do this with them too. We sing the songs and identify places on the map for just 15 minutes or so daily.

By this time, our stomachs are growling – lunch is all we can think about.

Nathan reads aloud at least one school night. We purpose to inspire the children during this time as well as teach them about different cultures, so for years we’ve been read missionary biographies.

I don’t know if it sounds like we do a lot. Because we don’t. And I am ok with that.

Thanks for taking a peek into our day!

with love. Damaris


End of Summer

August is the sweet, sweet month of summertime. Picnics and lemonade, grilled sausages and watermelon, gladiolus, peaches and blueberries had their moments of glory. Loud singing insects of summer (I see you, cicadas) continue to warm our days and crowd our nights, yet will inevitably quiet down in the next few weeks.

We praise God for a splendidly satisfying season of summer. A time of resting from structured school days and embracing daily adventures. Slow days at home, picnics at the lake, and suppers al-fresco sprinkled the weeks. Everything tasted like summertime!

For us this year, August was lambing season as well as the crown of the vegetable harvest. The abundance of colors and full flavors have been pleasures at the daily family table. God’s bountiful blessing is truly one of the sweetest delights of summer’s end.

Everyone’s cups are filled, and we’re ready for the homeschool year. Shifting into new rhythms brings a new countenance to the whole day, but we’re all happy and appreciate a fresh start. Our home still feels peaceful and inviting (my main stressor is clutter, messes, and disorder). We go to bed prepared for the next day (meals, clean-up), so while we pause to study and water our learning, the atmosphere is quiet and happy.

This year, we’re trying to focus our teaching with the children on life-giving speech and conduct – nurturing and encouraging others as obedience to and glory to God. So as we face the end of summer, I pray that we learn to be life-givers in our words and actions – because in His presence there is fullness of joy and His lovingkindness is better than life (Psalm 16:11 and 63:3).

What do you say? I think there’s time to make one more batch of mango ice cream : )

P.S. A summer joke from my kids:

Why shouldn’t you tell secrets in the garden?

Because the corn has ears,

the potatoes have eyes,

and the beanstalks.

with love, Damaris


Family Currents: August Abundance

August has been lambing season! We had marked the week on the calendar as to when the two ewes were due, but the exact day would be a surprise. On the last evening of our trip to Washington DC, we got a little text from a friend who was coming to count the barnyard animals once a day. We were in the outdoor hotel pool, and everybody was out of the water so fast to see pictures of the new addition. By the next week, the second ewe had her lamb, and now one cannot tell the lambs apart. We were surprised at how fast they are and how soft they are. Pure white little beauties!

Our mature pig Holly is due to have her litter in early September! Did you know a female pig’s gestation is 3 months + 3 weeks + 3 days?


Nathan found a swarm of bees in the work shop this week and rehomed them into a hive box. We’ll give it a couple more days to call it a success! Hopefully they like their new home. Then we’ll move the box to join the other hive. This will make a third hive. All of the mid-summer honey has been bottled! Feel free to email us, contact us through this post, Facebook, or Instagram if you’d like to enjoy some raw, unfiltered honey.


We love to go blueberry picking! This U-pick farm has a high bush variety which makes it very easy to reach and fill your bucket without bending low to search for the little fruit. It was a later in August than peak season, so we were left with smaller berries and fewer clusters. We ate our fill while picking and still gathered 8 pounds of blueberries! We enjoyed them all weekend and froze 6 quart bags with the rest.


Samuel’s birthday was mid-August, and it was so much fun to celebrate this sweet baby boy! We cannot handle all his sillies! You can read about his special day here. Since chocolate is his favorite food in the entire world, Eva baked this delicious cake. He was so tickled to open presents with trains, tools, and tractors!


A couple of weeks ago, our family went on a road trip to Washington DC where we attended the Bible Family Conference, visited nearby Arlington Cemetery and Mount Vernon, and of course enjoyed the national monuments, the Smithsonian, and the Museum of the Bible. Wrote about all the trip adventures here. We can’t wait to go back and learn some more! It was a great place for families – and large families too : )


The first Saturday in August always gets marked on the calendar early in the year. Our family doesn’t want to miss the Highland Games! It is such a summer highlight for us! The St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit puts on a full day of Celtic dance competitions, scone and shortbread shops, kilts, swords and traditional jewelry booths, Border Collie dog races, Shetland Sheepdogs and long-haired cattle for petting, caber toss, tug-o’war, hammer throwing, and other traditional Scottish games. We came home with a dozen lavender-lemon shortbreads that were Mmmmmm.


Farm fresh produce are available every day at the farm stand. We pick heirloom tomatoes by the bushel. The dark purple eggplants, sweet corn, okra, bell peppers and jalapenos are glossy and gorgeous. The spaghetti, buttercup, and butternut squashes are perfect, huge, and at the stand. All restocked daily. We also have real maple syrup and raw, unfiltered honey for sale at the farm stand. Come stop by the farm!

with love. Damaris


Back to Homeschool: How We Prepare

I love gathering fresh school supplies with my children! They enjoy browsing the variety of materials and selecting their favorite binder and pencils for the new school year. All the preparing cultivates expectation for each of us. This time of the year always feels a little bit like Christmas. New books arrive in mail, fresh pencils and paper fill our drawers, and full jars of paint load organizing baskets. We keep our supply list simple as well as always being conscious of space and budget when purchasing new things for the homeschool.

Prioritizing preparedness before school helps me better plan, organize, and welcome the new homeschool year with joy. The children each go through their books, organize their little spaces, sharpen pencils, arrange binders, and overall grow excited (maybe a bit nervous) for the homeschool days ahead.

It seems like so many supplies! But setting everything in its place at the beginning of the year is key to not quickly losing papers and interest altogether. I’ve noticed that we need to be stocked with the basics to better use our time and keep track of our work during the year.

Sometimes (we have plenty from last year) we’ve purchased watercolor paper and watercolor pencils, sketching notebooks, graphite pencils, wooden rulers, quick-dry modeling clay, several sizes of paint brushes, —-We like to keep a large variety of art supplies because if the children have access to the good-quality materials, they’ll naturally want to use them.

These are the specific things we did this year to prepare for school:

  • Scrubbed the desks with magic erasers. It was the only way to get rid of crayon marks and other markings.

  • We went through every book on the shelf in the schoolroom, every puzzle, game, toy, craft, etc.

  • The children started taking zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea for immune system support. It should help with the transition of being outdoors in the fresh air to a couple days a week in a room with 10 other kids.

  • We went through all the fall/winter clothes bins and filled the gaps with Old Navy or Costco basics.

  • Replaced and replenished school supplies. I threw away dried up paint brushes, old paints, broken crayons, dry markers, and bought lined paper, 3×5 cards, tracing paper, binders, notebooks, pencils, erasers, glue.

  • Stocked up on simple, quick breakfasts: oats, frozen cooked sausages, eggs, bagels, bread for toast, cereal.

  • Stocked up on easy, nutritious lunches: healthy nuggets, eggs (we love egg salad), tuna cans (we love tuna salad), crackers, sandwich bread, deli meats, sliced cheeses.

  • We (first alone and then with Nathan) went through each of the children’s daily tasks and then went over it with them.

  • Prayed alone, with Nathan, and with the children over the year as a whole, for patience, diligence, understanding, compassion, focus, growth, spiritual maturity, and joy in all the tasks.

Lastly, God is using these verses in Galatians to calm my heart as I face a fresh new year and grow my trust in Him. I pray this Scripture can be uplifting to you today too!

“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Galatians 6:6-10

with love, Damaris


Family Currents: What we've been up to

Happy August, dear friends! The sun is hot and the tall straight grasses have been cut down. Haying time came in July, and now the hay bales are stacked and stored in the big red barn.


We’re certainly enjoying going through the summer bucket list! We recently went to the Henry Ford Museum and to the lake. Packing a lunch and calling it an adventure day is by far our favorite summertime activity.


Isabel had a birthday in July. She’s now 8 years old, and she’s so happy about it! Isabel has always been the most easy-going, low-maintenance, even-keeled child. She only requested cupcakes, and we made these filled with vanilla pudding. Filled with jam or any pudding is always absolutely delicious.


The two younger ewes are a mixed breed and shed most of their winter coat, but not all of it. After some time of high temperature, we realized we’d need to shear them. Nathan bought a pair of shears online and had his first successful sheep shearing experience. One of these ewes follows him like a dog when he’s in the pasture. Really, all the sheep (even the ram) are gentle and skittish.

By the way, the two older ewes are due to lamb in just a couple of weeks, and I’m giddy with excitement!


We’ve been at the pool everyday (all morning) for swim lessons. I couldn’t get all the children to swim in the same timeslot, so we bring books, a basketball, snacks, and I plop myself by the poolside until lunchtime. A couple of times we’ve taken a walk though the neighborhood, but it’s easier to just play and read while we wait.


Nathan and the boys did a mid-summer honey harvest this past week. We have about 7-8 gallons of raw, unfiltered honey. Couldn’t be more fresh! It tastes so different than the late summer/early fall honey! The color is very golden and the flavor is light and mild. Our honey bees can be spotted at anytime of the day feasting in the herb garden (hyssop, thyme, oregano flowers), the white clover in the pasture, and the vining plants in the garden (cucumber and squash flowers).


We opened the farm stand again this year! Farm fresh produce are available everyday. Eggplants, cabbages, red cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, and jalapenos are looking good! The tomatoes are not quite there yet. We also have real maple syrup and raw, unfiltered honey. Come stop by the farm!

with love. Damaris


Family Currents: Niagra Falls, Birthdays, Doll Making

My cousin’s visit from Spain was undoubtedly the highlight of the month of June. Before he came, we had given some thought to what fun things he may have never tried or seen before, so we ate hard shell tacos, s’mores, had a bbq night, and roasted hot dogs over the fire. We took a short trip to Niagra Falls which will be memorable for everyone.

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Both Nathan and William had birthdays in June. We usually celebrate at home and let the birthday boy or girl pick a favorite meal and dessert.

William picked this cake from a Pinterest picture, and it was delicious! Here’s the recipe if you want to make it for your crew.

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Nathan’s mom came over a couple of days and taught the girls some basics of the sewing machine and a few stitches. Their diligent labors produced these beautiful dolls! Thank you, Grandma for teaching, helping, and guiding the girls!

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In the last few weeks, I also found a little bit of time to work on a couple projects. These outdoor ticking pillows and the linen throw brought be so much joy to make!

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Watching all the plants come into their full glory with big bright blooms and tiny vegetables brings us whoops of joy. We’re enjoying delicious kale salads, but nothing else yet ready for harvest.

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There are 20 new young pine tress on the farm! Ten are Norway spruce and ten are white pine. They’ll be replacing dead ones and being added to the perimeter of the pasture.

with love. Damaris


The Best Summer Reading Series For Families

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.

–Marcel Proust

As we mentioned in an earlier post, structured schooldays have ended, and we now fully embrace the new pace of summer. I confess that welcoming wide perimeters of time for each individual’s curiosities and pleasure is the sweetest gift to me as a homeschooling mother. It is satisfying physically, mentally, and emotionally for all of us in our home to rest from new lessons and long academic days. While we seek to maintain simple structures of chores, meal times, piano practice, Bible reading, family read-aloud, and bedtime, we’ve exchanged formal lessons for copywriting (from classic, favorite books that they each select) and Bible memorization. One of the ways we continue to learn is through reading which is truly the most longed for summer delight. We fill our baskets with books and also pick a long book series to listen to.

Our family loves audio books for many reasons, all of us bond with the characters, share laughs about the stories, and enjoy retelling them long after the series has been returned to the library. Sometimes the audio versions are read by the author (my favorite), or they might be dramatized. Sometimes we listened to them while the children built Legos. Sometimes we all climbed on my bed and folded laundry while enjoying the stories, but mostly we listened to the book series in the car. We took the CDs with us on road trips, to brunch, farm milk pick-up, and to the grocery store. Nonetheless, we’re never found without the next CD!

The first 7 titles that I have listed are book series that we listened to in audio form in the order in which we listened to them over the years. We listened to one series per summer. The last 3 have been recommended to me, but we have only listened to the audio book of the first in the series. We haven’t read the sequels (some may be for older children than mine are at this time).

Alexander and Eva wanted to write a short review on these book series! Here are their words:

The Magic Tree House

Jack and Annie (bother and sister) take us on countless adventures in the past. Through the 55 small books that make the series, it’s a fun way to learn history! -Eva

Ramona

The book series begins when Ramona is a very little girl and grows with her. She’s very mischievous and it’s written through her perception of life. There are 8 books in the series. -Eva

Little House in the Prairie

Laura Ingalls Wilder in the series of 9 books tells about a little girl and her family moving from the woods of Wisconsin to Iowa to Minnesota to North Dakota. It seems to be mostly autobiographical. -Alexander

The Indian in the Cupboard

Fantastic series of 5 books! A boy named Omri gets a small medicine cabinet for his 9th birthday from his brother. He thinks it’s a boring gift until he discovers the magic. -Alexander

The Boxcar Children

Four children are left orphans. The Alden siblings are afraid that their grandfather is a mean old creep. In the story, they realize otherwise. Many books have been added to the series. -Alexander

The Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. Lewis wrote the most popular children’s series (selling over 150 million copies). Four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy in order to escape the bombing of London during WWII move to a rambling country estate where they discover the secret land of Narnia in a wardrobe. There are 7 books in the series. -Alexander

Redwall

An intricately woven story with endearing characters. Brian Jacques’s realistic depiction of the animal’s stories is why the author has been compared to J.R.R. Tolkien. 22 novels in the series (we have not read them all). -Alexander

The Penderwicks

A father and four daughters take a vacation in a gardener’s cottage in Connecticut and have daily adventures with the son of the lady who owns the manor house on which the gardener’s cottage is situated. A series of 5 books. -Alexander

A Wrinkle in Time

Overpowering the evil brain with love, Meg is able to save her family from the magic’s grasp. Interesting fantasy book! 5 books in the series. -Eva

Ann of Green Gables

Ann was a girl adopted at age 11 who finds a bosom friend. It’s full of tales of dangerous dares. 7 books in the series. -Eva

with love, Damaris