When I was in elementary school, I had the best librarian. She read each story with passion and excitement. As a homeschooling parent, librarian is one of my roles. I want to share the same experience with my kids as my librarian did with me. I want stories to come alive and become a part of my children.
Books can have a big impact on our lives. They can give us the freedom to believe in the unbelievable, to have faith when in doubt and to learn we’re never alone. Books can lead us down paths that we may have never thought to go down. All of this can be wonderful, helpful and soothing but it can also lead us down the wrong path. As parents, it is our job to make sure the books we choose lead our children down the path of a faith-filled life and they are guided by stories of love, humility, and devotion.
As Orthodox Christians, we also want to have books that introduce our kids to concepts of our faith. In our family, we’ve talked a little about monks, nuns and monasteries but we have yet to take our children to a monastery. It was nice to introduce my boys to this concept while reading Shepherding Sam. Melinda Johnson, an Orthodox author, does a great job adding nuggets of information about the monastery that the character Sam visits in the book.
Shepherding Sam is a fantastic book about a young boy, Sam, who isn’t very enthusiastic about life. He’s been place into his aunt’s care and is less than thrilled to visit the monastery as often as they do. Sam is introduced to a new animal at the monastery’s farm who, let’s say, herds Sam in the right direction.
I read this book to my boys, ages 6, 9, and 11, and they’ve all picked up different levels of lessons from the book. It was an easy read with great visualizations. Johnson has created very relatable characters and situations. I think my favorite part of the book was that it reflects my kids’ faith lives. It reflects traditions, terminology, and even kids names that we use a lot and it really makes the story hit home.
Although, the setting of this book is familiar to those of the Orthodox faith, it isn’t trying to push Orthodoxy. It’s about how a boy’s broken heart starts to heal and soften. It does have familiar themes from the Bible.
I urge you to give this book a try and let me know what you think.
Yours in faith and some sanity,