When I taught fifth grade, I would have story time after recess. I chose excellent children’s novels and read for ten or fifteen minutes as we settled down from lunch and active play to the afternoon’s academic pursuits.
You may ask, “Fifth grade? Aren’t they a little old to be read to?” Not a bit. If our time got scrunched, I received a collective groan because I skipped our story. Each year, one of my never-miss books to read was The Bronze Bow.
If A Wrinkle in Time is my favorite children’s book overall, The Bronze Bow is my favorite inspirational children’s book. And I never read it until I was an adult!
Elizabeth George Speare brought history and Christian faith together as well as a beautiful plot line with several conflicts and resolutions. Set in first century, Rome-dominated Palestine, the reader can be sure that Jesus will show up. For the most part, He remains a shadowy figure while His disciple, Simon the Zealot, plays one of the secondary characters.
The protagonist, Daniel, is a teenager with a tragic past. He abhors the Romans with a passion almost to the point of obsession, yet we can see a pure heart underneath all the anger. As Daniel’s hatred endangers not only himself, but his entire village, he watches Jesus from a distance. Surely this man must be the Messiah, yet the man doesn’t call the Jews to revolt against Rome!
The book takes us on Daniel’s journey. We meet him as the follower of a Robin Hood type of thief. He progresses in maturity to realize that he needs to take responsibility for his own actions and he ought to take care of others, in particular, his little sister and a mute slave. When all is lost, he must make a choice between continuing his hatred or —
I can’t tell you that. You’ll have to guess what his choice is or read the book! And it’s not a stereotypical conversion scene to Christian faith.
Can you see why my students loved story time?