Before Harry Potter

Before the craze of J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter, there was Frank Peretti, the true pioneer in catapulting his readers into the supernatural. Rowling wrote seven books about Harry’s adventures. Peretti has eight in his Cooper Kids series and at least ten novels geared for adults.

Am I pitting them against each other? It wasn’t my intention, but if your kids have read Harry Potter, then give them a chance at the more Biblically based Cooper Kids. So many similar books have come out in the past thirty years, yet Peretti weaves Christian truth into the plot more skillfully than any others that I’ve read.

this present darkness

Famous for This Present Darkness, published in 1986, Frank Peretti wrote the first book of the Cooper Kids, The Door in the Dragon’s Throat, in 1985. He introduces Jay and Lila, along with their archaeologist father, in a Middle Eastern setting, the perfect place to launch an epic battle between good and evil. As was more common in the Eighties, Peretti gives quite a bit of back story as characters are introduced, but he does it well, and it reads quickly.

My favorite of the eight is Secret of the Desert Stone. Set in Africa, Jay and Lila become friends with another brother and sister whose tribe is in danger of being wiped out by the megalomaniac leader of a rival tribe, the tribe with absolute power in running the country. Preparations for war keep us turning the pages as fast as we can. Parallels between the tribe’s legends and Bible history keep us enthralled on a deeper level. As all four kids draw closer to learning Truth, the opposition trains its sights on wiping out the village that stands in its way.

desert tree

When my sons were in elementary school, they hated to read. They weren’t all that enthused about being read to, either. But when I started to read aloud This Present Darkness, they begged me to read another chapter. And another. Every day.

Peretti created a spark in them to explore Truth. His books jump started an interest in God, in spiritual warfare, in truth of scripture, and in the realization that a relationship with Christ is not fiction even if Peretti’s stories didn’t really happen. I am grateful for all the dinner table conversations he inspired!

credit to churchmousec.wordpress.com

credit to churchmousec.wordpress.com

What books have you read that inspired family conversations about Jesus and living for Him?

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3 thoughts on “Before Harry Potter

  1. I adored the Cooper Kid books! I recently saw them at a library sale and snatched them up immediately. They’re in the tbr pile for me and my daughter. 🙂 (My favorite was the Tombs of Anak, btw.)

    The Narnia books are good books for discussion. CS Lewis never failed to include faults and mistakes in his characters so they would have something in themselves to better.

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  2. Thanks Linda. I don’t know how it escaped my attention that he’d written a whole series for children. I’ll be looking into that!

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