We started our LIGHT YOUR LIBRARY campaign nearly two weeks ago, but Janie and I had been planning it since at least the summer.  So much to say and so little time!  It’s been fun if challenging, and we’re happy to have been able to think along with our readers about how Christians can support our libraries during Banned Books Week.

In case you haven’t kept up, we’ve interviewed two stellar writers, Megan Cox Gurdon of the Wall Street Journal and kids’ book biographer, Simonetta Carr.  We’ve posted our first podcast together, offered a prayer on behalf of our cultural stewards, and I’ve finished my first draft of a spiritual autobiography in books, Behind the Bookcase.  We’ve taken on worldly wisdom in Janie’s Banned Books anchor post and contrasted the publishing-world mantra YA Saves with The Lord Saves.  And there is more, but you’ll have to scroll down yourself to find it all.  Because it’s finally Friday and time to announce our Light Your Library contest winner…AND the answers given by Christian writers to this question:  If you could place one book in every American library, what would it be?

Thanks for taking this journey with us, and we really hope you’ll bookmark this post for building your own personal library, as well as gifting books to people and librarians!  Keep praying for our libraries!


  • William Boekestein, author of Christian books for children, blogs on preaching and other things at Homiletica et cetera (  He responded this way: Elizabeth Prentiss’ Little Susy’s Six Birthdays (1853; recently reprinted with two other stories by A.B. Publishing) would be a great addition to any library. The combination of high quality writing, endearing human interest and palpable spiritual devotion makes most of Prentiss’ children’s books delightful for children and parents alike. Knowing that only four of Prentiss’ six children survived infancy adds an emotional backdrop to her children’s literature.
  • Kathleen Nielson, author of eight Bible studies through P&R Publishing and contributor to The Gospel Coalition, wrote: “The question you send is a challenging one, as I’m sure you know! I’ll choose the Helen Taylor’s edition of Pilgrim’s Progress.  Now, I don’t usually go for simplified or revised versions of any kind. And I’d surely want the original edition to be in the library as well!  But that version of Pilgrim’s Progress was given to our oldest son when he was quite young, and the respectfully-retold story of Christian’s journey penetrated his young boy’s heart and mind and imagination in a powerful way, as he read it through again and again.”
  • Susan Hunt, author of a number of books, many of which are for Christian women, wrote: This is a hard assignment! I need a whole shelf for the books I would like to give every library. But, if I could only give one, it must be Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan’s classic allegory captures the imagination, instructs the mind, and inspires the heart. His theological precision shows up on every page and in every character. This timeless story gives breathtaking pictures of God’s grace. As we travel with Christian from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City we learn the dangers of the broad way and the blessedness of the narrow way. Three of my favorite editions for children are:    
  • Warren Cole Smith, Associate Publisher, WORLD Magazine apparently had too many favorites to pare down.  It’s such a fascinating list, though, I just can’t cut it: 

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

The Singer by Calvin Miller

Holy The Firm by Annie Dillard

The Unvanquished by William Faulkner

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

True Grit by Charles Portis

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

  • David French, blogger for Patheos and National Review Online; counsel for Alliance Defense League and the American Center for Law and Justice:  For the young set: The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis.  For middle-schoolers: Lord of the Rings.  For High school and College: Les Miserables and War and Peace.
  • Larry Woiwode, novelist (National Book Award finalist), literature professor, former homeschool dad:  “First, I’ll recommend the one book for several age groups: pre-verbal, Goodnight Moon; learning to talk, Chicken Soup with Rice (the Maurice Sendak version); for juveniles to YA, the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of “Little House” books, also recommended for adults; but the one adult book every library should have? War & Peace.”
  • R. J. Anderson, YA author of Wayfarer and Ultraviolet: “Maybe George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie… or on a more recent note, Jeffrey Overstreet’s Auralia’s Colors.”asdf asdf
  • Lee Wishing, Administrative Director, The Center for Vision and Values, Grove City College: “How about Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Neither book is overtly a “Christian” book, but they both have powerful Christian messages.” (Lee goes on to caution that “The Incidents book confronts the horrific of the sexual slavery that African American females had to tragically deal with. It does so without sugarcoating, but also within the black Christian culture. Harriet Jacobs’ Christian grandmother is a powerful Christian witness.”  Both books are available through

Thanks so much to each and every one of these authors for their willingness to participate!


And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for….who will win two copies of Simonetta Carr’s Athanasius tonight?!!  I assigned everyone a number, put them on pink slips of paper, and let my husband choose one blindly (with kids oogling over the kitchen table)…and the winner was Jess for this entry:

Oh, good question.

I think for kids I would choose the Wingfeather Saga (by Andrew Peterson)–if only one of them, I think I would do the first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, even though I like the latest one the best so far.

However, my all-time favorite books are The Fiddler’s Gun and Fiddler’s Green by A. S. Peterson (actually, he’s Andrew Peterson’s brother). I wouldn’t recommend them to kids, but for adults and teens (depending on their maturity level)… I’m tempted to hand out these books on the street anyway. I think every library should own them.

Can’t wait to check out the posts this week–I’m a little behind, but I’ll catch up today! :-)

Thanks, Jess, for taking the time to help us out, and thanks to everyone who participated!  We’ve been able to compile an excellent list of books above, as well as in our original LIGHT YOUR LIBRARY post.  So check that out if you haven’t already, and let’s pray that the Lord will help us all be a blessing to our libraries and book-lovers around us.


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  1. Jess on October 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    🙂 That’s wonderful! Thanks a million 🙂

  2. Dawn on October 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for all of the great suggestions and congratulations to Jess!

  3. Melissa Deming on April 15, 2013 at 7:49 am

    A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken is one of my personal favorites, hands down. So impressed to see that one made the list!

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