When our daughter was three years old, we took her to see a close family friend perform in a local production of Annie Get Your Gun, the lively, musical rendition of the life of Annie Oakley. Bethany was fascinated. Soon she wanted a cowgirl hat. She spent a lot of time riding her rocking horse, pretending to be a cowgirl. When I found a children’s book about Little Sureshot—Annie’s nickname—I checked it out from the library and must have read it to my daughter a dozen times.
I think it’s important to make biographies a staple in our reading diet and in the diet of our children. As author Os Guinness has written, “…great lives do more than teach. They stir, challenge, rebuke, amuse and inspire at levels of which we are hardly aware.”
Biographies bring history to life.
World War II becomes more than facts and dates when one reads about Corrie Ten Boom’s trials and tribulations in a concentration camp. The battle for civil rights takes on flesh when one reads about little Ruby Bridges being escorted to elementary school by US Marshals. Ecuador becomes vividly real when one reads about Elisabeth Elliot eating roast monkey while evangelizing the savage Waorani tribe.
Biographies provide us with valuable life lessons.
Young athletes cannot help but be encouraged by the life of runner Wilma Rudolph, who overcame crippling polio to go on to win gold medals in the Olympics. The musically inclined will admire Mahalia Jackson, who overcame poverty and prejudice to earn the title of gospel music queen.
Christian biographies encourage us to keep running the good race.
Although paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, Joni Eareckson Tada’s experiences teach us about faith, prayer, and determination. She didn’t let her disabilities prevent her from serving the Lord as a gifted mouth artist, talented vocalist, and author. Sabina Wurmbrand, imprisoned and abused because of her Christian faith, survived the hardships and went on to help her husband cofound The Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that helps persecuted Christians around the world.
As we raise our children and later our grandchildren in a culture addicted to mediocrity, we need to be inspired by believers who struggled against sin and adversity to triumph in the end—people who served as salt and light in this troubled world.
So have you introduced your children to biographies yet? There’s no time like the present.
Shirley Raye Redmond is a wife, mother, and grandmother, and the author of several children’s books, including Courageous World Changers: 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God.