"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
July 2, 2014
Kids' Books for Summer Reading
by Laurie Williams Sowby

Summertime means new opportunities to keep the kids reading and learning. Here are a few new selections.

A memorable story told by President Thomas S. Monson is available in a wonderfully illustrated book. One Little Match tells of one summer in Provo Canyon when President Monson was a child staying at the family cabin.

He and his friend Danny fished, hiked, whittled sticks, and “enjoyed each minute of each hour of each day.” The day they found a quick way to clear a field of June grass became a tale to tell — and a lesson to remember.

Artist Dan Burr’s deft hand with scenery and lifelike facial expressions and figures in motion adds much to the story about avoiding dangers that come through disobedience (Deseret Book 2014, 32 pages in hardcover, $17.99).

Norman the Nephite and the A-Maze-ing Conference Center, republished in 2013 by ZION Book Works, offers more of cartoonist Pat Bagley’s colorful, creative work. This time it’s a fold-out book/ sturdy 16x21 poster that challenges kids to find a long list of items, including Norman himself and Larry the Lamanite, in a bird’s-eye view of the Conference Center, surrounding sidewalks and streets, and the rooftop gardens. This should keep kids (and adults) occupied quite a while ($6.95 in paperback).

In time for patriotic celebrations comes a brightly illustrated book by Julie Olson. Discover America from Sea to Shining Sea features the words to the first verse of Katharine Lee Bates’ “America, the Beautiful” as a boy’s red balloon floats over well-known geographic features and iconic landmarks, from a beach in California’s to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

A map of the states charts the route. A website, www.DiscoverAmericaBook.com, provides free lesson plans that meet core requirements, along with individual states’ shape, flag, bird, and flower (Shadow Mountain 2014, 32 pages in hard cover, $17.99).

Marlene Bateman Sullivan relates stories of religious heroes, past and present, in Heroes of Faith: True Stories of Courage and Strength (Cedar Fort 2013, 149 pages in soft cover, $12.99).

Among the heroes are Cong Nu Tuog-Vyn, a Vietnamese woman who was baptized after translating the Joseph Smith pamphlet, later translated the Book of Mormon into Vietnamese, and lived in a cave, disguised as a Buddhist monk, for safety.

Another is Elder James Brown, an English missionary to the Society Islands in 1849, whose tale of being spared from death in a tribal fire is truly memorable.

The author has condensed and retold stories found in other publications and books, the most recent nearly 20 years ago and others 50-150 years ago. While the writing is not electrifying and the facts could use some updating (such as with the late Curt Brinkman’s), the true stories are reminders of God’s hand in the lives of His children.

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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