Our kids always like it when I read books to them. But since they are 15, 11, and 7, they are a wee bit beyond the "Green Eggs and Ham" stage. So, I pick books to read together that are longer. It may take us a couple weeks to read through a book, but we enjoy finishing our lunch and spending a half hour or so enjoying a good book together.
The latest "read aloud" has been Myrna Grant's Vanya. It's an older book (published in 1974). I remember reading it in high school over twenty years ago.
Ivan Moiseyev (Vanya) was drafted into the Russian military in 1970. In 1972 Vanya's parents buried their son. Why? Because Vanya was a believer who would not recant his faith. He stood firm to the end in spite of the torture he endured at the hands of his superiors.
The things Vanya experienced during his years in the military are beyond words. Required to stand in sub-zero weather for hours in nothing but his summer uniform, Vanya was warmer than the soldiers who periodically came out to check on him, even though they wore big heavy coats, boots, and winter uniforms.
The miraculous accounts go on and on.
What I appreciate about the telling of Vanya's story is that it is appropriate for young children to hear. The details of the torture were things they could comprehend, but not things that would rob them of their innocence. (However, there were a few words that must have been translated a bit more harshly than intended. I skipped those few words in our read-aloud.) This book also provided a good (and fairly recent) example of martyrdom.
This book must have made an impression on me, because even after twenty years, I remembered many of the details of Vanya's story. His rock-solid faith is one that I wish to emulate. If I ever face persecution to that degree, his story will be an encouragment to me to stand strong.
Definitely a book worth reading and re-reading.
On the Melissa scale: This is a book that I will keep on my shelf to re-read at a later date.