Books That Cultivate Courage and Compassion


John Ruskin in The Crown of Wild Olive said this about true education, “The entire object of true education is to make people not merely do the right things, but enjoy the right things-not merely industrious, but to love industry-not merely learned, but to love knowledge-not merely pure, but to love purity-not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice.”

As we read books to our children, we are not just exposing them to literacy, but exposing them to the world, and cultivating in them a love for others that can translate into world changing actions.

Below is a list of some beautiful books for cultivating courage and compassion, books about people who have overcome difficulties in their life, and books about seeing the best in people.

Most People by Michael Leannah- An introduction to the theme that most people want to do good

A Weed is a Flower by Aliki- The story of George Washington Carver

A Vision of Beauty by Kathryn Lasky- One woman’s determination to build a better life for herself and her people

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier- The story of Rosa Parks

Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome- The life of Harriet Tubman

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier- The life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I Have A Dream-Martin Luther KIng Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson-Text from the speech

Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell- A story about the power of empathy and compassion

Roberto Clemente by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Raul Colon- A boy from Puerto Rico becomes one of the most admired baseball players of all time

Fifty Cents and a Dream by Jabari Asim, illustrated by Bryan Collier- The life of Booker T. Washington

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz- A beautiful book about how a boy who overcomes a speech difficulty to advocate for animals

A Girl Named Helen Keller by Margo Lundell-The amazing story of Helen Keller

One Hen by Katie Smith Milway- An amazing story of how a community was changed by one boys diligence and stewardship of his resources

Abraham Lincoln by by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire- A poor boy becomes a famous president

We’d love to know - what books have infused your family with courage, and inspired more compassion?

Check out our new Mountain Guide for around the world preschool learning!

Check out our new Mountain Guide for around the world preschool learning!

Click the button below to download a free sample of our parent guides, children’s activities, printable and book lists to give you a taste of The Peaceful Press Curriculum.

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for clicking through and showing your support. While we think that nothing is better than reading an actual story to your child, you can also find many of these as Youtube read alouds.

The Mountain Guide


We’ve got a new guide here at The Peaceful Press and we are excited to share it with you. In the midst of the cold days of winter, we are studying the beautiful mountain ranges of the world, and combining this study with engaging books, fun activities for developing motor skills, and yummy bread recipes from around the world.

We found some amazing books that celebrate mountain cultures and geography from around the world to include in this study. Some of them include information about other faiths and festivals, which opens up a sweet opportunity to share our own beliefs with our children. You can click to see more information about the books and shop them on Amazon, or look for them at your local library.

Let’s Explore Mountains: Lonely Planet Kids by Christina Webb

The Rocky Mountains by Marion Dane Bauer

Two Bear Cubs by Robert D. San Souci

Nuptse and Lhotse Go to the Rockies by Jocey Asnong

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman

Mountains of the World by Dieter Braun

Owls by Gail Gibbons

A Day on the Mountains by Kevin Kurtz

Where is Machu Pichu by Megan Stine

A is for Alpacas by Sue Carolane

Up and Down the Andes by Laurie Krebs

Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown

Explore My World: Snow Leopards by Jill Esbaum

Chandra’s Magic Light by Theresa Hein

Namaste by Diana Cohn

I See the Sun in Nepal by Dedie KIng

We include bread recipes from each of the mountain regions, and a few engaging crafts to help your children remember what they have learned.

Mountain Garland

Gurung Bread

Mountain Height Comparison

Mountain Map Work

Fizzing Volcano Diorama

Even my 10 year old son was engaged with the books in this study, and we think your budding readers will love the word blending activities and extra phonics practice.

The winter months can seem to drag on, but adding in interest led studies can help your children renew their love for learning, and keep developing the skills they need to excel in school and life while making meaningful connections with the most important people in their world.

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Planning Your Best Year


This is one of my favorite seasons of the year. I love Christmas, with all the cozy cuddles, and happy surprises, but as soon as it is over, I am eagerly dreaming and planning for the new year. I use several questions to help me formulate goals, and I keep any goals that I do set, closely aligned with my personal essentials and our family essentials.

This book can help you understand what Essentialism means.

Download our free Family Vision Planner to help you develop your family essentials.

Our family essentials include things like travel, quiet time, debt free living, togetherness, and helping others. We developed these essentials by simply writing a list of things we loved to do. When we saw that a common thread on that list was spending time outside, traveling, and developing our spiritual life, it was easy to develop our family essentials. Having our family vision and essentials written down, helps us make reasonable goals for the year.

Before we start writing goals down, we also brainstorm what we want to try, read, learn, and see over the course of the coming year. Using a brainstorming worksheet as a family helps us to see where our interests lie before we start setting goals. This worksheet is a part of our updated 2019 planner.


Once we have filled out the dream building worksheet, then we move on to actual goal setting. Our planner includes a monthly goal setting worksheet in 6 areas; home, school, spiritual, work, giving, and relational.

Home-This might be goals for better home care habits, simplifying belongings, or even learning a new skill such as bread making or gardening.

School-This is for making goals for skills to learn, or projects to do over the course of the month. Memorizing poetry, learning math facts, or accomplishing a new project could all make this list.

Spiritual- I will often make a goal for devotional literature reading, fasting, or other spiritual practices for this category.

Work-This category might include work for income, or work for fun tasks. This category could also be thought of as “parental personal development” or mother culture.

Giving-You can use this category to write goals for giving to those outside the family or even to yourself or your children. This could involve non tangibles like phone calls to a friend, or meal delivery to a new mama, or it could be a goal to give to a favorite charity.

Relational-These are goals I make for building relationships. Things like eye contact, date nights, or gentle responses might make this category. This category can also include books to read to improve my self awareness and thus my ability to love others well.


After I have filled in the categories, I will also take time to check in with the yearly goals we made at the beginning of the school year, and I’ll look at our calendar and weekly planning sheets (included in The Peaceful Press Planner) to see if I’ve overscheduled us, and therefore crowded out the time needed for our essentials.

Making space for a little quiet planning time before we dive back into school is a valuable investment for creating a life that is sustainable and peaceful.

If the joy has gone out of homeschooling for you, check out our parent guides. They are designed to require a minimum of parent planning and to create an atmosphere of joyful connection.

Click here for ages 2-5

Click here for ages 5-10

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Christmas Shopping on a Budget


"Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read."

I love Christmas. What I don't love however, is getting into debt, buying stuff we don't need, and neglecting the poor. The desire to live within our means so that we can be free to give defines our Christmas gift giving.

I want Christmas to feel extravagant for our children, but I don't want to spend extravagantly. With this goal in mind, there are a few strategies that I use each Christmas.


Keep Expectations Low- Every year I tell the children that it will be a small Christmas and they won't receive many gifts. I do spend a morning asking them what they would like for Christmas and writing it down, I love hearing what they are dreaming of, but I make it clear that they will not get everything on their list.

Download Our Free Christmas Bucket List Template Here

Use A Formula- I love the phrase, "Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read".  It has been attributed to Ann Voskamp and is a very good guideline for me on gift purchasing. With seven children, I need a framework to keep the gift purchasing simple.

Start Early- Throughout the year, I am constantly on the lookout for good books at thrift stores. These are stored in my closet where I will then divide them up between the children for their Christmas gifts. There is nothing quite like a new book, with a holiday to enjoy reading it. This is a good principle for all gift giving, while being careful not to overbuy or overspend.

Wrap Everything- I use Christmas as an opportunity to give my children things that they already need. I may spend a little extra to get day of the week undies, or a bamboo toothbrush, but even necessities should not be taken for granted, and giving them as gifts helps my children recognize that fact.

Keep Relationship as the Priority- Throughout the holiday season we try to keep relationships at the forefront. Making time to read through an advent devotional, sing songs, build a puzzle, and reach out to the needy are what the holiday should be defined by. If all my time is spent shopping, the memories will be bitter for everyone.

Christmas can be a wonderful time, free of debt and stress, it just might take a little more thought and planning.

For more ideas for a simple, thoughtful Christmas, check out the Wild and Free homeschool bundles. The December subscription, Yule is full of beautiful ideas for Christmas celebrations with your children. I’ll be speaking at their conference in Frisco this February, I’d love to see you there!

If you need some help to define a budget, and create a more simple Christmas, check out my course, Bountiful Homeschooling on a Budget. 

If you are searching for a fresh guide to homeschooling your children in the new year, check out our parent guides. We have year long, and month long resources to bring joy, connection, and learning into your home.

Here at The Peaceful Press, we’ve created a heartwarming Christmas Guide. We include nature based crafts, recipes, favorite story suggestions, phonics and counting activities, games, and fine motor activities to make this your best Christmas ever. Click the link below for more information.

The Christmas Guide


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More Christmas Blog Posts;

Handmade Christmas with Children

Christmas Books and Toys for Intentional Families

Christmas Stories

A Simple Santa Mask

Favorite Books for Advent


In our family, we love slowing down over the month of December and settling into a quiet, devotional rhythm. We focus on family togetherness around our fireplace; talking, reading, and baking together as the cold dark days of winter settle in.

We love incorporating advent guides into our evening routines, and included a few of our favorites here.

Jotham’s Journey is the advent devotional that we are using with our The Precious People study. It follows a boy in his adventures in Ancient Rome at the time of Jesus birth, and includes daily readings and reflections.

Jotham’s Journey


Another favorite resource for advent is by our dear friend Jennifer Naraki. Slow and Sacred Advent is a thoughtful four week guide to help your family celebrate the birth of Christ.

Slow and Sacred Advent

Photo by

Photo by

I printed an early edition of this Jesse Tree themed devotional way back when it was on A Holy Experience Blog. Now you can get a beautiful read aloud edition, with the hopeful and inspiring words of Ann Voskamp to lead your advent celebrations.

Unwrapping The Greatest Gift


A new one that we haven’t read yet is by a favorite devotional author, Marty Machowski. We have used his children’s devotional books for the last few years of school and are excited to check this one out.

Prepare Him Room

Photo by

Photo by

Here at The Peaceful Press, we also created this Christmas Guide. The focus is on fun activities to do with your children over the four weeks of Christmas, including weekly nativity stories, favorite Christmas books, crafts, recipes, handmade gifts, games, and more.

The Christmas Guide


What are your favorite resources for celebrating advent?

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for clicking through and showing your support.

More Christmas Blog Posts;

Handmade Christmas with Children

Christmas Books and Toys for Intentional Families

Christmas Stories

A Simple Santa Mask

Handmade Christmas with Children

The best Christmas memories are made by hand…

The best Christmas memories are made by hand…

The best Christmas memories are made by hand. 

And if that is true, then perhaps the worst Christmas memories are those made when we spend the majority of the holiday season in department stores without our children, trying to purchase toys that will be played with for a few days and then forgotten. 

I love gifts, and giving them is important to me, but often the gift that our children most long for is the gift of our undistracted time.

On the other hand, many of us envision making things by hand as just another distraction from our children. When these gifts are difficult projects that must be done solo, we are again forced to choose between time with our children, or time doing something for them, but not with them.

A few Christmases ago, we made some changes that have set a precedent for more family time at Christmas. We had a theme of "used or homemade" for Christmas gifts which meant that I would take a few children at a time to hit up thrift stores, or that I was sewing simple gifts for them such as capes and doll blankets, while they worked on their own homemade gifts.

By choosing alternative ways to celebrate, including forgoing gifts in exchange for a Christmas vacation, we have been able to lower expectations and focus on family time. However, we still want to have a few gifts on hand for grandparents and friends, and we have chosen to have at least a few of those be handmade.

These are a few of the simple gifts that we have made;

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Rolled Beeswax Candles

You need:

Beeswax Sheets


  • Carefully cut your beeswax sheets in half lengthwise. 

  • Cut your candle wick to fit.

  • Place wick at the edge of the beeswax and carefully fold over the first roll.

  • Finish rolling tightly.

Our two sheets of beeswax made 4 thick candles. You could also cut the beeswax in thirds for thinner candles or cut in quarters for short candles.

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Essential Oil Bath Salts

Soaking in bath salts is a great way to supplement your body with magnesium and get better sleep.

You need:

1 32 oz package epsom salts

essential oil (we used Young Living Lavender Oil)

pint sized mason jars

Christmas fabric and ribbon

  • Pour your epsom salt into a large bowl. You could also add himalayan pink salt, dead sea salt, or other mineral rich salts.

  • Add about 15 drops lavender essential oil.

  • Stir well to combine.

  • Use a scoop to pour bath salts into jars.

  • Cut circles from your holiday fabric that are slightly larger than your jar lid. We used a gallon size jar lid as a template.

  • Place fabric over lid and then screw on jar ring. 

  • Tie ribbon around jar ring and add a gift tag if desired.

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There are loads of other possibilities for homemade gifts, bean soup in a jarcloth doll, a simple cape, or even potted plants such as geraniums that you start from a cutting. Our new Christmas Guide includes tutorials for several of these activities, along with stories, games, and early learning activities to bring more joy to this holiday season.

We can turn the tide on Christmas expectations, and create a holiday celebration that is defined by precious moments spent with our loved ones.

If you are struggling to figure out how you can pay for Christmas, please check out my course, Bountiful Homeschooling. When you use code, "Budget" the course is only $18.

This post has affiliate links. Thanks for clicking and showing your support.

You might also enjoy:

Favorite Books for Advent

Christmas Books and Toys for Intentional Families

Christmas Stories

and A Simple Santa Mask

Christmas Books and Toys For Intentional Families

Christmas Books and Toys

I’m excited about Christmas! We have traveled away from home the last two years, but this year we will be home, and we are planning lots of memory making around crafts, service, and family togetherness.

Our new Christmas Guide is full of inspiration for making sweet memories in your family. We include heartwarming literature, nature based crafts, and developmentally appropriate counting and phonics activities to create a Christmas to remember.


While most of our Christmas celebrations revolve around making memories together, we will also have a few gifts under the tree. We use the guide, “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read” to help keep our shopping simple and intentional.

These are a few items we love that fit into this formula.

Ever Earth Jr. Ramp Racer

Melissa and Doug Shape Sorting Clock

Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Dollhouse

Melissa and Doug Multi Craft Knitting Loom

Paper Making Kit

Holiday Pajamas

We’ve also loved experiences and subscriptions for gifts that keep on giving. The last two years we’ve forgone presents in exchange for exciting adventures and this year we are enjoying fun monthly boxes from Kiwi Crate.

Check them out here


Although you will be inundated by opportunities to buy and spend this season, we want you to know that the most wonderful gift you can give your child is yourself. As you read to your child, bake favorite holiday treats, and just hang out, you are building into your child the knowledge that they are a delightful human, and people who feel delighted in, have the confidence to make the world a better place.

You might also enjoy:

Favorite Books for Advent

Handmade Christmas with Children

Christmas Books and Toys for Intentional Families

Christmas Stories

and A Simple Santa Mask

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for clicking through and showing your support.


Fall Nature Study

Fall Nature Study

Fall Nature Study

We love fall in our family! The leaves are turning colors and my house smells of apples and cloves as I bake and diffuse.

One of our favorite activities each season is nature study, and we love observing the change of seasons in our favorite places. We try to take time on every outing to pause at a scenic spot to sketch or play.


Sometimes getting young children to actually observe nature, requires giving them a craft that involves natural materials. This allows them to slow down enough to actually observe the leaves, bark or feathers that they are supposed to be studying.

One of the resources that we are using this year, is the book, Exploring Nature With Children, by Lynn Seddon. This manual includes activities, book suggestions, an overview of the topic and even poem and art suggestions to go along with the theme of the week. 

We also enjoy collecting leaves on each of our outings and identifying the trees they came from. Our new Tree Guide has been a helpful resource for observing trees and enjoying the fall season.

We have also used the book, Look What I Did With a Leaf for our annual leaf creatures, and one of the girls in our local nature group, made this fabulous horse, using ideas from the book.


Another family fall tradition that we have is a visit to a place called Apple Hill. We don't live as close as we used to, but purchasing fresh apples and fresh apple donuts is worth the drive. You may have apple orchards or pumpkin patches near you where you can celebrate the changing season.


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