Favorite Friday: “The C.S. Lewis Five” (a one-scene screenplay)

gbc[The Scene: Pastor Ed Kang‘s office hours at Golden Bear Cafe. The year: let’s just say it’s around the turn of the century. I know you’re surprised I was in college at the time, but you have to remember I started college when I was 8*. ]

Mind you, this was a gazillion years ago, so I’ve used creative license liberally in the following screenplay. But I do remember this encounter, and how I wanted to show Pastor Ed I was interested in conversing about things like books and literature — so above the fray of the typical college student. Ha!


HEK:  Pastor Ed, I love to read. What Christian books do you recommend I read? (hopeful this opens up the way to talk shop about books we have in common.)

EHK: Have you read C.S. Lewis?

HEK: (smiling, because The Chronicles of Narnia was a childhood favorite). Yes, I just love Lewis’ ability to explore spiritual truths through what seems to be an innocent children’s story. I do love me some Narnia.

EHK: (smiling graciously) Ah yes, Narnia is splendiferous, to be sure. Now, have you read Mere Christianity?

HEK: (puzzled because it seems kind of strange to call Christianity mere…) …um…

EHK: (fatherly chuckle, if Yoda chuckled) Much to learn, you still have, young padawan.

HEK: (Yes! I know this one!) Haha, Star Wars! I just love Star Wars

EHK: (leaning forward, voice hushed as though preparing to reveal the secret to life) Here are the five must reads by C.S. Lewis. After you read them, then we can talk about other Christian books.

HEK: (takes out actual notebook and pen, because smartphones with notepad apps didn’t exist yet.) I’m ready!

EHK: Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, The Screwtape Letters, and The Abolition of Man. In that order.

HEK:  Golly gee willikers, thanks a bunch. This is nifty! (Sorry, 1990’s, not 1950’s). Awesome! (that word has been used as a filler to express a wide range of emotion for a long time.)


So there you have it. Did you miss it? Pastor Ed’s short list is what I’ve since then thought of as “The C.S. Lewis Five”. I’ve passed that list on to many a padawan at Gracepoint Berkeley church myself.

  1. Mere Christianity
  2. The Problem of Pain**
  3. Miracles
  4. The Screwtape Letters***
  5. The Abolition of Man
six by lewis
photo of this ancient relic courtesy of an amazon.com customer

I was too excited I had this list to be embarrassed. Only in retrospect do I shake my head. Proof that once a teacher’s pet always a teacher’s pet! And how happy was I (mixed with embarrassed) when I went home to my parents’ house and saw this exact set of books sitting right alongside my Narnia set. (It was actually Six by Lewis, because The Great Divorce was thrown in as a bonus, I guess.)

How about you? Have you read “The C.S. Lewis Five”? Which one is your favorite?


*J/K.

**My personal favorite.

***Or maybe this one is.

Throwback Thursday: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

TBTIn a previous Throwback Thursday post, I wrote about a favorite reading memory of mine from 3rd grade. Today I’m going to tell you about my favorite one from 4th grade! (I’ve got one for just about every year of my life, so you’re in luck. I’ve got about…16 more to go, since I’m 25. Ha!)

sadako coverBetween 3rd and 4th grade, I moved schools, and to what seemed like a new world. At that time, there weren’t all that many Asian-Americans up in my corner of the East Bay, so I felt super out of place. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. McNulty, however, made Room 12 an amazing place to be. And I was thrilled when she began reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes for one of our read-aloud books. I knew I wasn’t Japanese, but the book was set in the same…continent, so I felt like it was close enough!

From what I recall, we didn’t learn a whole lot about World War II, but the entire class was rapt each day as we learned about Sadako and her atomic bomb-ravaged world. Of course we learned how to make paper cranes as a class activity, as did most people who I’ve talked about this book with.

As a testament to how powerful a reading experience this was for me, as well as to how nerdy I am was, I take you back to Room 12 to the last day of reading this book. As we approached the emotional ending of the book, Mrs. McNulty got choked up and couldn’t continue reading. She asked if someone else could finish reading the book to the class. I remember *really* wanting her to pick me to read aloud to the class, because I was a teacher’s pet like that. I also remember being super miffed because my 8-year-old self was in tears too, so I couldn’t seize this awesome opportunity.

I wanted to share about this book is because there is powerful historical fiction for almost every age level. You can learn about real events, real people, and the stories of their lives, and it doesn’t have to be boring! This was one of the first historical fiction books I read, and since then, I’ve been hooked. I am a sucker for any book that immerses me into an actual time and place where real events took place. To this day I am pretty much unable to resist any book set during World War II.

With Sadako, I experienced the incredible power of reading about people who both looked a lot like me, and yet lived in a world entirely different from my own. You see, Sadako Sasaki was a real girl.  And today there is a Children’s Peace Monument in Japan, as well as a memorial at Peace Park in Seattle in remembrance of her, and of others who died as a result of the atomic bombs. I hope I can visit this memorial with Timmy from Gracepoint Seattle, and some of his friends for our Summer Reading Getaway.  After we read the book together, of course!

sadako in japan
Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima, Japan

sadako memorial
statue of Sadako Sasaki at the Peace Park in Seattle, Washington
How about you? Do you love/hate historical fiction? What are some of your favorite historical fiction books? Feel free to share recommendations too, since I am always looking for great books to read with and to our youngsters.

Throwback Thursday: Reading Memories

TBTThrowback Thursdays will feature posts that are a “Blast From the Past” in one way or the other. The age of the author of the post will determine how far back the blast is coming from. As for today, I’m the author, so the blast is coming from the 80’s, y’all. (1980’s, not 1880’s.)

charlotteswebMrs. Trujillo was my 3rd grade teacher at Cerritos Elementary School, and she read us Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White, which was already a classic, having been published in 1952. I don’t remember as much about the book as I do about the whole experience. Every day after lunch, we knew it was reading time when Mrs. Trujillo pulled the brown wooden rocking chair to the edge of the circle rug at the front of the classroom. We would rush to be able to sit on the rug, and to be as close to her as possible so that we could see the pictures. I remember learning “salutations” and “runt” as vocabulary words.

I moved to a new school for 4th grade, and I chose to re-read Charlotte’s Web on my own. Part of the reason I was drawn to the book was because it reminded me of home, which in my mind, was still in Southern California. It was a familiar old friend anchoring me in a new place. Years later, I took a bunch of kiddos from Gracepoint Berkeley church to watch the 2006 movie version, and I cried like a baby during that one part (I won’t spoil it for those of you haven’t read the book yet.). Each encounter with the story left a powerful memory in me that makes me nostalgic every time I hear mention of the title.

So when I recommend the book to kids and parents today, I realize I’m recommending so much more than the story of Charlotte, Wilbur and Fern, though the story is wonderful in its own right. It’s a book I love for many reasons, and when I recommend parents and kids read it together, I’m thinking about how this is one of those books that just might help them create a powerful, lasting reading memory together. The kinds of memories that are integral to fostering book love that lives on beyond childhood and into adulthood.

Do you have a favorite reading memory? What book evokes a reading memory for you?