Ever since I was a little girl, I have been in love with stories. I remember laying in the yard on a thick blanket as my mom read The Chronicles of Narnia aloud and pulling my dad back onto my bed, begging for one more bedtime chapter of Harry Potter. I also have a memory of looking out the car window at the passing palm trees as the whole family drove down to Florida, listening to the Ranger’s Apprentice series over the speakers. Once introduced, I couldn’t get enough of captivating narratives that transported me to other worlds, and I have consequently spent a great amount of my life reading.
This passion has led me to ponder the value of a story. Last year, I read over 180 books. Why would I spend countless hours in worlds I do not belong to and visit people I will never meet in real life? Because stories have value, namely in their ability to instill virtue, foster imagination and teach truth.
Firstly, stories bring to life heroes and heroines who act virtuously and inspire their readers to do the same. Girls want to be bold like Katniss Everdeen, faithful like Lucy Pevensie and independent like Jo March. Boys desire to be brave like Harry Potter, loyal like Samwise Gamgee and honorable like Captain America. When seeing these excellent qualities in their heroes, people are stirred with a desire to imitate them. This is why book characters have the ability to make a substantial impact on the lives of those who read about them. C.S. Lewis’ words speak to this point: “Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise, you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.”
Secondly, creative narratives cultivate an active imagination. Reading stories about various times, people and places awakens the mind to new possibilities and allows readers to make up their own stories. It sparks creativity in everyday life and helps you think outside the box in all kinds of situations.
Finally, narratives can convey profound truths, from the importance of love, honesty and humility to the battle between good and evil. The Baxter Series by Karen Kingsbury and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers show that relationships and marriages require diligent work and sacrificial love. The Chronicles of Narnia, Eragon, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and many other epic works in the fantasy genre illustrate the truth about the battle between good and evil. Although challenging, they show that fighting for honor, righteousness and goodness is right. One of the greatest powers of stories is demonstrating truth without explicitly stating it and making it desirable.
Since good stories are priceless, allow me to share a few of my favorites!
Christian Romance: The Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers; The Visibullis Chronicles by Roseanna White; There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones; Can’t Help Falling by Kara Issac; Red Rose Bouquet by Jennifer Rodeweild; The Kensington Chronicles by Lori Wick; O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson
Christian Fantasy: The Chiveis Trilogy by Bryan Litfin; Follower of the Word Trilogy by Morgan Busse; Blood of Kings Trilogy and The Ravenwood Saga by Jill Williamson; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Hero-Lead Adventure/Fantasy: Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan; The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott; Red Rising Saga by Pierce Brown, Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore; Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan; Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Heroine-Lead Adventure/Fantasy: Green Rider by Kristin Britain; The Hunger Games by Susan Collins; Defy Trilogy by Sara Larson; Remnant Chronicles by Mary Pearson; The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Mayer; The Heist Society by Ally Carter; Divergent by Veronica Roth