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How to Have a Simple Summer

A Simple Summer

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So after a LONG winter, we are knee-deep into our summer. Are you making the best of it?

If you’re anything like me, around March I start putting together in my mind’s eye all the ways I’m going to simplify our summer. Slower mornings. More pancakes. Playing outdoors. Reading more.

As homeschoolers we are always reading a few books at a time. Since we implement a living books education, saying a few books is putting it mildly.HONEY


Summertime…such a blessed time for us to pour over books without any agenda. Purely for the pleasure of reading. This is our simple summer…

My daughters are seven and almost four and they are crazy about a few things: Adventures in Odyssey, classic novels and picture books, and Frozen. (Yes, we experienced quite the Frozen craze in our house.)

My Amish heritage has definitely influenced my desire for a simple upbringing for my children. I found some beautiful ideas and truths in living this slower, reading-aloud lifestyle: Honey for the Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. This book was more than just encouraging reading aloud. It gave huge book lists and some of the best parenting advice I’ve ever heard.

First, what does the author mean by “honey” for the child’s heart? It’s the sweetness of life. The honey in our lives nourishes our minds and souls as milk nourishes our body. Reading with your family is one way of adding honey into your lifestyle.

Here is an exerpt of what Gladys Hunt says about the simplicity of reading good books:

Good books have genuine spiritual substance, not just intellectual enjoyment. Books help children know what to look for in life. Reading develops the taste buds of the mind as children learn to savor what is seen, heard, and experienced and fit these into some kind of worthwhile framework.

What is unfamiliar becomes close and real in books. What is ridiculous helps children see the humor in their own lives. Sympathetic understanding is a generous byproduct of sharing the emotions of stories and standing in someone else’s shoes. Books are no substitute for life, but a keener pleasure comes to life because of books.

Developing a habit of reading books aloud is not the “end all” or all we need to have family intimacy or a vintage and simple lifestyle, but it’s heading in the right direction. We all have our busy seasons of life…sometimes they feel longer than the slower seasons…but I urge you to be intentional with taking twenty-thirty minutes a day to sit with your children and read from a book together on the couch. This can create such a bond it is worth making the laundry or dishes wait or even bedtime…

Gladys Hunt also talks about the honey that we get from The Living Word, The Holy Bible.

All of us want the Bible to be a living Book for our children. One truth seems overwhelmingly obvious, however. No matter what technique we use, our own attitude is the key. We must be genuine. Our blatant inconsistencies linked with outward piety will battle the authority of the Bible in our children’s lives.

Yes, a simple summer includes the Living Word that brings peace, abounds in grace, and feeds our soul in ways that no other book can—this includes our children.

What does a simple summer have to do with the Amish?

One of the most important characteristics of Amish families is the retelling of stories. They don’t have “movie” night like we may have and I’m not sure, besides the Bible, that I’ve ever really heard of an Amish family reading literature together (that doesn’t mean it never happens, just that in my life I haven’t come across it)…but they share stories about their lives and the lives of their ancestors.

These are stories that will never been written in a book. Stories that help develop a healthy pride in one’s family heritage when you hear stories of faith, enduring hardships, and laughter. These stories might even be the caught fish that seems to grow larger with every telling. But what joy and intimacy does this bring to a family? And this brings a question to these families in how they can find their continuation of those stories that will provide a rich legacy for generations to come.

Retelling family stories, reading the Bible and other books with our families has simply been lost in our modern culture. But these are things that make a simple summer.

When this habit is developed…this kind of simple summer doesn’t fall away when autumn arrives nor when winter rears it’s snowy head and the rush of spring…it stays with your family.

Children can learn obedience along with Laura Ingalls when she and Ma encounter a bear in Little House in the Big Woods. They will learn not to judge too quickly or harshly when they meet Wanda from The Hundred Dresses. In The Lion and the Witch and the Wardrobe they will learn that innocence sacrificed makes Aslan no ordinary lion and little (and big) hearts are softened to truth.

Have you been able to simplify your summer? In what ways?

Looking for good books to read…GO HERE!

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Elizabeth Byler Younts (29 Posts)

Elizabeth Byler Younts used to be Amish, and even after her family converted, she still grew up among her Amish family. She is still very close with them and still speaks Pennsylvania Dutch regularly. She is the author of an Amish memoir titled Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. Seasons is the story of her grandmother Lydia Lee Coblentz who grew up in an impoverished Amish family through the Great Depression. Seasons was released in August 2010 and quickly became an Amazon bestseller in three categories. Elizabeth is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She is an Air Force Officer’s wife with two young daughters and makes her home wherever her family is stationed.


  1. That Gladys Hunt book sounds fantastic! I will definitely be sharing it with my family (thank you). I find that reading with my family is one of the most important things we do together. We learn, discuss and enjoy these moments so much. My youngest son was having difficulties adjusting to certain social aspects of his young life. As someone who works full time, we are unable to take care of a pet. I was recommended a book, that I would also like to share with you called “Watson’s Way” by author Joel Lund (http://bit.ly/WatsonsWay). I have always loved animals and have imparted that to my children so a book that uses a sweet and loving family dog to teach life lessons and Christian values was a match made in heaven for my family. My son and I read this book together every night for a couple weeks and it really changed his outlook. The author uses his family dog to teach life lessons such as how to be a more patient person, and how to better get a long with others. There is something so pure about learning these things from an innocent animal and my son really seemed to enjoy it. We laughed at times and even cried, but overall I feel we both came out of the experience as better people. There is even a place in the book for kids to write in a journal if they want to! I highly recommend it 🙂


  1. […] I’ve posted before about my love for reading and slowing down our summer months after a busy school year. You can find that post here. […]

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