Our children need this book. It is not just a good book. Although, it is a very good book.
I was born in rural Iowa and spent many years growing up on a family farm, home to my parents, my sister, me, and a host of animal friends-- a dog named Spot, wild and free barn cats, (truly) free-range chickens, and a herd of Red Angus cattle.
It’s autumn here in Colorado, my favorite time of the year. The changing of the leaves from green to yellow creates great anticipation in my heart for what is to come. The brisk, cool air invites me to stop, look, and listen ...
I'm not a fan of scary stories. When I was younger, if I happened by chance to see a horror movie at a friend's house, it would stay in my thoughts, terrorizing me, for months (sometimes years). I have never been one to seek ...
As a child, I was a voracious reader. I remember curling up with a book under the purple canopy of my bed every evening and being carried off to some other place or time, lost in the life of another character and her story.
“Dad himself used to tell a story about one time when Mother went off to fill a lecture engagement and left him in charge at home. When Mother returned, she asked him if everything had run smoothly. ‘Didn't have any trouble except with that one over there,' he replied. 'But a spanking brought him into line.' Mother could handle any crisis without losing her composure. ‘That's not one of ours, dear,' she said. 'He belongs next door.’”
I grew up in an average sized family. I had a sister who was three years my junior and then, when I was fourteen, I gained an even younger stepsister. Although we had our share of sibling spats, our house of three girls was generally quiet, orderly, and…well, average. I didn’t know anyone with a particularly large family and had no experience with the nuances of large family dynamics. As a result, when I picked up the book Cheaper By The Dozen by Frank Gilbreth, Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, I was particularly eager to take a peek at their account of large family life. What I did not expect, however, was to find a hilarious and beautiful tribute to a unique father and husband, and a nostalgic picture of typical turn-of-the-century life for an atypical American family.
Frank Gilbreth and his wife Lillie were world-famous efficiency experts in pre-WWI America--who also happened to have a dozen children. They were an unusual family, not just because of their size, but because of the career and vibrant personality of their patriarch. In this delightful memoir, two of the twelve children recount in various tales the ways in which their father worked out his theories and practices regarding motion study and education in their bustling home. A fascinating and fun read, Cheaper By The Dozen paints a picture of what it was like to grow up with Frank Gilbreth as a father.
Despite the fact that he believed that a family could (and should) run like an efficient factory, Frank Gilbreth doted on his children and filled the home with warmth and love. The book chronicles how he was as quick to pull out a surprise present from his pocket as he was to administer discipline or correction for wrong doing. A jokester, he filled the house with laughter and antics that had the Gilbreth family (and the reader) in stitches. His pioneer work in the field of motion study was fascinating, and he carried out experiments and documented theories with his children in ways that were equally gripping and hilarious. A staunch proponent of education, Gilbreth took every opportunity to act as teacher and mentor to his twelve children, from painting Morse code and astronomical diagrams on the walls, to performing quick math drills and tricks at the dinner table.
Although the book focuses primarily on the father, his love for his wife and children is portrayed in a way that paints a beautiful portrait of family life. Despite occasional squabbles, the siblings genuinely love each other and defend one another. The parents are generally honored and respected. Extended family is cherished and revered. And Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth model a marriage that is loving, cooperative, complementary, and traditional. In other words, this book is a quiet and effective defense of the traditional family. It is also staunchly pro-life. Gilbreth’s love for all of his children, born and yet unborn, is highlighted, as is his family’s adoration of children in every season of life. From cooing at his newborn to chaperoning his teenaged daughters’ dates, Gilbreth’s devotion to and concern for all of his children is heartwarming.
Because the book takes place in the early Twentieth Century, many of the nuances of life during that time are chronicled, including childhood illnesses, technological advances, and societal customs, including discipline. Some of Frank Gilbreth’s parenting choices and disciplinary practices may be offensive to some readers; corporal punishment is used, but there is absolutely no instances of abuse implied. Also, although this is a generally wholesome and clean book, there are a few swear words, including a couple of instances in which the Lord’s name is taken in vain. Cautious parents may want to be aware of the fact that there is a hilarious chapter in which the parents play a joke on a woman advocating for birth control. Further, Mr Gilbreth is not religious and talks somewhat insultingly about preachers in a particular context.
Despite these few mildly objectionable instances, I found Cheaper By The Dozen to be a delightful, hilarious, nostalgic, inspiring, and family-oriented novel that is perfect for a family read aloud.
A note about the movies: the original 1950 movie with Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy is generally faithful to the book. The 2003 version with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt has absolutely no resemblance to the book or original movie.
A hushed, contemplative picture book based on an episode from the author’s own childhood. What happens when a father returns from war, a stranger to his child? Gentle, honest, a tale that examines one of the difficult aspects of war with real tenderness.
In the beginning, God. A good God made the world, and He called it good. This is how the Story begins. Man and woman were made to be God’s image-bearers, the ones who would rule over creation and care for it in God’s name and as God would, the ones who would most fully reflect Him. They were to multiply, producing other image-bearers who would reflect and reveal God, and in doing so would cover the earth with His glory.
One of the requests we get most frequently here at Storyformed is for book lists. We love to give recommendations and, while we are always working behind the scenes to curate the very best books for you and your family, today we thought that we would point you to a list that our lovely founder, Sarah Clarkson, compiled.
It's funny that I don't even remember the man's name. It was a Sunday night, and my husband and I had gone to church for an evening program with a Christian comedian.
Blueberries For Sal - A beloved children's classic, Blueberries for Sale captured my children's hearts as they followed the story of ...
Some of my children’s favorite stories are the ones my husband or I make up and share with them at bedtime. Now, it’s a delight to hear my older kids making up stories to share with their younger siblings in hopes of helping them to drift off to sleep when mine can’t seem to do the trick.
Anyone who has known me for any considerable amount of time knows that I am a lover of stories. I am a voracious reader and I tend to agree with Erasmus in that “when I get a little money I buy books; if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
I collect old books. Or, I should be more honest and say that I hoard old books. One of my favorite pastimes is waffling through old, dusty, second-hand book stores (the more stacks piled up to the ceiling, the better), searching for those perfect hardback editions of my all-time favorite stories. ...
When I think of pleasant, lyrical words that somehow perfectly describe my thoughts, my mind leaps to the beautiful words of a well-know character in a story, dear Anne of Green Gables. She has a way of cultivating beauty wherever she wanders. ...
I’m sitting alone-- which is quite rare-- listening to peaceful classical music in the background, delighting in the culmination of Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton.
A Note from Storyformed Founder, Sarah Clarkson...
It's no secret that we like stories around here, so let me tell you one to begin.
Sleep is an optional activity in Oxford. This is a fact I do my best to resist by actually sleeping. But sometimes, even I succumb to the vast and varied pace of this place and stay up until the wee sma's when the stars blink down in bewilderment at my still-opened eyes.
Today, an excerpt from Caught Up in aStoryas I have been reading back through Berry here in between papers and thinking about the way that literature teaches us what it looks like to be faithful.