Merry (almost) Christmas! Although it’s still November, I’d like to recommend this forthcoming devotional (releasing Dec. 1st) for the Christmas season! I think this book would make an excellent Christmas present, or else a special treat for yourself or someone you love, for the days leading up to Christmas.
- Author: Rachel Dodge
- Publisher: Barbour Publishing
- On-Sale: Dec. 1
- Synopsis: Revisit your favorite Little Women moments with this heartwarming chapter-by-chapter devotional.
What Drew Me to this Book
This book stood out to me, because this is exactly the sort of book I have been longing to see! As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I believe that storytelling is such an important part of our faith, and one that we often ignore, in the body of Christ.
Most of the time, when books are built with discussion, the books are nonfiction devotionals, perhaps interspersed with interesting, true-to-life anecdotes. While I like the trend I’m seeing of including discussion questions with new Christian novels, I also would like to discussion questions extended beyond book clubs and into youth/church groups. There is so much to learn through story, but this is an area that the church leaves largely untapped.
In addition to my excitement about a devotional based on a book, this one is about Little Women. Although I didn’t read Little Women until college, I have since reread it and it holds a special place in my heart. AND, I really like that this is the subject of a devotional because the faith elements are strong and encouraging, but often overlooked.
Ahh! This book was truly a delight, one that brought tears to my eyes at the beginning and end.
I really enjoyed Dodge’s foreword, which I felt captured both the coziness of the novel and the importance of faith (which, again, is usually overlooked), within the plotline.
My favorite parts of the devotionals were the beginning sections, which paraphrased portions of the text, with generous quotations from Alcott. In this section, Dodge also draws out a faith theme. While some of these are from the more “obviously Christian” portions of the text (such as the girls reading their new Bibles on Christmas), others reflect on a lesson a character learns (such as when Amy practices meekness at the bazaar).
Dodge has a real talent for capturing the warmth (and not just the storyline) of the novel in her retellings. While some of the devotional messages felt a bit “standard,” I really appreciate the opportunity to learn these lessons through the eyes of a character. I also found that some of the devotions were particularly beautiful and insightful. I won’t give away the spoiler, but I was utterly delighted with Dodge’s treatment of Bhaer’s proposal to Jo. This is also the most sympathetic I’ve ever been toward Amy, who I have never really liked (but also, as the youngest, related to). The devotional really shifted my perspective!
The devotional is structured into 47 daily devotionals— one corresponding to each chapter of the novel.
Chapters begin with a verse, followed by a passage from the novel, then about a page and a half describing a scene from the novel and a lesson learned.
Next, there’s an application section, followed by a prayer. I really liked the prayers, because each prayer includes a clause for personalization. This invites reader to interact with the Lord in a personalized way. ❤️
There are also multiple lovely illustrations, throughout.
Back-of-book content includes a partial reprint of Mr. March’s letter, with GORGEOUS emphasis on our Heavenly Father. There also several pages dedicated to “Marmee’s Wisdom,” and, happily, an “Invitation” (a prayer to invite Jesus into the reader’s life). I am so appreciative that the devotional is an evangelistic tool, and not only geared toward those who are already believers.
While a bit ambiguous at points, I think the intended audience is women of all ages. And I think the ambiguity is deliberate. While some sections reference “work,” others seem angled to younger readers (with reference to mentorship, for example).
I would strongly recommend the book as a companion read (or reread) alongside Little Women. While it’s certainly possible to read the devotional as a stand-alone (which I did), I think it would be a much more meaningful experience as a pacing tool for reading the novel.
This is an excellent resource for independent study or homeschooling. I’d also love to see this used in a junior high or high school youth group!