Need some suggestions on which books the teens in your life would love? Let us help. Recently, I asked my students to share their picks for the best inspirational books for young people. Today’s pick is courtesy of freshman book-lover Anna.
Though fifteen-year-old Anna loves Facebook and iPods and all the perks of modern technology, she is totally enchanted with Amish stories. One of Anna’s favorites is The Englisher (Annie’s People Series #2) by Beverly Lewis. She loves this book because she can relate to the main character, Annie Zook. What do the two have in common? A big heart for hurting people and a rebellious streak that shows itself when the folks in their worlds least expect it.
According to Anna, the main character of the book, Annie, promises her father she will forget all about her love of art—which is forbidden among the Amish—in order to join the church. However, then she ends up in a relationship with an Englisher named Ben. That’s when she hides what she’s doing from her father. Anna and Ben secretly go places together, but things don’t always go as planned.
My student Anna was impressed by Ben’s love for Annie and Annie’s love for everyone—including her tormented friend Zeke, who has domestic violence issues. Zeke’s history touched Anna’s heart and brought a few tears to her eyes. She can’t wait to move on to book #3 and finish this series.
Maybe, like me, you assumed the teens you know wouldn’t be interested in Amish fiction. But I found that students from the most difficult backgrounds (my dear student Anna was taken from a dangerous home and placed in foster care until her present loving parents adopted her and her little brother) love the caring community and simple life presented in the Amish books. You can find the Annie’s People Series at this link.
About the author: Beverly Lewis was born in the heart of Amish country—Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At the tender age of nine, she began writing short stories and poetry. Prior to that, she made up lyrics to the “little fingers” piano pieces she learned, at the age of five. “My mother saved everything I wrote, even the stories I dreamed up during my grade school years,” Beverly says.
One such tale is semi-autobiographical, about a young girl whose parents can no longer afford to give her piano lessons. The manuscript was 77 pages long and titled “She Shall Have Music,” penned under the shade of a lone willow tree. “Reading, writing, and playing piano have been top three on my list of favorite things,” she says.
Not until her own children were well into middle school did Beverly seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular Cul-de-Sac Kids series of chapter books—see list of Bev’s children’s books). You can connect with Beverly at her website here.