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Once upon a time, with my stories.

Belle selects her favorite book because of its “Far-off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise...”

“Filled with blood and guts! Two massacres, a masked ball and several heart wrenching scenes,” says Jo March in the musical adaptation of Little Women.

Both popular story characters of their own right, these book-loving protagonists remind real readers what we love about pretend worlds and mysterious plots. Not to be glib, but even biblical narrative is fed to children, not in route, but in engaging formats that allow participants to imagine a world far removed from their present lives, but filled with relatable people learning to love a real Jesus. It’s called “The Greatest Story Ever Told” for a reason.

I’ve been an avid reader and story consumer for so long that I can occasionally find myself reliving a plot I forgot I read...and sometimes I intentionally revisit an old friend from a well-loved book. Then there are movies, musical, operas, and even – dare I offer – commercials!

So, without further ado, my reverse-birthday present to all of you, a list of (A FEW!) of my favorite stories. I hope they inspire you to relive a few of your favorite missives and maybe even try out a new world (blood and guts, masked balls, and disguised princes optional).

Anne of Green Gables – I would have been “in the depths of despair” to have missed out on this precocious little adventurer. I first fell for the PBS miniseries(es) before gobbling up the written series. I recommend all of LM Montgomery’s work and I even have to give credit to the new “Anne With An E” Netflix series for helping me love a new cast and retelling.

Little House on the Prairie – I wore out multiple sets of this book series and can still identify the plot of any single episode within seconds of the opening credits.

Gilmore Girls – also not a book, but I appreciate the sassy attitudes of this mother-daughter-daughter trio and the overarching theme that life repeats itself unless you do the work to evolve...and the juxtaposing notion that some repeating is not only acceptable, but warranted. Plus, I want to live in Stars Hollow. There, I said it.

Little Women, Men, and Jo’s Boys – Civil war: check. Sister adventures: check. Clean, educational wonderment: yes, please! I’ve loved these characters in so many adaptations from films to the Broadway musical that I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite, so I’ll select their first appearance in the book series by Louisa May Alcott.

Meet Joe Black – nope, not a book but still a story and (bonus fact!) my favorite movie sound track. I love this update to Death Takes A Holiday and its themes of life and death...what does it really mean to be alive?

The Chronicles of Narnia – Magic wardrobe, London, adventurous children...all framed in an allegory of the gospel? Yes, please!

Winnie The Pooh – I’m hardly ashamed to share my adoration for the silly ol’ bear named Pooh. That bear and his hundred-acre forest has long held a soft space in my heart and I love his quotable wisdom.

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