A Character-Building Book for Fifth and Sixth Graders

message of the mountain

As a teacher, you care about helping your students make good choices in life—but sometimes, it’s hard to bring up difficult topics in a natural way.

Reading a thought-provoking book with your class gives you the perfect opportunity to discuss tough issues in a comfortable setting. As you talk through the story, you can guide the conversation to include similar situations your students might face.

One excellent book that will inspire discussions is Message of the Mountain (5th-6th grade), which completes the series begun with Secret in the Maple Tree (3rd) and Song of the Brook (4th).

The story’s events contrast the results of wise and unwise choices. As students follow John, the main character, they’ll learn valuable truths and think through challenging age-appropriate topics from a Bible-based perspective.


What messages are presented in this book?

At the beginning of the book, John knows about Christ, but he does not yet know Him as his Savior. Like all of us, John does not always make the best choices, but he learns from the consequences.

Students will learn that God is interested in every aspect of our lives, that no problem is too big or too small for Him to solve, and that He uses circumstances to gently lead us from where we are to where He wants us to be.


What issues do the characters deal with?

When his family moves to a different state, John has to adjust to a new school. His new teacher introduces the theory of evolution. John is conflicted because it is at variance with what he has learned at church, yet he admires the friendly, encouraging, and intelligent young teacher. 

John also meets a friend who is a bad influence. Although John knows he is doing wrong, he gives into peer pressure and begins smoking, stealing, and lying. The death of the friend’s father, an alcoholic, brings about another crisis.

When John and his sisters struggle with obedience, their parents patiently instruct them using gentle compassion and biblical counsel. The parents also set a great example of dependence upon God.

The children try solving their problems independently but eventually turn to God and apply biblical wisdom to their situations. The reader sees how the application of biblical truth may not always change the circumstances but ultimately brings peace.

How are these topics relevant to students?

The characters in the book are not cookie-cutter images of perfect children: they struggle with problems similar to what many children experience today. Disobedience and lying are just as prevalent as ever. Some students, like John’s friend, may have relatives who deal with substance addiction. Though this story takes place at the turn of the last century, many of the issues are still common now.

At this age, students’ faith is beginning to be challenged, usually for the first time. Determining what they believe and why they believe it is important while they’re still at the age of being willing to listen. Reading this book will help them see that faith in God is sufficient to meet every need.


Advice for teachers presenting a thought-provoking novel like Message of the Mountain:

Message of the Mountain is a delightful read! Present it to your class enthusiastically. 

Your students have “grown up” with the characters in this trilogy. As the teacher of the last book in the series, reading the previous books from 3rd and 4th grades will give you insight into the lives of the characters that your students already know. 

The story in Message of the Mountain unfolds naturally, allowing you as the teacher to guide discussions confidently. The main character’s thoughts and struggles will be relatable to your students. Topics for discussion will flow easily, encouraging students to share their thoughts about John’s situation without revealing personal struggles. Using Scripture as your foundation, you can guide students in dealing with similar situations from a biblical perspective. The Language Arts Curriculum Lesson Plans include suggested Bible references. 

The curriculum lesson plans give a wealth of thought-provoking discussion questions to improve students’ critical thinking and develop a biblical worldview. Carefully plan discussion times, using the questions in the curriculum. Select questions that pertain to your class. Though the story’s setting is in the last century, the discussions are timeless, providing the platform for application for today’s youth.

Explore Abeka’s growing selection of novels, or take a closer look at Message of the Mountain here

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