Heidi – My First Christian Fiction Read?

What was the first Christian Fiction book you read? My answer to this question posed in a social media post: Christy by Catherine Marshall. Released while we were in high school in 1967, many of my friends and I read and thoroughly enjoyed this story of faith set in the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee. (Little did I realize then I would live in the state of Tennessee most of my life.)

Having recently set my mind to reread a few old classics of children’s literature, I chose Heidi by Johanna Spyri. As a child, I owned my own copy of this tale. I loved the story and read it so many times, but it was an abridged early-grade reader. Maybe because of it being a simpler version, or maybe because interweaving faith and story was common ages ago, I’ve just now discovered Heidi would be classified as Christian Fiction today.

There was Uncle Alp, Heidi’s grandfather, who had his own journey of faith from the crotchety old man wounded by his past, to the loving, doting, and kind man of faith he became. Heidi recognized God doesn’t always answer prayers the way we wish, but he always gives what’s best. If God had given her what she asked, Her friend Clara would never have visited her in the mountains and become well and learn to walk. Prayer, trusting God, and growing in faith permeate this story of life’s challenges.

I believe I just changed my answer to that question, but now I’m wondering how many others I read or were read to me that included elements of faith, way before the Christian Fiction genre was a thing.

Amazon lists the book as Literary Fiction. It’s doubtful Christian Fiction as a genre existed in 1881 when Johanna Spyri published Heidi, but it fits in every respect. I wonder how many other of the classic stories we read as children would find a home in Christian Fiction, as well? Which ones would you include?

Copyright 2022, Lynn U. Watson

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