"Family stories" isn't really a recognized genre, but it should be. Sure, most novels deal with families on some level, but we aren't talking about the dysfunctional ones so common in modern (and Russian) fiction. For us, family stories are those that celebrate family life through a particular family's story, whether it's a Ma and Pa taking their girls across country in a covered wagon, an Austrian count saving his wife and kids from the Nazis, or a Jewish family in New York prior to World War I.
Tolstoy's famous observation that "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," is constantly disproved in these stories. Unhappy families are usually unhappy as a result of selfishness and sin, while happy ones enjoy remarkably diverse experiences that broaden each individual member and the whole family unit together. That's not to say happy families never suffer—they often suffer even more than others, but the difficulties bring them closer together and build character.
By extension, families who take heed of these real and fictional families' response to hardship will find themselves similarly bonded, thankful for each other instead of resentful, happy to sacrifice individual desires for the benefit of the group rather than demanding special favors. Other than Christ's Body, the family is the most important social group for Christians, and we prefer family stories that reflect a pursuit of godliness—the too-often-neglected Papa's Wife is an excellent example.
Some of the stories here are just for fun, though. Cheaper by the Dozen may not spur you on to piety, but it will make you laugh till your sides hurt. The Sarah, Plain and Tall books aren't churchy, but the love of Jacob Witting for his children and the woman who becomes their mother is instructive for us all. Family stories make good family reading, too, because the best ones appeal to each member. Besides, any activity that brings everyone together can never be considered a waste of time.
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