Book of Nehemiah

AUTHOR: Nehemiah

GENRE: Religious Text

SUMMARY: After 70 years in exile, the Jews had returned home and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. They were able to worship God in their own land, but the city still lay in ruins. The once-great capital of the promised land was a depressing rubble heap exposed to her enemies. When Nehemiah hears this, he sets out to restore the city walls.

The book of Nehemiah is his story in his own words. It is about reestablishing God’s people both physically and spiritually.

In the first part of the book, Nehemiah restores Jerusalem in a physical sense. When Nehemiah hears that “the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire,” he gets permission from Persian King Artaxerxes to rebuild the city. The governors of surrounding territories viciously oppose Nehemiah’s efforts, but the wall is finished in just 52 days. Nehemiah also restores economic justice in the land, admonishing the wealthy for taking advantage of their less fortunate brothers.

In the second section, Nehemiah and Ezra bring spiritual revival to Jerusalem. Ezra reads the law of Moses aloud to the people, and the nation rededicates to obeying God. Later on, Nehemiah works diligently to point people back to the law of Moses.

Nehemiah’s story is peppered with personal commentary—sometimes it reads like a historical account, and sometimes it reads like Nehemiah’s journal. We know when he is afraid. We know when he is angry. We even see him break his own narrative with prayers to God. This book gives us a look into the mind of an Old Testament man of God, giving us examples of how to lead, pray, and deal with discouragement.

Listening for Lions

AUTHOR: Gloria Whelan

GENRE: Historical Fiction

SUMMARY: Africa is the only home Rachel Sheridan has ever known. But when her missionary parents are struck with influenza, she is left vulnerable to her family’s malicious neighbors. Surrounded by greed and lies, Rachel is entangled in a criminal scheme and sent to England, where she’s forced into a life of deception. Like the lion, she must be patient and strong, awaiting the moment when she can take control of her own fate — and find her way home again at last.

What Was the Underground Railroad?

AUTHOR: Yona Zeldis McDonough

GENRE: Non-Fiction

SUMMARY: No one knows where the term Underground Railroad came from — there were no trains or tracks, only “conductors” who helped escaping slaves to freedom. Including real stories about “passengers” on the “Railroad,” this book chronicles slaves’ close calls with bounty hunters, exhausting struggles on the road, and what they sacrificed for freedom.

Ginger Pye

AUTHOR: Eleanor Estes

GENRE: Fiction

SUMMARY: Meet the marvelous Pyes— There is Mrs. Pye, the youngest mother in town; Mr. Pye, a famous bird man, who handles all the nation’s important bird problems; Rachel Pye, who is so reasonable she can make unreasonable ideas sound like good ones; Jerry Pye, who knows about rocks of all sorts and plans to grow up to be a rock man; Uncle Bennie, who is Jerry and Rachel’s uncle—even though he’s only three years old. Lastly is Ginger Pye, the “intellectual dog,” who Jerry bought for a hard-earned dollar. The most famous pup in all of Cranbury, Ginger knows tons of tricks, is as loyal as he is smart, and steals the hearts of everyone he meets… until someone steals him!


AUTHOR: R.J. Palacio

GENRE: Juvenile Fiction

SUMMARY: August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER begins from Auggie’s point of view but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Sarah, Plain and Tall

AUTHOR: Patricia MacLachlan

GENRE: Historical Fiction

SUMMARY: Set in the late nineteenth century and told from young Anna’s point of view, Sarah, Plain and Tall tells the story of how Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa’s advertisement for a wife and mother. Before Sarah arrives, Anna and her younger brother Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she sing? Will she stay? Sarah, Plain and Tall gently explores themes of abandonment, loss and love.

The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion

AUTHOR: Priscilla Shirer

GENRE: Fantasy Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Christian Fiction, Religious Fiction

SUMMARY: In this second book in The Prince Warriors trilogy, the Prince Warriors face new challenges on earth and in the unseen realm of Ahoratos. The enemy, angry about his last defeat, is targeting them with weapons and tactics they had never imagined, including the flaming Olethron. The kids must turn to Ruwach and the Source, who can give them more pieces of armor to help them stand strong against this deadly threat.

Prince Caspian

AUTHOR: C.S. Lewis

GENRE: Fantasy

SUMMARY: When the Pevensie children go to Narnia for the second time it is as if King Arthur had come back to England today. This story takes place a year after the children had gone to Narnia the first time, but they find that hundreds of years had passed in Narnian time. During that time Narnia had been conquered by a people called the Telmarines and all of the old Narnian creatures had died or had been in hiding for years.

The story actually begins with one of the Telamrine rulers, Caspian, who was only a child and had been usurped from his throne by his evil Uncle Miraz. As Caspian flees for his life, he finds the Old Narnians in their hiding place. They rally around him when he promises to create a Narnia for both men and beasts, forming an army to attack Miraz. Failing their initial attacks miserably, they blow a magic Horn which had once belonged to Queen Susan and was supposed to bring help to those who blow it. The help comes in the form of the children who had once been Kings and Queens of Narnia.

The children are sitting in a railway station when they feel themselves being tugged back into Narnia. They are somehow transported to Cair Paravel, their former castle, which is now a ruin. There they are found by a dwarf who brings them back to Caspian. Together with Caspian and of course, Aslan, who also comes to help, they defeat the Telmarines and set Caspian on the throne of a united Narnia. At the end of the story, Susan and Peter are told that this will be their last trip to Narnia as they are growing up.

Duman Award Winner: Owen Lizama

We would like to congratulate Owen Lizama from Sonshine Christian School as our first recipient of the Duman Award.

We asked SALT coaches from participating schools to nominate one student that they felt was a behind-the-scenes hero and showed extraordinary kindness to their teammates. Owen stood out. Here is what his coach had to say about him…

“He always has the biggest smile on his face and is always encouraging to not just his teammates but to everyone around him. He is everyone’s friend! I’m very proud of how he has kept up our group’s morale and kept the teams’ eyes focused on what is important which is always doing our best and doing it for the Lord!”

The Duman Award was established as a way to honor our beloved teacher Trisha Duman who passed away this last December. Trisha was a huge supporter of SALT and served on our board. She was definitely one of the behind-the-scenes heroes for us as we were getting the program up and running. Trisha had many amazing characteristics, but she was best known for her kindness.

2019 Tournament Championship Round Videos

See the 2019 SALT tournament championship rounds as they unfolded on April 6, 2019. Watch Salem Academy and The Sharks compete for the 3rd & 4th Grade Division championship and Riviera and Salem Academy battle it out for the 5th & 6th Grade Division championship.

A Wonderful First Year

Thank you, parents and coaches, for allowing your kids to participate in SALT this year. It was a wonderful first year! I am so proud of the kids and how hard they worked. 

We will post a partial SALT reading list for 2019-2020 in the early summer so please be watching for that if your kids want to get a jump on reading the books for next year. We will have the complete list of 2019-2020 SALT books posted to the website in late summer.

Thank you again for all of your support this year!

—Jeneé Orso, Director

2019 Tournament in Pictures

Salem Academy hosted the first annual SALT tournament on April 6, 2019. Over 50 students from Salem area schools came together for a day of competition and team camaraderie. Students from 3rd to 6th grade put forth their best efforts for a fun and memorable competition.

2019 Tournament Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our first-ever SALT tournament!

3rd & 4th Grade Champions

The Sharks (Mason Cabell, Ellie Gladow, Chloe Johnston, and Baron Krebs).

5th & 6th Grade Champions

Salem Academy SALT Stars (Stella Duman, Emily Morris, Madilyn Meadows, and Kaely Vaubel)

Tournament Preparations

April is right around the corner and we are in full swing with our tournament preparations! We are looking forward to seeing you all there! 

If you haven’t already done so, please submit the names of your SALT kids so we can make sure the spellings are correct for the tournament roster. Those can be emailed to

Also, please remember to bring a full set of 16 SALT books with you to the April 6, 2019 tournament. These will be used for team challenges that are allowed at the end of each round. Please make sure the books are placed in a closed box or bag so competitors cannot see them during a skirmish. The sets of books will be placed next to the team coaches during competition.