DIY kids’ books

Cleaning out the filing cabinet is always a revealing experience. I was sorting through some cards, letters, artwork and other stuff, when I discovered a couple of my earlier book manuscripts! That’s right, I’m an author. This particular book was never published and was probably only read by four people. So here’s my chance to self-publish for a wider audience!

I was motivated to be teaching my kids (two young boys at the time) about God in a creative way. I’d been thinking about some of the question/response catechisms of yesteryear and this led to an idea for a DIY book for kids. I would write the text and my kids would do the artwork. Having written the words, I printed them into an A5 booklet, and invited my kids to draw the pictures. Below is the Limited First Edition entitled, Who made everything? God. Written by Dave McDonald and illustrated by Matt McDonald. Given that there is a baby either growing inside one of the family members, or in her arms, it must have been written around 1996, when Matt was 4 or 5 years old!

I produced another of these called Jesus is Special, where the text on every page began “Jesus is special because…“. We explored things Jesus said and did, his miracles, his death, his resurrection, and his exaltation – in simple words and sentences.

These books weren’t hard to do, we had fun together, and it was a creative way of getting our boys to learn about God. Why not give it a go, or share some of your own creative ideas.

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Grumpy Day

It was raining yesterday, so I took the time to read Grumpy Day by Stephanie Carmichael and Jessica Green. To be honest, I didn’t make much time – just as long as it takes to read a children’s book. I’ve never written a book review longer than the book so, if I don’t want to set a precedent, I’d better keep this to less than 671 words!

I got hold of Grumpy Day because my wife has them. Actually, so I do and so do my kids and so do most people I know! This is a book we’ll put aside to read the grandkids one day, when we need to help them deal with their blues. The words and pictures are beautiful. I reckon it’ll connect well with younger children, but I should probably borrow some kids to test it out. It tells the story of things not working out for three siblings. Two of the problems can be solved simply by the creative mum. But the last is out of her hands – she can’t stop the rain. What she does is broaden her boy’s perspective on why God sends rain, helps him understand he’s not at the centre of the universe, and helps him to speak to God about his problems and feelings. I think this makes it a pretty helpful parenting manual!

On the parenting front, the inside cover helpfully suggests ways the book can be used. There are suggestions of Bible verses that reveal the foundations for the main theme of the book. You can read these to the children, preferably from a simple translation. The book can be used as a springboard to discuss things further with the kids. It offers an opportunity to talk about praying, and to model simply speaking with God and letting him know their needs. You might even want to take things further by doing some drawing, taking photographs, or making up a rhyme or song about things related to the story.

A book like this doesn’t take long to read, and I suggest it’s worth reading a children’s book before you read it to your kids or give it away to others. Not all so called ‘Christian’ children’s books are helpful. Some leave the false impression that in order to be a Christian you need to be a good person. They don’t have God at the centre, and they’re not consistent with the gospel of Jesus. While this book doesn’t actually mention Jesus, I believe it is faithful to the Bible.

Here’s where I have one suggestion. It would be helpful to mention Jesus, because I think it’s important for children to hear, from their youngest days, that Jesus is the way we have a relationship with God. There are probably ways that Jesus’ name could appear in this book without making dramatic changes.

I like this book. 480 words – enough said!