Talking with kids about God

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Having read Grumpy Day, by Stephanie Carmichael and Jessica Green, I admit to having hoped there were more books in the series! There are four and they’re all delightful, with engaging stories and colourful, homely pictures. Friends have told me how much their kids love these books and how they’re often preferred over other ‘cooler’ story books.

There are a few things I’d like to highlight about these books:

  1. They are enjoyable stories for preschoolers and they introduce talk about God in a very natural way. I think this will help to give confidence to parents with their kids.
  2. The stories are simple and their messages are uncomplicated. Each book introduces the reader to a key characteristic of God. These are foundational ideas describing God as God, the one who made us, who knows about us, and who loves us, and whom we can talk to.
  3. The notes for parents section in each book offers excellent tips for making the most of these books and reinforcing the message with other activities.
  4. This note from the authors, printed in the front of each book, gets to the heart of it:

    One of our hopes for these stories is that they will give you an idea of how easily and naturally you can talk about God with your children through the day, helping them grow up in a world where our great God is at the centre (Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Psalm 145:3-7). It’s all about using the little opportunities that crop up each day.

If you’re starting to think about presents for Christmas, then why not take a look at these books. You can get them individually, but it makes better sense to grab the set of four. The publisher’s website enables you to read through each of these books before you buy. It’s an excellent idea to check out what you’re getting before you decide. Having read, or even listened to the author read her own book, you can then purchase with confidence. Your kids, grandkids, neighbours’ kids, random kids will love you for it. These books would also make an excellent gift for friends or to offer your local play group or preschool.

Here’s a final tip for the publishers – reprint the books in a shoebox size and encourage people to put them in next year’s Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts! This way families all over the world will benefit from them.

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!