Saturday, January 14, 2012

Telling the Story of Jesus

This is a picture of one of our "God book" shelves.  When the girls were little we made a rule that on Sundays we would focus our reading or video time on godly books and movies.  I use to tell them, "Let's read one of these books.  It is God's day, so we will read a God book."  That has stuck!  We call these picture books God books because they are all about Him or living like Him! We have added chapter books and devotionals to our bookshelves as the kids have gotten older in order to strengthen our children's understanding of the Bible and the gospel message. 
Yes, we are book junkies! ;)

This past week friends asked me for a book recommendation.  They wanted to give their 5yo niece a book about Jesus.  They were looking for a fairly simply written book that presented the gospel without watering it down.   So I began rummaging through our shelves and found many different options.  I thought I might share these on the blog for anyone interested.  

Make your plan!
Before making a selection, it is important to think about what the reading setting will be.  If you are going to be reading to multiple ages (such as in family worship) then you may want a more difficult book that will speak to the oldest, but can still be helpful to the youngest.  When we had the first 3 girls they were all within three years of each other.  Once they were all above age 3 it was pretty easy to find a book that they could all relate too.  Then God gave us our baby girl.  She is four years younger than the youngest "older girl."  There is eight years between the baby and the oldest "older girl" so it can be hard to find one that challenges Hannah and still helps Lydia.  I keep reminding myself that we will repeat many of these books for Lydia so I try do not feel too bad for her.  So what we try to do is have a varitey for our children.  Some days we read short stories with a godly moral.  Other times we read a biography for the older ones.  Also a few nights a week we read right out of the Bible.

Choose the best style!
How often you read will also influence what type of book you pick.  We do family worship at least 3 times a week.  We usually read a biography one night, a short story another night and then the Bible then next night or two.  We also sing 3 songs before reading and end with prayer, if you were wondering.  If you are looking for something to read off and on when you get a chance before bed, you may consider a short story book where it won't matter if it has been two weeks since you read it.  If you are more interested in a book to be read in one sitting, then you would probably want a picture book.  Your child may request it often or you may make a habit of reading it every month or so. 

Do it together!
I generally don't recommend finding a book the child can read to themselves for a couple of reasons.  For one, it is sometimes hard for parents to determine a reading level.  You may think because the book has primary looking pictures that it is appropriate for a child to try to read.  Even though it may have fairly small words, the syntax (word arrangement) may be too difficult for a young child to read with comprehension.  Second, and more importantly, we are instructed in the Bible to be directly involved in our children's learning about God.  (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)  If your child has a question you will be there to answer it.  As you see your child living through out the day you can remind them of the things you have been reading.

So here is the short list! ;)

My favorite
picture book is from John MacArthur. It is lovely and very gospel oriented! It would definitely need to be read to the child(ren) by an adult, but it could be finished in one sitting.  There is a Kindle edition, but I would really miss holding the book with my child.  If you buy the hard back then they can flip through the pictures and enjoy that on their own.

Allegory is another wonderful way to teach children truths in a form that will keep their attention.  RC Sproul, Sr. has written this book which we also love!  Our girls often select this book to read during quiet time even though they have read it before.  You can also buy the audio book if you don't have a lot of time to read it yourself.  You could listen to it together in the car possibly.

My last favorite picture book for teaching about the gospel is this large paperback book.  The pages are glossy but the pictures are black and white.  I love the lessons taught in this book.  My only critique is that the little girl asks some pretty deep questions.  They sound more like questions from a youth or adult, but my girls didn't seem to be bothered by that when we read it.  It uses allegory also to help the child understand the grace, mercy and ways of God.

If you are able to do family worship at least once a week, I recommend this chapter book.  There are 35 chapters in this book, but each is only a couple of pages.  There are no pictures, but if your child enjoys being read to it is easy to imagine the story and characters. When you visit the link, you will see that the author is a mother who wrote these to illustrate Biblical truths for her young daughter.  Our big girls all love this book. Actually we will be reading it with Lydia starting next week.

My last recommendation is for an audio book that we have listened to at least 5 times through in the last 4 years since we bought it! 
We have several versions of this wonderful book.  We have the very abridged children's book that is barely recognized as this story; we have the modern language version in comic drawing style that goes with our Pilgrim's Progress board game.  Then we also have a slightly abridged version for adults still with much of the original language.  By far, we all prefer this version.  We have listened to it just before bed for story time.  We have listened to it during the 15 minute drive on the way to church.  Sometimes the girls ask to borrow it and listen to it for an hour or so.  Again the allegoric style is very appealing and leads to some great discussions. 

If you are still reading, thanks for staying with me.  I hope this is helpful to someone.  It has been great for me to look back at some of these books that we need to read again with our girls!

With All My Heart~

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