Will you help my new bible story book make a BIG SPLASH when it releases next month by pre-ordering your copy today? Published by Paraclete Press, MY TENDER HEART BIBLE is a collection of 12 of my favorite bible stories, retold in rhyme with a simple prayer “heart moment” for each. Presented in 24-page board book format, it’s perfect for birth through about age 6. The publisher’s website offers a great description of the book as well as a sneak peek at three of the spreads which give a very good sense of the book. Here’s the link for that: https://paracletepress.com/products/my-tender-heart-bible
I didn’t realize with my first two books just how important pre-orders can be in capturing the attention of readers, booksellers, reviewers and more. As I have now learned, those pre-order sales get included in the sales numbers for the first week of the book’s release. High numbers can influence how many runs a book has, whether it makes a best-selling list and more. All good and fun stuff!
So, if you are thinking of purchasing MY TENDER HEART BIBLE (perfect for Easter, birthdays, baptisms, baby showers etc), I would be delighted if you would consider pre-ordering it from Paraclete Press, Amazon, Christian Book or your favorite vendor.
Or. if you want SIGNED copies, my local book store has a special deal for you! If you PRE-ORDER my new book from The Town Book Store in Westfield, NJ, any time between NOW and February 7th (the book’s release day), owner Anne Laird is offering a 10% discount off the retail price. Simply mention that you want the “MY TENDER HEART BIBLE DISCOUNT”.
If this interests you, please call the store. Be sure to explain that you would like to have the book signed by the author and pass along the names you’d like included. They will take the order and do the transaction. I will then come in and sign the book or books. Depending on where you live, you can either pick them up in-store at no extra charge, or have them mailed. There will be a shipping fee to cover the cost of mailing, but they can give you those details.
You can reach The Town Book Store at (908) 233-3535. You can also email the owner, Anne, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Either way, remember to ask for the MY TENDER HEART BIBLE discount.
Thank you, The Town Book Store, for making this possible and thank you, readers, for supporting my books!
NOTE: If you are long-distance and prefer to order from the vendor of your choice, I’m also happy to make arrangements for a signed book plate to be sent to you by sending me a SASE. Just let me know and we can make that happen.
MONDAY JOY! I have bible story board book coming out in February 2023 with Paraclete Press and the cover is just starting to pop up on the web, so I thought I’d share it here too.
The book is called MY TENDER HEART BIBLE and it’s something I was working on this past spring. It was the joy of each day. Hasn’t illustrator, Sandra Eide, done a marvelous job of capturing the wonder of meeting Jesus?
Here’s the scoop from Paraclete Press:
With sweet, rhyming text and whimsical illustrations, this sturdy board book, My Tender Heart Bible, offers a collection of the most loved and classic Bible stories for beginner readers. Simple yet creative paraphrasing of Old and New Testament re-tellings are paired with a “Heart Moment” for families to read aloud and act out. Scripture references are noted with each story that tell of God’s redemption plan.
My Tender Heart Bible:
• Makes the Bible memorable and accessible for young readers
• Helps kids think deeper about what the Bible says about God’s creation, His plan for humanity, and His love for all of people as His children
• Is perfect as bedtime reading for your toddlers and little ones, especially during the holiday season
• Offers details in the artwork for little ones to enjoy and find for “point and learn” discovery
• Serve as a base for introductory Bible discussion
• Includes an inviting padded cover and sturdy pages for little hands
• Makes a great gift for Easter, new baby, christening, baptism, baby showers, new grandchildren, curious toddlers, and boys and girls ages 0 to 4 years old
From Creation to Abraham to Moses and Jesus, God’s story of redemption is told through each individual story and as a collection. Look in the mirror and thank God for making you unique—what makes you different from others you see in your neighborhood? Can you count the stars and make your hands twinkle? Flap your arms like the dove that appeared when John the Baptist baptized Jesus. How many coats and blankets can you spread out for Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem? Let’s read the stories and celebrate God’s perfect plan from the marvelous beginning of Creation through Easter’s glorious hope made known by Jesus’ resurrection.
Thank you, Paraclete Press, for bringing this one into the world. I can’t wait for it to release.
If you are thinking of adding this to your own collection or giving it as a gift, will you take a moment to pre-order a copy of MY TENDER HEART BIBLE today and/or mark it as “to-read” on Goodreads? Those are two wonderful and easy ways to help a new book make a lovely little splash when it releases.
Thank you, and, happy reading!
Note: If you enjoy knowing the latest about my booksand more, please consider following my blog. I post once or twice (and occasionally three times) weekly. Posts are devoted to celebrating reading, writing and life!
Look what landed on my porch! It’s children’s author Amy Houts’ newest release, CHRISTIAN Q & A BOOK FOR KIDS. Published by Rockridge Press it came out this month and it’s full of simple, kid-friendly answers to 100 questions kids age 6 – 9 might have about Christianity.
MY THOUGHTS: I am always on the lookout for good resources to teach little ones about faith and this one fits the bill. I appreciate the simple Q & A format with one question answered on each page. The questions are perfect for the target age group, but also thoughtful and deep enough to resonate with the caregivers reading alongside them. I also give a thumbs up to Amy for including a scripture reference in each answer. I think book is a great tool for sparking meaningful conversations with our kids about what Christianity is all about. I can’t wait to share it with my Sunday School class.
Now, in celebration of the book’s release, I am honored to have Amy on the blog with an interview. Let’s get started.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Amy, and congratulations your newest faith-based children’s book. What inspired you to take on this project?
Thank you for having me, Laura! I had learned about Callisto Media, the parent company of Rockridge Press, through another writer. Big shout out to Annette Whipple, who took the time to answer all my questions. Thank you! I contacted the company in February of 2021 by email and asked if they would add me to their database of writers. Then I waited. In November, 2021 I wrote a follow-up email specifically asking if they had a faith-based book assignment. Right place, right time! In early December, an acquisitions editor contacted me to see if I was interested in writing Christian Q&A Book for Kids. This publisher screens authors before awarding a contract by asking for a writing prompt. I was thrilled to be chosen to write this book. It has been such an inspiring challenge!
I’m so glad you took on the project. It seems right up your alley and I have to say that the questions you have chosen are spot-on for this age group. How did you select them?
First, I thought of my three grandchildren, a girl who was 5 and twin boys who were 8 at the time I started writing. I thought about questions they might have and asked them what questions they had. Each contributed one question to the book. I read books I owned and looked online at similar books, searched websites that answered faith-based questions, and brainstormed. Since I’ve written other books for children and taught 3-6-year olds at Head Start, I knew the questions and answers needed to be very basic.
You did a great job! Do you have any tips for ways families and churches can use this book?
Families and children’s ministries can read and discuss one or more questions and answers at a specific time. The appendix includes good times and ways to start discussions, for example, focus on one question at the dinner table. This book is meant as a jumping off point to help clarify basic information and dive deeper into issues that are important. Parents and children can research together.
Besides keeping this book at the ready, what advice would you give parents and caregivers who want to share their faith with their kids?
Children are encouraged to think of and write down new questions and a few pages are provided in the book to do that. Having an open heart and mind is important—both for you and the children in your life. Be accepting of their questions, even if they express doubt. Asking questions increases understanding and strengthens faith.
Finally, what’s next? Are there more books in the pipeline? Also, where can interested readers find your books?
I have a Biblically-based Earth Care (climate change) book releasing from Bushel & Peck in March, 2023. I recently started a new assignment to write 5 books for young children with a South Korean educational publisher, Reading Gate.
You have so many exciting things on the horizon. I can’t wait to check them all out. Thank you so much for joining us. Readers, learn more about Amy and her books in the bio and links below. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post.
BIO: Amy is the author of over 100 books for children featuring early learning concepts. She writes for both faith-based and mainstream publishers. Amy’s faith-based books include God’s Protection Covers Me (Beaming Books) and The Giant Book of Bible Fingerplays for Preschoolers (Group Publishing). Amy’s educational books include 60 retold tales for the series, Compass Children’s Classics, 2020. Her 10 nonfiction science early readers for Highlights Press were released in 2020.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a fresh-off-the-press copy of CHRISTIAN Q & A BOOK FOR KIDS (Rockridge Press, August 2022) follow this blog and leave a comment letting us know. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) Thank you, Rockridge Press, for providing the winning book. This giveaway ends Monday, August 15, 2022 at 11:59 pm EST. This giveaway is now over. The winner is announced here.
[Note: Thank you, Amy, for sending me a copy of the book which I was under no obligation to review. The views and opinions expressed on this blog about books and other things are purely my own.]
This painted rock that I spotted in Surf City, NJ last summer is the perfect visual for today’s fun news. I’ve hinted a bit on social media recently about something special that I’ve been busy working on — namely something that rhymes and touches on themes very close to my heart. Now, finally, the announcement has run in Publishers Marketplace and PW Religion BookLine, so I can share my news!
Here’s the official announcement from Publishers’ Marketplace:
Thank you, Charlotte Wenger, for representing me so skillfully and kindly in the process of making these two new books a reality.
Thank you, Paraclete Press for saying “yes!” to not just one, but to TWO new board books that point little ones to God.
And I’m over the moon with their choice of illustrator. Take a peek at Sandra Eide’s work for a preview of the delightful artistic talent that will accompany the text. I can’t wait for these two new books to hit shelves everywhere. Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long. The tentative publication dates are February 2023 and September 2023!
What’s my writerly take away? Keep writing from the heart and follow your heart. Keep honing your craft. Stand firm in your faith and the things that are important to you and marvel at how things unfold. Happy writing all!
Today I am delighted to have Christian children’s author Christie Thomas as my guest. She’s here today to share five fun facts about her newest release with Kregel Publications, FRUIT FULL: 100 Family Experiences For Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit. This is just the kind of resource I would have LOVED when my kids were little and it’s a wonderful resource for anyone in Christian family ministry. Here’s an excerpt from the official description:
“Christie Thomas is skilled at taking complex ideas and making them accessible to kids . . . and adults learn a lot along the way too. Each of her devotions is designed to help parents connect their children with the Holy Spirit through a Scripture passage, thought-provoking questions, ways to apply each verse, and a prayer. And for each fruit, parents can use the optional hands-on activities when there’s extra time.”
Sounds great, right? And now for FIVE FUN FACTS about the book from the author herself.
Five Fun Facts about FRUIT FULL with Christie Thomas
Fun Fact #1:Fruit Full led me full circle to a lovely editor I had connected with in 2016. She really liked another project of mine, but we fell off each other’s radars. Four years later, she had moved to another publisher and the proposal for Fruit Full came across her desk. She recognized my name and now here we are in 2022 with a book!
Fun Fact #2: With my previous devotional book, I read every one of the devotions with each 3 of my boys because it was a new way of writing for me and I wanted to make sure I wrote on their level. With Fruit Full, I had less time to write and more devotions to write, so each of my boys heard about 40% of the book. It’s fun to read it with them now, because it’s fresh for all of them!
Fun Fact #3: There’s one story in the book where I explained how my apple tree didn’t even flower for several years, and I later discovered it was because I had given it the wrong fertilizer. I didn’t say it in the book, but the wrong fertilizer…was urine! I had been asking my potty-training boys to pee near the tree when in the backyard for years because I thought it would be good for the tree. Turns out, urine has a lot of nitrogen, which is perfect for leaf growth but too much can stunt flowering and fruiting. Oops!
Fun Fact #4: I originally wanted to add a hands-on family activity to each devotion, but we realized it would make it feel too overwhelming for families. Instead, we put a list of simple activities at the beginning of each section for families to pick and choose from when they had time.
Fun Fact #5: There’s a smaller devotional book tucked inside Fruit Full. At the end of each fruit-themed section (Love, Joy, Peace, etc) there are three devotions specifically on the Easter part of Jesus’ life. These could be tied together for a shorter, 27-day reading plan specifically connected with Easter.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Christie. I know your book will be a blessing to many.And I have one closing question for our readers. Which fact was your favorite? (I’m partial to #3 and I also love how Christie’s kids are involved in her devotional writing process.)
Christie’s books are available wherever books are sold.
BIO: Christie Thomas is a homeschool mom of 3 and former Children’s Ministries Director. She is the author five books for Christian kids, including Quinn’s Promise Rock and The Mother and Son Prayer Journal. Her newbook, the Christ-centered devotional, Fruit Full: 100 Family Experiences for Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit, waswritten over many late nights beside a cold cup of blueberry tea. She lives in Western Canada and spends her time homeschooling, digging in the garden (when it’s not under 2 feet of snow) and equipping Christian families to disciple their kids.
Over the course of the fall, I’m going to be tidying and organizing my blog (just as I’m also striving to tidy and organize my house.) One task long overdue is to create a better system of organizing certain post types so my readers can find specific types of posts easily. Stay tuned for a page that will index every single author and illustrator who I have either interviewed on my blog or who has been a guest blogger. I’m working on that – but it turns out it’s a long, long list which is taking me a long, long while to compile.
So, for today, while I still work on that, I thought I’d share with you a new page which indexes every single Picture Book Sundays post I have created plus other posts that focus on using picture books to plant seeds of faith in our little ones. I hope you find it a helpful and easy way to quickly locate these types of posts.
Today I am delighted to feature DIFFERENT LIKE ME, written by Xochitl Dixon and illustrated by Bonnie Lui. Published by Our Daily Bread Publishing in 2020, DIFFERENT LIKE ME is a joyous celebration of what makes us, God’s children, special. Through a delightful pairing of rhyming text and illustration, Xochitl Dixon and Bonnie Lui demonstrate through the example of a group of children, that though we are different, deep inside we feel things the same, have shared interests etc. and, thus, have much in common. The book’s takeaway is captured succinctly in the closing line:
“I look all around me and what do I see?
God made every kid different…
and special like me!”
DIFFERENT LIKE ME would make wonderful addition to your church, school or home library. I can’t wait to share it with my Sunday School kids.
Now, in the hope of using the book as the spark for meaningful conversations with your little ones, here are SIX extension activities for DIFFERENT LIKE ME:
Play “God’s Heart” using chalk. Read the story together, then head outside or to a large room for a game of “God’s Heart”. Using chalk or tape, draw a heart on the ground big enough for all the children to fit in. Ask what the heart reminds them of: God’s love! Explain that you will be calling out directions and if the answer to the direction is YES, they should run into the heart. Examples: “Step in to the circle if you have freckles(long hair, short hair etc.).” “Skip into the circle if you like pizza..” “March into the circle if you feel happy when others share.” etc. Continue until everyone is in the heart. Then, marvel at how wonderful it is that we are each unique creations, yet we all share much in common. And the best part is we are ALL in the heart. And what does that heart stand for? God’s love! And what does that remind us of? That we should love each other as God loves us! Play as many rounds as time and interest permit.
After reading, think and talk. This story can be used as a vivid spark for conversations with your little ones about embracing our diversity, noticing the wonderful ways we are alike and celebrating that we are created and loved by God. Use Xochitl’s question guide at the end of the book to get you started.
Do a picture read through. After reading DIFFERENT LIKE ME, flip things around by having your child re-read it to you using the pictures as clues! Reading the pictures is a great pre-reading skill because it encourages interacting with the page. It’s also a wonderful way to notice all the diverse and delightful details illustrator Bonnie Lui has added to the story. So, snuggle up and enjoy being “read” to. Reading the story again and again is also a good way to take to heart the message of the story (to quote Xochitl) – “that God intentionally created each person to be unique and to work together”.
Paint a rock that looks like YOU (or a friend… or both)! After reading the story, head outside to find some good painting rocks. Then let your children celebrate their special traits and qualities and those of others by painting portraits on rock – like this one, painted to celebrate love and acceptance! For extra fun, gather your rocks and place them in a garden or in a special spot as a reminder of God’s love for us which then can overflow from our hearts to others.
Find verses that show God’s loving care. Xochitl prefaces and concludes her story with two beautiful reminders from Scripture of God’s loving care in creating each person. As you read, point those references out to your children. They are listed simply as Genesis 1:27 and Psalm 139: 13 – 14. After reading the story, have your children grab their bibles, or the class or family bible, and look up the verses. Then marvel at God’s love and handiwork in creating each one of us.
Wrap the reading up in prayer. Wrap up your DIFFERENT LIKE ME story and activity time in prayer, thanking God for stories like this that remind us about God’s love for us and that we are each unique and special creations. This is a sweet opportunity both to model prayer with your child and also to let them add to the prayer in their words.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Xochitl (So-Cheel) Dixon, author of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace and the2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist, Different Like Me, advocates for inclusion and equity based on the strong biblical teaching of God’s intentional diversity. With her service dog, Callie, Xochitl crosses generational and cultural boundaries, reaching international readers with love through her contributions to Our Daily Bread at www.odb.org and on her blog at www.xedixon.com. She inspires others to share God’s love with Spirit-empowered courage, confidence, and joyful praises through the Christian apparel and accessories she designs for Worship Expressed at www.worshipexpressed.com.
Today I’m delighted to host return guest Nancy I. Sanders for a special post on establishing bedtime routines that also foster faith in our little ones. And how did I get so blessed as to have this best-selling author on my blog? Easy. She has a new board book out called BEDTIME WITH MOMMY (End Game Press, August 2021) – a perfect pick for this mama who has fond memories of bedtime routines with her own little ones.
Here’s a description: It’s bedtime all around the world! From Mommy panda in the bamboo forest to Mommy sea otter in the ocean, Mommies are putting their little ones to bed. Get ready for prayers, reading a favorite Psalm, singing hymns and lots of cuddles and snuggles! This adorable rhyming board book is perfect for babies and toddlers to hold. BEDTIME WITH MOMMY is sure to be a cherished part of bedtime routine!
Doesn’t that sound sweet? And now for Nancy’s five tips for faith-filled bedtime routines. Take it away, Nancy!
5 Tips for Faith-Filled Bedtime Routines
by Nancy I. Sanders
Tip #1 Start Tonight
It’s never too early and it’s definitely never too late to start making bedtime into a faith-filled routine! If you’ve never before been intentional about incorporating a faith-filled routine into your child’s bedtime, the perfect time to start is tonight. And this isn’t about feeling guilt or inadequacy as a parent, either. God’s mercies are new every morning! So if you don’t have time or forget to implement a faith-filled routine one night (or even a few nights in a row!) every day is a brand new day in God’s kingdom, and every night is another great opportunity to make a difference in your children’s hearts.
Tip #2 Target Your Children’s Ages
Gear bedtime routines to the ages of your children. Playing soft Christian music in the background ten to twenty minutes before your infant settles down to sleep helps calm her down. Two of my favorite CDs include I LOVE YOU: SONGS OF LOVE AND BLESSING FROM A MOTHER’S HEART by Rita Baloche and COME TO THE CRADLE by Michael Card. Read Christian books or Bible stories to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers at bedtime such as my newest board book, BEDTIME WITH MOMMY, that features animal mommies all over the world tucking their little ones into bed with prayers, hymns, and reading a Psalm. With older children, read the Bible together on a one-year plan to help plant the Word in their growing hearts.
Tip #3 Pray
Pray with your children and pray for your children. Take time to pray aloud together. Give them time to pray aloud, too. If you struggle with taking time to pray, remember: It’s okay to be short and sweet. Effective prayers aren’t measured by their length. A simple heartfelt prayer always reaches the Father’s heavenly throne room.
Tip #4 Fit Your Schedule
A faith-filled bedtime routine doesn’t have to take tons of time. If you’re a family whose bedtime routine already lasts an hour, hip hip hooray! It’s a snap to start including Bible time, worship time, and prayer. But if your bedtime routine only lasts as long as it takes to brush teeth, tug on jammies, and jump into bed, no problem! Tape a sticky note to the bathroom mirror with a Scripture verse to memorize while they brush. Encourage them to meditate on it while they fall asleep. Rotate in a new verse every week or so. Or listen to a favorite worship song or hymn together—just one!—while they’re getting dressed, then sit at their bedside for a simple good-night prayer.
Tip #5 Every Effort Counts
The best thing about being intentional about adding faith-filled moments to your bedtime routine is that your efforts, no matter how small, count for eternal blessings. And remember—you’re not alone! You have the heavenly Father to sustain you, Jesus Christ to empower you, and the Holy Spirit to equip you along your journey. If you feel weak in this area, just ask God for His strength. And every prayer you say, every Bible verse you read, every worship song you sing, and every Christian book you share will be used by the Holy Spirit in powerful ways!
Thanks, Laura, for featuring my newest book here on your blog! It’s a joy to join a fellow author of a faith-filled bedtime book. Your Goodnight, Ark! is one of my grandchildren’s favorites and is here on our bookshelves for when they come to visit.
Aw, thank you, Nancy! I’m glad it’s a bedtime hit at grandma’s house!
About the Author
Nancy I. Sanders loves to have her grandbabies over for sleepovers with lots of snuggles, bedtime stories, and prayers! Her newest padded board book, Bedtime With Mommy makes a great baby shower gift or sweet Christmas present to gift to your favorite littles and their Mommies. Order your copies today online or at your favorite local bookstore. Nancy is the bestselling and award-winning children’s author of over 100 books. Visit her website to find out more at www.nancyisanders.com.
When I was Children’s Ministry Director at a small satellite church, I planned a Sunday morning children’s program called “PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: Sparking Faith Conversations using Picture Books and Scripture”. Each week, using an engaging picture book as the spark along with games and a craft, children ages 3 – 10 delved into Scripture as we investigated what it means to be a beloved child of God. The kids enjoyed the lessons so much, that I have decided to continue with a regular blog series focusing on picture books that can be used as the spark for conversations about faith with your children.
Today’s lesson uses PICTURING GOD (Beaming Books, 2019), written and illustrated by poet and visual artist Ruth Goring as the picture book hook. I hope it sparks thoughtful conversations with your kids.
PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: A Faith-Sparking Lesson
by Ruth Goring
PURPOSE: To be filled with wonder and gratitude as we explore a beautiful sampling of the many “pictures” (i,e. metaphors) for God found in the Bible using Ruth Goring’s PICTURING GOD (Beaming Books, 2019) as the spark.
OPENING PRAYER AND GATHERING GAME: What Am I? (a metaphor guessing game!)
Ahead of time write down on little cards a rich sampling of the biblical metaphors for God found in the Bible. You can use Goring’s book to get you started, but also feel free to explore the Bible on your own and add concrete examples can easily act out. Examples: shepherd, eagle, rock, gate, hen, light. The morning of the lesson, open in prayer, then explain that in today’s story, we will be exploring what God is like, but first we’ll be playing a guessing game. (Don’t say yet that each is a metaphor for God.). Put the cards in a basket, then have each child pick a card and then use pantomime to act out what it is. No speaking or sounds aloud. The children will have fun guessing and can cheer each other on.
INTRODUCE THE STORY:
Hold up the book and have someone read the title. Explain that Ruth Goring is both the illustrator and author of the book. Ask them to take a close look and see what kinds of materials she uses to create her art. Do they know what this is called? (Collage.) Based on the title what do they think the book will be about? Then say there’s a special connection between our game today and the book. Do they know what it is? They are all pictures/ images that have been used in the Bible to describe God! Then read the story, pausing and marveling together at just how God is like the various metaphors ascribed to Him.
FAITH-SPARKING CHAT TIME:
After reading the story, have a round of “popcorn-style” responses (no hand raising needed) to see how many pictures of God they can remember from the book.
Then for each, see if they describe in their own words how God is like a rock, eagle etc.
Finally, ask again where Ruth Goring found these wonderful metaphors? Did she make them up? No, then where did she find them? In the Bible!
DIG INTO SCRIPTURE TIME:
Special note: For first grade and up, I recommend having several children’s bibles on hand so children can work in pairs to find the verses. They LOVE this and in the process learn how to locate biblical passages by book, chapter, and verse – a rewarding and important foundational skill for future bible study.
Wrap up the discussion by going a little treasure hunt into God’s Word to find a few of the images of God we marveled at in Goring’s beautiful book. Use the verses listed at the end of the book, but prep ahead by putting a sampling on cards to hand out to each pair of children or, depending on ages, to look up together.
STORY-BASED ACTIVITY TIME: Create Your Picturing God Collages!
Ahead of time, gather an assortment of collage materials as well as glue and one plain white paper plate (with two holes punched at top) for each child. Then, opening up Goring’s book one once more, take a moment to marvel at how she uses bits of this and that to create beautiful images. Thus inspired, let each child pick their favorite metaphor from the book. Neatly print it across the top. Then, dig in and start creating! Our bits of this and that included shiny gold ribbon, sequins, pom poms and tissue paper squares, but use whatever you have on hand. As each child finishes, loop yarn for hanging, but instruct them (or their parents) to carry their masterpieces home flat until they have dried.
WRAP UP: As children are finishing the activity, give thanks together that God loves us like a rock, shepherd, door, mother, father etc.
When I was Children’s Ministry Director at a small church, I planned a Sunday morning children’s program called PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: Sparking Faith Conversations using Picture Books and Scripture. Each week, using an engaging picture book as the spark along with games and a craft, children ages 3 – 10 delved into Scripture as we investigated what it means to be a beloved child of God. The kids enjoyed the lessons so much, that I have decided to continue with a monthly series focusing on picture books that can be used as the spark for conversations about faith with your children.
Today’s lesson uses THE LORD’S PRAYER (Zonderkidz, 2011) illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson with commentary by Rick Warrenas the picture book hook. I hope it sparks thoughtful conversations with your kids.
PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: A Faith-Sparking Lesson
THE LORD’S PRAYER
illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson with commentary by Rick Warren
PURPOSE: To understand that God wants to be in conversation with us. This conversation is called prayer. Jesus thought it was so important that He showed his disciples (and us) how to pray. This prayer is called the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s celebrate and give thanks that we can talk to God by… praying!
OPENING PRAYER AND GATHERING GAME: Telephone (… a communication challenge!)
Open in prayer, then explain that in today’s book, we will be learning about how we communicate with God. But first, a game to see how effective it is (or isn’t) to communicate to another through a whole line of people! To demonstrate play a few rounds of the old-fashioned classic “telephone” in which all the children sit in a circle and one child is selected to whisper something to the child beside him/her. The whispered message is repeated around the circle and when it comes back to the originator, the group can see if the message is correct or if it got jarbled along the way. Use this as a tie-in today’s story, where we’ll be learning about how we can communicate directly with God from his very Son, Jesus!
INTRODUCE THE STORY: Begin by saying one of our greatest privileges as teachers and parents is passing along our love for the Lord with our children. And one of the ways we do this is by learning to pray together. Ask if they know what prayer is? When do they pray? What do they pray? Do they know that prayer is actually talking to God – directly!?! (As opposed to the way we shared our message in the game we just played.) Do they know that God LOVES it when we pray and wants us to pray to Him? Yes, He does! Prayer is so important to God that He had His Son Jesus teach us how to do it while he was here on earth. That prayer is called the Lord’s Prayer and it is the focus of our book today. Explain that first you will just be reading the prayer through, and then you’ll go back and think about the meaning of each part of the prayer.
FAITH-SPARKING CHAT TIME: After reading through the whole prayer, return to each spread. Have a child read that portion and then ponder together how the illustrations help us to understand what each part of the prayer means, using Rick Warren’s wonderful guide at the end of the book as an aid.
Close the time by challenging the children to memorize this prayer as Jesus’ example of good praying. Then pray it together.
STORY-BASED ACTIVITY TIME: The Lord’s Prayer Bookmarks
Ahead of time, type up the Lord’s Prayer using the columns feature on your computer to create long narrow text that can be cut into book mark shaped strips. Print on card stock and cut. Let the children decorate their book marks using markers and stickers. For an extra special finishing touch, punch a hole at the top and add colorful ribbon or yarn, as shown.
WRAP UP: As children are finishing up their bookmarks – challenge them to begin memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, phrase by phrase. Then, give thanks that God loves us so very much that He even created a way for us to communicate directly with Him – through prayer.