At my school visits this spring, both virtual and in-person, I’ve noticed that little ones quickly pick up on several things when we LITTLE EWE together. First, they immediately identify with Little Ewe, the sweet protagonist, who is so keen to explore the world around her, despite the Shepherd’s call. Second, they are very sad when Little Ewe gets lost and overjoyed when she is found again. This concept of being lost and then found is a big deal in their life experience and something almost all can relate to. Finally, almost intuitively, they seem to understand the book is somehow “about God.”
All this reminds me what a precious opportunity we have, as our children’s shepherds, to point them to Jesus and God using picture books, such as LITTLE EWE, as the conversation spark. With that in mind, here are five simple steps for using faith-based picture books to point little ones to Jesus and God.
Step # 1: Think ahead of time what faith principles are best drawn from the picture book at hand. With LITTLE EWE, for example, you could talk about God’s faithful care of us or how He wants to find us when we are spiritually lost.
Step #2: Read the story with the goal to enjoy it! The faith message you want to instill will come later, but you to don’t want to make it so heavy-handed that the pure joy of reading the story is lost. So, for example, as you read LITTLE EWE, enjoy counting along as she explores her world. Pause along the way to explore the illustrations and ponder together how Little Ewe might be feeling as she gets further and further from Shepherd.
Step #3: Connect the story to their world. This step is intertwined with the one above. Both as you read the story and after as you ponder it, ask your little ones questions that will connect them to the story. For example, with LITTLE EWE, you might ask, “Have you ever been lost?” “How did it feel to be found?” “Who are the shepherds in your life?” Trust me, these will generate lots of great discussion.
Step #4: Move from the concrete to the spiritual with a simple question or two. This is when you will draw on your goal that you set in step one. The questions will vary, of course, depending on the book you have read together. For LITTLE EWE, your questions could be, “Who do you think is the greatest shepherd of all?” and “Why do you think Jesus wants to find us when we are lost?” “What do we have to do?” (Listen to His call and obey!) “Why?” (Because He loves us!)
Step #5: Wrap up your special story time in prayer, thanking God for stories like, LITTLE EWE, or whatever book you are reading, that remind us about God’s love for us. This is a sweet opportunity both to model prayer with your child and also to let them add to the prayer in their words.
NOTE: This post first appeared as a guest post over at Christian author and speaker, Sally Matheny’s blog. Here’s the link. You might also enjoy her other inspiring posts and reviews.