Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Time of Jesus A lift a flap discovery book

author: Lois Rock  Illustrator: Lorenzo Orlandi
Published by Lions Children Books 2014
isbn 975-0-7459-6398-3

Early on in my kids life, my mom made the comment--- hmm-- books have to do something to appeal to kids these days-- and then she realized that books that do something, aren't hide to find!!

I was so pleased to be offered this book targeted towards 5-7 year old children, I happen to have two of those kids.  We read lift a flap books all the time.  But we only have a few lift a flap books that are biblical, and this might be the first one that is biblical, and not super simple and short.  So this mom, was happy to have some new read with me material!

First, it's a paper size board book (about 8 x11).  Structure/Appearance
It's a sturdy book, and it has a strong binding, you'd be surprised at how many lift a flap board books, fall apart after a few readings, and this one has been in our living room for a month, and it still looks new!  The flaps are sturdy and have clear tabs for opening, I know I'm not yet talking about the content, but as a mom of 4 kids, a book that will last, is worth a purchase!  The illustrations were not weird, but are friendly people cartoon but life like drawings. Sometimes in books like this the expressions on the people or the proportions distract or are creepy to children. These pictures were beautiful and seemed authentic, and are appealing to kids.

Second, this is titled a 'discovery book' and that it is!  I love that this is a book about Jesus life from birth to His Resurrection, and it also shares historical/cultural facts.  Things that kids will relate to, and will help build connections, vocabulary, and background information on the account of Jesus life. There are 2-7 flaps on each set of pages, so it's not so many that the parent dreads reading the book over and over, but it's enough to keep the kids engaged.  It also has depth, it starts with Jesus birth, growing up, farm life, eating with Zaccheus, the temple, the trial, and the garden.  So it is a complete view of Jesus life but a snapshot version for the young child.

I think it's a great read aloud for home or Sunday School. I plan to use it with our PreK class this next month as we study Jesus life.

It is an account that is biblical facts, but it does not quote scripture or have a bible reference in the entire book.  This did not bother me because it was accurate and factual and I didn't miss direct quotes or references.   But some parents may be expecting this, so I find it only fair to state this is the life of Jesus in facts and details, and it's interesting and biblically accurate, but not quotes from scripture.

I enjoyed this book, my 9 year old and 13 year old boys found it appealing enough to glance at it, but it was really my younger kids who enjoyed it, and they fit the targeted audience.  

I will look for other books like this in the future.  I was given this book in exchange for my honest review by Kregel publications, but I have shared my own thoughts and opinions, I was not required to write a favorable review.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Noah's Boat, a lift a flap board book from Kregel

The Good.. a beautiful, well illustrated, sturdy board book with sturdy pages, beautiful colors, and lift a flaps and hidden words.  A bit of rhyme, a question: Guess Who Noah? and the answers are the hidden animals.   It also gives clues about the animal under the flap and it will teach your kids to think critically as they see and hear about the animal on the pages.  It's a great young baby/toddler book.

The okay... it's a simple Noah's ark rhyme book.  Not really a lot of details, facts, or reference to the Biblical concepts that were a part of the flood, but it's audience is a 2-3 year old, so simple is alright and appealing.

The wonders... it's a really glossy/shiny sturdy board book, but I think because of the shimmer/shine, once little fingers and hands (maybe mouths) have been on this book, I'm not sure if the glossyness will be an asset or something that gets blurred and looks dirty faster than another book.   I also wonder if the point of this book is to teach a little bit about animals via a biblical story to appeal to a wider audience. If that's the case, it meets it's goal. If the goal is to show who God is and why we there was a flood, it's lacking all together.  That won't bother many readers, especially to this young child, but if you want a more biblical account, this isn't for you.

I was given this book to review by Kregel Publications, the review content is my thinking, and I was not required to do anything other than share my response to this book.  This is my opinion as a mom, teacher, and children's ministry leader. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tell Me All About Prayer

The good....beautiful illustrations, warm, friendly, colorful, and appealing.  Includes stickers and a cd.  Scripture References every few pages.  Book Formula- What is prayer, and then answers, and an end of book review, fill in the blank that my 6 year old was able to do after one reading.

The okay... the cd music is catchy, but some may consider it cheesy.  The conductor theme is clear on the CD, but my 6 year old boy didn't catch it in the book, and thought it was a policeman, and my 4 year old girl just looked at me.

The wonders... "Magic Genie" neither of my kids grasp this abstract concept that God isn't one.  The interpretation of prayer and the concepts brought out are too advanced for kids, yet not deep enough to be accurate and maybe oversimplified and therefore inaccurate.  (example my son had the stomach flu and vomiting the week we read this, and he prayed asking God to stop him from throwing up, and based on the book wasn't sure why he still threw up 3 more times, he asked God."

I would be very curious about other books in this series. I like the premise, but this is not my favorite tool to teach children about prayer.  I was given this book as a part of the Tyndale Review Network. All opinions are mine, and mine alone.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Unwrapping the Gift an Advent Book by Ann Voskamp

As a mom to four children, a teacher to many, many children in our local church and community, and as a born again believer, I've become focused on taking our holidays and emphasizing Who God is with each natural opportunity and season.  I love when a book can be a simple tool that will help me focus on this without a lot of effort on my part.   

Pinterest has provided many, many ideas to the point that you can be dizzy and crazed trying to implement the ideas unless you plan ahead!  I have prepared some years in the summer for advent, when our lives are relaxed and unfocused as teachers on break with their kids.  But even that is daunting to accomplish most years, if you want to live life focused on your family, not 'stuff.'  

Advent is a more liturgical tradition but as a teacher, any chance to use a cultural tradition and focus on learning, I love to capitalize on it!  And since young hearts and old alike, cannot  help but focus on Christmas for the month of December (and often November too!), why not take time to focus on the real joy of Christmas, the baby born in a manger, to save us from our sins.   It's a month long teachable moment, and when you focus on God's gift, more than your own gifts, your heart is set to glorify the Lord and not yourself.  Advent means waiting-- and why not focus on waiting for Jesus to come to fix our eyes on Who God is.  

So when Tyndale offered the opportunity to review a new advent book, this reading teacher, rejoiced that she could be blessed to get a book I would have purchased mailed to me on release day! I'm review #3 on amazon no less, even though I've been sick and dealing with sick kids all week!  Reading is always a joy and refocusing for me, and even more so when it turns my heart toward my Heavenly Father, and the truth is a great truth for Christmas, but also for ANY days.   

And the book has been such a hit, it's on sale for $14.99 on amazon. Please check, as the prices change daily sometimes.   The book is a hardcover, with thick pages, for little hands to use, it's a high quality format designed to last a long time.  

Here's my amazon review:

A beautiful unwrapping of Who God is, and how His perfect plan came to be from Genesis to the birth of Christ with a focus on God's great love, His plan of salvation, and His delight in each of His people. Written with imagery and analogies as we've come to expect from Ann Voskamp. But clearly it was written with our hearts and our response in mind, many practical images in both picture and word format, discussion questions, and family activities are included with each day's scripture, her story explanation, and her personal application concepts for the listener and the reader alike.

If you are worried that as a busy family, you will not have time for a daily reading, DON'T worry. I was able to read the entire book in just over an hour. I'm sure reading aloud would add a few minutes, but it is achievable. Each day has a scripture reading (in the book), then an explanation and focus on how God's love through the plan that His Son would come to earth to rescue us from our sins and provide salvation. I think that the readings would be most appropriate for elementary age children and above, but even preschoolers would grasp the big truths and connections day to day of God's gift for each of us.

Our family has done the Jesse tree before, but never like this. Be prepared to pause in reflection, thought, and to have your heart held as you recognize through Ann's interpretation, real life examples, and connections to traditional Christmas traditions (lights, singing, celebration, family, ...) intertwined with the truth from God's Word that God's plan is one of love, hope, for each of us from the beginning of time. The ornaments are available for purchase online or you can download a set from her website.

I appreciate that the book gives real scripture from the New Living Translation before a story version with practical application, this makes it unique compared to other storybook Bibles for families. It's definitely a beautiful devotional for an adult as well as our children. Simple, poignant, and relevant to our need to remember Who God is and how He blesses us every day in all things.

I was given this book to review as a part of Tyndale's blog network, but the favorable review is my own personal opinion and delight in a new advent book to share with my own family this December! (and I'm even thinking about sharing it with our Sunday School class as it gives a beautiful timeline of God's redemptive plan).

Thanks for stopping by.  It's a pleasure to share new resources with others who want to Whisper the Word with others.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Candle Bible Handbook...a review

I love the opportunity to review a book, especially one that could be used by children or adults.  I wasn't at all sure what to expect from a 'Bible handbook."  But I was impressed as soon as I opened it.

This book is a high quality book, a sturdy cardstock like cover that has tabs that could mark your place in the book, and the inside pages are a heavy high quality shiny paper.  So from the start it has a great look and feel.

This Bible handbook is an overview of all the books of the Bible.  Each book has an Outline, FAQ, Look out for, and Study Questions. There are also pictures throughout- some are real images and some are detailed and beautiful drawn illustrations, all have captions.

In addition there are also some solid overviews and timelines, that pull together some of the big concepts in the Bible. (like Jesus miracles, parables, the tabernacle, Jerusalem,...)  The appendix at the end shares some other helpful info like key Bible characters, key passages/promises, and key big ideas in the Bible.

I know other reviewers were puzzled as to the target or audience of this book, and I would say it is for a new Bible reader or a repeat Bible reader who wants support.  It's a nonfiction book that is meant to pull together the concepts, books, and people of the Bible together. In some ways it could be like a 'cliff notes', I think that when you start reading through the Bible, many people need support to build connections, summarize, and synthesize their reading.  Many people just give up when they read their Bible alone.  This book would definitely help bridge the gap for a lay person who wants support or guidance as he reads the Bible for the first time, or the tenth time, but with a new purpose in mind.  

This book would help you choose a theme or concept and see it across both the Old Testament and New Testament. Or if you wanted to read the Bible through in a year, it would help give you an overview and focus, even comprehension checks as you complete a book reading.

So many people who read the Bible lack formal Bible education and are afraid to seek support, or even choose a helpful study Bible. This book would fill in that gap, is a great visual resource, as well as a synthesis several layers of the Bible.  I believe it would be a helpful resource for children or adults who are reading through the Bible.

I believe that when I do a book study I will consult the overview in this book for my own personal study, and I know that when I teach Sunday School or children, this book will have helpful images, charts, and definitions as I prepare to lead a discussion.  I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.

I was given this book as a part of Kregel's blog tour, all ideas and opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


We are thinking a lot about new at our house.  We have a new child living with us, and he is having a lot of firsts.... a new family (3 siblings, 2 parents, and 2 grandparents to eat dinner with every day!), a new school (and it's full day instead of half), a new bedtime (and it's earlier than ever before, but he has to be up earlier than ever before), a new routine, new doctor, new, new, new.... and all these 'new' experiences are really fun some of the day and really frustrating, especially at bedtime!

I'm recognizing how often new is fun, we have also have a new minivan. It's great. It's clean. It has all kind of fancy buttons/computerized stuff, a backup camera, and it even has a bluetooth phone connection... of course on the down side, I needed to watch my husband turn the car dvd player on and off, switch back to the front speaker cd player for 5 days straight before I could even feel equipped to turn it on, and I'm afraid I may never understand how to make the talk button computer control anything in the car! I'm on my second week of driving it, and I still push the wrong button to open or close the magic doors, and one day last week, I made my son climb over all the seats because I couldn't get open the magic door at school pick up time!  (the pressure of a new car is only pale in comparison to the pressure of a new cell phone!!)  I have known that 'new' can make me angry, frustrated and just plain grumpy when it's not one of my passions!

What I'm really realizing, especially as we  hit April 1st and enter into the "Easter Season." That new things are often celebrated, they are normally positive, fun, and make people happy.  But there are a lot of new things/events that aren't really the joyful celebration because they are new. New job, new marriage, new baby, new recipe.... all of those 'new' events actually require work, flexibility and sometimes time to really appreciate.  New life in Christ is fun to think about at Christmas when we reflect on Mary and her amazing sense of wonder as she's chosen to be Jesus mom, and at a new birth of a new baby in a new unique setting, that of a stable. But at Easter New comes with a cost, and it's one we shudder at and get emotional about, recognizing that Jesus was mocked, beaten, crowned with thorns, prayed with blood drops He was so passionate as He talked with God, and ultimately surrendered to death in the most tortureous ways, a cross. None of this part of the story, says turn me into a poster and count down til we remember the exact time of my death.  When we think about it, it says this was not fun, this was real obedience, real servanthood, real grief, and real death for a sinner such as me.  And we don't find it fun, we are speechless and in awe, that God would sacrifice His Son for me!  Thankfully, 3 days later, there is an empty tomb, there is great rejoicing, and their is a risen Savior.   Risen to offer hope that if we believe, we can have new life in Him.

Watching everything new in this 5 year old's life, and trying to experience all the new things, ideas, and events with him is a roller coaster ride. Some things like new lace up shoes that feel like skates bring great joy and celebration, but other things like a new routine are exhausting parts that even bring on meltdowns.   It's so much the same, an up and down journey with parts I wish I had recorded, and other moments that I pray I won't remember later.  

It makes me think about Easter in a whole new light! (another NEW!) We were reading some simple Easter books tonight, and they both talked about new life because of Christ, and how new life in Christ doesn't end.  
My new son, has an old stuffed caterpillar named Agatha, and when he's distraught, he wraps up in her. I, the ignorant mother figure, called it a worm tonight.  He said- not it's a caterpillar, and I like it because caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies.  This reminded me that we are like those beautiful butterflies. I love the verse 2 Corinithians 5:17 and the image of new life as a beautiful butterfly!

So as we embrace all things new, I'm also embracing Easter in a new way.  How can I make Easter something 'normal' for my new son, and also remind my other three children how their 'normal' might be new to someone else, and most importantly remind all of us that Easter is an old story, that if we remember will bring NEW hope, grace, joy, and peace to our hearts, minds, and souls if only we let it.

We'll see how much time I can gather to process in print, but I am eternally grateful in a whole NEW way, that while I'm on the NEW roller coaster ride with this new kiddo, I have a Holy Spirit who has fresh, new provisions ready for me each step of this emotionally charged journey.  

Praying that every step, every moment, I can show that joy and hope in my love and actions because it is with Christ's redemption that I am anything at all!  And I know that this NEW journey is one of redemption and sanctification for my whole household. And that it's all a chance to bring Glory to God! Praying that with the Lord's leading, we make this NEW way more about the fun, joy, and celebration, than the downside!  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No More Perfect Kids a pictures worth a 1,000 words and a few tweets for flavor...

If you want to hear how they introduce the book, you can read here...
If children learn to hide mistakes from their parents, they may run from God when they sin. @JillSavage @hearts_at_home #NoMorePerfectKids 

No More Perfect

quote: Kids ask a lot of questions—but not always with their words. 

No More Perfect

Today I'm committing to stop judging myself and to stop judging others. @JillSavage @hearts_at_home #NoMorePerfectMoms

No More Perfect

Children are unique gifts from God, created to contribute to this world in unique ways. @JillSavage @hearts_at_home #NoMorePerfectKids

No More Perfect

Are you comparing your insides to other moms' outsides? @JillSavage @hearts_at_home #NoMorePerfectMoms

If you buy the book by March 23rd, you get a whole bunch of amazing freebies!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Book Review: No More Perfect Kids by Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch (overview)


Here's my more expanded review...

Do you struggle with perfection? Do you set high standards personally or have achievable hopes, dreams or expectations for your kids (self or husband)?  I think every one of us lack contentment with others or even yourself, and not being content steals our joy! As believers, we are made for joy, created and formed by an amazing God for more. This book helps us think through and choose to live with excellence as the goal, instead of perfection.

As a teacher, this book is full of the concepts I recognize as best practice.  It breaks down learning theory, styles and brain based concepts  into easy concepts, with real life stories/examples.  It teaches us what I've read and studied about reaching all kids where they are at for over 20 years. All in one book, and the authors added resources at the end to further equip us, as well as a website www.nomoreperfect.com.

As a parent, it's freeing to process how what we know about people, can help us be the best parents. And for me, it's just as needed to rethink, my own broken identity, goals, and ideals.  I am so thankful to have been raised by parents who said, they hoped for 'happy, average girls.' I was taught work ethic, service, family, and ministry were priorities, but always allowed to mess up or make mistakes.  I don't remember feeling the need to be anything other than me.  But yet, in my own adult life, when I'm doing something crazy late the night before, that awful perfection infection raises it's ugly head.  When I wake up and realize, it's me that is pushing the limit, and that ____ really isn't essential to the lesson tomorrow, the birthday party, or ____.  But this book really helped me process new ways to avoid this problem personally, and to be sure I don't push my children into the same awful pattern.

I really enjoyed No More Perfect Moms, and this book I hesitated to even read.  I wasn't sure that it would really enhance the cure's for the perfection infection I had already integrated into my life.  But I am so glad that I chose to review it.  It adds to that cure with ideas and techniques for the mom, dad, grandparent, teacher, and even just adults who love kids and hang out with them! I also am trying to decide if college students should be required to read it!! I believe in our review team, many adults found it self help theory personally as well as for their parenting.   Not many books reach that big an audience.
"Teach kids to change, Don't tell them to change" No More Perfect Kids (pg. 95)  Find the book on our website by clicking the image. Thank you!

I found that my fastest applications of the book's concepts were with my student teachers who want to be 'perfect' but lack experience.   It was so easy to use the concepts shared here to remind them that excellence is achievable over time, with lots of practice, and with lots of mistakes, but perfection is not!  I think this book is for parents, educators, and anyone who struggles with trying to be perfect instead of working towards excellence.

If you want a 'taste test' of the book's concepts sign up for the free 13 day email (that I may redo every few months as a reminder).  You can also visit nomoreperfect.com for ideas, videos, and family activities.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Enjoying No More Perfect Kids? Connect with others...

Excerpt from No More Perfect Kids....

Why Do Kids Make Mistakes?
An excerpt from No More Perfect Kids by Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch

Does it ever feel like your child does more wrong than they do right? As a parent, we know our kids aren’t failures. They can fail a quiz here and there, not win a tournament, and not earn a raise during their first job review, but none of that makes them failures.

They will make mistakes, though, because they’re human! To best help our kids overcome their mistakes and not feel like failures, we need to understand why they make mistakes. When a parent understands, it increases their compassion and decreases their frustration. As you listen closely and observe intently for the “why” behind their mistakes, you can know how to best support them. Let’s explore eight reasons kids make mistakes.

1. They need more experience.
When kids complain that school is hard, remind them that if it were easy, they wouldn’t need to go. School—and much of life—is about trying new things. We must let our kids know they’re not stupid when they get things wrong. Mistakes are a part of life, and they often show up when we need more experience.

2. They need to be taught in order to be successful.
Mistakes can occur when content and tasks are new and teaching hasn’t yet occurred. Kids might enjoy trying things on their own, but then can get very frustrated when their independent approach doesn’t go well. Protect their self-esteem when you notice that the reason they did something wrong was simply because they need help or more instruction.

3. They need more time to learn something.
Errors occur because kids didn’t learn something well enough, although teaching has begun. These mistakes are a part of learning. They happen, and it’s no one’s fault. How did you learn to drive? By driving imperfectly for a while. How did you decide which barbeque sauce you prefer? By cooking with one and then another. Did you make a mistake? No. It was a “learn by doing” experience, not a “mistake by doing” experience. The language we use to discuss mistakes matters; this includes what we say to our kids and what we say inside our heads when thinking about them.

4. They need healthy motivation to do things well.
Sometimes kids make mistakes because they don’t want the additional pressure that comes with excellence. Maybe your son’s teacher keeps calling on him because he’s always attentive and right, but your son wants to take a break from that. Maybe your oldest is feeling like all your happiness is on her shoulders. That’s unhealthy motivation and creates a lot of pressure for any child.

5. They need our understanding and attention.
Kids will occasionally fail at something or make mistakes just to push our buttons. Let’s face it: They are smart little people even at a young age, and they learn the power of manipulation early.
In these cases, responding with understanding is important. When the time is right, and depending on their age, let them know you understand they’re angry or frustrated but you’d rather have them talk with you about their feelings than to act their feelings out.

6. They need more modeling and instruction related to character and obedience.
Sometimes mistakes are an issue of character. Kids might hurry through a task or assignment so they can get back to their video games. They can choose to not double-check their work because pride is in their way and they’re just convinced they haven’t made any mistakes. As parents, we need to discern whether our children are making occasional errors in judgment or if they’ve developed consistent character flaws that need to be addressed.

7. They need self-respect, self-control, and respect for others modeled for them and taught to them.
Sometimes kids’ strengths get them into trouble. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing! For example, word-smart kids might talk too much. Logic-smart kids with a heightened curiosity may ask questions to keep you distracted and to extend bedtime. We don’t want to paralyze their strengths by overreacting and being too critical, but we do need to teach the concepts of self-control and respecting others.

8. They need sleep, food, and/or emotional stability.
Do you sometimes underperform or make unhealthy decisions when you’re tired, hungry, or emotionally vulnerable? So do kids. You might discover your daughter should start her homework after having a snack. Your son may not be handling the long day of school well and may need to go to bed thirty minutes earlier than you originally thought. To track patterns, you can keep a written record of their misbehavior using a calendar or a list. After recording a few days of when mistakes and misbehavior occur, who was present, if it was near mealtime, or if they were fatigued, you can often identify possible strategies to decrease the misbehavior.

It’s okay, in the midst of mistakes, to verbalize that your child is not failing or a failure. Look for impressionable moments when kids need the reassurance that making mistakes is how people learn. You may not be happy with their choices, and discipline may be necessary, but also let them know they’re not stupid. In fact, letting our kids know they’re not mistakes even when they make mistakes is very important for us to communicate, especially in the hard days of parenting!

This excerpt is from No More Perfect Kids, a new Hearts at Home book by Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch!  Pick up your copy of the book between March 13-23 and you'll get over $100 in bonus resources!  Find out more at NoMorePerfect.com

No More Perfect Kids Launch Week

I had the privilege of reviewing No More Perfect Kids... a follow up to No More Perfect Moms book I reviewed last  year. I'm going to share more than one review but today I'm starting with the freebies you get if you buy it by March 23rd and my short review.

Here's my selfie with the book minutes after it arrived in the mail!!  It's a book I wanted a paper copy of so I could highlight, flip back and forth, and take notes more easily!!

Here's Dr. Kathy's link about them and a video of her talking about this book....

Here's what I said on my amazon, goodreads, and cbd review... short and sweet..

Do you struggle with perfection? Do you set too high of standards personally or have hopes, dreams or expectations for your kids (self or husband) that they may struggle to meet? I think every one of us lack contentment with others or even yourself, and not being content steals our joy! As believers, we are made for joy, created and formed by an amazing God for more. This book helps us think through and choose to live with excellence as the goal, instead of perfection. (and Jill and Dr. Kathy make it a step by step simple formula that I can't mess up.)

As a teacher, this book is full of the concepts I recognize as best practice. It breaks down learning theory, styles and brain based concepts into easy concepts, with real life stories/examples. It teaches us what I've read and studied about reaching all kids where they are at for over 20 years. All in one book, and the authors added resources at the end to further equip us, as well as a website nomoreperfect.com to enhance the book with ideas for families and other resources.

As a parent, it's freeing to process how what we know about people, can help us be the best parents. And for me, it's just as needed to rethink, my own broken identity, goals, and ideals. I'll be blogging more about all the wonderful tidbits throughout the book. (as well as a network of bloggers) So google us if you want to more details, but simple and fast reviews are what I prefer at amazon. I was asked to review this book but I was not required to give a favorable review, and really expected it wouldn't expand much on Jill's first book, but I am so thankful I read it. I have found myself sharing these concepts over and over since I started it. I love the story telling and bulleted list style that makes the book easy to grasp and apply.

A favorite quote...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Links to inspire you...

A memory project for you AND the kids.... this blogger is my 'kindred spirit'...somehow she and I think the same, and need the same reminders, supports, and encouragement in our intentional christian living....  I'm joining her in this challenge and hope to get my kids on board!! (which is sometimes hard when I don't homeschool, but I need to try some structure in our walking and talking the Word at home on occasion!)

Here's a series on layering storys... but I think it applies to teaching our kids as well....these are our goals...I am adding "Layered Story Sensitivity" to my vocabulary when I think about our goals for teaching kids about God's Word.   I want them to see ALL the layers-- the connections---the theology and most importantly Who God is across the Bible!

A giveaway for the Princess Bible I reviewed!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Candle Bedtime Bible

I love children's Bible story books!! I have an ever growing collection. I'm always intrigued when a new one is published, how will this be different? what will be the hook? why should someone purchase this specific one?

We all know that the Bible doesn't change, so how much can an author or an illustrator do, to appeal to the Bible storybook fans?  Here's what author Karen Williamson and illustrator Christine Tappin did...

1) it's a Bedtime Bible, and parent's what's implied by the word 'bedtime'? It's a cue for your kiddos to try and stretch out seconds and minutes AS LONG AS HUMANLY possible... that's where this book meets a need... you can choose a 3 minute, 5 minute, or 10 minute retelling of the Bible.  So you could have your kids 'race' the clock with the pjs, teeth brushing, face washing, to get several stories or ONE long one!!
2) The illustrations are warm, with very round faced people, but they have an 'action' quality to them, and their expressions help to tell the stories.
3) The text is written to be read aloud, with fluency, expression, and as if you were watching this happen.  It really does bring the stories to life.
4) I found the re-tellings to be shared in child appropriate vocabulary, but still accurate to the scripture, although not personal.   Each story also give you the scripture reference/portion of the text to read in a translation.  I think it would be a great book to read and compare to a translation, and even discuss how caption stories, and use real translations to get the full power and connections of the scripture.

As I often find, I wish there was a stronger practical application, connection to the people being sinners saved by grace through the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross.... This could easily be worked in, but would make it less story like, and more reality based.  Could we include terms and concepts  that connect bad, sad to sin?  Could we share that Jesus died as a King, the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, so that we could know that He knows our hearts, loves us, and forgives us despite our badness (sin)?

 Children often know they are bad and know when they are good, but I'm not sure without the concept of sin being clearly shared with a young child, how they will grasp the redemption, salvation, and blessing of new life in Christ. As I read through the New Testament stories, I also think that the gospel could be more clearly shared, as it is written, these are Bible stories retold, without the concepts of salvation being offered.   It shares the events in Jesus life, death, and Resurrection with key details of the passages, but not the personal connection and power to make it real for US today.

I still will use this storybook, and add those concepts myself in the thinking and dialogue that goes with a read aloud.  The stories are written in a way that it will be easy and natural to have these conversations, and perhaps, this book will be more appealing to a parent or grandparent who just wants their children exposed to the Bible.   I was given this book for my honest review, these are my thoughts and opinions as a reader or MANY children's Bible storybooks.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Book Review: Bible Stories for His Beautiful Princess by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Another book...   but this one is for a new audience!!  Girls under 4!  But if you are looking at the picture, you can see that it's for girls!

Here's what I like:

  • Each story is short and sweet appropriate for the under 4 crowd.
  • Each story begins with scripture and reference. Each story has a life truth that could be the application of that story (this is connected to a life truth, not always the text of the story).
  • The stories are factual, yet simple, and point to theological truths and what God is like.  
  • Those theological truths come across in the summary with a Princess Prayer and a Princess Jewel.   
  • It's definitely illustrated for the little girl- there are borders/headers (can you say crowns, flowers, wands?)  as well as images that connect with the story, and on the summary page, a princess girl.
  • The size/structure- silly I know but it's a nice 6x8 book, the cover is padded, the pages are thick and sturdy (but not a board book), its sturdy but not too heavy, and as a mom of a girl-- these things matter to her!  
  • The book talks about sin, in the prayer/jewels application and is direct with this concept, and it explains salvation through Jesus birth, life and death. 
  • God and His character are truly integrated in the short sentences.  Also christian life principles like trusting God, prayer, God cares for us, God asking us to do the right thing... come across clearly.  
Things that bugged me: (and I think this is more appropriate than cons or weaker areas because I am a bit snobby and ideal about Bible Story books and I use many of them but like to point out nit picky things that can ruin them for a few.) 
  • The book ends with a lovely summary page that says the Bible is 'alive' and sends a letter to the princess from God.  This only bugs me because some critics won't like Mrs. Shepherd writing as if she were God, but as a teacher and mom, she's taking a little literary license and I don't think she is saying her letter is inspired like the Bible. It's to make a point, but it still bugs me when I know it may bug some of my colleagues, and I hate to have a good book ruined by one or two small literary license to connect with girls a concept.  
  • The book ends with a "salvation prayer" which I am not fond of... I get why it is there because the author wants to be crystal clear that you have all the info you need to be saved.  She isn't here when you are reading it, so its an example,  and she's doing what a good teacher does meta cognition: a model of how to pray.  
  • The prayer starts with 'Please come into my heart.' and while many still say this, we try to avoid this extra-biblical phrase, that can be confusing to children because they are so literal. 
  • Some of the prayers and jewels do not connect to the few sentences that create the story, they are a a bit of a jump, but they are true to applications from the fuller story and I don't know how you could keep it short and sweet and toddler appropriate, so I like the leaps but some may not have the background to see where they come from if the Bible is new or they may be too simplified to one truth, and detract from the Who God is and His one big story.  
Overall I really enjoyed this Bible storybook and believe it will be a delightful read aloud for the 4/5 and under crowd, and also wonder if it wouldn't be a great early reader book for the new princess reader.   

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wayfinding Bible New Living Translation

I am so excited to review this new Bible.  The easiest way to explain how it is new and different is with the publishers description.....The Wayfinding Bible NLT
 a trailer can be found here...
What if you had a trusted friend to guide you through God’s Word every day? Whether you want a fast overview of the grand story of the Bible or a deeper exploration of the riches of Scripture, The Wayfinding Bible is that guide.

With an innovative, full-color visual guide at the top of each reading, The Wayfinding Bible provides you with three paths through God’s Word: the Fly-Over Route, the Direct Route, and the Scenic Route. Following the Fly-Over Route, you’ll cover the most important events in the Bible in just 40 readings, giving you a fresh overview of how these events tell the story of God’s redemption. Following the Direct Route’s 200 readings, you’ll develop a better understanding of how God’s story develops through history. Following the Scenic Route, you’ll explore new territory while discovering a richness and depth in God’s Word that you’ve not seen before. All without the discouragement of getting bogged down in any single book.

Whether you are encountering the Bible for the first time or simply looking for a new journey through Scripture, you will always know where you are and where you’re going in God’s Word. Just choose your route, and prepare yourself for life-changing experiences with God.

Special features:

  • Getting Your Bearings: These 8 two-page articles occur at major turning points of Scripture and help the reader stay on track
  • Side Trips: Explore a known concept in greater depth or read about a topic for the first time
  • Scenic Overlooks: Stunning visuals including maps, photos, infographics, and charts that aid in understanding the Bible text
The Wayfinding Bible uses the clear and understandable New Living Translation text.

So here's what I think...

  • This would be a great Bible for boys, the flight concept, could easily transfer to a map or pilots uniform with a sticker or badge for milestones.  (Boys in grades 3 or 4 are the hardest age to reach in curriculum, and oh the appeal of the flight, the itinerary, and the images throughout the 40-200 stops!) 
  • The reading teacher in me thinks this is an awesome tool for teaching or modeling how to read and understand the Bible.  The built in tools help provide all the key reading strategies for comprehension (connections, imagery, summarizing, clarifying, questions, evaluations, and prediction/inference)
  • The paths and options are a refreshing way to get an overview of the Bible, and it lets you pick your commitment.  (I tried the flyover and didn't succeed as I wanted to read all the special touches and other passages marked on a page.)
  • The sense of accomplishment and connections could be very empowering to a new Bible reader, and a veteran Bible reader, the New Living Translation is solid yet refreshing perspective. 
  • The Bible is filled with scenic overlooks (signified by binoculars) images and maps for major places, connections of this portion of scripture to other portions read, connections to Christ, to history, and info-graphics to help the reader easily connect the Bible to itself, and help gain perspective. 
  • Each reading has a special introduction, an observation and an exploration to help the reader think through this part of God's Big Story, and these simple inserts could make it easier for a  novice to grasp the points without a lot of commentaries, concordances, or tools. 
  •  I believe that a Bible scholar could enjoy reading through these commentaries and determining if they would prefer a different connection, add a new theological term, or concept, or leave it as the creators of the Bible wrote it.  But it's unique, and it in my book it inspires thinking on many levels.  
  • I believe this Bible has features that could help keep you on track in a group Bible study, but still provide a good overview and some critical thinking for lively discussions.  I especially like the infographics and charts. 
  • It is not a Bible that teaches doctrinal terms, theological concepts, it's merely a tool to explore the text of the Bible, get an overview of the Bible, and see topics across the Bible (like Angels, Easter Readings, forgiveness, ...)  
I will continue to test this Wayfinding Bible and see how my thoughts change, expand or grow, but the bottom line is, I find it a very useful tool that I want to continue to have on my nightstand with easy access.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode...book review

The purpose of this blog is to focus on whispering the Word is to help our kids become those who crave time in the Word.  But that can only happen if their time is well managed, and good habits start early, to be natural.  So they must be modeled! That's why I appreciated a new book by blogger Crystal Paine, known as MoneySavingMom.  I have followed her blog for several years now and have not only been encouraged by her coupons but unexpectedly by the glimpses of her own life and habits shared.  She has written about her lifestyle, carefully crafted over a few years, a few kids, and a determination to thrive through the busyness of life.  It takes discipline, knowing your purpose, having perspective, and hope.

Here's a few quotes...

It's my hope that all parents, children's workers, and those who serve kids in any way, would value the Word of God, make it a goal to read daily, pray meaningfully, memorize scripture, and talk about the value and life changing events in their lives because of the active, living Word of God.  If you struggle with discipline, establishing routines, and you need help finding hope with the structure of your life, then this book is for you!! It is NOT a Bible study, and I am not even sure scripture is integrated in the book, but it is a woman who keeps a quiet time in her goals, and her relationship with God is a priority, and she walks you through how she stopped surviving and found she could thrive in her daily life as a wife, mother, woman of God, and as a blogger.  (She makes enough money on her blog now, that she uses it to support others, she still lives a frugal life, even though her income is beyond their needs! So she's in the trenches with normal Moms who struggle to do it all.

Here are some more quotes/photos-- for many of you these will speak to your visual learning style more than my words can!


This one might be my favorite:

 I would add, that if you trust in the Lord, He can help you do this as well!

Here's what I shared at amazon as a review:
I have followed Crystal's blog for several years now, so I was intrigued by her new book. Would it be more helpful than her short informational pieces? Would it just be the same stuff I can get without a book? I was pleasantly surprised that while her book matches up with her blog (she posts weekly goals & progress, freezer meal weekly reports/recipes, organizational tips, and ways to save money). Her book really explains the HOW she lives and how you could follow her example and live life on purpose, with perspective, and hope. She is a christian and her book occasionally refers to her faith, but it is not a main theme and scripture is not really interspersed throughout her quotes and concepts, she bases her purpose, goals, and plans with her faith in mind but it's not overtly christian.) The book is just what it's title says it is, it's 9 simple strategies to move out of survival mode. It is an easy read. It has real life examples from her life and her readers, and it is written in a way, you can implement her ideas, and change your life. Having researched skills and helped many college students with time management, life organization and planning, I can say that this book is well researched, and founded on common and very helpful strategies. It's not just a homemaker sharing what works for her, it works for many. But her books is more approachable and direct than many other self help books. I enjoyed it and I am sure will use it again. I was given a book as part of her launch team, but all ideas and opinions are my own, I was not required to do a favorable review.

Two last thoughts from her book...to give you the flavor...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

99 Stories from the Bible

This book is a lovely picture story book Bible.  The print is large, but not too much on a page. The illustrations are soft, warm colors, rounded figures, and kid oriented.  The people have big noses, and Adam has a beard, which disturbed my 4 year old, but not all the men had beards, and I think it bothered her because her other story bible makes Adam look different.

The stories are short, and they count 99 stories, but take some Biblical accounts as multiple stories. So creation is actually several stories.  An adult could read the whole book in part of an afternoon.  The selection of stories seemed broad and along a line of creation to the cross, ending with Jesus return to heaven and His promise to return for His disciples.  I wished it had gone on into a few more new testament stories like the church, Paul, etc. But very few picture story Bibles do, I imagine it's because these are not as easily summarized.  There were some very unique but accurate elements in some of the stories. Adam and Eve leaving the garden is entitled "Flashing Swords" and I double checked Genesis to see how my translations words that part.   I liked that level of detail on occasion, and it would be fun to compare to a real Bible's detail.

I enjoyed this Bible storybook and believe it would be a great tool in a preschool class, with young children, or even new readers.  My four year old enjoyed it.  It seemed to keep the vocabulary simple enough for a typical first/second grade reader.   My only con was how it addressed sin.  It never used this term.  In the ark story, it mentioned that Noah was good but most people were "arguing, and cheating, and fighting."  In Adam and Eve, it says "Adam and Eve had not done as God had told them.  So he sent them out of the beautiful garden. Forever."  They are sad and sorry on the next page.  So it leaves the explanation and teaching to the parent or teacher who is reading it aloud or checking in, to address the concept of sin directly.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Drake's Flag, a GA Henty radio drama


Review Week is fun isn't it? today's review is extra fun because I know one of the consulting producers! (and so do my children!) He attended Emmaus and taught piano lessons.  Now he's working on producing radio drama!  How cool is that? 

In order to adequately review this radio drama, I had to enlist the two best critics I know- my boys, who are almost 8 and almost 12 years old, and are huge fans of podcasts and radio drama.  So if you have Adventures in Odyssey Fans or You've Got the Time kidz podcasts fans, you know what I mean.

The first sign that these are a hit, was my oldest kept getting the cd case for his room, so he could re-listen to them!  His review is that they are exciting and entertaining.  The story had lots of action, helped him love history, and had good truths.  It really encouraged him to think about kindness.  He enjoyed listening to them. 

On their website- they make some claims about why a parent should like these CD's. My son when I asked him about them- agreed to all of them! Things like develop moral character, instill a love of history, teaching self reliance, are just great audio teaching.... His big question was, are there more? 

We listened to them as well, and I can see how my son enjoys them. The sound affects are amazing and the story is good.