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.