Friday, September 10, 2010

Keeping the Faith, Toddler-Style

As a pastor and a mom (and a seller of books, to boot), I'm occasionally asked which Bibles or Christian books I like for kids, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.

(Tyndale Kids, 1994)

Even though we received several kids' Bibles as baby gifts, I wasn't really ever very happy with them and besides, I wanted to give Becca a Bible myself. I picked this Bible story book after perusing several options, and while it's not perfect, it does a great job of introducing about 100 key Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments. (I think there's also a Catholic version with a few more stories.) Each story is four pages long, and every page has a bright, colorful picture. At the end of each story there is a question that furthers reading comprehension. We're not really at the point of using the questions yet, but we'll get there soon. And since I'm being completely honest, I'll admit that there have been many days (and even weeks!) since Becca came home that this book is the closest I've come to reading Scripture. The Old Testament section is particularly good for reminding me of the different phases of Israel's history, which can often get blurry, even for folks with multiple degrees in religion! (I am particularly amused by the way some of the stories have to be sanitized. For example, Rahab is simply "the owner of a house." Niiiice.)

(Marie-Helene Delval, Eerdman's Books for Young Readers, 2008; illustrated by Arno)

I love this book. It's simple and beautiful and poetic and gorgeous. And I love it. As the inscription says, "This selection of Psalms, paraphrased for young readers, uses language and imagery appropriate for children while remaining faithful to the spirit of the biblical texts." It doesn't have every psalm in it, but the 40-ish that are paraphrased and excerpted (a stanza or two each) are paired with a gorgeous illustration in the same folksy style as the cover (shown above). One of the aspects of our faith that is most important to pass on to my children is the notion that we can take any feeling, any emotion to God, and that's exactly what the psalms are: praising, ranting, raving, questioning, delighting, confessing prayers to a loving God. And it doesn't hurt that since we never read the whole book in one sitting (it's 88 pages!), I can say "one more" and only have to read one more page instead of an entire book!

(Heather Amery, Usborne Books, 2007)

I promise this isn't just a shameless plug: this is a really great book. It's one of our dual-readers, meaning that --and this is a genius idea! -- on each page there are words at the top and on the bottom. If you read only the top lines (which have simpler text), it reads as a complete story, but you can also read the bottom lines for further detail. When a kid is learning to read, you can alternate; they read the top and you read the bottom, helping build their confidence and encouraging independent reading skills. Or, in toddler-world, you can get the point of the stories across reading the top lines only when you are in a hurry or when that oh-so-brief toddler attention span evaporates mid-story. So smart. These stories are a bit longer and more in-depth than the stories in the Eager Reader Bible, so they balance each other well. It's also nice that it comes with a read-along c.d. for the car or quiet playtimes. My sweet godson will definitely be getting a copy!

And one non-book recommendation:

Seeds of Praise (Vol. 3)
When my very wise friend Marissa wrote about Seeds Family Worship cd's, I knew I needed to check them out. I'm so glad I did! All the lyrics are straight from scripture and set to -- wait for it -- non-annoying kid-friendly melodies! Amazing, I know. As far as scripture miracles goes, this one might be right up the with the translation of the Septuagint. I know that by far the best way for me to memorize scripture is through music, and I know many kids are the same way, too. (Ask me to quote any verse we say in Sonshine Choir 15 years ago, but don't ask me to quote you what I read just yesterday!) And speaking of genius ideas, how 'bout this one? Each album is sold in a twin pack: you keep one c.d. for you and give one away, all for the price of one album. Another bonus: if you are in Nashville, you can pick a couple up directly from their office, saving you shipping charges. (E-mail the contact on the website to set it up. And yes, I am that cheap.)

Now I'm curious. What books or resources do you use to teach your toddler about your faith? Are there particular faith practices you have incorporated into your family life?


  1. Thanks for sharing your recommendations! I'm just starting to think about faith traditions for our household, and this is really helpful!

    I started work on an Advent calendar last year, and I'm hoping to finish it this year since I have some extra time on my hands. I think I'll have fun cutting out felt camels and sheep!

  2. I need a copy of each of these... :)

    And I have one to add. Desmund Tutu's book for kids called GOD'S DREAM. Amazing colors and beautiful story describing God's dream of all of us caring, sharing, loving, etc. etc. I'll read it to you sometime if you want. Ok, you probably guessed it - I'd rather read it to Becca instead. :)

  3. So glad you are enjoying your Seeds CDs! Our all-time favorite children's Bible is the Jesus Storybook Bible. I have honestly shed tears a few times reading it to my children. In every story, it points the child to the Redeemer. It's beautifully written and illustrated.

  4. Ha, the trick is not to teach your toddler about Faith but rather to be able to see through all our adultness and learn about Faith from someone in whom Faith simply is. Teaching them about Scripture and churchy stuff is a different matter.

    Miss you guys,
    Todd R from CCUM

  5. Hey there! Thanks so much for the mention of Seeds! Email me: michelle (at) seedsfamilyworship (dot) com and I'll let you know that latest news from Seeds!

    Keep planting!