Building faith in Children

Its a new term and so new opportunities to help your children go deeper in their faith. I have come across two new resources that are designed to help primary school children take their faith deeper. I am really keen to find new resources, so I thought I would post these two reviews in the hope that it opens up a conversation. The first is a book I was really excited to receive:

Thoughts to make your heart singThoughts to Make your Heart Sing
Sally Lloyd Jones and Jago

This book is gorgeous. The feel and finish of the book oozes quality – which is a great idea for a child’s spiritual resource. It says this book and the material in it is valuable and worth keeping. It also makes it feel like a lovely gift to be kept.

This book is beautiful. If you enjoyed the visuals in the excellent (more on this later) Jesus Story Bible then you will not be disappointed with Jago’s stunning artwork.

I was so eager to use this book as part of the bed time routine with my primary aged daughter. We had enjoyed working through the Jesus Story Bible and have been having a great time reading through the book of Acts together in the Summer. So with a new term came a new opportunity to start a new project and this book came for review just in time. But this is where this book falls down…

Sally is a gifted writer her Jesus Story Bible sold over a million copies. But this book is too complicated for my 7 year old and too childish for my 11 year old. Here’s a sample of the writing style:

“CATACLYSM!
What if the planets put themselves at the centre instead of the sun?
CATACLYSM!
The Bible says that’s what it was like
when we sinned.
God made his children’s hearts to join together in the wonder Dance of Joy – orbitting and circling around him. But we put ourselves in the centre instead of God. We put ourselves in God’s place-which is what sin is.”

Or take a look at Sally reading Acorn power from the book here:

Because its so conceptual rather than story based and because the concepts aren’t directly from scripture I ended up having to explain Sally’s illustration and then explain the biblical principle again. So for my family it’s going to work alot better to go straight to scripture and work things out from there.

Thoughts to make your heart sing jato

I am no education theorist but I love teaching the Bible to young people and I would struggle to find an age range to make this book work with. So I am gutted that I can’t recommend this book. With less words it would make a beautiful coffee table book. The other thing that strikes me as I read through the pages of this book is what it assumes about the spirituality of children – there’s a lot about grace and forgiveness which is wonderful, some encouragement to reflect on creation. But it all seems to revolve around us as individuals, as recipients of grace and forgiveness. So for example:

On a beautiful double page spread featuring a lovely Sago Whale we are told…
“The deep, dark rolling oceans are vast and mighty! So deep even sunlight can’t reach down to the bottom of the ocean floor…. And the Bible says God holds them in the palm of his hand. If he can hold the oceans in the hollow of his hand, he can hold you.”

On a reflection on Victor Hugo’s the Hunchback of Notre Dame we are told – ‘its a bout Quasimodo, who is so ugly he hides up in the bell tower… but we don’t have to be like Quasimodo. Jesus came to bring you out of the shadows. He sees you and loves you…”

All of this is good and true – but I struggle to see anything that calls children to play their part in God’s mission in the world – to steward creation, care for the poor, pass on God’s love. Its an interesting. There is such an emphasis on grace in the book there is no danger of moralism being assumed by readers – but a therapeutic faith that puts the child at the centre of the universe rather than God’s plans for us and his world. ( See my review of Jesus Story Bible compared to Children of God Story Bible.)

Instead of buying this one – why not think of a couple of people you can buy the Jesus Story Book for instead, or think about buying “Bake Through the Bible.”

Bake Through The Bible

Bake through the Bible
Suzy Bently Taylor & Bekah Moore

If your family is anything like mine they have been hooked by the Great British Bake Off. Although food TV is not really my thing – I just end up feeling hungry and end up doing an unnecessary fridge raid before I go to bed. But the idea of helping our new found baking craze become a point of contact for exploring the their faith. There are some creative ideas of intertwining Bible story telling with cooking and eating – Passover Lamb Pittas, Good News Fudge, Jelly Boats and Empty Bread Tomb. The book is a large format with good quality pages that would hold up well if flour or milk was spilt on them. The book has been attractively laid out which means kids want to flick through and read too. I can see this book being useful to Sunday school teachers looking for a creative culinary craft too.

Some of the recipes are a bit of stretch to connect to the Bible but I love the vision behind the book to help families integrate teaching the scriptures to family life. It reminds me of Deuteronomy’s injunction – so well done Suzy and Bekkah.

7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:7-9

 

Love to know your suggestions for other good Bible resources for children.

 

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