Monday, April 5, 2021

Children's books

New Growth Press have released four new children's books in the last few months.

The first three are additions to their God Made Me series, and will have a similar appeal to readers around 4-8 years.

God Made Me in His Image by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb (authors of God Made All of Me) aims to help children appreciate their bodies, and accept them the way they are. The book anchors in Genesis and the creation of humankind in the image of God, and highlights that everyone has value and honour, even with their differences. The is done skilfully in a way little ones can grasp, by looking at various animals on a zoo trip and seeing the variety of traits God gave to animals.  

As body image issues continue to emerge in younger children, this is a timely reminder to kids and parents that we are all valuable and wonderful in God's sight. 

God Cares For Me by paediatrician Scott James, teaches children how to trust God when they are sick, as well as following wise health advice.  

Lucas wakes up with a fever and sore throat. While not keen to go to the doctor, his dad encourages him that God gives us doctors to help keep us safe.  Lucas, dad and the doctor all wear masks, and later in the day when his grandparents come to visit, they wave from the door but don't come in and Lucas can't hug them. 

It's clear this has been written for Covid times, even though that is never mentioned. Probably there are a whole new swathe of children's books on health now picturing people wearing masks, and having to distance from each other. Much of this is framed around the idea of loving others by caring for them when we are sick, which is a very different message from previous books where everyone gathered around to care for people in their illness* (although the parents do a great job of caring for Lucas here). As such, this book helps explain the realities for many children living with Covid restrictions and requirements. I also think considerable care needs to be given about implying young children are responsible for whether their grandparents get sick.*   

*[I suspect a larger discussion of whether these messages are actually that good could be worthwhile, although I realise that requires a much broader discussion that the scope of this review]. 

This transmissible disease focus also means this is not the book you would turn to if a young child is diagnosed with cancer, needs an appendectomy, or has a broken leg. It just does not cover the other options of illness and injury. That's fine, but parents should be aware its application is a little limited.

God Made Me for Heaven by Marty Machowski is a great addition to the series, dealing with an issue that parents often struggle to explain to their kids with clarity: what heaven is like and how we get there. 

Leo is celebrating the end of the school year with his friends, and enjoying being outside playing together. He and his grandmother start talking about his grandfather who died three years prior. She explains how his spirit went to be with Jesus in heaven and his body will be resurrected when Jesus returns. She talks about how good heaven will be and how it won’t be boring at all. When Leo asks how good you have to be to get into heaven, she explains that “No one is good enough” and that’s why we need Jesus. Kids are encouraged to see that heaven will be great, like a summer vacation that never ends, with no one ever getting tired, or sad and praising Jesus together. 

It’s suitable for 5-9 year olds, giving a clear gospel explanation and the joyful promises of heaven and eternal life using images and concepts familiar to children.

Like all the others in this series, all three books have been clearly and skilfully illustrated by Trish Mahoney. 

The third book is Jesus Saves: The Gospel for Toddlers by Sarah Reju and illustrated by Phil Schorr.  

This is a lovely addition to the many great Christian books for toddlers these days. Jesus Saves outlines the simple basics of the gospel in a repetitive cadence that will appeal to young ones, covering God as creator, our own sin, and Jesus as saviour:

"God made you.
Made who?
Made you!
God made you, little one."

Sometimes the simplest expressions of the gospel are the most powerful. 

I was given ebooks of these in exchange for a honest review. 

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