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Notable books

Notable Books | Four books for teaching children about God reviewed by Susan Olasky

Issue: "After Osama," May 21, 2011

God's Names

Sally Michael looks at 25 names the Bible uses to communicate different aspects of God's character. She gives the Hebrew name, a pronunciation guide, and the English translation (Jehovah-El Emeth, for example: The Lord God of Truth). She devotes four pages to each name, presenting and explaining a Bible passage where the name appears, defining unfamiliar words, and offering application questions and activities. Parents will appreciate the book's rich theological content. Children will enjoy its clear, non-patronizing writing, and its attractive illustrations and design. The book is an excellent way to introduce children to the many-faceted God whose attributes cannot be captured by one name.

Growing Together in Courage

Rainey's valuable book, a family devotional, provides one week's worth of readings on courage. Each day has a reading featuring a Christian who exemplified some aspect of the virtue. One of the book's strengths is the range of Christians profiled, some familiar and some not. She includes Sophie Scholl, the German girl who had the courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances and so stood up to the Nazis and lost her life. She also includes Catherine Carmichael, who calmed her fears and allowed her daughter to go to India as a missionary, knowing she might never see her again. Each day's reading is accompanied by discussion questions and a prayer adapted from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.

Get Wisdom! 23 Lessons for Children about Living for Jesus

Building on the foundation of the gospel, this book provides lessons on traits that we are to "put on" as we seek to be more Christlike. The first half of the book is laid out for a child's use: Ruth Younts presents traits-including listening (attentiveness), courage, gentleness, diligence, and self-control-in a child-friendly font, with simple definitions, illustrations, and examples. The second half of the book provides useful lesson plans for parents or teachers, each with an activity, memory verse, discussion questions, and role-playing games. Many of the activities work best with a group of children. (The lesson on self-control has children pretend to be a herd of sheep.)

Long Story Short

A terrific collection of short daily devotions (one per day for 78 weeks) based on Old Testament stories and written to draw out the answer to the question, "How does this passage point forward to Jesus?" The devotions, usable with children of various ages, include Bible readings followed by helps to picture, remember, think, talk about, and pray about them. Day 3 each week draws out a connection to Christ, and Day 5 introduces a Psalm or a prophetic passage that also points forward to Christ. Overall, Long Story Short is a clear, engaging, and helpful tool to help children of various ages and adults better see how all Scripture speaks of Christ.

Spotlight

In Dancing with Max (Zondervan, 2010), Emily Colson writes about life with her autistic son Max. She describes her joy at being pregnant after 10 years of marriage and the exhausting early days and months as she searched for explanations for why her baby cried all the time and slept little. Slowly it dawned on her that Max was different from other children. Eventually, the all-consuming demands of her son became too much for her husband, who left when Max was 18 months old.

Colson, with the help of her father Chuck (who wrote the book's prologue and epilogue), describes the challenges of raising a special-needs child as a single mother. The book is filled with lovely anecdotes that show how Max sees the world, how we often judge people on external traits, and how we can learn much from people like Max (who is now 19) about what is true and beautiful.

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