Bible Story Books and Verse Memorization for Young Children

We’ve used several books for Bible reading time/ verse memorization with our young children. I thought I’d share with you some of the resources we’ve used, and you can feel free to respond with some of your favorites. Also, I’ve put these in developmentally appropriate order. We used the first book when our children were barely talking, and we’re using the last few resources now with our two pre-K children.

1. The ABC Memory Book: Our children learned several verses around the time they were also learning their ABC’s: “A- All we like sheep have gone astray. B- But He was wounded for our transgressions. etc.” We would recite these verses and talk about them at breakfast each morning. I was amazed at the number of verses our toddlers learned.

2. The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth N. Taylor: I should mention that there is a new version of this classic book with more cartoony pictures, which I don’t care for. The original pictures are beautiful and, in my opinion, needed no update. Each Bible story is short enough to hold the attention of even young children, and they love to look at the pictures.

3. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones: This is a unique, gospel-centered Bible story book. The thing I love about this Bible story book is that each and every story, including those in the Old Testament, points to Jesus. I just love it. Now, I know a lot of people who love the art in this book, but, personally, I’m not overly fond of it.

4. Kids4Truth: My church hosts a Kids4Truth club with incentives for memorizing verses. Kids4Truth is a unique, doctrine-based program that includes not only verse memorization, but also catechism-like questions and answers to teach children about 12 basic doctrines of the Bible. If you have no Kids4Truth club near you, you can still use the resources in your own family. They’re excellent.

Feel free to comment and share with us some of your favorite resources!

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Weapons and Little Boys

Several months ago my 3-year-old little guy was exposed to toy guns and swords at a friend’s house, and it was love at first sight. Instantly, he began “shooting” his sister, mommy, and daddy. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought a lot about how we would handle weapons at our house, but I knew it was time to formulate a plan that would help us teach good virtues to our children.

We’re book-lovers in our house, so of course I turned to stories to help me teach my son about virtuous weapon-use. After much searching, I found some delightful books that have not only entertained us but have also taught us some wonderful lessons about bravery, duty, following wise counsel, etc.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to our new book-friends:

St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges: This is a Caldecott winner. Though the vocabulary is way out of my son’s range of understanding, the pictures are magnificent and keep him looking at this book over and over again.

The Making of a Knight: How Sir James Earned His Armor by Patrick O’Brien: This story chronicles the life of a boy who desires to one day be a knight. After serving faithfully as a page and then a squire, his dream becomes a reality. This is a good book for learning the terminology (What is a lance? jousting? a squire? etc.). And the theme that James’s faithfulness in the little things led to his eventual knighting is a good lesson in faithfulness to responsibility.

Tales of King Arthur: Excalibur by Hudson Talbott: This is one of a series of books, and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest, because this is my favorite of the three I’ve reviewed here, and my son loves it too. My 3-year-old son understands that King Arthur didn’t listen to wise counsel and behaved foolishly, which resulted in his precious sword being broken. But Arthur’s repentance brings a special blessing: the Excalibur sword. With this blessing comes a great responsibility to use it wisely.

And my son’s favorite weapon story is the story of David and Goliath. We tell this one over and over again. We have several different story Bibles that we use with our children, and I think that, in each, the “David and Goliath” pages open on their own by now!

What are your favorite “weapon” stories that teach good virtue? How have you handled this situation in your house?

Published in: on October 19, 2008 at 3:25 am  Comments (8)  

Little Mommy

I was never a tomboy. Although I played softball through the Boys and Girls Club, I played outfield and hoped throughout each game that the ball wouldn’t come sailing to me. Thankfully, it rarely did. Even when I played Hot Wheel City or G.I. Joe with my brother, I turned it girly. Dolls and make-believe homemaking were my specialty. In fact, I think I was born to nurture. So, it’s no surprise that my favorite childhood book was Little Mommy by Sharon Kane. I treasure this Little Golden book. Besides a few Seuss books, this is one of the only books I still have from my childhood. I remember studying the pictures and then trying to re-enact with my own dolls the delightful scenes pictured in the book. I could be jaded by sentimentality, but I think the art is precious. I remember one time secretly swiping my infant brother’s washtub, filling it with water, and giving my dolls a bath just like the Little Mommy in the book. (I also remember my mom being not-too-happy about the water mess in my room. :))

My daughter seems to have that gift and desire for nurturing too. A year ago or more I tried to find a copy of Little Mommy to give to her. I discovered that it was a rare Little Golden Book that was highly sought-after and nearly impossible to find. So, you can imagine how delighted I was yesterday when I ran another search for it and discovered that it’s being reprinted and will be available in April! Hip-hip-hooray! (I’m just hoping they haven’t changed anything. The cover is different, although it looks like the same art. So, I’m cautiously optimistic.)

Maybe you won’t like this book as much as I do. But if you’re a 30-something girly-girl, most likely it will take you back to a simpler time and place, and it will make you want to dig all your old dolls out of your parents’ attic and celebrate with a tea party!

Published in: on February 12, 2008 at 7:16 pm  Comments (1)  

Children’s Christmas Books

I have two beautiful children’s Christmas books to recommend to you. If you’re looking for nice art and a wonderful message, check out these:

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

What are your favorite children’s Christmas books?

Published in: on December 17, 2007 at 8:28 pm  Comments (1)  

Princesses

Most young girls I know are infatuated with all things related to princesses. They love dressing up in crowns and royal gowns, and they adore the Disney princess movies as well as the newer line of Barbie movies. (By the way, I’ve never actually seen any of the Barbie movies…) I have to admit that I was a princess-lover, myself, at that age. But I believe there are certain values portrayed in the princess genre that cause me to shy away from exposing my daughter to those particular movies and stories right now. For one, I don’t want my daughter to become infatuated with boy/girl relationships too early. And princess movies and stories tend to portray marriage as love at first sight, giving no idea of what true love is really about. I get really uncomfortable when I see preschoolers playing like they are “in love,” acting out what they have seen in princess movies. Secondly, I think princess movies give the message that becoming rich will make you happy. I’d rather my little girl read a story that teaches that one can be happy even in the worst physical circumstances.

Am I being too picky as I evaluate the princess genre? Perhaps. Am I “straining at gnats?” Maybe. And I’m open to input from those who have different opinions on the subject. Perhaps there are aspects I have not considered. I have to admit that there are some good values in a story such as Cinderella. Cinderella’s good works are rewarded in the end, and the wicked step-relatives get no reward for their evil deeds. (Or is Cinderella rewarded mostly for her good looks and the step-sisters not rewarded because they are ugly? But I digress….)

At any rate, I’m not suggesting that you’re a bad parent or a bad person if you support the princess-producing industry. There are certainly worse things you could be supporting. But I’d like to suggest a few alternative picture books for those of you who are looking for ways to provide stories with good moral lessons for your little girls. The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but they are all books that have recently impressed me with the good moral tone and character lessons that are hidden underneath a well-told story:

1. Melissa Parkington’s Beautiful, Beautiful Hair by Pat Brisson: This is the story of a girl who has beautiful long hair and everyone always compliments her on it. Each night as her dad kisses her goodnight, he says, “Goodnight, my Melissa of the beautiful, beautiful hair.” Eventually, Melissa decides that she’d like to be known for something other than how she looks, so she tries basketball and drawing but realizes she isn’t very good at either. But in the meantime she’s been playing and drawing with the neighbor kids and realizes that one thing she’s good at is being nice to people. When she sees a sign at a hair salon asking people to donate their hair to cancer patients, she knows she wants to do it. So, she gives her beautiful hair away, and when her dad kisses her at night, instead he says, “Goodnight, my Melissa of the beautiful, beautiful heart.” I don’t care for the art in this book, but the story is sweet.

2. The Gardener by Sarah Stewart: Lydia Grace is a little girl living in the Depression era. She leaves her country farm to go live with her uncle who is a store-owner in a city. He’s a grumpy sort of man, and she makes it her goal to get him to smile. She loves flowers, and she begins to plant them everywhere. She brings a lot of sunshine to the store employees and also attracts customers to the store through the beautiful flowers everywhere. She also makes a “secret place” on the roof that is full of beautiful flowers. When it’s finally time to leave, her uncle still hasn’t smiled, but the look on his face leaves you with a sweet impression of the impact Lydia Grace has had on him. The art and story are beautiful, and I think about something new nearly every time I read the book. Also, I can’t get through it without crying.

3. Roses on Baker Street by Eileen Berry (a very dear friend of mine): This is a great story about a missionary kid named Danae who comes back to the states on furlough and feels out of place in her new school. Her dad has always told her to “look for the roses” in life, so she tries to be positive and hopes to make friends. She finally makes a new friend who invites her to her home. When Danae goes inside the home, she realizes that her friend’s mother is a florist and their basement is filled with roses. It’s a sweet story with nice art by John Roberts, who is also a friend of ours.

4. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes: A poor Polish girl is in school with a bunch of girls who make fun of the shabby dress she wears each day. She tells them that she has one hundred beautiful dresses at home. They make fun of her and don’t believe her. One day, the Polish family sends a note to the school explaining that they are moving to the city where they expect to find more acceptance. One of the school girls feels badly about not sticking up for the Polish girl, and she decides to go to their house to try to apologize. When she gets there, she finds that the family is already gone, but she also finds a stack of drawings–one hundred beautiful dresses that the poor girl had drawn. It’s a good story to remind little girls about the pain they can cause another person by making fun of her.

If you have other ideas about stories that teach positive moral lessons to little girls, or if you’d like to discuss the princess genre, feel free to leave a comment!

Published in: on March 13, 2007 at 1:19 pm  Comments (10)