Tag: old testament (page 1 of 1)

Seek & Find: Old Testament Stories

We’ve read many, many picture books in our twelve years as parents. But the books our readers and pre-readers alike tend to pore over and explore most on their own are the ones with detailed illustrations filled with lots of things to find—I Spy; Where’s Waldo; the Usborne Things to Spot books. These books combine play with very short stories (sometimes shown only through the illustrations) and allow kids to see books as something to be explored as well as read.

Seek and Find: Old Testament Bible Stories | Little Book, Big Story

Sarah Parker’s Seek and Find: Old Testament Bible Stories combines this style of book with eight Old Testament stories, written for the youngest readers. Each double spread drops readers into a single scene in the story and gives them a key full of things to find in André Parker’s delightful illustrations: ten white dandelions, five heavy hammers, two wooden wheelbarrows, and so on. The front of the book introduces additional things to find in each story, including a little wren who appears in every single one.

Seek and Find: Old Testament Bible Stories | Little Book, Big Story

If you’re looking for in depth re-tellings of each Old Testament story, this probably isn’t the book for you. But if you are looking for an interactive way to introduce a child to some of the Old Testament’s Greatest Hits—especially if you’re looking for a great way to discuss some of those stories with a young child—look no further! Seek and Find gives little ones plenty to explore and search for while they listen to some of the greatest adventures in the Old Testament.

Seek and Find: Old Testament Bible Stories
Sarah Parker; Andre Parker (2020)

Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review this book or compensated for my review in any way. I share this book with you because I love it, not because I was paid to do so.

Long Story Short

Our family started reading this book when our oldest two daughters were small. We loved everything about it: the short Bible studies, the chronological walk through Scripture, the way each story points to Jesus.

What we didn’t love was trying to discuss these stories with a four year old while trying to intercept the two-year-old’s plate before it hit the floor. After a few months of failing to convince reality to conform to our vision of happy dinnertime devotions, we shelved Long Story Short and went back to reading The Jesus Storybook Bible at bedtime, when everyone was pajamaed and cuddled up with a quieting cup of milk.

Long Story Short, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

But this year, I came across Long Story Short while gathering books for our home school year and decided to give it another try. We still have a two year old (just a different one), but we also have an eight year old and a six year old, so I tucked this book into our reading basket in the hope that maybe, just maybe, we might be ready for it.

The first few weeks of the school year were studded with tantrums and protests about reading the Bible, yes, but also about wearing shoes, eating snacks and everything else under the sun (I don’t know what the first few weeks of school are like at your house, but at our house, they are rough).

Long Story Short, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

Eventually we settled into a routine. And Long Story Short has been a beautiful part of that routine: the way our older girls see the world has already made from some rich and rewarding discussion, and because we read on the living room floor now, where puzzles and blocks occupy the toddler, it’s actually gone pretty smoothly so far.

Long Story Short is meant to be read five days a week, for about ten minutes a day. Each week has a focus passage, but on any given day, Machowski may send us off into other corners of Scripture to read passages that point the week’s story back to Jesus.

Long Story Short, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

The book takes us through Scripture chronologically, but it also treats the Bible as a whole, with themes that spread across books and bring Jesus back to the forefront of the story again and again. Reading Scripture this way makes it hard to believe that God’s Word exists to comfort or serve us; it reminds us rather that the Bible exists to help us know the One who is our comfort and strength.

When the toddler melts down and another child goes limp at the mere thought of doing schoolwork and the teapot is empty, I’m so glad that Scripture isn’t full of beautiful but empty verses that remind me to buck up and do better. I’m thankful, rather, that they tell me that I am not enough—but that the one who is enough has adopted us as his children. That is news worth sharing with my daughters.

Long Story Short
Marty Machowski (2010)

The Sword of Abram

For years I have followed a Bible reading plan that lures me into the nooks and crannies of Scripture. Without it, I’d be tempted to stick to the well-lit spaces: Ephesians, Luke, the Gospels. With it, I find myself greeting the day with a reading from Numbers, or forced to reckon with the strangeness of Daniel. I want the easily understood—Judges refuses to be that. But my reading plan takes me through Judges anyway. And through these lesser known, unsafe stories, I learn to love new facets of the Lord: I see his steadfastness in a new light, or come to understand a little more the way he works in lives of his people.

The Sword of Abram, by ND Wilson | Little Book, Big Story

The best story Bibles dive into some of these nooks and crannies. But I haven’t seen many picture books that move beyond the top five Bible stories: Genesis, Noah, Daniel in the lion’s den, the Christmas and Easter stories.

N. D. Wilson (author of 100 Cupboards) plunges off the well-trodden path of children’s Bible stories and writes about Abram, not yet Abraham. This isn’t the story of Abraham’s journey to fatherhood, but of Abram’s journey to faith. It’s a small book filled with battle and striving, and through it Wilson brings to life passages of Scripture often overlooked by adults and unfamiliar to children. Forest Dickison’s illustrations convey a sense of movements, and his paintings pair with Wilson’s language to craft a story of how the Lord works in a human heart.

The Sword of Abram, by ND Wilson | Little Book, Big Story

The Sword of Abram is a part of N. D. Wilson’s series, The Old Stories. I have yet to read the other two books in the series, but have high hopes for them, given the favorable review of In the Time of Noah on Aslan’s Library. Have you read any of the other books? What did you think?

The Sword of Abram
N.D. Wilson, Forest Dickison (2014)

The Creation Story

I never tire of hearing the creation story. How exuberant life must have been then, as the world burst into being, perfect and new—a place where moments might be savored without the bitter knowledge that they would not last, and work was done with delight. That world slips away from us after the third chapter of the Bible, but those first three chapters hint at what might have been.

The Creation Story | Little Book, Big Story

Picture books are a lovely medium for capturing that exuberance and joy. I have come across many that capture it well—in fact, I have drafted posts of two others for you, but each one has been replaced by a version I liked better than the last, until I finally came across Norman Messenger’s The Creation Story and realized that it just couldn’t get much better than this. Norman Messenger captures the the newborn world in illustrations that manage to look as thought they’ve burst onto the page, despite the fact that they must have taken a long time and a lot of patience to complete (colored pencil is not a medium for the impatient).

The illustrations alone make this a book that the littlest readers can enjoy—it is fun to examine the detailed drawings of plants and animals and admire the depth and creativity of God’s work with them, as Messenger skillfully piles the images on top of one another, creating a picture that ought to feel crowded but instead feels exciting and new every time we read the book.

The Creation Story | Little Book, Big Story

Messenger tells the story itself through passages pulled from the New Living Translation which, though not usually my translation of choice, works well here because the story moves along swiftly without the hindrance of the dated (though lovely) language of the King James used in many of the other versions I’ve read, gaining momentum before dropping smoothly into that seventh day of rest. How refreshing it is to end on that day of rest and to forget for a moment what came after it!

The Creation Story | Little Book, Big Story

The Creation Story
Norman Messenger (2009)

To Everything There is a Season

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Those words and the verses that follow them hold the whole of our earthly lives in brackets. They have a rhythm, a beat, a pulse like the one that thumps through our days:

. . . a time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; . . .

These verses do not mention God at all, but omit the soaring melody of life’s song and focus instead on that persistent, beating drum:

. . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
. . .

How can eight verses summarize, so fully, an entire life? The language reads so simply that I can see why it would appeal to illustrator Jude Daly, whose paintings depict that simplicity in a gentle, detailed style. She does not touch the global significance of the words (these things happen to each one of us, after all), but instead focuses on a single, South African family, showing the seasons of the earth through the changing seasons of the family’s life together.

To Everything There is a Season | Little Book, Big Story

Her illustrations do justice to the verses, even the heart-breaking ones:

. . . a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

To Everything There is a Season is the sort of book that is enjoyable for its own sake, but that could also serve as comfort for families that find themselves in one of the darker times: the time to lose, to break down, to cast away, perhaps. It’s one that we borrow from the library every so often, both to remind ourselves that our lives here have a rhythm, a tune guided by a perfect conductor, and because it is, to put it simply, a beautiful book.

To Everything There is a Season
Jude Daly (2006)

Speaking of seasons, Phoebe turned six months old today. That shouldn’t surprise us, but somehow, in the tradition of parents everywhere, we find ourselves caught off guard by the fact that time does that thing it always does and marches on, making our children older every day. With one kindergarten graduate under our roof now and one baby who was just born a week or so ago turning six months old, I find myself ruminating on the rate at which time passes these days (and, on a possibly related note, eating a lot of chocolate).

I think Lydia has been just as excited about Phoebe’s un-birthday as she has been about finishing kindergarten. Whenever I mentioned her last day of school, she sort of acknowledged that I’d said something about school and then added, “And then the next day? Do you know what the next day is? Phoebe’s six-month birthday!

I can’t blame her, though. It is exciting.

And lastly (but not leastly), to Mitch: Happy Father’s Day! May your mustache be ever lustrous, your daughters ever reasonable and your garden ever weed-free and bountiful. From smallest to largest (that’s me), we love you.