Tag: prayer

What Every Child Should Know About Prayer | Nancy Guthrie

Dear readers: we are home!! And I don’t know what to tell you about first.

Josie, jumping joyously in her own bed for ten minutes straight, yelling, “Jump my bed! Jump my bed!” with the exuberance of a toddler liberated from the pack-n-play for good?

Phoebe’s sudden urge to dress as though she wants to wear all of her clothes—unpacked at last after two months—at once?

The stab of happiness I get every time I walk into the kitchen and see not a wall but a real dining room so big and pretty it makes our table—even with both leaves installed—look small?

Before . . .

After!

I could tell you about the two-month adventure that went from intense to really intense when we learned that our church of thirteen years was dissolving. I could tell you about sharing a twin bed with Mitch for two weeks, or about learning to cook in six different kitchens, or about how ridiculously well the construction itself went, or about how thankful we are for everyone who hosted, fed, prayed for and/or helped us in the past two months.

But for now, I will tell you about a book.

What Every Child Should Know About Prayer, by Nancy Guthrie | Little Book, Big Story

We brought a lot of books with us on the road, mostly because we like options and we don’t like leaving books behind, but there are a few that we read daily and that lent structure to our otherwise structure-less lives. What Every Child Should Know About Prayer is one of those.

What Every Child Should Know About Prayer, by Nancy Guthrie | Little Book, Big Story

Even though half of my girls are well outside the recommended age range for this book, we started reading through What Every Child Should Know About Prayer together because this is the sort of subject I fumble through, either over-explaining or overlooking the fact that it needs explanation. And so I’m glad for Nancy Guthrie’s help here. I’m glad for her direct explanations and for the conversations they generate at our table.

Guthrie’s short readings each explore some aspect of who God is, what prayer is, why it’s important, and how it’s done. Each one closes with a prayer prompt or question that got us thinking outside the box, and they have generated some great discussions with kids little and big. (Also worth noting: this book is part of series that also includes Everything a Child Should Know About God, which we love, and Everyone a Child Should Know, which I suspect we’ll love once we read it.)

What Every Child Should Know About Prayer, by Nancy Guthrie | Little Book, Big Story

But for now, friends, it is good to be home. We still have a crazy amount of work to do—there are rough drywall edges everywhere and we’re living on the subfloor—but still. We are reveling right now in the amount of work already done.


What Every Child Should Know About Prayer
Nancy Guthrie; Jenny Brake (2018)

The Lord’s Prayer | Tim Ladwig

There comes a time in every book reviewer’s life (I assume) when the book titles trickle in slowly. Sometimes, they arrive in a rush of books so beautiful that I’m left with a full and happy editorial calendar—those are the good days. But sometimes, I’m left trawling through that vague “Religion” section at the library or clicking thumbnails on Amazon almost at random, hoping there’s a new book out by a favorite author or something worth sharing with you.

I’m in that place now: there are a number of new books coming out this spring (by Jennifer Trafton! And Douglas Kaine McKelvey!), but they’re not here yet. And I have a number of books on hold at the library, but I’m not holding them yet. And so I went book-hunting on Amazon and—success!—found The Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord's Prayer, by Tim Ladwig | Little Book, Big Story

I have reviewed a number of Tim Ladwig’s books, and I know by now that his illustrations don’t sit quietly in the background, behaving nicely while the text tells the story. No, they spring from the mind of a storyteller: as the text tells its story in print, Ladwig tells his in pictures, harmonizing with the written word and illuminating the humor, heartbreak, or joy in each sentence.

The Lord's Prayer, by Tim Ladwig | Little Book, Big Story

The Lord’s Prayer is no exception: many of us have heard it recited plenty (our church says it aloud together every Sunday), and so I imagine it’s challenging to find a way to illustrate such familiar words. But by centering his illustrations around a father and daughter who set out to serve an old woman, Ladwig shows how each line of the prayer can be lived out in practice. A whole story unfolds behind Jesus’s words, and it draws them out of the realm of rote repetition and holds them close enough for us to see what it looks like to ask God for “our daily bread,” or to “deliver us from evil.”

The Lord's Prayer, by Tim Ladwig | Little Book, Big Story

This book quickly became a favorite among our girls. We had fun finding details in the illustrations and talking them through together (“What is she doing? Why do you think he did that?”). But Ladwig’s strength, really, lies in his characters’ faces—he gets those expressions just right, and that brings his paintings to life. A gentle look passed between father and daughter, or the grateful smile of an old woman convey as much or maybe more than plain text could.


The Lord’s Prayer
Tim Ladwig (2002)

Prayer for a Child | Rachel Field

Sometimes, you go out looking for books. You pillage the shelves of the used bookstore or library, book list in hand, or you find in the free boxes outside either place books you didn’t know you were looking for, books whose covers call to you or whose titles ring some bell in your memory and so you bring them home for closer scrutiny.

Sometimes you find books at library book sales, where the room is too small and the patrons surprisingly aggressive (these are books and they are dirt cheap and people really, really want them), but you have found so many diamonds in the rough this way that you stand outside the library at 9:58 on the first day of each sale with two dozen or so other dedicated hopefuls. When the doors open, you try to be civilized.

Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field | Little Book, Big Story

Sometimes, you go out looking for books. And sometimes, books find you. You receive them as a gift, or they show up in a box of odds and ends from your mother-in-law who is cleaning out shelves and closets and found a few things she thought you might like. If you had not just heard the book read on Read-Aloud Revival, you might have overlooked it, but you did just hear it read and so you recognize it for the treasure it is when you open the box.

That is the origin story of our copy of Prayer for a Child. This is a short book, perfect for a small child, and it walks through a simple prayer line by line, illustration by illustration, touching on the different parts of a child’s life that are worth thanking the Lord for but that are so easily overlooked: parents, shoes, a favorite chair. The author’s emphasis on gratitude and the lilting cadence of the prayer make this a lovely read aloud.

Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field | Little Book, Big Story

I will be honest, though: Elizabeth Orton Jones’s illustrations didn’t appeal to me at first (even though she won a Caldecott medal for them). It wasn’t until I looked closely at the illustrations and realized that they encapsulate an aspect of childhood in the 1940s that I came to appreciate the historical depth that they add to the book. The dated look of them underscores the fact that this prayer is timeless, as applicable for children of our era as it was for the children of World War II.

Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field | Little Book, Big Story

And that is a beautiful truth: when it comes to gratitude, our kids need to hear it from children of other times and places, where things weren’t (or aren’t) as plentiful as they are here and now. They need us to show them what it looks like, to lead them along gently into those moments of reverence, when we see a good thing and tilt our chins upward in delight over the God who made such a thing—a bumblebee fumbling with a long-legged poppy, or the sun through a little sister’s golden hair.

Our children need prayers like this one—we need them—to help us notice and name the good gifts our Father has set out before us.

Amen.


Prayer for a Child
Rachel Field, Elizabeth Orton Jones (1944)