Tag: toddler (page 2 of 5)

Baby Wren and the Great Gift | Sally Lloyd-Jones

A new book by Sally Lloyd-Jones is always something to celebrate, but when the new book is itself a celebration—even better! Baby Wren and the Great Gift follows the story of Baby Wren, who admires the gifts of the other creatures in the canyon around her and wonders what she can do that’s wonderful, too. By the end of the story, she has her answer, and in the process, gives one of the most stirring examples of worship I’ve read.

The repetition in this story is lovely—rhythmic, musical, but not mind-numbing to read aloud—and all three of my older daughters (ages 2-8) loved the book. Jen Corace’s illustrations (you may recognize her work from Little Pea or many other lovely books) are gorgeous, too.

So. Baby Wren and the Great Gift is a beautiful book.

Baby Wren and the Great Gift, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

But it is also an example of how an author, while introducing a truth to children, may bring that same truth out to meet parents—parents who sorely needed this reintroduction—again. As Baby Wren looks admiringly on the gifts given to kingfishers, sunfish and ring-tailed cats (but not to canyon wrens), I found myself thinking of the many ways that adults do this:

Look at how bold you are, talking to strangers about the Gospel.

Look at how clean your home is, how ready you are to welcome people into your life!

Look at how gentle you are with your children, how kindly you answer their questions. 

Baby Wren and the Great Gift, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

And we ask, like Baby Wren, Why can’t I do those things too? This simple story has for its foundation a deeper truth, one that can bear the weight of adults as well as children, and I found myself challenged as I read this one with my children (again and again—did I mention they loved it?) to admire the gifts that God has given those around me—in our church body, in our neighborhood and in our family—and to look again at how to use well the gifts he’s given me.

Baby Wren and the Great Gift, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

That is one of the things I love about Sally Lloyd-Jones’ books: her ability to connect with parents as well as children, without weighing the story down with a moral or aiming jokes at the parents that soar over the children’s heads. If you’ve read her best-known work, The Jesus Storybook Bible, then you’ve seen this ability in action. Baby Wren and the Great Gift is another beautiful example of Lloyd-Jones using the gifts she’s been given to do something beautiful—to fill families with song.

Baby Wren and the Great Gift
Sally Lloyd-Jones, Jen Corace (2016)

What is Easter? | Michelle Medlock Adams

This post originally appeared on this blog on March 22, 2013.

Sometimes, you want the deluxe explanation for a holiday. You want to know its origins, and how the celebrations have changed with time. You want to know how the holiday is celebrated in various corners of the world. Other times, you have a fidgety toddler in your lap, and then you want to cut to the chase.

What is Easter? does exactly that. With engaging illustrations and rhymes, Wummer and Adams take us through the different details typically associated with Easter—chocolate bunnies, Easter chicks and new dresses, to name a few—and then cut to the core of the celebration with a neat turn, reminding readers that, while those things might have their place in a family celebration, they don’t lie at the heart of the holiday. That spot is reserved for Jesus.

What is Easter? | Little Book, Big Story

Some folks might find this book a little too sweet and tidy, but our girls enjoyed it and I was delighted to find something direct enough for my youngest but deep enough for my oldest. (Plus, it’s a board book, which makes for a great “first Easter” gift for babies.)

What is Easter?
Michelle Medlock Adams, Amy Wummer (2006)

Stay Tuned for the First-Ever Little Book, Big Story Giveaway!

Next week, I’ll be hosting my first giveaway here—something I’d only do if I had something really good to offer. And, friends, I do have something really good to offer: a copy of the brand-spankin’ new Slugs and Bugs album, Sing the Bible Vol. 2!

Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible 2 (Giveaway!) | Little Book, Big Story

Check the blog next Thursday for details on why you’ll want it and how to enter.

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty | Barbara Jean Hicks

Phoebe is cultivating a taste for literature. She refines it by marching into a room with a book in the air, calling, “I read! I read!” and waiting to see who interprets that rightly as “You read this to me” and makes space for her on the couch at their side.

With four potential readers-of-books at her disposal, her odds of finding one who isn’t chopping onions or doing schoolwork are good. And so, in the midst of the moments you’d expect in a home with three daughters (dress-up dresses flying, sudden tears over something small), I find moments like this one, where all three girls curl up on the couch together around the newest Elephant & Piggie.

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty, by Barbara Jean Hicks | Little Book, Big Story

The fun of having a toddler discover our library of books for the first time is that she brings back old favorites—books so familiar to the older girls (and to us) that they rarely make their way off the shelves unless Phoebe finds them and, drawn to anything kitty-shaped, marches into a room, waving them in the air. “I read! I read!”

That is how we rediscovered Barbara Jean Hicks’ book, The Secret Life of Walter Kitty.

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty, by Barbara Jean Hicks | Little Book, Big Story

I love everything about this book, from the hilarious storyline (narrated by Walter Kitty, whose delusions of grandeur are recognizable to anyone with a cat) to Dan Santat’s illustrations (which sent me looking for everything else he’d illustrated. Did you know he’s the author and illustrator behind last year’s Caldecott award-winning book?) to the fun of reading this book out loud, silly voices and all.

There’s no theological undercurrent to this one, no connection to Lent, just pure delight. It’s one I’m happy to sit down to again and again when summoned by the call, “I read!”

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty
Barbara Jean Hicks, Dan Santat (2010)

Sadly, The Secret Life of Walter Kitty is no longer in print, but there are some good deals on used copies online. And if you find one in a used bookstore, grab it! You won’t regret it!

Read-Aloud Bible Stories | Ella K. Lindvall

You know what reading to a two-year-old is like: if a book is about cows or kittens or is written by Sandra Boynton, I find I can usually make it through three or four pages before Phoebe tugs it out of my hands, closes it on my fingers, or wanders off to climb on something.

Read-Aloud Bible Stories, by Ella K. Lindvall | Little Book, Big Story

But the volumes of Read-Aloud Bible Stories are not about cows or kittens, and they are not written by Sandra Boyton: they are about Jesus and the Bible. In them, Ella Lindvall tells the stories of Scripture in the most basic yet enchanting way imaginable, and when I read them to Phoebe on the morning of her second birthday, here is what happened: she listened. She cuddled up to me as I read all five stories, and she listened. Lydia and Sarah, too, inched closer to us as I read, and all three were disappointed when we reached the end and had to go eat birthday pancakes for breakfast (theirs is a hard lot).

Read-Aloud Bible Stories: great story bibles for toddlers! | LIttle Book, Big Story

By the end of the book, the stories’ magic had worked on me, too: Lindvall doesn’t grasp for big theological ideas here, but tells the familiar stories of Zaccheus or Blind Bartimeus in a warm and welcoming way. She draws lessons from the stories that appeal to the smallest readers (and to those of us grown-ups still willing to admit that we need reassurance sometimes that God hears us, too).

Read-Aloud Bible Stories, by Ella K. Lindvall | Little Book, Big Story

I haven’t found many Bibles geared toward toddlers that are worth sharing here on the blog—it’s hard to capture the truth and beauty of Scripture in three stanzas of rhymed verse, and you can only appropriately add so many cows and kittens to beloved Bible stories—but Read-Aloud Bible Stories are absolutely worth sharing. We promptly ordered the second volume (Merry Christmas, Phoebe!) and look forward to collecting the rest of the set over the next few years.

Read-Aloud Bible Stories
Ella K. Lindvall (1982)

Good King Wenceslas | John M. Neale

I once sang “O Come O Come Emmanuel” in a high school choir. We all dressed in black and walked down the aisles with battery-operated candles, singing eerie, anticipatory harmonies to our parents and loved ones.

I loved the song (and still do), but I had no idea what I was singing about.

Good King Wenceslas, by John M. Neale | Little Book, Big Story

I think that is often the case with Christmas carols: so many of them retain the beautiful language of centuries passed, filled with words that have dropped out of our vocabulary and doctrine. Though we know the words by heart, it is hard to take them to heart without a dictionary. The carols become so familiar as we sing that we forget to listen to them.

Good King Wenceslas, by John M. Neale | Little Book, Big Story

Good King Wenceslas takes a familiar carol and slows it down: though I like to sing the words as I read this book to my girls, the illustrations draw out the story behind the song and surprised both my husband and me. Oh! we thought. That’s what the song is about!

Good King Wenceslas, by John M. Neale | Little Book, Big Story

It’s a beautiful story about a servant king, and Tim Ladwig’s illustrations bring rich and lively details to a song whose story sweeps over the heads of many children (the line “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen” always perplexed me when I was small). I found this one at a used bookstore mere days after reading about it on Aslan’s Library and knew I had found a book worth returning to Advent after Advent.

Good King Wenceslas
John M. Neale, Tim Ladwig (2005)

DIY Board Book Magnets

People talk about board books like they’re indestructible, but my girls have taken down quite a few sturdy, “toddler-proof” books in the their day. They’ve torn covers from books and peeled images from cardboard; they’ve digested chunks of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (ironic, I know). More than a few of the fallen have been favorites of theirs (and ours), and their faithful service inspired me to look for ways to honor any surviving pages. Thus, our battered collection of DIY board book magnets was born!

DIY Board Book Magnets | Little Book, Big Story

This project is so simple that it doesn’t need a tutorial, really. The abridged version goes like this: slap something magnetic on the back of your book’s pages. Stick them on the fridge. The end.

But I like things laid out in lists, so for those of you who, like me, enjoy a good step-by-step tutorial, here it is:


DIY Board Book Magnets | Little Book, Big Story


Clean up pages as best you can.

If your pages have any ragged edges or if it will just make you feel better about life in general, wrap pages tightly in packing tape. You can skip this step (I did for the batch photographed and they’ve withstood two out of three daughters so far), but it does make a nice drool-barrier if you’re willing to spend an extra minute or so on it.

Trim magnetic sheets to desired size and adhere them to the back of the pages.

DIY Board Book Magnets | Little Book, Big Story

That’s it! The final step is purely optional, but we’ll be doing it this year: tuck a few into your toddler’s Christmas stocking and enjoy a few quiet moments while they put them on the fridge and take them off again and put them on again and take them off—again.

And guess what? This girl—the one whose rough handling of her beloved Kittens book inspired this post—turns two this weekend!

Little Book, Big Story

I can’t believe it either.

47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea | Phil Vischer

Phoebe pulled this book off the shelf the other day and slammed it down in my lap. Then she climbed up on the couch beside me, folded her hands, and waited. That girl knows how to get things done.

47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea, by Phil Vischer | Little Book, Big Story

And so we read 47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea. I had almost forgotten about this book, purchased when our seven year old was Phoebe’s size and read many, many times since then. Reading it to Phoebe reminded me of why I love Phil Vischer: though it doesn’t have the theological depth of Sidney and Norman or What’s in the Bible?, this book is hilarious, fun to read, and held together by a message that my daughters need to hear every so often: things work better when we work together.

47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea, by Phil Vischer | Little Book, Big Story

Jared Chapman’s illustrations make the whole thing feel like an old cartoon—Rocky & Bullwinkle, perhaps?—and add to the slapstick feel of the book’s comedy. And rediscovering this story reminds me that it’s good for a home library to have a wide range of books: sometimes, you need a long, thought-provoking story. And sometimes you need to read about forty-seven beavers at sea—with a shark.

47 Beavers on the Big, Blue Sea
Phil Vischer, Jared Chapman (2012)