Category: Ages 3–5 (page 3 of 35)

The Boy From the House of Bread

Certain books make Jesus feel more real, more visible. They persuade our hearts of what our minds already know: Jesus was a real man, who lived in a particular time and place, and who encountered many more people than we hear about in the Gospels. These books remind us that he is bigger than we may think, but also smaller, humbler, and more approachable. The Boy From the House of Bread is one of these books.

But that’s only one of the many reasons to love The Boy From the House of Bread. This book rhymes, not in a sticky-sweet cute way, but in a musical, complex way that makes it a joy to read aloud. In it, Andrew Wilson draws out the theme of bread and deftly uses it to introduce young readers to Jesus. And best of all, this book approaches the story of the Gospels with wonder, showing Jesus as someone you could imagine saying “Let the children come to me” and meaning it.

The Boy From the House of Bread, by Andrew Wilson | Little Book, Big Story

This book brings readers up close to Jesus: we see him from the height of the narrator, a young boy who is watching the story unfold and doesn’t yet know all the ins and outs we see in the Gospels. At certain points, the boy and his father do cross into the story we know, playing roles that connect them to Jesus in new, deep ways. This is beautiful: by telling the story from a child’s perspective, Wilson invites kids into the story of Jesus, showing his warmth and his kindness in an appealing way and reminding us all that we, too, will one day see him face to face—grown-ups and children alike.

The Boy From the House of Bread
Andrew Wilson; Arief Putra (2022)

Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review it 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.

Read It, See It, Say It, Sing It

“Why?” is a question I hear a lot these days. Sometimes, yes, my girls use it as a stalling tactic. But often my daughters genuinely want to know: why did the caterpillar, lovingly housed in an old sour-cream container and doted on oh-so-much, have to die? Why is the sermon so long? Why did that best friend have to move? Why are there swimming lessons?

I answer a lot of these questions on the fly, with my fingers crossed. In my best moments and for the biggest questions, I send out a desperate plea for wisdom (Why, God, are we having this conversation right now? Oh help!). Or I reach for a book, of which we have many, and for precisely this reason. As a classic overexplainer, I am so grateful for picture books like Read It, See It, Say It, Sing It, that answer some of these big questions simply and cleanly (and, in this case, rhymingly).

Read it, See it, Say it, Sing it, by Hunter Beless | Little Book, Big Story

Read It, See It, Say It, Sing It looks at the question “Why do we read the Bible?” and helps readers understand that the Bible is not just any book: it is one we take to heart and are transformed by. Hunter Beless’s sweet text invites readers to love God’s word and worship him as we hear it read, read it for ourselves, memorize or discuss it with others, and sing his word with others. Better still, Beless weaves passages of Scripture as well as short references into the book, so we’re encouraged to look to God’s word even as we close her book.

I may not have the answers to all the “Why” questions I’m asked, but I’m grateful for such a solid (and sweetly illustrated) answer to this one.

Read It, See It, Say It, Sing It: Knowing and Loving the Bible
Hunter Beless; Hsulynn Pang (2022)

Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review it 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.

3 Books About the Church

I haven’t always gone to church. It wasn’t until middle school that I started going at all and not until late high school that I started attending regularly and with gusto. So I can only sympathize in a sort of theoretical way with my daughters as they slide down their seats and stage whisper, “Is the sermon almost doooone?” Their experience with the church is already different from mine, and I know there will be both joy and challenge that comes with that. So I love a good picture book that zooms us out from our weekly routine and reminds us that we’re a part of something bigger on Sunday mornings—something living and wild, complex and beautiful.

This is the Church, by Sarah Raymond Cunningham

This is the Church, by Sarah Raymond Cunningham | Little Book, Big Story

Church isn’t about the building—it’s the people. That’s the idea behind this book, which takes the childhood rhyme “This is the church, this is the steeple, open it up and see all the people” and deepens it, reminding us sweetly that the church isn’t just full of people—it is the people. God’s family.

The Celebration Place, by Dorena Williamson

This book also focuses on the people of God (rather than on the place where they meet) and celebrates the many different people that gather under the church roof. The Celebration Place portrays a multi-cultural church that points toward the day that all tribes and nations will worship the Lord together.

God Made Me for Worship, by Jared Kennedy

God Made Me for Worship, by Jared Kennedy | Little Book, Big Story

While the first two focus on the people of the church, God Made Me to Worship explores the rhythms of it. In that way, I suppose, this one isn’t just about the church but about worship: why is the church service structured the way it is? What do the different parts of the service mean? Because of that, this one won’t be directly applicable to all readers, as many church services flow differently from the one portrayed here. But still, it serves as an interesting introduction to the different way church can look.

His Grace is Enough

If there is one message I want my daughters to take with them when they’re grown, it’s not “Pay your rent on time” or “If some guy tries something fresh, remember ‘Gift of Destruction’ from your karate class and take him out'” (though I hope they remember those, too). But really, the number one thing I want them to remember is that they can always come home. Not just home to us, their parents, but to God: his grace is abundant and free and he will always welcome them back—whatever drew them away, whatever they got wrong while they were in the wilderness. I want them to know that they don’t need to hide their sin or work hard to make up for it, but that they can come to God trusting that he will smile as he looks upon them and that he will cover them with his grace and forgiveness.

That’s it. That’s the one thing I hope all our parenting distills down to.

And so I’m grateful for Melissa Kruger’s book, His Grace is Enough, which distills that truth down further for the youngest readers and lays a gospel foundation for children. The refrain that runs throughout this book reads:

His grace is enough
It’s so big and so free . . .
There’s no need to hide,
And no need to run
Now you can serve him with
Gladness and fun

Now, when I said Kruger has distilled the message of the gospel down for the littlest readers, I didn’t mean only for the littlest readers. I read this book to my daughters over lunch and we all said, in effect, “Aw, that’s sweet,” before moving on with our day. But a few hours later, one daughter was distraught over something she got wrong (intentionally or unintentionally? It wasn’t clear). And this refrain bubbled to the surface: His grace is enough, so big and so free. Those words helped anchor my own thoughts as I gathered her in my arms and said, “Hey, what do we do now? Do you have to work hard so we’ll love you again?”

She nodded. Uh oh.

“Oh, sweetie,” I said. “But you don’t—we love you always, no matter what, even before you say you’re sorry. And God does, too! You don’t have to hide from him or from us—we’ll keep loving you forever, whatever happens, and so will he. Okay?”

Apologies and snuggles ensued.

His Grace is Enough, by Melissa Kruger | Little Book, Big Story

Clearly, my daughter needed to hear this again. But so did I: reading the gospel written so plainly helped me see that maybe I need to simplify it a bit when I share it with my kids—maybe talk less about substitutionary atonement and more about grace. So, there you have it: a parenting lesson in a picture book! (A brilliantly written, beautifully illustrated picture book.)

His Grace is Enough: How God Makes it Right When We’ve Got it Wrong
Melissa Kruger; Isobel Lundie (2022)

Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review it 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.

May God Bless You & Keep You

For over two years, the only library books we brought home were ones we’d put on hold. We were ridiculous about this, of course, and still managed to bring dozens of books home, one heavy red plastic bin at a time. But still: I missed browsing. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until the first day I took my daughters to the library and wandered up and down the aisles, finding titles I’d never heard of and hadn’t known to look for.

We found books we love but had forgotten about (The World of Little House, for example, or Stephen Biesty’s cross-sections), as well as books that were completely, deliciously new to us (like Phil Bidner’s Martina & Chrissie). Of course, we also encountered the twaddle—lots and lots of it. So much more of it than I remembered. But in between the books we could do without we found plenty of little gems, like Sarah Raymond Cunningham’s sweet picture book, May God Bless You and Keep You.

May God Bless You and Keep You, by Sarah Raymond Cunningham | Little Book, Big Story

This book reads like a series of benedictions spoken over the life of a child. Cunningham gives parents the words to bless children through the many joys and trials our children might face, from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep, and all of these words point readers back to the Lord. Like a refrain throughout the book, Cunningham writes:

May God bless you.
May God keep you.
May God’s face shine on you today.
May God give you grace
and keep you safe.
May God be with you always.

May God Bless You and Keep You, by Sarah Raymond Cunningham | Little Book, Big Story

For so many children who have wondered, over the past two years, where God has been or why he hasn’t answered their prayers the way they’ve wanted, this short picture book is a balm—a reminder that God is with us always, that his face shines upon us. I’m looking forward to many more trips to the library this summer, but I’m glad our first one began with this book. What a sweet start to a new season.

May God Bless You and Keep You
Sarah Raymond Cunningham; Lorian Tu (2018)