Monday, January 31, 2011

How God Stopped The Pirates And Other Devotional Stories by Joel R. Beeke and Diana Kleyn

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

This collection of short devotional stories are a great resource for anyone involved in Children's Ministry. The stories in this book revolve around the themes of missionary stories and remarkable conversions. Whether they would accompany a Bible lesson during a Sunday School time or be used to teach children about missions this book would be an invaluable resource.

Postives: At the beginning of the book there is a guide on how to use the book and there is also a list of shorter and longer length stories given. This makes it easy to find a story to fit the time frame you need to fill. At the end of each story is a thought provoking question and a Scripture to read. Also, at the end of the book there is a a section called Prayer Points. For each story there are several thoughts on what to pray. There is also a complete Scripture index to supplement your story.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: Use the questions at the end of the story along with the Scripture references given to talk with your child about each particular story. Also, be sure to use the prayer points and emphasize the importance of prayer in mission/evanglism work.

Age Level: 4 years old and up - great for family devotional times and Children's Ministry

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Little Pilgrim's Progress adapted by Helen L. Taylor

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

I must confess I have never read John Bunyan's classic Pilgrim's Progress in its entirety. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation of the book and would highly recommend it for family reading.

The book is divided into 2 sections, first the story of Christian and his journey to the Celestial City and then we read the story of Christiana's journey. Christian and Christiana both begin their journey in the City of Destruction and find their way to the Celestial City with the help of many other pilgrims along the way.

Positives: A wonderful adaptation for families to enjoy and a great presentation of the gospel. I really appreciated the focus on counting the cost to follow the King. It was very clear throughout the story that this journey the pilgrims were on was difficult. I also loved the focus on grace and mercy - no matter how many times young Christian strayed from the narrow path, he was mercifully forgiven and brought back to continue his journey.

Negatives: While the story is adapted for children, I think it would still be most beneficial to read as a family. Many of the characters names would be difficult for children to grasp - Formalist, Pliable, Obstinate, Despair, Faithful, Hopeful. It is important for children to know and understand these words to grasp the meaning of the story.

Talking Points: Have your Bible handy when reading this story! There are numerous references to Scripture and Biblical principles. Take the time to show your kids the truths that come from the Scripture. Reinforce to them that God's Word is powerful and true, not a fictional story. Be prepared to share the gospel with them over and over as you read this book.

Age Level: 12 and up, but I would highly recommend it for family reading with younger children

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Elephant Run by Roland Smith

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

This action-packed historical fiction is one your kids will not be able to put down. Set in the  Burmese jungle during World War II we live the story of a young boy, Nick who was sent to live with his father in Burma to escape the war in England. Little did his family know that he  would encounter greater danger there. When his family's plantation is overtaken by the Japanese and his father is taken as a POW, Nick must figure out a way for himself and Mya, a young Burmese girl whom he befriends, to escape. Will he succeed?

Positives: I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to life in the Burmese jungle. I enjoyed learning about timber elephants and the life of their mahouts(trainers). I also enjoyed reading about an often untold side of World War II and it's far reaching implications. The storyline kept my interest throughout.

Negatives:  None

Talking Points: Being set in Burma, there are a lot of Buddhist thoughts, ideas and practices used throughout the story. At one point Nick and Mya disguise themselves as Buddhist monks who are being trained. Be prepared to talk with your child about the false teaching of the Buddhists and show them that there is only one way to eternal life, through Jesus Christ. (John 14:6, Acts 4:12).

Age Level: 10 and up

Friday, January 21, 2011

God Gave Us The World by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Recommendation: Recommended

A curious young polar bear and her Mama take a trip to the museum where she learns about different types of bears, the great big wide world, and the incredible creativity of the God who made them all.

Positives: I enjoyed the storyline and the many questions that were asked by the little bear and answered by her mother. I loved that the answers always brought us back to the nature of God. My favorite part of the book was when talking about God as creator Mama Bear said "God created our world...because it's in his nature to create. Understanding that is part of why he put us here...to serve and worship him, our amazing God..."

Negatives: None

Talking Points: This story provides great opportunity to discuss God's creation and what a big, creative God we have. Build upon the ideas in the story of how God made different types of bears and read in Genesis 1 about how each animal, bird and tree is unique and produces its own kind. I would also talk about how creation reflects God's character to us. Roman 1:18 tells us that God's invisible attributes are clearly seen in creation. Talk about what different aspects of creation tell us about God's character and attributes.

Age Level: 3-7

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Answers Book for Kids - 22 Questions from Kids on Creation and the Fall by Ken Ham and Cindy Malott

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

A wonderful resource from the well-respected Answers in Genesis ministry, your family will enjoy this book. Questions like, "Why was the first person that God created a boy?" and "What is evolution?" are answered using Scripture and a short paragraph. Your child will not be overwhelmed with the answers, but it may lead to more questions!

Positives: The pictures and layout of the book are great for kids. Each answer includes several Scripture references to look up.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: Have your Bible ready and look up the Scriptures given with each answer. It is important for your child to see and understand that these answers truly come from the Word of God. Ask your child if they understand the answer or have additional follow-up questions. If you don't know the answer that's OK! It gives you a chance to tell them you'll have to search the Scripture yourself to answer that question - then be sure to follow through!

Age Level: 3-12 year olds

Monday, January 3, 2011

How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Who doesn't love this classic Christmas tale with a moral message? I wanted to review this book a few weeks ago, during the actual Christmas season, but had been unable to find a copy of it! Thanks to a great after-Christmas sale, I picked up a copy for our family and my 5-year daughter has requested to have it read to her no less than 20 times.

Most of us are familiar with the story line of  how the miserly, grouchy, Grinch attempts to take Christmas away from "the Who's down in Whoville (who like Christmas a lot)." In the end he is unsuccesful and  begins to see that Christmas "doesn't come from a store."

Positives: Very few authors can write for children like Dr. Suess. Kids and adults love his rhymes and the word pictures he paints. This is truly a classic piece of children's literature.

Negatives: The true meaning of Christmas is never given. Children are left to believe that Christmas is simply about being kind, generous and maybe a little less selfish.

Talking Points: There are several biblical elements in this story though it ultimately falls short of delivering a true gospel message.  However, it brings out great discussion topics for families. The Grinch is painted as a horrible, mean and selfish creature - not unlike ourselves.  Look at Romans 3:10,23 to see that we are all sinners. In God's sight we are sinners even more disgusting than the Grinch, so horrible that God cannot even stand to look at us. Talk to your children about their wicked, sinful hearts and explain that apart from Christ giving us His perfect righteousness, we would be forever separated from God (II Cor. 5:17-21). I would also be sure my children understood the reason why we celebrate Christmas - the birth of Christ. The story of course does not mention this. Read the biblical accounts in Matt. 1-2 and Luke 1-2. The story also talks about the Grinch's heart being too small. What a wonderful opportunity to address the need to examine our own spiritual hearts! The Grinch's problem - and ours - is that we possess a sinful heart. At the end of the story we hear that the Grinch's heart grows 3 sizes. Explain to your children that heart change only happens through the work of the Holy Spirit convicting us of our sin and showing us Christ and His work on the cross. Read Eph. 1 and Col. 1.

Age Level: 0-8