Sunday, May 17, 2015

What is God Like? Two Books that Explore this Central Question for Young Children

 Picture Book: God is Like a Mother Hen and Much, Much More

Author: Carolyn Stahl Bohler

Illustrator: Dean Nicklas with help from daughter Amy

Summary: In simple metaphors and illustrations, God’s nature is explored in ways that are meaningful to young children. God is like a mother hen, daddy, teacher, friend, mommy, the air, a child, you, and love. The last illustrated page offers a blank frame with an invitation, “Can you think of what else God is like?”

Hanna’s Comments: At the back of the book you’ll find a note to parents and teachers explaining how metaphors are important for use when exploring God’s nature. Interestingly, they also suggest you explore with the children ways that God is not like the metaphor. This would offer more distinctive meaning and confirm that God is unique, mysterious, and much more. Lastly, all of the symbols used in the book are listed with 1 or 2 scripture references.  

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 1996

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present 

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: God Book, Pre 2K 

Scripture Connections: See the list in the back of the book for many scripture connections.

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book with young children at bedtime or in a group lesson for imaginatively exploring the nature of God. 

Picture Book: God is Like…: Three Parables for Children

Author: Julie Walters

Illustrator: Thea Kliros 

Summary: In the first of three parables, a rock at the edge of the sea is shown and described. Repeatedly it is emphasized that “the rock stayed the same” despite the waves, weather, and a boy’s attempts to move it. As the boy ages, he notices that the rock does not change. He wonders, “Could God be like a rock?” The appropriateness of this simile is revealed and a scripture reference is given. The second simile begins as a spark of light that grows into a campfire and illuminates a young girl’s play and imagination. She guides other children to the light, and when the sun comes up the next morning, she wonders if God could be like the light. Jesus is offered as the light of the world with a scripture reference. Similarly, the third simile, a breath of wind, is illustrated in the playful activities of another young boy.

Hanna’s Comments: Note the length of this book. I suggest presenting it over 3 sessions. Each of them offers much in terms of conversation and supplemental activities. Don’t be afraid that your children are not able to think abstractly. One of the beauties of metaphorical thinking is that it allows humans to translate abstract thought into concrete, meaningful terms. Focus on the concrete and consider additional metaphors for God that might inspire other stories, questions, and lessons. The other picture book I’ve offered in this post will give you some possibilities, and I encourage you to think of some on your own that would be particularly meaningful for your children.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Water Brook Press, 1973

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 96 

Available in Spanish? Not at present 

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: God Book, Classic

Scripture Connections: Each of the similes is tied to a scripture reference.

Idea(s) for Application: This book could easily be translated into 3 simple skits for 3 different children to silently dramatize while the text is read in a lesson or even in a worship experience for your entire family of faith.