Children’s Resources

Over and over again, I am asked about Christian resources for children that do not re-inscribe old damaging theologies. The questions often come from progressives who are searching for gifts for their grandchildren. Having experienced the challenge myself, I fully understand their frustration. So, over the course of the next few weeks I’ll try to post a few good books that are currently on the market. Check back often for new suggestions! If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!

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Children Praying a New Story by Michael Morwood

Children PrayingMichael Morwood is an “Adult Faith Educator” whose various books help adults to “re-imagine and re-evaluate their faith in light of the contemporary ‘story’ about our universe.” In Children Praying A New Story, Morwood turns his attention to the task of education children from the perspective of a thinking twenty-first century Christian. Morwood offers insights about teaching children to pray, not to an external, listening Deity but to the Source and Ground of our being. This book has helped me as I craft the prayers of our congregation and I know that parents, grandparents and anyone who is engaged with children and their spirituality will find inspiration in Morwood’s approach. We are looking forward to hearing from Michael Morwood in person; when he visits Holy Cross the weekend of May 2-4. 

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Children and the Epic of Gilgamesh

gilgameshMarcus Borg is often quoted as having said something to the effect that the average adult has but a grade five understanding of Christianity. Which is okay if you are in grade five but it won’t sustain you through a lifetime of questions. While I agree with Borg that a good many people have rejected Christianity on the basis of what they learned as children and we have a great deal of work to do to educate adults about the breadth and depth of the Christian faith, I wonder what it would mean for the church if we stepped up our game when it comes to the education of children.Gilgamesh the king

I can still remember taking my first religious studies class as an adult and being blown away by the revelation that so many of the biblical stories that I was struggling with actually had their origins in tales that were told long before a wandering Aramean went down to Egypt. I remember being both fascinated with the story of Gilgamesh and angry at the Church for failing to let me in on the reality that human’s have been myth-making since forever. I’m sure that I would have been far less traumatized by the realization that the biblical writers engaged in the ancient art of myth-making had I been introduced to it in my adolescence. Needless to say, since I have been teaching Confirmation classes (ages 11-15) I have taken the opportunity to introduce the Epic of Gilgamesh as a precursor to discussions on the book of Genesis.

The Last Quest of GilgameshSeveral years ago, the task of introducing Gilgamesh to young people was illuminated by the discovery of a two of books by Ludmila Zeman designed to bring the tales first carved onto clay tables in Mesopotamia to life. Both Gilgamesh the King and The Last Quest of Gilgamesh are beautiful illustrated and even though they are recommended for children ages 8 and up, provide an engaging experience for adolescents. For those Confirmation revenge of ishtarstudents who are particularly keen, I have added Zeman’s The Revenge of Ishtar  to the Confirmation class’s collection of resources. I have even been known to use this speeded little tomes in Adult Education Classes.  Ludmila Zeman emigrated to Canada from Czechoslovakia and lives, works and creates in Vancouver.

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Stellarella thinkers
Stellarella It’s Saturday – A Book for “Progressive Little Thinkers”

The newly published, “Stellarella It’s Saturday”, story by Deborah W. Dykes, illustrated by Christina Mattison Ebert-Klaven comes with ringing endorsements from John Dominic Crossan and Joan Chittister.  With progressives of this calibre singing its praises pre-publication, I ordered several copies sight-unseen for the little ones in my life and I haven’t been disappointed. It is a rare think to find God imagined as a woman!!! So, imagine my delight when I discovered that the shero Stellarella is portrayed as a strong, intelligent, brave little girl! This little book would be a valuable addition to any child’s library. Enjoy!

God In Between
by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso; illustrated by Sally Sweetland

God In BetweenLet me begin with an old favourite:  “God In Between” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, illustrated by Sally Sweetland. Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is the first woman to be ordained a rabbi. She serves a Reformed congregation in Philadelphia. She has written numerous children’s books (some of which I will post about soon), of which “God In Between” is by far my favourite! The book tells the tale of a town’s quest for God and their delight at finding God in the very midst of life.  I discovered the book shortly after it was first published in 1998 and over the years I have given numerous copies to the children in my life. I have also used the book during worship in place of the dreaded children’s sermon. I’ve read it to children from four to eighty!

4 thoughts on “Children’s Resources

  1. Hello, Dawn.

    I stumbled upon your site and thought you might be interested to know about my children’s book called Is That Story True? It is about a little girl who reads stories with her mother every night and always asks, “Is that story true?” As they wonder about different types of stories, the little girl comes to her own understanding of the difference between literal (or historical) and metaphorical truth. A lot of adults find the book helpful too! (Marcus Borg wrote the endorsement on the back cover, if that helps). You might also like Mira and the Big Story, which looks at how the stories we tell and cherish affect us and the way we view people different from ourselves.

    • Thanks Laura: I’ve just ordered you books and I look forward to reading them. I’ll try to feature them on my blog soon. Nice to know that a neighbour just down the road is working to open children to stories in ways beyond the literal. Shalom, dawn

      • Thanks for the reply, Dawn. I hope you enjoy the books and find them helpful in your work. I too love Ludmilla Zeman’s version of the Gilgamesh Epic, and all of Sandy Sasso’s work (have you read In God’s Name?), so it seems we have similar taste in books. I’m going to check out “Stellarella”! All the best, Laura.

  2. Hi, my name is Doug Ponto. I am a United Church of Canada OM. I love your site Dawn. My suggestion for a great children’s book is Archbishop Tutu’s God’s Family, based on his book of the same name. Both are brilliant but the children’s book is my very favourite!

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