This is the second list in a series of posts I am doing that list resources for ministry in both the church and home in regards to nurturing faith in children. Here we turn to the preschool age group.
TWO TO FOUR YEARS
Arch Books. Various authors. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.
There are over a hundred of these small books that creatively tell and illustrate Bible stories through rhyme and art (http://www.cph.org/p-7003-arch-book-set-set-of-125.aspx).
Brown, Margaret Wise. Pictures by Clement Hurd. The Runaway Bunny. New York: Harper Collins, 1972.
While not explicitly Christian or faith-based, this classic children’s story by the same author of Goodnight Moon communicates a beautiful story of a mother’s pursuing love. The little bunny tries repeatedly to run away from his mother, but the mother always finds a way to track him down. Once the little bunny realizes that he cannot escape the love of his parent, he surmises, “Shucks….I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.” The connection to God’s love being like a shepherd going after the lost sheep is evident. A parent can read this to their child and very little explanation is needed. At most, the book can be followed up with a simple phrase like, “Just like I will always find you” or “Just like God will always find you.” Or it can be left to speak for itself and the child will naturally see the mother bunny’s resemblance to God in due time (http://www.amazon.com/Runaway-Bunny-Margaret-Wise-Brown/dp/0064430189).
Stewart, Sonja M. and Jerome W. Berryman. Young children and worship. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1988.
This guide for parents and teachers helps these leaders facilitate worship for young children. Stewart and Berryman present their tested models which combine worship experiences with faith education (http://www.amazon.com/Young-Children-Worship-Sonja-Stewart/dp/0664250408).
Gibbons, Erin ed. Whirl Story Bible. Minneapolis: Sparkhouse, 2014.
The Whirl Story Bible, like other story Bibles, provides shortened versions of major Bible stories meant for reading out loud to children. It follows the Revised Common Lectionary, which is used by many Christian denominations. The characters in the illustrations are depicted in a wide variety of olive/dark skin tones, which is probably more accurate to the people of that time and place. Many children’s Bibles depict the historical figures as Europeans in Middle Eastern clothes, which can be confusing and alienating to many cultures/races around the world (May, Posterski, Stonehouse, Cannell, Children Matter, p. 185). Each story lists the corresponding lectionary lesson at the top of the page and includes simple follow-up questions the parents/leaders can ask the children (http://www.wearesparkhouse.org/kids/whirl/classroom/).
The Gospel Project for Preschool. Lifeway.
This is the new LifeWay 3-year curriculum focusing on the idea that the story of Scripture is one unified whole pointing towards (OT) and back upon (NT) the person and work of Jesus Christ. The tagline is “Every Story Casts His Shadow.” There are dozens of contributors including author Ed Stetzer and pastor Matt Chandler. Colorful and creative graphics such as a timeline wheel of salvation history accompany this curriculum, which also has modules for all other age groups in the church (http://www.gospelproject.com/kids/preschool/).
Jones, Stan and Brenna Jones. The Story of Me: God’s Design for Sex, Book 1. Colorado Springs: NavPress. 2007.
Part of a four book set, this book helps parents talk with their kids about the body and sex from a Biblical perspective. Each book in the set progresses a bit deeper into the discussion. Appropriate illustrations are used. (http://www.amazon.com/Full-Set-Design-Revised-Paperback/dp/B00O5DIVTU)
Lloyd-Jones, Sally. Illustrated by Jago. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Grand Rapids: ZonderKidz, 2007.
The tagline of this extremely successful children’s Bible is “every story whispers His name.” Excellent artwork accompanies creatively written Bible stories that the parent can read to the child. Lloyd-Jones is keen to point out the foreshadowing of Jesus Christ throughout the Old Testament. There is also a compact disc (CD) set available with David Suchet reading the stories aloud in his baritone British voice (http://www.sallylloyd-jones.com/books/jesus-storybook-bible/).
Prayers for little hands. Illustrated by Tammie Lyon, Judith Pfeiffer, and Tish Tenud. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International. 2001.
This board book is a collection of simple prayers in the language of modern 2-4 year-olds. Each prayer is accompanied by an illustration depicting something within the prayer. It opens with a prayer by Cecil Frances Alexander: “All things bright and beautiful/ All creatures great and small/ All things wise and wonderful/ The Lord God made them all.” Most of the other twenty-seven prayers are anonymously attributed and follow the same simple format of child-like poetry. This book is perfect to use for teaching little children how to pray. It shows children that prayer is not complicated and is often best communicated when it reflects the natural language of the things of normal everyday life (like family, nature, food, and school) (http://www.amazon.com/Prayers-Little-Hands-First-Treasury/dp/0785351078).
Psalty the Singing Songbook. Character and company created by Ernie and Debbie Retino.
Psalty is a clown-like character played by Ernie Retino. He is a large anthropomorphized blue hymnal who teaches kids about God, Biblical character, and worship. There are books, videos, live shows, and musical albums featuring Psalty along with his friends and family. Psalty’s worship songs are catchy and lend themselves to simple accompanying motions. The children in Psalty’s programs experience the ups and downs of life and learn how to navigate life by trusting God and experiencing a meaningful relationship with Him (http://www.psalty.com/).
Some churches have materials available for children to read, color, or manipulate during an intergenerational worship service. It is helpful if these materials are placed in individual baskets or on clipboards so parents can grab one for their family. The baskets can include children’s Bible story books, crayons with Bible story pictures, or beads and bracelets that tell a story. Here are some pictures from the worship baskets at Providence Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia:
*This list comes directly from a paper I wrote for a class at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL in March 2016. The class was ES 7524 (Education and Ministry Experiences for Children) taught by Dr. Magdalene Larson.