Grandparents, a Day for You—to Pray!

Whenever I start missing my grandchildren, I say a prayer for them.

This Sunday, September 9, is National Grandparents Day—and the Grandparents’ Day of Prayer, sponsored by the Christian Grandparenting Network and the Legacy Coalition.

Children and grandparents both benefit from spending time together:

A grandparent’s unconditional love and encouragement help buffer a child against the inevitable challenges and disappointments that come with growing up.

And research points to longer life for grandparents who spend time caring for their grandchildren.

But even if distance or circumstances keep you apart, don’t relinquish your most important role as a grandparent—pray!

Pray for protection from physical and emotional harm.

Pray for growth in character, discernment, and knowledge of right and wrong.

Pray for God to guide their dating, marriage, and career decisions. Pray for their future spouses.

Pray for your grandchildren’s parents to look to God to know how to love and raise these precious children for Him.

Pray for your grandchildren to know Jesus as their Savior and to desire to serve Him every day.

Want to know more about Grandparents Day of Prayer? Check out the Christian Grandparenting Network and the Legacy Coalition. Both groups have tons of resources to help you be the best grandparent you can be—this Sunday as you pray, and every day!

This little guy has grown—he started preschool today!

– Diane

Giveaway Time!

Launch day for I AM: The Names of God for Little Ones is getting close—Tuesday, June 26—so it’s time to start celebrating with a giveaway!

I’ll be choosing five different winners at random.

Three will receive a signed copy of the new book.

One will receive a set of all three I AM booksI AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God, the I AM Devotional, and the new book for toddlers and preschoolers.

And one winner will receive a copy of the new book plus this set of 6 laminated placemats made by Shutterfly based on content from book!

My grandsons loved theirs!

To enter, just comment “I’d like to win” below this post between now and Tuesday night. Entries will close at 11:59 EDT Tuesday night, June 26. I’ll announce the winners on Wednesday, June 27, on my Facebook page, Diane Stortz Books. Open to residents of continental US and Canada only.

Thanks for helping me send the newest I AM book out into the world!

– Diane

Introducing a New Book to the “I AM” Series

No toddlers were bribed in the making of this blog post, I promise!

This adorable little guy saw my new book and needed to investigate. He noticed the bright colors and ALL THAT GLITTER on the cover right away.

He’s my youngest grandson, 20 months old, the perfect age to begin teaching little ones some of the names of God found in the Bible.

God’s names tell us who He is and what He does. I chose twelve to focus on in this book for toddlers and preschoolers. A SHORT Bible story, accompanied by a Bible verse and a short prayer, make the meaning of the name known to little ones in an age-appropriate way.

Creator
God All-Powerful
I AM
God Who Saves
The Lord Will Provide
The Lord Who Heals
Son of God
Teacher
Good Shepherd
Savior
Friend
King of Kings

As children discover the meaning of each name, they begin to understand God’s character and His love for them!

The book releases June 26 but you can preorder now if you’d like. I’ve posted a sampler from the inside of the book along with links for finding local stores and online retailers here. You can download coloring pages based on the book there too!

The book is an 8×8-inch board book with a padded cover and rounded corners. And glitter on the cover—did I mention All. The. Glitter?!?!

To celebrate this new release, I’ll be doing giveaways all month long here on my blog AND at the launch party on June 30! So watch for more posts and my newsletter with all the details.

Not on my newsletter list yet? Use the box at the top left to sign up.

(And if you’re local, I’d love to see you at the party!)

           
– Diane

On the National Day of Prayer

I am blogging just once a month during 2018.

I don’t think there could be more perfect verses for the National Day of Prayer, and every day.

“Pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:1-3

Praying with you,

– Diane

Help Little Ones Learn Bible Verses—5 Fun Ways

I’m blogging once a month in 2018. This post is an update from 2015.

My youngest grandboy, 18 months old, is learning to sing “The Wheels on the Bus.” He knows when to chime in with all the sound words—up and down, beep-beep-beep, swish-swish-swish, waah-waah-waah, and shh-shh-shh.

Children, even toddlers like my grandson, have an amazing capacity for learning and for memorizing! Shouldn’t we make sure, then, that God’s Word gets placed in those little hearts and minds too? Those words “hidden in their hearts” will lodge there for a lifetime.

Here are five ways to make memorizing Scripture effective and fun (at any age—you might want to try these out yourself). Repetition is key, but it doesn’t have to be boring!

1. Put the words to a beat and chant them together. Add claps, taps, and foot-stomping if you’d like. Not sure which verses to learn? Check an age-appropriate Bible storybook with verses correlated to each story.

2. Sing the words. Make up your own tunes, or try some of the excellent Scripture songs available from children’s artists. Try music from Yancy, Steve Green, the Seed Company, Twin Sisters, and Scripture Lullabies (great to play as children drift off to sleep).

My absolute favorite Scripture music for littles, though, has been the CD in the book My Sing-Along Bible by Steve Elkins. Verses through the Bible are set in short, singable songs in a variety of styles. No one gets bored, and God’s Word gets in!

3. Make reading and repeating the verses aloud together a family activity. (This is one strength of the Charlotte Mason Scripture memory system.)

4. Make verses visible. Post them around the house where children will see them often. Write a different verse each week on a chalkboard in the kitchen. Let children copy a verse themselves and choose where to post it.

5. Make verses tactile. My oldest grandson enjoyed verses I made magnetic for him to assemble and stick on the dishwasher, fridge, or a cookie sheet.

Just print out the words in large type on colored paper with extra spaces between each word. T hen back the verse with magnetic strips and cut the words apart. Printing different verses on different colors helps children sort and assemble the verses too.

   

 

– Diane

Children’s Books for Your Easter Baskets

I’m blogging just once a month in 2018, on the first Wednesday of each month.

Easter comes early this year, on April 1. To help you plan how you’ll fill a basket for your child or grandchild, here are three books that have caught my eye.

I haven’t seen them in person yet, so take that into account. But these are three I’ll be looking to check out soon!

That Grand Easter Day, by Jill Roman Lord (Worthy Kids/Ideals)

This is a cumulative picture book—that means it builds throughout the text to a grand finale with the kind of repetition children love (and learn from). It opens at Jesus’ tomb, with the stone rolled in front, and ends with His glorious resurrection. I think this one would be great fun to read through with a little one! Here’s how it begins:

This is the place where Jesus first lay
before he arose on that grand Easter day!

Ready, Set, Find Easter (Zonderkidz)

Part of a series from Zonderkidz, this board book about the Easter story features 48 different labeled objects for kids to find in the illustrations.

365 Trivia Twist Devotions (B&H Kids)

George Washington’s birthday? National Waffle Day? Ingenious inventions? Yes, and every daily devotion in 365 Trivia Twist Devotions based on the historical and the wacky will keep kids interested and reveal truths from God’s Word in a fun new way.

Will you add a book to an Easter basket this year? What will it be? One of these or another favorite of your own?

Leave a comment to let me know!

– Diane

World Read-Aloud Day 2018

Make plans now to be sure to read aloud to your child or grandchild tomorrow! February 1 is World Read-Aloud Day, a day to enjoy reading aloud with children and to develop awareness of literacy needs around the world.

Did you know, for example, that

o A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five than a child born to an illiterate woman. (UNESCO)

o According to the latest report (2016), 758 million adults – two thirds of them women – lack basic reading and writing skills. (UNESCO)

o Poorly literate individuals are less likely to participate in democratic processes and have fewer chances to fully exercise their civil rights. (UNESCO)

o Reading aloud to children every day puts them almost a year ahead of children who do not receive daily read-aloud time, regardless of parental income, education, or cultural background. (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research)

One of my favorite stories of reading aloud is found in the Book of Nehemiah, in the Bible. The Jewish people had been exiled in Babylon for 70 years. They rebuilt the temple when they were allowed to return to their own land, but the walls of Jerusalem remained in ruins. Then Nehemiah came on the scene. He made a plan and organized the workers, and despite opposition and harassment from enemies of the Jews, the wall was completely reconstructed in just 52 days.

Then the people gathered inside the walls and asked Ezra the priest to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, “which the Lord had given for Israel to obey.”

“So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law. … When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.

“Then Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

“The Levites … then instructed the people in the Law while everyone remained in their places. They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage. …

With understanding came weeping. But Nehemiah and Ezra and the Levites comforted the people and encouraged them to be joyful instead.

“So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.” (Nehemiah 8)

Reading aloud to children benefits them in so many ways, as I often share about on my Facebook page DianeStortzBooks. Teaching them to love books and reading is one of those, and that just might be part of the key that unlocks a lifelong love of reading and understanding God’s Word.

So find a child, find a book, and get ready to read aloud. Tomorrow is World Read-Aloud Day!

World Read-Aloud Day is a project of LitWorld, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded by literacy expert Pam Allyn in 2007. LitWorld works with a broad coalition of national and international partners to ensure that young people worldwide can experience the joy and transformation of reading, writing, and storytelling.

– Diane

Into All the World …

I had no idea this was going to happen, or even that it could. (Oh me of little faith!)

I have a publishing background. I’ve been to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy and other stateside book shows where foreign rights to English-language books are bought and sold.

My publishing contracts have clauses about foreign-language editions.

But I still didn’t see it … the reach my books could have.

So far I have books in Afrikaans, South African English, Spanish, Korean, and Arabic. There are more to come—Finnish, Swedish, Slovak, and Portuguese!

“Send Anyone Else”

I’m prepping this month to start on a new project. It feels overwhelming. I feel a little like Moses when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. “Moses again pleaded, ‘Lord, please! Send anyone else’ ” (Exodus 4:13 NIV).

But then I glance over at the shelf where my foreign editions are lined up.

I feel like they are sort of smiling at me. “Moses didn’t lead the Israelites out alone,” they say. “You’re not sitting there alone at your desk either.”

Oh right.

God can, and does, do so much more than we ever ask or imagine!

What About You?

Now, you might not be writing books, but I know you’ve got challenges.

Here’s the thing. No matter what the voices in your head say, you do have abilities. You can face the situation, take action, make progress.

And no, you’re not as talented or as educated or as energetic or as connected or as able as somebody else. But that’s OK. (Just remember Moses!)

And whatever it is you need to do, maybe you can’t do it all by yourself, but you don’t have to.

Because God hasn’t left you all by yourself.

And the results? Well, they’re just likely to be waaayyyy bigger and better than anything you have ever imagined!

    

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think (Ephesians 3:20 NLT).

– Diane

Just the Facts—A Bible Story Quiz

While I was deep in finishing up a new preschool devotional last week, my editor and I were also going over the final proofs of a Bible storybook for toddlers (coming out in June).

On the third time through the proofs, she discovered a simple factual error that we had all missed previously, a question of who made a particular statement.

Ack! Writers and editors alike hate it when that happens. But at least we caught and fixed the error before the book went to the printer.

I had to look back through other books I’ve written, of course. The story is in two other books. Right in one, wrong in the other.

Hurray for reprints!

This episode got me thinking about the importance of handling biblical details carefully. I have always believed this matters. Why teach children—or adults, for that matter—something they’ll need to unlearn later? And didn’t God preserve the details he thinks are important for a reason? Why would I want to change or ignore them?

The challenge for me as a children’s writer is to be true to the details of Bible events while still communicating to children the real message of the event. It’s not always easy to do.

Sometimes details must be left out.

If you’re two or three or even five, the point of the story of Noah’s ark is that God kept the people and animals safe and dry in the ark, not that everyone else outside the ark perished.

Sometimes details can be included but not in a too-specific way for children.

I can say that Joseph was thrown in prison after getting in trouble for something he didn’t do, for example, not because Potiphar’s wife accused him of attempted rape. And it doesn’t matter how many pairs of clean and unclean animals went into the ark—“pairs of every kind” will do just fine.

Sometimes details must be combined.

The Bible has more than one account of some events, sometimes with slightly different details in each. (Which makes sense, because eyewitnesses never all see things the same way, and writers of all kinds include and leave out details according to their purpose for writing.)

Check Your Bible Story Facts

We’ve often heard a Bible story told a certain way so many times that we believe all the details are true even when they’re not. For me as a writer, at least, it pays to check. But if you’d like to test your knowledge too, here’s a little 12-point quiz.

1. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating an apple from the tree of life. True or false?

2. Noah closed the door of the ark when everyone and all the animals were inside. True or false?

3. David fought Goliath when he was still a young boy. True or false?

4. God sent a whale to swallow Jonah. True or false?

5. Mary rode a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. True or false?

6. Angels in the sky sang praises on the night Jesus was born. True or false?

7. The wise men followed the new star to Jerusalem. True or false?

8. The star led the wise men as they journeyed from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. True or false?

9. The wise men found Jesus in the Bethlehem stable soon after his birth. True or false?

10. A boy brought his lunch to Jesus for the feeding of the five thousand. True or false?

11. How many angels did the women at Jesus’ tomb encounter—1 or 2?

12. When some of the disciples had fished all night without catching anything, who recognized the man standing on the shore calling to them, Peter or John?

Let me know how you do. But I’m not going to give you the answers. Instead, I’ll encourage you to do some fact checking on your own. Enjoy!

– Diane

10 Reasons We NEED the Bible

This week I’m immersed in revising and editing my manuscript for a new devotional for preschoolers. I’m also doing preparation work for writing a through-the-Bible devotional for women! (More about both of these projects later!)

I found this list that I posted a number of years ago, and decided to share it again.

So why DO we need the Bible?

1. We need, for starters, to read it (or hear it). All of it. It is a whole.

2. We need to know what it says so we can talk about it with our families (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

3. We need to know what God has done throughout the history of his people so we can tell the generations to come about his power and wonders (Psalm 78:4-7).

4. We need to hide his word in our hearts to give us strength when we’re tempted (Psalm 119:11).

5. We need to let the word of Christ dwell in us so we can teach one another with his wisdom (Colossians 3:16).

6. We need to let God’s word renew our minds so we can be transformed (Romans 12:2).

7. We need to understand the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) so we can raise our children in ways that please him.

8. We need to keep the sword of the Spirit sharp so we can wield it when Satan attacks (Ephesians 6:17).

9. We need God’s Word to mature us and get us ready for the good he’s prepared for us to do in the world (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

So that’s 9 reasons. I have more. But I’d like your help to make this a “10 Reasons” post. What
would your 10th reason be? Let me know in a comment!

– Diane

Freebie

You CAN Read the Bible in a Year … Here’s How!