The Book I Bought for July: Rufus and Ryan Say Their Prayers

With two little grandsons toddling around my house a lot earlier this month, I’ve been thinking about the books they like and the importance of enjoyable books that reinforce values and activities we want our children or grandchildren to learn and do.

So when I went looking for a book to buy for July, I zeroed in pretty quickly on Rufus and Ryan Say Their Prayers by Kathleen Long Bostrom, illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh.

The colorful 20-page board book is part of a new series published by CandyCane Press, an imprint of Ideals Publications. Other books in the series are Rufus and Ryan Go to Church, Rufus and Ryan Give Thanks, and Rufus and Ryan Celebrate Easter.

Kathleen is the author of the popular Little Blessings series, published by Tyndale, which covers a lot of basic theological ground while charming preschoolers and their parents with adorable illustrations.

Ryan and his stuffed-animal friend Rufus go everywhere together. Their stories reflect simple and familiar activities many preschoolers know well–going to church, finding things to be thankful for on a rainy day, celebrating holidays, and saying bedtime prayers.

“Rufus, it’s time for bed!” says Ryan.
Daddy carries Ryan upstairs.
Ryan carries Rufus.

Teeth are brushed.
Pajamas come on.

“Let’s say our prayers,” says Ryan.
“What should we tell God?”
Ryan bows his head and closes his eyes.
“You, too, Rufus–no peeking!”

Ryan begins:
“Hi, God! It’s me, Ryan.
Did you have a good day?
I sure did!”

I like this series because it understands a child’s world and perspective and helps families underscore the importance of faith-building activities without getting preachy. I do wish Rufus and Ryan Go to Church included going to a Sunday school class, not just a worship service, since in many congregations preschoolers don’t attend the adult worship time. But I like the community of Sunday-go-to-church time that the book captures!

Throughout 2014 I’m buying a book a month to support retailers and other authors.
Read about the books I bought for January, February, March, April, May, and June.
 

 

– Diane

National Grandparents Day of Prayer, September 7, 2014

Posted earlier this month at ChristianChildrensAuthors.com

National Grandparents Day this year is September 7. If you haven’t heard of it, well, neither had I!

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating and honoring grandparents, of course, especially given the considerable number of grandparents raising grandchildren in the US–more than 2.5 million, according to the AARP. And there are millions of others, I’m certain, who contribute to the well-being of their grandchildren in countless other ways, big and small–giving of their time, energy, financial resources, and wisdom to create strong bonds with their grandkids, enhance their development, and create a lasting legacy.

But some grandparents prefer to make National Grandparents Day a day of prayer–the Grandparents Day of Prayer–praying not for themselves but for their families and especially their grandchildren. And they are inviting you to join them.

GrandparentingWithAPurposeLillian Penner, author of Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for Your Grandchildren, serves as national prayer coordinator for the Christian Grandparenting Network. Lillian says,

Today our nation is being attacked like never before educationally, socially, financially, and spiritually. Christianity itself is under assault, and as a result, our grandchildren are living in a desperate moral and spiritual climate, navigating in a world hostile to truth. Parents and grandparents are involved in a tug of war for the hearts and minds of their children. Perhaps at no other time in our history is a call to prayer more needed.

Many years ago, Queen Esther stood in the gap for her people, the Jews, when their physical lives were threatened. In our day, grandparents can stand in the gap for the spiritual lives of their grandchildren.

Do you share Lillian’s concern? I know I do.

Grandparents who believe in the power of prayer can pray their grandchildren will not become casualties from falling captive to the enemy’s deception. We are engaged in a spiritual battle that requires prayer as the weapon. As grandparents, we have an opportunity to imprint another generation with His love and faithfulness.

When Nehemiah faced opposition in building the wall in Jerusalem, he told the people, “Don’t be afraid of them, Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, sons, and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). Just as Nehemiah asked the people to fight for their families, we as grandparents need to use our prayers to fight the opposition from the enemy that our grandchildren face today.

We need to pray more often than on one special day, of course. But this September 7 can be a powerful time to join with other praying grandparents and encourage you to pray faithfully throughout the year.

In addition, the Christian Grandparenting Network is looking for volunteers to take the lead to organize a local event, calling grandparents to join in prayer on September 7. This event could be in your church, in your home, in a retirement complex, or any meeting location you choose. CGN will provide step-by-step guidelines, resources, and online tools to help you create a successful event that will engage grandparents in prayer together.

Will you accept the challenge to join grandparents throughout the world to unite in prayer on September 7 for their grandchildren?

Just like my grandkids, your grandkids–and all grandkids–are worth it!

Lillian Penner
Lillian Penner

Check the CGN website for blog posts, endorsements, testimonials, promotional materials and free downloads. www.grandparentsdayofprayer.com. For additional information, contact Lillian Penner, CGN national prayer coordinator.

This post linked to the GRAND Social.

– Diane

Three Award-Winning Christian Children’s Books

Two devotional books for young children recently joined a Christmas picture book as 2014 award winners among Christian children’s books.

At the recent International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta, My Mama and Me by Crystal Bowman and Terri McKinley, illustrated by Phyllis Harris (Tyndale) won Children’s Picture Book of the Year, awarded by the Association of Logos Bookstores.

Also in Atlanta, The One-Year My Princess Devotions by Karen Whiting (Tyndale) received Christian Retailing magazine’s Best Award for children’s nonfiction.

Earlier this year, the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association gave The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie, illustrated by Christine Kornacki (Ideals) its Christian Book Award in the children’s category.

Congratulations to each of these authors, illustrators, and publishers!

– Diane

The International Christian Retail Show 2014

Ever wonder how Christian children’s books wind up on store shelves? How retailers find new books and decide what to carry? One way is the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), the annual trade show of the Christian Booksellers Association. I just came back from ICRS 2014 in Atlanta, and I thought I would share the experience with you. Read more …

show floor
– Diane

The Book I Bought for June: Sunday School Sing-Alongs & ABCs

This month’s pick is perfect for summer as you drive in the car with your little ones–around town to swim lessons and softball games or around the country on a family vacation.

Twenty-two classic Sunday school songs on a CD will have your child–and probably you too–singing along in no time. The musical production scores low on cheesiness, making it easy for kids and parents to listen. And the song choices teach biblical stories and concepts little ones can understand–from “Arky, Arky” to “What a Mighty God We Serve” to “God Is So Good.”

Music offers such a powerful way to get God’s Word into the hearts and minds of children–and all of us, really.

You can listen to song samples here.

Just the right size for little hands, the alphabet board book helps kids recognize animals, their names, and the letters of the alphabet while it introduces the story of Noah’s ark.

Throughout 2014 I’m buying a book a month to support retailers and other authors.
Read about the books I bought for January, February, March, April, and May.

This post linked to the GRAND Social.
– Diane

The Book I Bought for May: Horse Dreams

Throughout 2014 I’m buying a book a month to show support for fellow authors and the retailers who sell our books. Because I hope you’ll buy my books, I decided I needed to get back to buying books and not just secondhand.

I’m also doing this to connect kids and families with the best of Christian books.

The book I bought for May is Horse Dreams, by Dandi Daley Mackall (Tyndale, 2011), the first book in Dandi’s “Backyard Horses” series of chapter books for young readers.

Horse Dreams features a great story, some quirky characters, horses–of course!–and sign language (because the main character’s younger brother is deaf). There’s a glossary called Horse Talk! too. And it’s all wrapped up in some authentic faith lessons the main character, Ellie James, discovers for herself.

Fourth-grader Ellie spends a lot of time dreaming about owning a black stallion show horse and winning trophies. She’s decided neither begging nor crying will bring that about and decides to trust God to provide the horse. But will she recognize his answer when it gallops into her life?

As an epigraph for the book, Dandi chose 1 Samuel 16:7, which reads in part, “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Dandi Daley Mackall is an award-winning author of more than 450 books for children and adults.

Dandi Daley Mackall is the award-winning author of over 450 books for children and adults

– See more at: http://www.tyndale.com/Horse-Dreams/9781414339160#.U3z3tygtouI

The text in Horse Dreams is set in a size good for new or younger readers. There are no illustrations, however, which many chapter books do include.

Still, the story and characters will pull readers in–and have them asking for next book in the series!

Horse Dreams for Kindle is currently free! Not sure how long that will last.

Read about the books I bought for January, February, March, and April.
– Diane

Some of the Bravest Moms I Know

I once walked through a large hall at a missions convention, talking with convention goers waiting to hear a speaker. “Do you know any parents of missionaries?” I asked. “We want to invite them to a special event tomorrow.”

Most people looked at me funny. “Parents of missionaries? I don’t think so.”

But then one woman said, “Yes, me!” and her eyes filled with tears.

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I want to tell you about some of the bravest moms I know.

Avery and her grandmum on a rare Christmas visit

They make huge sacrifices, but they never make the news.

Their children often get attention, but they themselves are usually overlooked.

Their families won’t be getting together for Mother’s Day–except maybe by phone or Skype, if time zones and a good Internet connection coincide. Want to read more? Please join me over at Christian Children’s Authors where I’m honored to share this post today.

– Diane

The Book I Bought for April: The Sparkle Egg

Throughout 2014 I’m buying a book a month as a show of support for authors and retailers. Partly this is because I am an author and hope people will buy my books. Seems only fair! But I’m also doing this because I desire to connect kids and families with the best of Christian books.

The book I bought for April is The Sparkle Egg, by Jill Hardie, illustrated by Christine Kornacki (Ideals, 2014).

Not an Easter book in the sense of telling the biblical story of Easter, The Sparkle Egg helps children understand the Easter message of forgiveness in a concrete way.

At the start of the book, Sam has failed a spelling test, and he’s worried about what his parents will say. He forgets about it after school while he’s coloring Easter eggs at home. But when Sam’s mom asks about the test, Sam lies and says he got a gold star. His parents discover the lie the next night at open house. They forgive him, and Sam asks God to forgive him too, but he still feels guilty.

On Good Friday, Sam decorates a plastic egg with glitter and jewels. Then his mom has him draw a picture of something he’s feeling ashamed or guilty about, and Sam draws a gold star. He folds up the paper and puts it inside the Sparkle Egg. His mom tells him, “When you wake up on Easter morning, there will be something special in your Sparkle Egg to honor Jesus.”

Sam is quite surprised on Easter morning when the Sparkle Egg is empty–empty like Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning! Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, sins can be forgiven and gone.

“Sam’s dad said, ‘Jesus loves us so much that He died on the cross for us. The greatest gift of Easter is the gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. God doesn’t want you to carry around guilt or feel ashamed–He wants you to feel His forgiveness in your heart.’ He said gently, ‘The best way we can honor Jesus’ gift of forgiveness is to fully accept it.’”

I like the modern yet realistic illustrations in this book and the fact that there is an actual story line to follow–the text is not simply a conversation between Sam and his parents. The final page includes instructions for making and using your own Sparkle Egg.

If you read the book with older children, you might want to talk about why Sam lied in the first place, as well as your expectations regarding your child’s success or difficulties with schoolwork.

Like Sam, may your child (and maybe even you!) receive a fuller understanding of forgiveness so you can shine a little brighter for Jesus this Easter!

Read about the books I bought for January, February, and March.
– Diane

Catch Us If You CAN Spring Scavenger Hunt: Stop #23

WELCOME to the Catch Us If You CAN Spring Scavenger Hunt! STOP #23.

Enjoy meeting Christian Author Network (CAN) members as you chase down clues for the chance to win our grand prize: $200 in gift cards from CBD, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon, plus 30 free books, one from each participating CAN author! Second- and third-place prizes: $50 Amazon, B&N, or CBD gift certificate!

Here are the CAN Hunt’s official guidelines.

• Catch us on this hunt beginning at Noon on Friday, 03/21/14 and ending at Midnight on Thursday, 03/27/14. No need to hurry as you search for clues—you have almost an entire week! If you need help at any time during the hunt, check in here
• Enjoy 29 stops, each featuring a different CAN author!
• Gather the clues from each post, beginning at STOP #1 and ending at STOP #29. At STOP #30, follow the directions and fill out the Rafflecopter form. Be ready to provide the complete clue in sentence form, gathered from all 30 stops, within 2 days of e-mail notification or another winner will be randomly drawn. There is no need to e-mail or submit the clue unless you are notified by 03/29/14.

Sorry, due to international regulations and postage costs, prizes will be awarded to US residents only. Individual contests within the hunt may vary, so please read rules presented with each giveaway.

Cheri Cowell

CHERI COWELL
My guest at this stop is author, speaker, and “sidewalk theologian” Cheri Cowell. Cheri’s books include Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life, the Bible study Parables and Word Pictures from the New Testament, and her latest, Living the Story. A graduate of Asbury Theolgical Seminary, Cheri helps others apply biblical principles to everyday life. Besides writing books, Cheri has been published in many magazines and compilations, and in 2009 she was one of six journalists chosen for a 10-day press tour of the Holy Land.

Cheri, what’s a sidewalk theologian?

I have a degree from Asbury Seminary, but I most enjoy the faith-talk that happens on the sidewalks of life. So … I’m a sidewalk theologian.

 

Tell us about your latest book, Living the Story: Reaching Outside the Church Walls.

The book, both fiction and nonfiction, is about the cultural and relational differences that make traditional faith sharing ineffective with this current generation, and a solution as ancient as the Scriptures yet fresh as today’s news. In Living the Story, you will meet eight people just like those all of us long to reach with the life-giving message of Christ. You will hear the Story retold as it relates directly to the needs of these eight and, likewise, to those in your life, and you’ll meet six people who speak a new language—the language of story.

This isn’t your first book. Tell us about your others.

My first book is titled Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life and relates how I followed all the popular “God’s will ways” right into a messy situation. My Bible study is Parables and Word Pictures, a 13-week workbook-style study. You can check them all out on my website, www.CheriCowell.com.

You visited the Holy Land in 2009. What was that experience like?

It sounds cliche to say it was life changing, but everyone who goes to the Holy Land has a personal encounter there with God. I’ve written about a few of those events at my blog. One of them happened at the Church of St. Peter’s. When I walked outside the chapel on the Sea of Galilee I could almost smell fish frying … you’ll have to read my blog for the whole story!

Cheri would love to friend you on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/chericowell or follow on her on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/chericowell.

Thank you, Cheri (and readers and hunters)!

CAN hunter, write down this STOP #23 clue: work. Got it? Great!

But wait, there’s more! In addition to the fabulous prizes for the winners of the hunt, you also could win a copy of the deluxe edition of my book The Sweetest Story Bible, with a copy of the book plus all the stories narrated by Roma Downey on two audio CDs! To enter my giveaway, just sign up for my newsletter using the box above my photo on this page OR “Like” my Facebook page, Diane Stortz Books.

And check out Cheri’s giveaway! Make a comment and leave your e-mail AT THE NEXT STOP, and Cheri will enter your name into a drawing for an e-book of Living the Story.

Now, proceed to STOP #24, http://www.chericowell.com/blog/

– Diane

The Book I Bought for March

I spotted this book in a TV ad for the Wounded Warriors Project. A little girl was reading it to her military dad, forever changed by the wounds he experienced in war.

In the book, a young boy explains why his dad is his superhero–even though he doesn’t have rocket-propelled boots, X-ray vision, or a cloak that makes him invisible. Instead, this dad wears Army boots, night-vision goggles, and camouflage.

Author Melinda Hardin, working for a US Department of Defense Dependent School in Germany, saw that children can encounter struggles when a parent is in the military.

Her book aims to provide some understanding and comfort, especially to young children. (Although judging from online reviews, older readers find value in the book too.)

I love the simplicity of the text and art and how well they work together. Bryan Langdo’s illustrations help children picture their dads’ work and service and, even more, identifies their emotions while dad is deployed and when he comes home.

One spread shows dad and two other soldiers with their rifles, with the right-hand page close in on one of the guns. I’m not sure I like that emphasis, given the gun-craziness around us every day, but if that’s a concern, the spread could be a good jumping-off place for family discussions.

Hero Dad doesn’t directly address less concrete reasons military dads are heroes, such as courage, willingness to sacrifice, and patriotism, which older children can begin to appreciate. But for giving younger children a sense of what dad does when he’s away and how happy he is to come home, it’s a winner.

Now there’s a companion book about moms too!

– Diane