Last month I introduced my plan and promise to myself to buy a book a month as a show of support for authors and retailers, since I am an author and hope people will buy my books. Seems only fair!
I explained that I still plan to visit the public library and Half Price Books and Goodwill for bargains, but … it’s time for me to get back to buying books at regular prices on a regular basis.
My first pick was Allia Zobel Nolan’s Whatever.
For February, I chose My Friend Jesus: The Gospel for Kids, written by Kathryn Slattery and illustrated by Alida Massari (Tommy Nelson, 2013). It’s a newly illustrated and lightly edited version of a previous edition that sold more than 100,000 copies in multiple languages, according to the publisher’s and author’s websites.
Kathryn Slattery is a mom to two grown kids, an author of other books and articles, and a contributing editor for Guideposts magazine. She says in her introduction,
“I wrote this gospel for children in direct response to questions about God and Jesus posed by my own young daughter and son. Because it is for children, it is written in clear, easy-to-understand language for youngsters of all ages and denominations.And because it is for children, I emphasize the unique nature of Jesus as the ultimate friend. It is this, after all, that every person at every age yearns for.”
Read the book aloud, and you’ll hear the voice of someone with the gift of communicating complex truths to children in simple, understandable ways. We learn about the announcement to Mary, Jesus’ birth, the important things Jesus said and did, and how he showed us what God is like. We learn the very important truth that Jesus loves children.
Kathryn covers Jesus’ death and resurrection with sensitivity, and the resurrection with great joy. Then children hear about Jesus’ promises about heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of his followers … his friends. And for readers who want to respond to Jesus and ask him into their hearts, Kathryn provides a childlike prayer.
Since the Bible never tells us to ask Jesus “into our hearts,” and because children think so literally throughout their first decade, this is the only potentially negative aspect of the book. But adults reading the book to children might easily substitute other wording.
I especially like that children hear the gospel … that the Son of God came to earth from heaven and died for our sins … yet the focus remains on their ability to experience Jesus as a faithful friend today–an appropriate focus while their understanding of their need for a Savior develops as they grow.
The beautiful illustrations and book design complement the simplicity of the text while conveying emotions children will be able to identify. Skin tones are realistic for Middle Eastern characters, and the contemporary children in the book include various ethnicities.
I’m hoping I get to read this one to my grandchildren!