10 Kids Easter Books for All Your Easter Baskets

Helping children catch and understand Easter joy can be as simple as choosing a book to add to an Easter basket or give as a gift. Here are 10 good choices for you to consider.

indexMy First Easter (Worthy Kids/Ideals). Bright photos of Spring and Easter objects, one per page. Includes a simple cross.

51GX+JRlazL._AC_US500_QL65_The First Easter (Zonderkidz). A little lamb tells the resurrection story.

610bjnWrX7L._SX497_BO1,204,203,200_My Easter Basket (B&H Kids). Links the colors in a child’s Easter basket to a simple telling of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

71lJfWU4vmLThe Story of Easter (Worthy Kids/Ideals). A simple introduction to the meaning of the day—Jesus loves us.

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Jesus Lives! and Easter Surprises (Tyndale Kids). Both with stickers for completing the illustrations and other activities too. These books are a wonderful value.

71tS2bIh2wLThe Sparkle Egg (Worthy Kids/Ideals, above) and The Legend of the Easter Robin (Zonderkidz, below). Picture books for elementary grades both focus on God’s love and forgiveness.

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51vqC9wn1hL._AC_US500_QL65_My Friend Jesus (Thomas Nelson) introduces elementary-aged kids to the story of Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him.

HFEDKHope for Each Day: 365 Devotions for Kids (Tommy Nelson). Short daily devotions for children and families too.

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– Diane

Make God’s Word a Staple, Not a Side

file000667247480Do you take a multivitamin or use a dietary supplement? I have, and now I keep some Ester-C and echinacea tea on hand to help me fight off colds. But day to day, I’m trying to nourish my body with a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

It’s a challenge to view vegetable and fruits, nuts and seeds as staples when they’ve been sides for so many years.

But it’s getting easier. And I feel better when I eat this way.

Why am I telling you this?

Because just as nourishing myself with physical food can be a struggle (do I want to chop up all these vegetables to roast for dinner, or could we just go out for pizza? . . .), choosing to “feed” on God’s Word can be a battle too.

Reading the entire Bible and discussing it weekly with a women’s group impacted my life in so many wonderful ways. It also proved the value of the practice of reading the Bible daily.

Probably because, as someone has said, “The Bible is the only book whose Author is present with you when you read it.”

But at times I struggle. Not just to read God’s Word, but to want to. Ugh.

Too much going on? Health issues in the way? Seemingly unending cold winter days devoid of sunlight? All of the above.

A sermon here, a few chapters there, an online search of verses related to a writing project . . . I’m in the Word, right?

But I’m starving.

Finally, I pick up my Bible again. I ask the Holy Spirit to give me insight.

I read slowly, as if enjoying a health-giving meal that I don’t want to end too soon.

If I want to help others know God better—and I do—I need the life-giving nourishment and power He spreads out for me every day. To see consistent time in His Word as the staple of my life, not a side.

How about you?

You don’t have to read through the Bible in a year. But pick a Bible book to read slowly several times, or a Bible study you’ve been wanting to explore. Listen to an audio Bible as you drive or run. Ask a friend to read with you and check in with each other during the week.

We have an enemy who wants us weak and hungry.

But we have a Father who makes us strong and full.

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– Diane

Fun Facts and Books about the Presidents

Did you know that
• Thomas Jefferson invented the first chair that could spin around?
• John Quincy Adams kept his pet alligator in a bathtub in the White House?
• Theodore Roosevelt’s children once gave a pony a ride in the White House elevator?
• William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out the ball on baseball’s Opening Day?
• When he was a boy, George W. Bush dreamed of playing major league baseball?
61Jfhu+W2PLI discovered all this and more in Grover Cleveland, Again!: A Treasury of American Presidents, by Ken Burns (Knopf Books for Young Readers). The title comes from the response of the author’s young daughters as they played a memory game with their dad. Grover Cleveland is the only one of the presidents who served two nonconsecutive terms of office.

In the introduction, Ken Burns says,

In this book, in addition to describing the important things that the presidents did when they were in office, I talk about who they were as people. After all, presidents have birthdays and brothers and sisters and even pets, just like everybody else! There are also fascinating stories of things that happened to them on their road to the presidency—stories that tell us a lot about their times.

Richly illustrated, this is a book to pour over again and again.

5803cb51-277b-4235-bb9b-b54d75847d5a.jpg._CB284907560_Add this one to your family’s library or check it out at the library for a new way to celebrate President’s Day, coming up next week.

Look for these two also: I am Abraham Lincoln and I am George Washington, by Brad Meltzer (Dial Books).

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Part of Meltzer’s series “Ordinary People Change the World,” the books let us see these two great leaders as children and show us that anyone can grow up to make a big difference.

Books like these three help our kids and grandkids develop respect for the office of president, along with the understanding that all leaders are ordinary people in need of wisdom and prayer.

That’s something we grownups could think about as President’s Day approaches too.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV).

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– Diane

Start Here: 10 Ways to Read to Toddlers on the Move

child runningSitting in a high chair, on your lap, or on the floor, your baby found books fascinating and fun. But once he or she was mobile, reading to your toddler became a challenge.

Don’t give up! Just try some workarounds to keep an interest in books alive until your child’s drive to explore his physical environment settles down and interest in reading picks up again.

Remember that reading is good for your child’s development on every level—physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual. (Children who love reading may be more open to Bible reading as they grow.)

Here are 10 tried-and-true tips for reading to on-the-go toddlers from moms who are doing it.

1. Read aloud while your child plays nearby. Comment on the pictures. Sometimes children will come over to look, then go back to playing. Even if not, they’re listening.

2. Choose books with flaps to lift, touch-and-feel effects, or something to search for in the pictures. Let children turn the pages.

3. Don’t insist on sitting still. Wiggles are OK.

4. Read while your child eats a snack or plays in the bathtub.

5. Do active finger plays, songs, and rhymes together.

6. Let a puppet “read.”

7. Keep books in the car to read during waiting times.

8. Use audio books during drive times.

9. Keep a few books in every toy bin throughout your house. Read just a little, often.

10. Include books in nap-time and bedtime snuggles.

Happy reading!

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– Diane

5 Children’s Books to Brighten Winter

Weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil makes his annual prediction on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on the 123rd Groundhog Day, February 2, 2009. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. REUTERS/Jason Cohn (UNITED STATES)

When Punxsutawney Phil looks around tomorrow morning, will we know how much longer winter plans to stick around?

Well, probably not. But whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not, a few good books can warm up winter days and help children learn more about our good God. Here are five to consider.

The Wonderful Gifts of Winter, by Dandi Daley Mackall (B&H Kids), part of the Dandi’s Seasons picture book series.

616e-8+JFULGod Made You Special, by Jennifer Holder (Tyndale Kids). Includes stickers for completing the illustrations and related activity pages too.

9166P72PVVLPrayers for All Seasons, compiled by Sophie Piper (Lion Hudson).

61eo3RIrqKL._SX405_BO1,204,203,200_The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (Puffin Books). Not a Christian book, but a classic. (If you haven’t seen the Christmas-themed video based on the book, you’ve missed something sweet.)

51jvfaRNFYLTiny Blessings for All Seasons, by Amy Parker (Running Press). Board book for ages 1-3.

61-09g+qwULPhoto, Alessandro M., Creative Commons license

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– Diane

15 Children’s Books for Valentine’s Day

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Why not include a children’s book in your Valentine’s Day plans and purchases this year? The right book can help your child or grandchild understand more about God’s love!

Here’s a list of 15 new and classic books for kids for Valentine’s Day for you to check out. And now’s a good time—you’ll find a number of them on sale.

Good FatherGood, Good Father, by Chris Tomlin and Pat Barrett (Tommy Nelson). For the picture book set, ages 3-8.

St ValSaint Valentine, by Robert Sabuda (Atheneum). This one comes close to historians’ limited knowledge of the real man named Valentine. For ages 6-10.

BBearsValentine Blessings, by Mike Berenstain (Zonderkidz).

Love HideWhere Does Love Hide? by Mary Manz Simon (Tyndale Kidz). With large lift-the-flaps that uncover ways we can all give love away to others.

LoveLettersThe “Love Letters From” series by Glynis Nellist (Zonderkidz) helps children realize that the Bible is like a love letter from God to us.

GodGaveLoveGod Gave Us Love, by Lisa Tawn Bergren (WaterBrook).

Love LetterA Love Letter from God, by P.K. Halliman (Ideals).

Board books for littler ones

StoryOfThe Story of Valentine’s Day, by Nancy J. Skarmeas (Ideals).

ValentineForJesusBBMy Valentine for Jesus, by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton (Zonderkidz).

Big LoveHow Big Is Love? by Amy Parker (B&H Kids).

Just BecauseI Love You Just Because, by Donna Keith (Tommy Nelson).

LotsLoveLots of Love, by Kim Washburn (Zonderkidz).

Love You PrayerAn “I Love You” Prayer, by Amy Parker (Tommy Nelson).

ValStoryKindleOnlyMy Valentine Story, by Crystal Bowman (Zonderkidz), Kindle only.

baby-baby-cover-768x768My own Baby, Baby! (Worthy Kids/Ideals) features a high-quality mirror on the last spread so babies can see the answer to the question “Who does God love?”

Have I left out your favorite love-themed book for Valentine’s Day for kids? Let me know in the comments!

– Diane

Start Here: Reading to Babies? Yes! Here’s How

CindiSPDid you know that a book is a great investment in the spiritual development of a baby? It’s true.

It’s never too early to read to a child, even a child still in utero. Babies learn to recognize the voices they hear repeatedly in the womb.

Then, during babies’ first year, introducing them to books is the first step to creating life-long readers. (And children comfortable with books are more likely to feel at home exploring God’s book, the Bible!)

I gleaned these tips for reading with babies from the post “Weaving Reading into Baby’s Day” at GrowingBookByBook.com. (It’s a good site to bookmark!)

1. Babies are easiest to engage when they first wake up in the morning or from a nap.

2. Include books among babies’ toys.

3. Keep books in your diaper bag to pull out during waiting times.

4. Sing songs and rhymes from babies’ books during bath time.

5. End the day with a book at bedtime.

You might already be doing these things. If so, you’re not only helping baby develop a love of reading but also impacting your baby’s love of God’s Word as he grows.

And if you haven’t started reading to your little one yet … well, today is the best day to start!

baby-baby-cover-768x768Need a new book for your baby? My Baby, Baby! board book celebrates all the things babies can do and just how much God loves every one!

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– Diane

8 Kids Devotionals to Start a New Year

The right children’s devotional book helps you as a parent or grandparent involve kids you love in forming the joyful habit of spending time with God’s Word each day.

Here’s a list of 8 newer devotionals for you to check out.

lovelyWhatever Is Lovely: 90-Day Devotional Journal, by Allia Zobel-Nolan (Zonderkidz) for tween girls.

forceMay the Faith Be with You: 180 Devotions That Are Out of This World (Zonderkidz), for ages 6-10.

hopeHope for Each Day: 365 Devotions for Kids, by Billy Graham (Tommy Nelson), for ages 6-10. I was privileged to get to work on this book with the teams at Nelson and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

all-of-meJesus Wants All of Me, by Phil Smouse (Discovery House). Based on Oswald Chambers’s My Utmost for His Highest, for ages 6-8.

happyDuck Commander Happy, Happy, Happy Stories for Kids: Fun and Faith-Filled Stories, by Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard (Tommy Nelson), for ages 4-8.

bedtimeBedtime Devotions with Jesus, compiled by Johnny Hunt (Tommy Nelson), for ages 4-8.

snuggleSnuggle Time Prayers, by Glenys Nellist (Zonderkidz), for ages 2-4.

51xal4gqil-_sx361_bo1204203200_My own Say & Pray Devotions (Tommy Nelson), for ages 1-3. It’s never too early to start connecting your child’s daily experiences with our heavenly Father!

Of course, there are many other tried-and-true devotional classics for kids too. Does your family have a favorite? Let me know in the comments.

 

– Diane

An Advent Idea for Long-Distance Grandparents

img_0208Like all children do, our grandboys are growing fast. This year we won’t be seeing the Berg boys (ages 9, 4, and nearly 2) during the holidays, but I came up with a fun way to stay connected anyway!

Tomorrow I’ll mail off the first of 25 envelopes for them to open each day. Inside they’ll find activity pages, decorations and simple crafts, small gifts and treats, and even some dollar bills.

To get them thinking about others, there are also Christmas note cards they can draw or write in and then send! (I’ve included Christmas stamps too.)

I’ve included both Christian and general aspects of the holiday in my selections, as well as taking into account the boys’ ages, interests, and abilities. Most days there’s something for each one individually, but some days they’ll need to work together.

I don’t know where this idea came from, but I’ve had fun with it so far, and I hope the boys have fun with it too. I’ll let you know. And maybe it’s an idea you can use or adapt, to stay in touch with your faraway family. If you try it, I’d love to hear from you!

– Diane

What Does Thanksgiving Day Truly Celebrate?

First grandson’s first Thanksgiving celebration, 2007

Scroll through social media in November and you’ll find an abundance of thankfulness posts. So appropriate, you might think, since we’re gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving Day here in America.

But I wonder.

Most of these posts express gratitude for personal blessings. Mine have too. Here’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving photos. Since 2007, I’ve been especially grateful for my grandboys!

However, the American Thanksgiving holiday began as a day of thanks throughout our nation for national blessings. (Officially, anyway. The Pilgrims and native Americans had kicked things off a number of years earlier.)

Here’s President Washington’s 1789 proclamation, with a few lines highlighted in bold because they seem especially important in these times of division, disagreement, and disrespect.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress,
on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

You can find President Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation here and President Roosevelt’s, in 1938, here.

Thanking God for His goodness to us personally is always appropriate. Hearing our children thank Him is always wonderful.

But this year, this Thanksgiving, could we all thank God for his blessings on America, and pray that we, our nation, and our leaders will turn to Him and live each day aware of the responsibilities and actions our national blessings require?

– Diane