Carol McAdams Moore loves Jesus, books, and kids—and connecting kids to Jesus through the books she writes.
Her innovative preteen devotional for boys, Dare U to Open This Book, won the 2015 Selah Award for Children’s Literature. There’s an equally engaging girls’ devotional too, titled Just Sayin’.
Carol’s a wife, mom, and soon-to-be grandma! She’s a teacher and a thinker.
I’m happy to have this talented author here today!
Carol, how long have you been writing, and how did you get started?
In the Christian and education markets for about 12 years, but I started writing for my students long before that. Originally, I was a teacher of the hearing impaired. At that time, it was difficult to find books and articles that were a good match for my elementary students’ interests and their reading level. The college program I attended at Illinois State University had taught me to rewrite things already in print, and I got lots of on-the-job training in writing and rewriting.
What impact has teaching had on your writing?
I am surrounded by preteen readers all day. I see the kinds of books they read and the books they toss back on the shelf. I also have the awesome opportunity to see the things that are huge to kids —what things excite them, worry them, and challenge them.
Why did you decide to write about your faith?
My faith has always been huge in my life. In fact, I was called to exercise my faith as a college freshman. It is a long story, but I wanted with all my heart to teach children with hearing impairments. I almost missed that opportunity because of some well-intended advice. I had to wait two years to see if I would be accepted into the program I wanted. THAT was a time of much prayer, soul-searching, and waiting faith.
Now I think that God actually used the well-intended advice to test my heart for sincerity in serving Him and for me to grow in my faith. I want young readers to grow in their faith, too. I pray that my writing will influence them to do that.
Where did you get the idea for your devotional books?
One day my students were returning from a Scholastic Book Fair. I noticed that they all had a similar style of book, something that allowed them to write or doodle their responses to questions. They were so engaged with the books, we actually cancelled reading class that day so they could spend more time reading for fun.
I wondered why we didn’t have devotional books that engaged preteens in the same way and decided I wanted to write devotionals in the same format. Zonderkidz agreed with me, and in the fall of 2014, the books came out.
What do you most enjoy about writing for young people?
I love to see young readers explore ideas for themselves through reading. When kids are 10 to 12, they start to be challenged by their peers to follow the group instead of what they have been taught at home and at church. I love writing things that early readers, preteens, or teens can read on their own and be encouraged to grow in their faith and stand strong when they are challenged.
What do you hope to be doing in five years?
I hope to write more books for children and teens. Besides devotionals, I’d like to try my hand at writing fiction. In fact, I have some titles in both those genres that are in the works right now.
That’s fabulous! When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
I love to spend time with my family. We have a very shy cat named Luna and a happy, energetic dog named Bear. I also love growing mammoth sunflowers that peek over our fence to tell the neighbors hi.
Sounds wonderful. I’d love to pay a visit and see those sunflowers!
Find my 5-star review of Carol’s devotionals here.
A quick trip to visit the out-of-town grandboys = time to use the I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God free printables!
The coloring pages occupied Asher while Solomon and I organized the I AM matching game.
Sol cut out the squares with the meanings of all forty names in the book.
Then he chose a square, read the meaning, and hunted for the name matching that description on the printable charts. I explained that one chart is Old Testament names and one is New Testament.
It took some thought …
When we made a match, we put the cutout square on top of the name on the chart.
We talked about why I AM is a name for God and for Jesus, looked up some of the stories in the book for clues, learned some things, and had fun! We only got halfway through the names before supper, so we’ll have to get in another session before it’s time for G and Bopba to return home!
Allia Zobel Nolan is an internationally published author of 200 children’s and adult trade titles. Her books reflect her two main passions, God and cats.
Allia is one of my favorite people! Her books include such varied titles as Whatever Is Lovely; Thank You, God, from Kids Around the World; Hugs & Kisses, God, from Kids Around the World; The Beauty of Believing; Cat Confessions: A Kitty-Come-Clean Tell-All Book; The Ten Commandments for Little Ones; Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much; The Joy of Being Fifty (illustrated by Roz Chast), and The Worrywart’s Prayer Book.
One of Allia’s children’s books is Angels in the Bible Storybook.
Allia lives in Connecticut with her husband, Desmond Finbarr Nolan, and their feline children, Sineady Cat, the Fraidy Cat, and Nolan Nolan.
How long have you been writing for children, Allia, and how did you get started?
God, as He is so often wont to do, made lemonade out of lemons, which is how I got started writing for children. I was a journalist and an author of humorous cat books, when out of the blue, my retina detached.
I almost went blind. That’s the lemon part. Though God had a purpose for my going through this, it was a pretty scary time for me. Anyway, while I was recuperating, I went through a lot of my savings. So when I could see again, I answered an ad for an editor’s position at Reader’s Digest Children’s Books. I had been an editor for several kids’ magazines/newsletters. But I had never written a children’s book. Still, I applied, and got the job. It was only supposed to be until I got back on my feet. However, again, God had other ideas.
And that’s the lemonade part: I was so fascinated by the whole process of putting a children’s book together—and especially a Bible book for kids—that I got hooked. I loved the whole process—coming up with the idea, researching, writing the book, working with Scripture, collaborating with the designers on illustrations, watching the final art come in—it was the most marvelous thing I had ever experienced.
That when I realized this was what I was meant to do. This was what my whole life was leading up to. That was about 15-plus years ago. Though I left Reader’s Digest to be on my own again, I never stopped creating children’s books and loving it … though I do vacillate from the divine to the feline and write cat books as well.
Can you tell us something about your writing process?
I really don’t have a process per se. I have a deadline and I write what I need to. I’m not one to spend a lot of time on outlines, though. I do have one writing tool I use when I’m blocked, which my husband suggested. And it works.
If I’m writing a long book and I get stuck, I don’t push it. Instead of staring at the computer, or going around in circles, I write the chapter title on top of the page, then write whatever comes into my head, nonstop, free flow, in no special order, complete with typos and format mistakes. Then I print out these notes, put them in a folder, and move on to the next chapter. Writing nonstop saves me from wasting time, and the freedom to put down anything and everything unblocks me. Some of what I’ve written eventually makes it into the chapter, and some doesn’t. But at least I have something to show for my day.
Why did you decide to write about your faith?
I think my decision was already made for me. I was led.
What gives you joy about writing?
I love to make people laugh, or failing that, at least make them smile. I love to leave them with a sense of hope and enthusiasm about God and the world. I love to remind them—and especially young children—that they are loved no matter what. And then of course, if I reach someone with my writing, I can’t ask for more.
One Amazon reader posted that his son was in the ICU and that he had a 10 percent chance of making it. His wife got a copy of my book I Love You the World, and the father wrote that he read the book to his boy every day. He ended his review with “I really believe that part of Jackson living came from us reading this book to him on a daily basis. I am grateful for this book, eternally grateful.” Now that gives me joy!
Did you read a lot as a child? What were your favorite books?
I read everything and anything. My mother used to tell me to get my head out of a book and go get a job. I was twenty-three at the time. Actually, I read lots of poetry and fairy tales and novels; my father read us the Bible on Sundays. I loved Eloise at the Plaza and Matilda. My favorite book was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
You have a special love for cats … and dogs too. Tell us about your animal family members.
Where to begin? Well, I absolutely love cats and I’ve written nine humor books about them. Recently, though, I lost two of my cats within six months of each other. As you might imagine, I was devastated. But the most amazing thing happened. I went to a rescue I don’t normally go to because I saw a cat on its website. The cat in question was not a good fit for my family, as I still have an older, timid cat. On my way out, I spied a tiny black kitten peeking out of his cage. (I wanted a black cat.) I asked the adoption lady about him. “Oh,” she said, “you mean Nolan?” Talk about a gift from God. I didn’t want a kitten (Nolan was five months at the time). But how could I not adopt a cat who already had our name. We call him Nolan Nolan, and he’s a dream!
Angels in the Bible Storybook includes fun facts about angels. What fascinated or amazed you most as you were researching and writing this book?
Two things threw me for a loop: the misinformation out there about angels (for instance, some people turn into angels when they die…NOT!) and the dearth of books focusing on the role God gave the angels in his overall plans. That’s why I was thrilled when we decided to include real facts, as well as introduce some not-as-well-known stories—stories that are compelling and exciting but don’t receive as much attention as favorites like Noah and Moses. I was also intrigued to read some scholars feel that in the stories that mention the Angel of the Lord, this is really the preincarnate Jesus, and not just a “regular” angel!
Do you have new projects underway?
Right now, I am working on excavating my office, which is a “creative” mess. Sometimes, when I’m working on a big book, I let things slide. So I have to take some time to file and get things in order.
I am also working on a book about cats and heaven, a gift book, some children’s novelty book ideas, and a chapter book with a fat cat as its main character.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I read a lot, and then I read some more, and watch Downton Abbey and anything on PBS TV. I teach chair aerobics on a volunteer basis to seniors at a convalescent home (two are 102 years young), I sing in the church choir, I am studying Spanish, and I keep in touch with friends I’ve had for ages … and I do mean ages. I also make earrings for fun. I am blessed, for sure.
Thanks, Allia! I hope you will keep writing for a very long time!
My 5-star review of Allia’s new Angels in the Bible Storybook is here.
To connect with Allia or learn more, visit
Tomorrow’s the official pub date for this new book. Isn’t the cover beautiful? I love how it sparkles.You can often guess someone’s age by considering their name. Diane, for example, was popular in the 1950s, so . . . that tells you something about me.
But God’s personal name? Well, it’s ageless. Just like him.
When Moses met God at the burning bush and received the task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, he wasn’t exactly thrilled at first. He peppered God with questions, including, “When I tell the people that I met you here and you gave me this assignment, they’re going to want to know your name. What should I tell them?”
The Israelites had just about forgotten who the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was.
But God hadn’t forgotten them. Not at all.
“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” (Ex. 3:14)
I AM WHO I AM. I always have been. I will always be. I will never change.
When God revealed his name to Moses, he used the Hebrew YHWH (the Hebrew language has no vowels). Some English Bible translations use Yahweh wherever God’s name occurs, but most follow the tradition of replacing Yahweh with “the LORD” (using large and small caps).
Eventually the term Jehovah appeared. It’s found throughout the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, and today many of the descriptions added to God’s name in the Bible are popularly known using Jehovah (for example, Jehovah Jireh, “The LORD Will Provide” and Jehovah Rophe, “The LORD Who Heals”)—even though Yahweh is a much more likely accurate pronunciation.
But however I AM is written or pronounced, it IS the name God gave us to tell us about himself. And it is the name Jesus used for himself when he said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58)!
Choosing a book title is rarely easy. Choosing a title for this book about the names of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit took a long time. I couldn’t be more grateful to the Tommy Nelson Publishing team that developed and settled on the title I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God.
As our children and families go through the book together, may we all grow mightily in our understanding of who God is and our relationship with him!
Is going to the mailbox a highlight of your day? (Maybe not if all you’re expecting is bills.) But what if you’re looking for a letter from someone special?
A love letter, perhaps!
Children especially love to receive and open mail. So a picture book filled with letters … love letters … love letters from God—what could be better?
That’s what Glenys Nellist decided, and her debut picture book Love Letters from God was published by Zonderkidz in 2014. (Read my review here.) Now there’s a lift-the-flap board book version too—Little Love Letters from God. It features rhyming text that toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy.
Glenys is a wife, mother of four sons, and grandmother to three little boys and one little girl. She also serves as children’s ministry coordinator for the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. I’m happy to welcome Glenys to my blog today!
Glenys, you grew up in England and have family there. Do you visit there often? What are your favorite things to do on visits home?
I was born and raised in a little village in northern England, where I lived until we came to the United States fifteen years ago. I am so blessed that I get to go back “home” every year, to visit my seven siblings and numerous nieces and nephews. Whenever we go back to England, we love to walk by the side of the canal where we lived (usually in the rain!), eat fish and chips—and Cadbury’s chocolate!
How did you come to live in the United States?
My husband is a pastor, and our denomination offers an international exchange program for pastors and their families who want to participate. Basically, this means that for six weeks, you swap pulpits, homes, and cars (that’s scary because you guys drive on the wrong side of the road!) with another pastor anywhere in the world. It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience life, culture, and ministry overseas.
In 1999 we asked our four young sons, where shall we go? Their immediate reply, in unison, was “AMERICA!” (This was really because they wanted to visit Disney World.) So we came to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the summer of 1999. We absolutely fell in love with the USA and the possibilities of ministry here, so much so that we came back one year later, and have been here ever since. But we still haven’t been to Disney World.
Did you read a lot to your children as they grew up? What were your favorite books?
I’m so glad you asked this question! Yes! As a primary school teacher in England, and an avid reader myself, our house was full of books. Our all-time favorite book was published in 1986, and I still have our battered copy. It was called The Jolly Postman, and told the wonderful story of a postman who delivered letters to nursery rhyme characters. Written in rhyme, its innovative feature was that the pages were actual envelopes that contained real letters.
I can still remember the joy of snuggling with my four young sons on the sofa as we poured over its pages, and the delight of my youngest son as he reached his chubby little hand inside the envelopes to take the letters out. It was this little book that would inspire me to write Love Letters from God.
Do you have more book projects underway?
Yes! I’m so happy to say that Christmas Love Letters from God and Girls’ Love Letters from God, along with their board book versions for toddlers, will soon be available. Beyond that, I have more Love Letter projects in the works and a new board book series, called Snuggle Time—Snuggle Time Prayers, and Snuggle Time Psalms—to be published later this year. God is good, and all the glory for the words I write goes to him.
What do you hope to be doing in five years?
I hope to be doing what God wants me to! But if it is part of his plan, then I’d love to have more adorable grandchildren (to add to the four I already have), be able to be writing more books, and perhaps live on a little lake, where we might have room for the wooden boats my husband builds in his spare time. (We are already up to boat number four, so living in the city is not very conducive to his hobby!)
Thank you for visiting, Glenys!
Zonderkidz is offering a free copy of Little Love Letters from God to readers of my blog! To be eligible to win, you must live in the US and have a street address (no PO boxes.) To enter, just post “I’d love to win” in a comment below. The giveaway will stay open through 11:59 pm EST on Friday, January 22.
Want to know more about Glenys and Little Love Letters from God? This post is part of a once-a-week blog hop. You’ll find the full blog hop schedule at Glenys’s website.
(Not sure? Are you involved with missions efforts or agencies, or sending churches? Most of the missionaries you work with do have parents!)
Our family-oriented Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are coming, and they can be tough when beloved children and grandchildren are half a world or more away.
Even when you’re proud and happy to be a POM.
So I want to put in a little plug for a book I co-wrote in 2008 that is still selling and still helping POMs thrive and stay connected when their children and grandchildren serve cross-culturally.
In a recent issue of Tell magazine
You can see an outline of the contents and read reviews and endorsements and find links for purchasing the book here.
It would make a wonderful Christmas present for any POMs who don’t have a copy yet.
And I also want to offer some tips to POMs (or anyone else dealing with sadness or loss) for getting through the holidays intact.
Yes, you can.
If these would be helpful to anyone you know, feel free to copy and share! (Just be sure to include the copyright notice, please.)
Ten Tips for Getting Through the Holidays as a POM
1. Plan ahead to avoid exhaustion, which accentuates all other feelings of sadness or loss. How could you simplify Christmas this year?
2. Giving up the common expectation that throughout life we would be able to enjoy our adult children and our grandchildren is a loss, and losses must be grieved. Try to identify where you are in the grieving process.
3. Let go of the “oughts” of the season, including how you “ought” to feel. Just be yourself. It is normal to experience distress in the face of loss.
4. Brainstorm ways you can insure adequate personal and emotional support for yourself throughout the holidays. Some examples: Schedule personal “down time” throughout the season. Find a close friend who is willing to listen without judging. Have some extra “God time.” Plan a new kind of holiday activity and invite others to join you.
5. Identify interpersonal issues within your family that need to be addressed before the holidays in order to prevent unwanted tensions.
6. Clarify your personal expectations about the holidays and communicate those to family members in advance to avoid misunderstanding, surprises, and disappointments. Learn the expectations of others. Find mutually agreeable solutions.
7. List all the good new things God has provided even as you have had to endure the absence of loved ones on the mission field.
8. List all the good things you can think of about having an adult child in missions.
9. Locate other POMs in your area. Work out a plan to stay in contact, even once a week, during the holidays. If possible, plan to attend together one event that everyone would enjoy.
10. Find news ways to include your missionary children and grandchildren in your celebration or to be a part of theirs. Make your own “books on tape” for grandchildren, write and send an email “journal” about holiday preparations and activities, open gifts together while on the phone, learn to send digital photos, invite your children’s friends to join your celebration. Think creatively and plan ahead.
Growing up, our family went from one extreme to the other on how we celebrated Halloween. With our own family to think about now, my husband and I have changed our opinions on a few things over the years, but the overall thought is the same – we want Christ to be the center of whatever we do. We participate in a fall festival at our church, but don’t go gather candy from neighbors. We do carve pumpkins, but we always do one that is based on the book Let’s Shine Jesus’ Light on Halloween and The Pumpkin Patch Parable, and focus on what the light of Jesus and what He has done for us. We can’t avoid all the decorations that we see in the weeks leading up to Halloween, but we can talk about the scary things together. As believers we can still share and be the light of Christ during a holiday that is focused on darkness.
When I was growing up, Halloween festivities were, well, festive.
Actually, where I grew up—Anaheim, California—had the largest Halloween celebration in the country for a while. Schools closed, children painted downtown storefront windows and marched in costume in a morning parade, and that evening an even larger assembly of floats, marching bands, and drill teams paraded through town.
On Halloween night, dusk hushed the little orange-grove-turned-subdivision street we lived on, and then, as porch lights and jack-o-lanterns glimmered one by one, costumed children ventured down walkways and onto sidewalks. The entire neighborhood transformed for two hours. It was magical.
And at times a little scary.
But outwardly at least, Halloween wasn’t nearly as dark and violent as it can be today.
Still, some families want to give their children the fun of carving pumpkins and dressing up and going house to house at night (or store to store in the mall). They can’t prevent their children from seeing every one of the spookier outdoor displays (even our wonderful Cincinnati Zoo decorates on the scary side much more than I would like, especially for the littlest kids).
These families focus on the fun of appearing in wholesome costumes; they talk with their children about the reasons they don’t decorate with witches and ghosts.
They aren’t naive about the realities of the underside of Halloween and they avoid them, confident in the greater power of the One they belong to as Christians.
That’s the spirit of Let’s Shine Jesus Light on Halloween.
Halloween is jack-o-lanterns, costumes, and candy on a dark and spooky night, but Jesus is the light of the world!
I love this little book, and although it’s now out of print, I’m thankful to hear that my words and Rusty Fletcher’s art did make a difference!
We speak thousands of words in a day. With many of them, we try to encourage a positive self-image in our children or grandchildren:
“Good job, buddy” when he successfully builds a tower with blocks.
“You did great!” when she adds the final puzzle piece.
“You’re so strong” when he makes it across the crossing bars.
“You’re a good helper” when he hands you clean flatware from the dishwasher.
But what if our praises have an effect exactly opposite to what we want to accomplish? What if we’re not helping children feel good about themselves at all?
Researchers, parenting experts, and educators all suggest there are perils in too much praise and the wrong kind of praise.
We give children too much praise when we do it almost without thinking and when we give it whether anything praiseworthy has actually happened.
Are participation trophies given with loud cheers to every kid on the team truly deserved praise? NFL linebacker James Harrison didn’t think so, and sent his 6- and 8-year-olds’ participation trophies back.
“While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy,” Harrison said in a post on Instagram. “I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best.”
Children begin to tune out praise when it is insincere—and much frequent, offhand praise is just that. The painting really isn’t amazing and beautiful, and the child knows it. At the same time, children can become “praise junkies,” needing their parents’ constant approval rather than valuing their own accomplishments and depending on their own judgments. The result is a child who believes worth is tied to performance and who fears failure—and becomes reluctant to try new things or face challenges.
Children DO need encouragement and praise—but let’s make it the right kind. Experts say to praise the process, not the person.
Person praise focuses on the child’s traits, like intelligence or musical ability—”You’re a good boy”; “You’re so smart”; “You’re really good at this.”
Process praise focuses on the child’s effort and output and doesn’t make a judgment. It gives the child feedback with specific information—“You used a lot of colors in your drawing”; “I can see you are working hard to build your sandcastle”; “You helped your sister up when she fell. That was kind.”
Person praise reduces motivation; children begin to feel that their abilities are fixed and there is no reason to try to go beyond them. The Bible is right when it says, “A flattering mouth causes ruin” (Proverbs 2:28)!
Process praise encourages children to take on challenges, confront weaknesses, and grow. It also communicates family values.
I’ve never counted the number of times I say “Good job, buddy” when I’m with one of my grandsons, but I know it’s a lot. Changing this habit is going to take some work!
In the early months, your baby moves from crying as her main means of communication to vocalizing, smiling at you, and maybe even mimicking your facial expressions. It’s an exciting time!
Here are 5 ideas you can use to keep your baby moving along that exciting path to acquiring language.
1. Talk, babble, sing, and coo. From baby’s earliest days, interact with him or her. Talk about what you are doing as you go through your day. “Baby talk” is fine, but mix in real words too. You also can imitate sounds your baby makes, and wait for him to respond.
2. The more words and conversation they hear, the better. And these words need to be actually spoken to the child and to others around him; words heard from a screen don’t count—but the words you use as you talk to your child about what is happening on the screen do.
3. Speak slowly, clearly, and in complete sentences. Ask questions. Connect gestures with language. If your toddler points to the refrigerator, for example, ask, “Do you want a snack?” and wait for a response. “What do you want to eat? Yogurt? OK, let’s get some yogurt.”
4. Make music a part of your life. Learn and sing classic childhood songs as well as newer favorites. As children hear and learn the words, they learn to understand and repeat them. Songs with motions (like “The Wheels on the Bus”) make learning a whole-body experience.
5. Introduce books early. Young babies are drawn to simple, high-contrast pictures (like those in Jimmy Fallon’s Dada). And your baby will enjoy hearing your familiar voice reading books with rhyming or rhythmic text. For older babies and toddlers, choose books with board pages and right pictures. Activities like touch ‘n feel elements, lift-the-flaps, pop-ups, and sound chips are a plus.
Books don’t have to be “educational” to pack lots of learning for little ones. Whatever the subject, name and point to objects and people in the illustrations. Include a good Bible storybook in your child’s library, and use it to introduce your child to Bible words and people. I wrote and designed Say and Pray Bible to encourage little ones to point and name.
You can find lots more information about how children acquire language and tips for helping them at www.kidshealth.org and clicking on the Growth and Development tab. “Choosing Baby Books and Toddler Books” on Scholastic.com has more tips for choosing books just right for your child too.