After reading through a Bible geared at preschool readers three times it was time to move my elementary boy up a notch. Two or three years ago now, I found this little gem. It is called, “My First Message”. If you have ever read The Message, by Eugene Peterson you know it is incredibly insightful and can help illuminate your understanding of the scriptures with up to date language. The author himself tackled this version for kids. It is recommended for ages 6-8 and it is right on.
Why the kids like it?
One word, Manty. I had no idea that there was a subliminal grasshopper hidden through the pages of scripture until I picked up this book. This little character shows up hidden in the illustrations, and help the kids stay in tune. They love looking for Manty.
Why the parents like it?
This book challenges you to take these few moments and do four things: The first is Read. Got that one. The second is Think. Throughout the pages of My First Message there are simple definitions and key questions that surround key terms. Stopping to ask my boys these question really help them remember and seal the story in their hearts, rather than just quickly reading and slamming the book shut. That happens every once in a while, but that is only when Dad is in too big a hurry.
The third is Pray. At the end of every story there is a short challenge to pray to help apply what you have learned. It helps bring concepts like forgiveness and faith and self-control and love (and whatever else), and make them practical for this age group.
The last is Live. This is often a craft or family activity that you can do to help you further apply and remember the story that you have read. We don’t really do this at bedtime, but these make for great rainy day or family day activities. My kids have made the garden tomb out of play dough and imagined it empty, things like that. We don’t have any of the disciples action figures (I’m sure they exist somewhere) so often Peter, James, and John, show a strong resemblance to Obi-wan, Anakin, and even Yoda. That’s how we roll.
Whether or not you pick up the same books we have is irrelevant. My hope is that each of us trying to raise kids with a Christian world view will take a little intentional time every day to grow them in faith. A little time every day can compound into a lifetime of knowledge and application.