Preparing for Advent, the Preparation for Christmas: Favorite Resources for Advent

Preparing for Advent, the Preparation for Christmas

Favorite Resources for Advent 

By Cynthia Coe

For those of us working in the Church, one of the busiest times of the year fast approaches.  We busy ourselves with planning Christmas pageants, special Christmas Eve services, and special fundraising drives or “secret Santa” projects.  In the wider culture, most everyone begins Christmas shopping and family dinner and celebration planning.

Yet we say that Advent is a penitential season, much like Lent.  We say it’s a time of prayer and of special holiness, a time to “get right with God” before celebrating anything at all.

The ancient practice of observing Advent as a time of penitence is at odds with the modern culture of ramping up our shopping and party planning, generally running from before Halloween through the New Year.  Is there still a place for a true observance of Advent?

We don’t have to be spoil sports on this.  Christmas really can be a lot of fun and a time of joy.  Yet in our culture, all the office parties, children’s pageants, gift giving and even dealing with the sheer volume of traffic around our normal shopping venues can get to be too much.  Could the observance of a more holy Advent, just for a few minutes a day, help us cope?

In this culture of over-commercialization, frenetic spending and eating, and the inevitable let-down after all the fanfare ends, a little bit of quiet time and a detour around all the hoopla might be just what our parishioners need…or even want.  The best gift we might give those we serve might be tools to find just a few minutes a day of peacefulness, quiet, a deep breath, and a little time to ponder what really matters in life.

Here are some little devotional books for use during the Advent season:

Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas (Franciscan Media, 2008).  This little book is a terrific introduction to Richard Rohr’s theology, as well as a delight to those who are already fans.  At $3 for a paperback copy, this little gem is affordable for teacher gifts or other tokens of appreciation and support.

Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Liguori, 2004).  This compilation of excerpts from Henri Nouwen’s work is a wonderful introduction to his books, as well as a nice collection of short devotionals – each with a scripture passage, prayer, and suggested action item.  About $12 in paperback only.

Advent with Evelyn Underhill (Morehouse, 2006).  The ultimate pre-Christmas gift for mystics.  It can mystically appear on your e-reader for about $10.  Hallelujah!

Ann Nichols, The Faith of St. Nick (Barbour Publishing, 2012).  This book is great for family devotionals or a short bedtime story with children during Advent.  These devotionals are focused on the “real” St. Nicholas and provide inspiration, thoughtfulness, and some early church history on a child’s level.  At $4 for a paperback copy, this is a bargain and appropriate for gifts to families.

Need a children’s chapel program for Advent?  Yes, this is a shameless plug, but the children’s chapel version of the Abundant Life Garden Project® resources are my favorites among the resources I’ve written.  Available for free download at www.episcopalrelief.org/children.   Click on the icon for “Children’s Chapel.”

Blessings for the pre-Advent season, Cindy

The Deep Roots of Montessori-Based Spirituality – How Will They Bloom?

The Deep Roots of Montessori-Based Spirituality – How Will They Bloom?

A review and essay on Jerome W. Berryman’s new book, The Spiritual Guidance of Children: Montessori, Godly Play, and the Future

By Cynthia Coe

The most groundbreaking development in Christian formation in the 20th century was the use of Montessori methodology in Christian education curricula.  Jerome Berryman’s new book, The Spiritual Guidance of Children: Montessori, Godly Play, and the Future, traces the history of Maria Montessori’s contributions to religious education, along with subsequent generations of Montessori-based programs, including Godly Play and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

These two programs are much in use in the Episcopal Church, and anyone who has ever wondered about either program, taught or led either program, or has any interest in either Montessori or Christian formation would find Jerome Berryman’s book quite interesting.  In the Episcopal Church, much talk has centered on the differences between Godly Play and Catechesis – which is best for use in Episcopal parishes, what topics each program covers, whether the developers of the two programs worked together or even got along.  This book tells all!  (And, spoiler alert: Jerome Berryman and Sofia Cavalletti actually did get along very well and communicated fondly until Sofia’s death in 2009).

The most intriguing and challenging portions of Berryman’s new book are at the end.  How are the “deep roots” of Montessori-based religious education in full flower in this 21st century?  How will the seeds of Montessori-based religious education spread into new fields of spirituality?  My own most profound uses of Godly Play materials have been with my father, as he spent his last months of life in a nursing home suffering from dementia.  My father lit up with joy each time I brought out the colorful materials, and he was able to articulate, wrestle, and perhaps come to terms with a number of spiritual issues, despite his greatly diminished mental state.  At the same time, I worked with the exact same materials with a little boy who wrestled with issues related to his time in an orphanage.  He, too, was able to articulate and explore his own issues through use of the materials.

As the Church reaches out to the wounded, the abandoned, the lonely, and those in any kind of pain or trouble, I wonder if use of the Montessori techniques might be used in more and more ways to help people of all ages come to terms with their pain and their worries?  I wonder if the peace, calm, and silence that are hallmarks of these programs might be just what we need in this world of constant noise, interruptions, busy-ness, and stress?  I wonder if giving children, youth, and adults an opportunity to express themselves freely in response to our Christian message and story might be ways to better engage people in more meaningful ways than we ever imagined?

Spiritual guidance and formation are in a state of change.  But I hope we tap into the now deep rooted contributions of Maria Montessori, Sofia Cavalletti, and Jerome Berryman to allow spiritual and religious formation to flower and grow, nourishing the spiritual and emotional well-being of those in our pews – as well as those in most need of spiritual formation who may not ever darken the doors of our churches.  For those of us who have used these techniques in the past, I hope we find new ways of spreading hope, resilience, and deep spirituality in the future.

Blessings, Cindy

Jerome Berryman’s new book, The Spiritual Guidance of Children, is available through online publishers in both print and e-book format for about $22 for print and about $14 for e-book.

I also invite you to read Jerome Berryman’s article, “The Middle Realm” in the Fall issue of Episcopal Teacher, available for download from Virginia Theological Seminary’s Center for the Ministry of Teaching at http://www.vts.edu/cmt/published/et 

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd vs. Godly Play

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Godly Play:

Two Excellent Montessori Methods of Christian Formation

What are the Differences, and Do They Matter?

By Cynthia Coe

Years ago, as a novice to children’s Christian education and a first year student in Virginia Theological Seminary’s master’s degree program in Christian education, I dropped a file folder of papers and got them hopelessly out of order.  I frowned, unable at a glance to figure out which Sunday school lay-out map pictured a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium and which pictured a Godly Play classroom.  I couldn’t, at a glance, tell the difference.  A few months later, after beginning training in Level One Catechesis and completing an intensive weekend training course in Godly Play, I could indeed tell the difference and even give a synopsis of the two programs to interested parents and clergy.  But I am still reminded that at first glance and to most people looking at the programs for the first time, the programs are remarkably similar.

Both programs are offspring of Maria Montessori’s work among impoverished children in Italy at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Both feature elements of a “prepared environment” of hands-on materials with which children may freely explore scripture and theological concepts.  Both emphasize quiet listening to God.  Both put high value on the child’s ability to experience the work of the Holy Spirit on his or her own.

Perhaps as importantly, both Catechesis and Godly Play are in the business of providing excellent Christian formation opportunities for children in a well thought-out manner.  Designers and trainers of both programs have paid careful attention to age-appropriateness, scriptural integrity, and theological content.  In my observations, excellent, dedicated teachers who are wonderful ministers to children are drawn and are actively working in both programs.

Teacher Training – What are the Goals?

While both programs provide excellent Christian formation for children, they arrive at this point by two very different routes.  Catechesis requires teachers (“catechists”) to attend 90+ hours of training to become certified in Level 1 (for 3-5 year olds), then further 90+ hour courses for Levels 2 and 3.  These training courses are typically conducted through weekend retreats over a two year period.  Catechesis training includes lectures and meditations aimed at giving Catechists a very rich grounding in the material presented.   In my observations, many people who enthusiastically sign up for these very lengthy training courses say they are looking for a Christian formation experience for themselves as much as they are looking to work with children.

In my mind, Godly Play is more of a skills-based training.  The basics of the Montessori method are presented, along with the general theological and methodological bases of the program.  However, the beauty of Godly Play is in its very hands-on emphasis on giving prospective teachers actual experience and practice in giving presentations to children and in actually using the materials with their own hands.  Trainees are sent out in small groups to study the presentation, work with the materials, and practice giving the presentations.  Those who complete the weekend can go back home with several presentations soundly under their belts.  The training is very positive, affirming, and builds great confidence in the prospective teacher.  It is not necessarily a Christian formation experience for adults (although I have to say I gained many personal spiritual insights in working with blank pieces of paper and crayons myself in the training.)  Godly Play training is wonderful for those who may have already taken Bible studies, EFM or other adult Christian formation studies and mostly want to learn the specific methodology of Montessori-based formation.

Thus, the training experiences of the two programs are, in my mind, like comparing the proverbial apple and orange.  Many look to Catechesis for a full adult formation experience (whether it was designed as such or not).  Godly Play assumes participants already are well versed in the basics of the Christian faith and scripture (or perhaps invites those aren’t into further adult studies).

Is there a common ground of shared concerns and practical challenges?  In my experience, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit adults willing to take the 90+ hour course required to become a catechist.  Looking around at the parents of children in my atrium at Church of the Ascension in Knoxville this past year, most of the parents are professionals.  Even if these parents (many of them women taking a break from careers to raise small children) were to sign up for a lengthy training course, they would almost certainly move on to other ministries or volunteer jobs or exclusively paying jobs after their children start school.  Realistically, the one weekend course offered by Godly Play is about the most they will attend.

Does this mean Catechesis is entirely out of bounds for most volunteers?  Not necessarily.  Parents continue to be interested in “helping.”  I can’t help wondering if an “assistant” certification, focused on skills rather than theology, and offered within a do-able time period (like the Godly Play weekend trainings) might help Catechesis continue into the future.

Time is indeed of the essence when administrators, clergy, and Christian education committees make decisions as to which children’s Christian formation curriculum they choose.  This element of time and what is realistically “do-able” is, in my opinion, at the crux of Jerome Berryman’s revisions to Catechesis as manifested in Godly Play.  Most Episcopal parishes offer a one hour block of time on Sunday morning for children’s Christian formation.   Catechesis, I understand, was designed for a two hour block of time, not necessarily on Sunday morning.

This element of time constraint is critical in understanding why a particular parish might choose Godly Play over Catechesis.  The time required for teacher training is one major element.  Another major element is the time and effort required to procure the materials used in the classroom or atrium.  Most of Catechesis materials must be hand made and custom made; Godly Play materials may be ordered over the internet.  While the materials used in Catechesis tend to be beautiful products of loving and heart-felt labor, the reality is that many typical parishes just can’t pull off the materials-making.  As a level two catechist at a typical medium sized parish in the Knoxville suburbs, I struggled to teach an atrium with only half the needed materials.  It was a miserable experience, and the program was eventually discontinued.   Personally, I just don’t have the skills to make materials, and I have gleefully ordered materials from Godly Play that are also beautiful, well made, and ready for me to use.  It’s a stewardship issue for me – my gifts and talents are in teaching and ministering to kids; not in carpentry.  I am absolutely fine in someone else using their own gifts and talents to make the materials and getting paid for their labors.  Many in the church do get paid fair salaries for their efforts!

Does this mean that Catechesis will slowly but surely get snuffed out by an American culture of “not enough time” and not enough workers in the vineyard?  Maybe not.  Catechesis, as I’ve experienced it, does best when it is presented as designed in a two hour block with trained catechists, proper materials, and kids arriving in comfortable play clothes brought by parents who really and truly want them to be there.  This scenario might not necessarily be the same as a typical parish Sunday morning Sunday School offering.

In fact, in Knoxville, the programs that have recently thrived have been the programs offered outside the Sunday morning time block and even outside of the parish building.  One home Catechesis atrium now attracts more children than the Sunday morning parish program.  In the past, weekday morning and weekday afternoon programs at Church of the Ascension were enthusiastically attended, and there was never a lack of trained and available catechists.

More importantly, these non-Sunday morning programs reached children who really and truly needed them.  In one weekday two-hour program, one child’s parent had just passed away, another child’s parent was diagnosed with cancer, and yet another child’s father was about to head off to combat duty overseas.  The two hour block, guided by two experienced children’s ministers, gave us an opportunity to minister to these children in a quiet, spiritual retreat atmosphere using the longer period of time we really needed.  After teaching this particular atrium, the Sunday morning program felt very, very rushed to me.

Catechesis “outside the box” of the typical Sunday morning format also opens up the door to ecumenical offerings, creating opportunities for both resource sharing and theological sharing.  I was continually amazed at the number of denominations represented in training courses in Knoxville.  Participants from Methodist, Orthodox, and even Evangelical churches joined Episcopalians and Roman Catholics in community centered around Catechesis.  In this respect, Catechesis might serve best when it is outside just one denomination.

Anglican vs. Roman Catholic – Does it Matter?

Does it matter to Episcopal parishes seeking quality children’s Christian formation whether the program is Anglican or Roman Catholic in origin and design?  While Catechesis has a wonderful ecumenical following, those selecting one curriculum over the other do look at the underlying theology of a program or curriculum.  For instance, the designers of the Episcopal Children’s Curriculum very consciously make sure the theology and practice of the Book of Common Prayer is reflected in the curriculum.  Generally speaking, an Episcopal parish choosing a curriculum anew would be better served by calling up the church-owned and sponsored publisher than, say, a fundamentalist Baptist publisher when seeking options.

Is the Episcopal Church “close” enough to Roman Catholicism to share or simply tweak the same curricula for its specific uses?  My own opinion is that the person teaching the curriculum makes a huge difference.  My own teaching of Catechesis and Godly Play is nearly identical.  That is because I am Anglican, and Anglican theology is going to seep into my teaching no matter what program or curriculum I teach.

With that said, there are a couple of important differences between Catechesis and Godly Play which some would find important when choosing one program over the other.  The first concerns the Old Testament – Godly Play teaches it; Catechesis does not in programs for younger children.  Personally, I love the Old Testament lessons of Godly Play and find them both age appropriate and scripturally sound.  My own children love the lessons given in the OT desert box, and I have gained many insights from the OT materials myself.  Godly Play is indeed more Trinitarian in its focus and thus more in line with the theology of the Book of Common Prayer than the more Christocentric nature of Catechesis.

Another seemingly small but perhaps important difference is the focus on “wondering” in Godly Play.  If the difference between “proclamation” in Catechesis and “wondering” in Godly Play is seen as a notable difference, I might suggest that this difference is not just about words.  The Anglican Church does encourage its parishioners to do more “wondering” than the Roman Catholic Church.  We Anglicans are encouraged to use our brains to think about theological issues as part our Anglican “3 legged stool” of scripture, tradition, and reason.  What the Catechists might call Berryman’s openness to “the fact that children may go off on their own tangents as they try to make meaning for themselves” might be a reflection of a more Anglican perspective on scripture.

Does all or any of this matter?  It depends on your priorities and your goals for Christian formation of children and of adults.  What a parish values, what it hopes to accomplish, and what it can realistically pull off will drive the choice between one program or the other.  If a parish chooses Godly Play, that might mean the parish chooses to be more in line with Anglican values and the Book of Common Prayer.  That might mean the parish is being realistic about what it can offer and what its volunteers can reasonable do.  That might mean that adult Christian formation is already in place or that adults will seek their own formation in other, separate ways.

If a parish chooses Godly Play or another Episcopal curriculum for its primary Sunday morning offering, this might simply mean that Catechesis would be better presented in another venue, in another time period, or in some other manner which would allow the Catechists to best use their time, talents, and perhaps consolidate resources on a community wide or other shared basis.

The two programs are both great choices for what they are and do not by any means need to be seen as opposing forces.

An Update: Jerome W. Berryman, the founder of Godly Play, has published a discussion of this topic in his book, The Spiritual Guidance of Children: Montessori, Godly Play, and the Future (Morehouse Publishing 2013).  I highly recommend you read the Rev. Dr. Berryman’s account of the history of Godly Play, along with its differences from Catechesis, found in chapter 3 of this book. 

For a review of this book, please go to: http://etchristianformation.org/2013/10/23/the-deep-roots-of-montessori-based-spirituality-how-will-they-bloom/

 

Teaching Gardening to Children

Teaching Gardening to Children

By Cynthia Coe

This school year, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching gardening to children at the Episcopal School of Knoxville.  And it has truly been a pleasure.  Children have said that gardening is their favorite class, one child said it was more fun than recess, and two young ladies told me they want to be garden teachers when they grow up.

Yet figuring exactly how to teach gardening to children has been a bit of a challenge.  Though an overwhelming number of books and resources are available on gardening in general, a scant few of them address the process of teaching gardening to children.  Even books that claim to teach children will simply tell you the basics of constructed raised beds, getting a garden started, or how to grow various veggies – NOT how to present these skills and concepts specifically to children.

As many Episcopal parishes and schools get ready to involve children in garden projects, community gardens, or VBS or Lenten programs centered on the Abundant Life Garden Project (www.er-d.org/children), here’s a few things I’ve learned over the last few months in teaching gardening to children in group settings:

  • Teach the basics:  In teaching children from mostly suburban neighborhoods, I’ve found the need for simple demonstrations on things like: how to put on garden gloves, the names of basic garden tools and how to use them, safety rules in using garden tools, and how to weed.
  • Children need a defined space in which to work.  Turning a group of children loose on a vegetable garden can lead to absolute chaos.  We’ve used the square foot gardening concepts and techniques to create small definite spaces in which each child has an opportunity to plant a seed or bulb in a specific place.  Assigning two or three children to each raised bed has also been successful.
  • Children love hands-on garden work.  Two of my most popular lessons have been “weeding” and “how to use a  trowel/hoe/shovel.”  In a world of  children who are often overscheduled and who are getting huge amounts of    “input” in their lives, children seem to need some “down time” to simply pull weeds or work in the dirt. I’ve noticed that children also love to do manual work – a huge contrast to sitting at desks all day, and seemingly a welcome contrast to brain work or more organized activities.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Seeds get dropped.  Newly planted seeds get hoed over and spread someplace you didn’t intend.  In working with children, you can’t worry about your garden being “perfect” (not that anything is perfect,  anyway!).

Resources – after a LOT of time online and in the bookstore, here are my go-to books for teaching gardening in easy-to-understand terms to children:

  • Mel Bartholomew, All New Square Foot Gardening.  This is a brilliant way to teach children (and others) how to garden easily and efficiently.  This method also provides children with a defined space in which to work and easy to follow directions.  Website is www.squarefootgardening.org
  • Reggie Solomon and Michael Nolan, I Garden: Urban Style.  These guys explain gardening in terms all new gardeners can understand.  This book is geared to people who live in urban areas with very little space in which to garden and who want to hit the easy button.  The photos in this book are inspiring.  Website is www.urbangardencasual.com .

Two British books worth looking at (both available online) which deal specifically with gardening for children are:

  • Stefan  & Beverley Buczacki, Young Gardener (London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2006).  This book features large print and language suitable for children themselves.  If you want something for children to read themselves, this would be the book.
  • Karen Liebriech, Jutta Wagner, and Annette Wendland, The Family Kitchen Garden (London: Timber Press, 2009).  This book is much more detailed and includes information pages on growing many individual vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

Note: These books are geared for the British market; you may need to tweak use of them for your hardiness zone.

Happy Planting!  Cindy

 

 

Singable Songs for Children – the Reaching Out to Others in Need Version

One of the main purposes of Christian formation is to inspire and equip our flocks to minister to others in need.  Songs might help us in doing that by leaving children with a statement of this important aspect of the Christian life and faith and in a form that might “stick” with them over the course of a lifetime.

A number of excellent hymnals for use in the Episcopal Church are available, several of them packed with songs appropriate for use with children.  Here are some resources and samples of recommended songs, all of which are included in Episcopal Relief & Development’s Abundant Life Garden Project resources.  Many of these songs are also from other cultures and may be used to introduce children to other cultures and show solidarity with those served by the mission work of the Episcopal Church.

Abundant Life Garden Project resources are free and downloadable online from Episcopal Relief & Development.  These resources have been used by many Episcopal parishes, diocesan camps, schools and for the Children’s Program of General Convention 2012.  You are invited to use these resources to partner with Episcopal Relief & Development in healing a hurting world.

 

My Heart Sings Out, ed. Fiona Vidal-White (New York: Church Publishing Inc., 2005).

# 50 Let us talents and tongues employ (traditional Jamaican melody)

# 68 Listen, my friends (traditional Chinese song, marked for use with finger cymbals)

# 73 Look up!

# 77 I, the Lord of sea and sky

For Use with Younger Children:

# 80 The light of Christ

# 82 Come now, O Prince of Peace (use of verses 1 & 2 recommended)

#109 I am the Church

# 112 May your loving spirit

# 156 Bendice, Senor, nuestro pan

Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise, compiled by The Church Hymnary Trust (Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2008).

For Use with Younger Children:

# 144 I love the sun

# 752 Alleluia (South African)

#753 Honduran alleluia

#756 Bless the Lord (Kenyan traditional song)

#763 God bless to us our bread (and give bread to all those who are hungry – Argentina)

#765 God’s love is for everybody

#771 If you believe and I believe (Zimbabwean variant of English folk melody)

#784 Lumiere de Dieu (Sisters of the Grandchamp Community, Switzerland)

#788 Mungu ni mwema (Know that God is good, Republic of Congo)

#800 Thuma mina (Jesus send me, South Africa)

#803 We will walk with God (Swaziland)

#805 Your will be done on earth, Lord (South Africa)

# 779 Zimbabwean liturgical acclamation (with alleluia response to Cantor)

Lift Every Voice and Sing II: An African American Hymnal (New York: Church Publishing Inc., 1993).

62 In Christ There is No East or West

156 Come to Me (Ye who are hard oppressed)

159 Lift Him Up

164 Do Lord, Remember Me

175 Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

197 Leave it There

281 Prayer for Africa

Voices Found: Women in the Church’s Song (New York: Church Publishing Inc., 2003).

#70 One small child

#52 Come, Great Creator (for soloist and group response)

#24 When, like the woman at the well

#58 Spirit of God (you moved over the waters)

Wonder Love and Praise, A Supplement to The Hymnal 1982 (New York: Church Publishing Inc., 1997).

#787 We are marching in the light of God (with English, Spanish and South African lyrics)

#778 We all are one in mission

#780 Lord, you give the great commission

#784 Hallelujah!  We sing your praises! Haleluya! Pelo tso rona!  (South Africa)

#794 Muchos resplandores (Many are the light beams)

#796 Unidos (Together)

#806 If you believe and I believe (Zimbabwean traditional)

#812 I, the Lord of sea and sky

#822 Through north and south

 

Blessings for much sharing of Abundant Life with those in need,

Cindy

Singable Songs for Children – The Global Version

Singable Songs for Children – The Global Version

By Cynthia Coe

Songs we sing with children endure for a lifetime.  In my visits to my dad’s nursing home, I am continually amazed at Alzheimer and dementia patients who literally cannot put a sentence together but can enthusiastically sing out four stanzas of hymns by memory without missing a note or a single word.  I wonder, what songs are our children learning now that will stay with them when they are 80 years old and infirm?

Songs matter.  Here are two resources in the Anglican tradition (both available at churchpublishing.org) that are helpful in leading children in this important form of worship, whether in children’s chapel, family services, or in Christian formation programs.

My Heart Sings Out, ed. Fiona Vidal-White (New York: Church Publishing Inc., 2005).  This paperback volume, written specifically for Anglican worship, is an excellent resource for Episcopal choir directors working with children and Christian formation directors.  Vidal-White, who worked in music ministry in the Church of England before coming to the United States, fully appreciates that elementary school-age children need fairly simple lyrics and melodies.  This volume provides an ample selection of such tunes, divided by liturgical year.  A topical index in the back is also very helpful. At $18 for the pew edition, this book is a bargain. 

Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise, compiled by The Church Hymnary Trust (Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2008).   This is an official hymnal of the Church of Scotland.  Pricey at $56?  A bit.  Worth it?  Absolutely!  The section entitled “Short Songs” in the back is worth its weight in gold if you work with children.  “Short Songs” is a treasure trove of easy to learn, highly singable songs from all over the world – including Honduras, Kenya, Ukraine, the Taize community, Argentina, Switzerland, China and others.  If your congregation seeks to teach about ministry and faith in other countries, the millennium development goals, or other global issues, you will want to have this hymnal. 

Most of us probably remember “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,” from childhood and  “Kumbaya” from youth group.  Songs stick with us – and even drift into secular culture, as well.  We need to give children of this generation singable songs to stick with them as part of their own lifelong Christian formation.

Blessings, Cindy

Finally, An Anglican Children’s Bible

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Children of God Storybook Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010)

Finally, An Anglican Children’s Bible

Review by Cynthia Coe

As a mom, I’ve been in the market for a decent children’s Bible for about 15 years.  Most Bible storybooks for small children are too simplistic or make me wince when I read certain “takes” on essential stories, re-told for children.  On the other side of the spectrum, other purportedly “children’s” Bible storybooks are far too complex, not age appropriate, or go into way too much detail for any child under about 12 to sit still and listen to.

Finally, here’s one that is “just right.”  Archbishop Desmond Tutu, by way of Zondervan, has recently published his own retelling of essential Bible stories for children, and it is wonderful.  I am currently reading this storybook Bible with my six year old, and the language, length of stories, and amount of detail are perfect for a young child.  Better yet, the concept of the story is printed at the top of the page, and a very brief prayer follows each story.

Then there’s the illustrations, done by a marvelously talented and diverse group of artists from around the world.  This Bible storybook is available as an e-book, but I highly recommend the hardback version – the colorful artwork alone is worth the price of the book.  (Illustrations are included in the e-version, but the condensed size and lack of color do not do them justice.)

With the text by Archbishop Tutu and illustrations by these artists, this storybook exemplifies the best of Anglicanism – a strong prophetic voice backed by worldwide diversity.  With Sunday School attendance dwindling and many parishes without formal Christian formation programs, this Bible storybook is a much needed and much welcomed resource for parents to use with their own children.