Welcome to these notes on the Books For Little Ones series. There is a general introduction below, or you can jump to the specific book you are reading by using the buttons above.
Why have I written these notes?
Spending time with your child, reading and talking with them about God, his Son Jesus, and the Bible, is a great privilege and (I hope) joy; yet somehow it is so easy not to do. Sometimes that may be because we’re not quite sure how to go about it. My hope is that these books and notes will help. But do pray and ask for God’s help with this responsibility, and do spend time in prayer for your child and for yourself. Pray that God will give you wisdom, perseverance, and faithfulness in it.
More specifically, my goals for these notes are as follows:
To help you understand what a little one can learn from the books and show some ways you can help them learn.
To expand on the ‘Notes for parents or other adult readers’ in the front of the book.
To give you ideas so you can springboard into conversations with your child and take their learning well beyond the books (a lot of learning about God happens throughout the day — “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7.)
To give you ideas for making and using other resources (making books, singing songs).
To give you ideas for prayer.
Things to keep in mind…
- Every child is different. If I make reference to something you could do with your child, please remember it’s just a suggestion and it may not be possible with your child. All children progress at different rates, have different levels of concentration, and their own unique personality and abilities.
- I refer in the ‘Notes for parents or other adult readers’ to ‘really little ones’ and ‘bigger ones’. This is intentionally vague! Somewhere in the age range of 1-4 years ‘really little ones’ become ‘bigger ones’. You can work out where your child fits. As you read the following notes, you can think about your own child and see which suggestions suit them. (Of course, although the suggested age range is 1-4, you can read these books to a child before they are one.)
- When you start reading one of the books with really little ones, you might actually read it in more than one sitting, just a few pages at a time. And when you read, you might not read every sentence on every page. That’s fine. If I was just writing for really little ones, the books would be shorter, but I wanted the books to cater for slightly bigger ones as well.
- I love the fact that on a website such as this there is no word limit! I had to be very concise when writing the notes in the front of each book (being concise does not come naturally to me!). My intention here is to try and explain things adequately. Remember you don’t need to read all these notes in one sitting. I would like to think that you can look at them every now and then and think about how you can keep using the Books for Little Ones as a springboard (and keep reading them as books!). I hope some of these ideas help you to come up with your own ideas.
- Spending time with your child, reading with them and talking with them, is a wonderful gift for your child (and you!). Regard it as a precious time together. One thing I miss with my now 24 and 20 year olds is that I can’t sit and read a picture book with them! But a positive about my time of life is that I now have time for other little friends who are just the right age to sit and read with!
- Also, don't assume what children know and understand. Sometimes they can say a statement that is true, but don't actually understand what it means. Talking to them, asking them questions, and listening carefully will help you assess what they have understood.
I also realize that those reading these books to a little one are just as varied as the little ones themselves.
I’m aware that some of you will have had a lifetime of reading God’s word. In fact, you may have once been a ‘little one’ yourself who sat next a parent reading to you and helping you learn about God, Jesus and the Bible.
On the other hand, for some of you this all might be very new, with the Bible verses and even some of the concepts in each book being unfamiliar.
I hope that these notes are helpful to both ends of the spectrum (and those in between). But a special word to each of you.
If you are someone who has been a Christian for many years, if would be great if you could look out for parents who haven’t had that privilege, and encourage and help them to teach their children. Let them watch you read and talk with your kids, so they see in real life how it can be done.
And, if you are someone who is completely new to all this and would like to find out more about the great God who loves us, his son Jesus and his book, the Bible, then I would encourage you to look at the following resources:
If you don’t have a Bible…
The version I have used in Books for Little Ones is a very simple one: The Good News Bible. I chose it because it uses very simple language. It is available in many bookstores, or you can actually read it online. It is not just for kids, of course. Many adults read it. But if you want a more accurate translation (closer to the original language), I’d recommend either the NIV or ESV.
If you want to read a short but very useful introduction and guide to reading the Bible for yourself, I’d recommend The Book of Books, by Geoff Robson.
If you want to know more about God’s love for us in Jesus…
There is a useful summary called Who will be King? that is available online or in print.
Naked God is also a very helpful explanation of the Christian faith and why Jesus is worth following.
And now, onto some of the specific ideas and suggestions for each book…
But be assured of my own prayers for you and the children you are reading to.
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