If I were to sum up ‘Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing’ in one word, I would fail. The shortest description I can give you is this: ‘simple-yet-profound’. Let me explain.
The devotional book for children aged 6-9 contains 101 simple devotions. They mostly fit comfortably on one page (with a stunning picture beside) lasting no longer than 130 words. They either begin with a single Bible verse, or end with one. What could be simpler than that, right?
But when you pick up this book and open the pages, you’ll soon discover Sally-Lloyd Jones (author of ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible’) has poured her heart and soul into these devotions. It’s like they talk to you, directly into your head, and deliver a profound thought about Christian living. They ooze with creativity; drawing from all kinds of sources including the beach, horses, oceans, war stories, fairy tales and, of course, stories from the Bible. Basically, all the stuff kids are familiar with.
I’m not saying that if your child reads these each morning they’ll shine with angelic light and spark a revival at their school, but with encouragement from parents/children’s workers and a genuine desire for God, this devotional has untold potential.
Next I must mention the illustrations. These days a children’s author is only as good as their illustrator, and Jago is a perfect match for Sally’s conversational, thought-provoking writing. The award-winning illustrator knows his way around a computer, and this book is testimony to his artistic skill. Not a single page lacks colour, creativity or the ‘WOW’ factor. It’s obvious that much thought has gone into each picture, as the illustrations add to the profound devotion, doubling the impact.
It’s also important to mention that this book doesn’t lean towards a single translation (although flicking through does suggest the NLT & the NIV are used most). Every devotion is linked to a verse from the Bible, but not a single translation as Sally has included verses from a wide variety, including NLT, NIV, KJV, NCV, ESV, GWT, NEB and a paraphrase. At first I thought this would confuse kids, but in fact it’s more likely to benefit them in the long term by introducing them to the colourful flower garden of translations.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about this book is the verses Sally has used. It’s easy to teach children the nice, easy to understand, ‘God’s Love’ verses from the New Testament. But the wide range of verses included give a snapshot of the entire Bible, ranging from Job to Hebrews to Psalms to John to Isaiah to Revelation.
The quality of the hardback, pages and binding mean this book is child-proof. The pages are glossy; which will minimise damage when the morning cereal misses the mouth. The binding is sewn in rather than glued; making it very durable, and the hardback cover will protect the pages (and look beautiful too).
My only real criticism is the suggested reading age: 6-9. I came across some words – cataclysm, notorious, symphony – that some nine year olds would struggle with. Don’t let this put you off though, as these words are few and far between and encourage you to get involved (which help develop a deeper relationship between you and your children).
I can see this book being used as a family devotional, benefiting every age. Younger children will enjoy the pictures and time spent together, older children can do the reading, ask the questions and grow in wisdom, while adults will enjoy watching their children grow and experience God (and grow alongside them too).
January 29th, 2013 - Posted & Written by James Warwood