Moms, Grandmas, and Kids

One of my favorite activities with my kids was reading books together. One of the reasons I enjoyed it was that I could sit! Moms are busy and often on their feet. Having some moments to sit and read for a child who will sit still and listen is a winning combination.

As I write picture books, I think of the children who might be listening to the story and looking at the pictures, but I also think about the adults who are reading the words and turning the pages. An author of picture books needs to remember that she is writing for two audiences—the child and the reader. That is why I love the opportunity to write picture books that are specifically designed for parents or grandparents to read to their children.

I have talked about the following books on this blog before, but with Mother’s Day only weeks away, I wanted to feature them again.

978-1-4143-7170-2 (1)-200My Grandma and Me—Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Grandchild  was published by Tyndale in 2012. This kid-friendly picture book features a Bible verse, a short rhyming devotion explaining the theme of the verse, and an interactive song or prayer. Included in the introduction are tips and helps for grandmas to share the book with grandchildren who are far-away. The book is recommended for ages 3-5.


379739o 200My Mama and Me—Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Child was published by Tyndale House in 2013. I had the pleasure of writing this book with my daughter, Teri McKinley. Written specifically for mother and child, My Mama and Me is designed around four common questions that kids ask: Can you tell me about God? Can you tell me about Jesus? What does God think about me? How can I show God that I love Him? Through 25 rhyming devotions and fun activities, Mom can answer these questions and more. Each devotion includes a short Bible verse and a prayer. Recommended for ages 3-5.

If you are a mom or grandma with little ones to read to, or if you know a mom or grandma with children to read to, these books can help bring moms, grandmas, and kids closer to each other and closer to God.

And by the way—I know that dads and grandpas read to kids too, and someday I hope to have picture books for them!






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Will I See My Pet in Heaven?

Several of my friends have had to say goodbye to their four-legged family members recently.

It’s something I’ve also experienced more than a few times over the years. Each time, these losses lead to the inevitable question of whether we will see our pets again. Children, especially, want to know: after all the painful goodbyes, will there ever be another hello?

I know what I’d like the answer to be. I’d like to know that I’ll once again enjoy the company of the animals that have brought such joy to my life on this earth. I’d like to believe that the mistreatment some animals have suffered at the hands of cruel humans will somehow be recompensed with something much better.

That’s what I’d like to know. What I do know is that God is good…all the time. And all the time, God is good. So what does this mean for our pets?

The Bible is an extensive account of God’s dealings with humanity. It tells us what we need to know to be in a restored relationship with the One who created us. But there are things the Bible does not tell us. One of the things it does not spell out for us is what happens to animals when they die.

Now, I know that Jesus did not die for the animal kingdom. He died for people. And I know that many Bible scholars say that heaven is for humans, not animals.

But I also know the Bible tells us “the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice” and that it “will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21 NIV). Does “the creation” include animals?

Isaiah 11:6-9 mentions animals being present in the millennial kingdom. Wolves, lambs, leopards, goats, calves, and lions. Cows, bears, oxen, and cobras. When Revelation 21:1 speaks of the “new earth,” some Bible scholars believe this restored creation will be everything the Garden of Eden was before sin entered the world. And the Garden contained animals.

Still, there is a difference between animals in general and our pets in particular. Lions will someday lie down with lambs, but that doesn’t mean my boxers, Romer and Lacy, will romp celestial fields with me. Then again, it doesn’t mean they won’t.RomerLacyBottom line? We can conjecture all we want, but our opinions don’t really matter. What matters is that God is good all the time, and whatever He does will be right…for us and for the animals we love.

Ava Pennington

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Family Fun: Catsup and Book Festivals

catsup bottle sky“It’s a bird. It’s a plane.”


Actually, it is the world’s largest catsup bottle, and it is very close to my house.

I love it.

Anyone who visits my home is very likely to take a field trip there. I make sure of it. (After all, the catsup bottle is on the National Register of Historic Places.) We can even stop at the local pharmacy which sells catsup postcards, shirts, mugs, key chains, and Christmas ornaments. I love it.

I enjoy telling my readers about the catsup bottle, too. Why? Children and teens love to hear about things that are unique and fun. That is something that I enjoy about writing for this age group. They never cease to be amazed and interested and curious.

Every year, my area hosts a Catsup Bottle Festival. People gather to celebrate all things catsup. There are catsup-related games, hot dogs (including the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile), and the Little Princess Tomato and Sir Catsup Contest.

I love the Catsup Bottle Festival because it celebrates something I enjoy. I don’t mean I am THAT person who eats catsup on everything, including scrambled eggs. I do mean that I enjoy the novelty of living near a fun landmark, and – okay – I do love catsup on certain things like French fries. I mean, where would the world be without catsup for French fries?

I love a good festival.

As you read this post, I am at another festival. It is the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green, Kentucky. If you are nearby, I hope that you will stop by and say hello.

People will gather to celebrate all things books.

Here are a few ways your family can make the most of a book festival:

  • Check out the list of authors before you go. Going to a large festival is great family fun, but you may not be able to see everything or, in the case of a book festival, every author.
  • Jot down a few questions for the authors you hope to see. Authors LOVE questions.
  • Bring your smile. Authors love pictures as much as they love questions.
  • Bring some names. On paper. If you plan to get a book for someone as a gift, make sure you write down the correct spelling of the name before you go. Sometimes it is hard to remember name-spellings when you get there. Trust me. It happens.

Have you attended a book festival with your family? What are some pointers you have for making the outing more family-friendly?




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