The Challenge of Writing for Children

When people find out I am a children’s author, the response is always positive. I hear comments like, “Oh how fun!” or “I am so jealous!” Writing books for children is fun, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But fun does not mean easy. The more you learn about writing for children, the harder it gets, because you realize there is much to learn and know about this genre.

For me, writing for children began as a passion, then turned into a career which turned into a ministry. Since parents are the ones who usually read books to their children, I am also writing for them. Children’s books need to be age-appropriate in language, concepts, and content. But in order to avoid the mundane “Dick and Jane” type books, they also have to engaging, fun to read, and have a lesson or purpose. They have to appeal to both the child and parent.

Writing for the Christian market adds an added dimension that is both challenging and rewarding. The spiritual lessons or biblical truths need to fit into the story naturally rather than forcefully. The spiritual lessons also need to be age-appropriate. Young children understand what it means to be special or loved, but how do you explain the concept of God’s grace to a preschool child?

My friend Ava Pennington is a Bible teacher and author of devotional books for adults. She has a desire to teach children spiritual truths while they are young, so that they will have a deeper understanding when they become adults. She came to me with an idea for a series called Faith Basics for Kids. Together we created a picture books series that teaches spiritual truths to children in a kid-friendly way. The first book in the series is Do You Love Me More? and it teaches about God’s grace. The second book is Will I See You Today? and it teaches children how they can be sure God is real. We are excited about these books published by Standard Publishing, because they address deeper topics, but also reach children at their level. In the back of each book is an addendum for parents and teachers to further explore each topic.

I have several more books to tell you about in the coming weeks and months. But for now, these are the ones worth checking out.



Me…a Teacher?

You may not have a college degree. If you do, you may not have a degree in education. Your occupational background may be accounting or auto mechanics, sales or construction, customer service or medical transcription. It doesn’t matter. If you have children or grandchildren, you are a teacher.

Yes. You are your child’s teacher.

Your children might attend private preschool or public elementary school. They may be enrolled in your church’s nursery or Sunday school. They might have the most fabulous teachers in the world. But those teachers are not the most important influence on your children. You are.

You don’t need a degree, certification, or a title. You’ve been appointed to this role by God Himself.

Your mission is found in Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Your mandate is explained in Deuteronomy 6:5-7a: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.”

Your classroom is your home. But Deuteronomy 6:7b tells us it’s also your car, the supermarket, the park, and anywhere else you find yourself with your children. “Talk about [God’s commandments] when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Your curriculum is the Word of God. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Your capability comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ. “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Teach them with your words when you think they’re paying attention. Teach them by your example even when you don’t think they’re paying attention.

Teach your children as if it’s the most important job you have…because it is.

Book Review: Peter: Rock Star from Galilee by Sherree Funk

Rating:  :) :) :) :) :)

This eight-week Bible study for teens combines music, Bible learning, and modern-day applications. Each week begins with a playlist of songs that are a mix of contemporary Christian music and traditional hymns. Various aspects of Peter’s life are covered: his calling by Jesus, his stepping out onto the stormy sea, his denial of Jesus after His arrest, the miracles he performed in the name of Jesus, his legacy, and more!

Readers get a preview of the week’s study to help spark initial discussions. There are questions and exercises along the way. The “Chew on This” moments give teens time to consider things like their blessings, while the “Christian Reality Challenge” blurbs cement learning. The “Jam Session” at the end of each week includes questions to get teens thinking about how the Bible applies to them today. Then the replay wraps the week up for them to round out discussions. Also included are maps and historical photos.

As a Sunday school teacher, I am always on the lookout for engaging new materials for our young people. Peter: Rock Star from Galilee definitely has what it takes. With sound Bible learning and music, this Bible study will meet kids where they are today. I’ve already shared it with our youth group leader and she’s excited about it. If you are in youth ministry, you’ll want to take a peek into this one.

I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Winter Fun for the Birds!

Project Overview:

Materials Needed:  peanut butter, birdseed, pine cones (empty toilet paper rolls can work great also) and string

In my home state of Michigan, winter can often seem never-ending – particularly when you have a house full of little ones like I do!  Those days spent indoors can be turned into an ideal opportunity to do something for someone else, or in this case, someTHING else.  Namely our feathered friends the birds!

Recently we had a playdate at our house where the girls made pine cone birdfeeders.

You’d think with 3 little ones at home I would be used to mess, but I have to confess that it makes me a little nutty to have too much to clean up!  So this project was made made much cleaner and easier by giving each girl her own birdfeeder station consisting of a cookie sheet, bowl of peanut butter, bowl of birdseed, child friendly spreader and pine cones.

After a healthy slathering of peanut butter and a  dusting of bird seed, I tied string to the pine cones and the girls decorated a small tree in our front yard with the finished feeders.  They had a great time creating this project, and the birds enjoyed it as well!


Mirror Image

Mirror Image

Mirror Image

Part of the fun and terror of parenting is watching our little ones pattern their lives after us.  I love to make things in clay and shared this craft with my children when they were growing up. One day when my daughter was in fifth grade she came home with a coil pot that was a miniature version of one I had made years earlier.

As a parent this gave me a surprise and a jolt!  What stimulates and drives us will drive our children. They may not be able to communicate it verbally or intellectually but they know internally what we admire, worship and hold up as most important.  What excites us will excite them.  What we get from God’s word they may not be able to completely grasp but they understand it on an emotional level.  Isn’t that like faith? Because of their natural inclination to trust, admire and depend on us they naturally model themselves after us.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  (Matt, 19:14, NIV).

When Jesus said, “do not hinder the children,” most parents agree they would never want to stop a child from going to Christ. As children of God we are modeling an image of who we are in Christ and are given wisdom to correct what He may see in us that is acceptable or needing adjustment, or balance. Just like we as parents’ correct unsightly or undesirable behaviors in our children.  Do our children see a parent who seeks out and finds joy in the word of God? Our children already know what we have set aside in our lives as valuable. So how can we be sure they understand that we value Christ? Simply by setting aside time to read, pray and share our joy. Even after a hectic day the simple truth of Christ in a picture book, or better yet one told from memory, will let them know we have a heavenly Father who we depend on and who looks after us all.

Roslyn Alexander