When it comes to asking tough and sometimes comical theological questions, nothing comes close to an inquisitive child.
I should know. My oldest son, who is 6, currently is the reigning world champion in the “asking tough questions” competition, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
Take a recent dinner table discussion, for instance. His cup had pictures of superheroes, and he asked with a serious look on his face: Does God hate the Incredible Hulk? (No, I told him, God loves all people, and besides, the Incredible Hulk isn’t real, anyway, and just because the Incredible Hulk has a mean look on that cup doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy.)
Then there’s the constant question he asks when we discuss heaven: Will his favorite stuffed animal – the one he sleeps with every night — be in heaven? The problem: If I say “no,” heaven isn’t looking so grand to him. He once cried when I told him “no.” (My latest stab at that for him was more of a non-answer. I asked with a smile, “Do you want him to be in heaven?” He said “yes,” and we moved on. I do tell him that I believe dinosaurs will be in heaven – which excites him.)
Children’s storybook Bibles are plentiful, but children’s theology books? Not so much. I have found two that I really like, although I am certain there are others out there. Know of others? Let me know in the comments section.
Here is a quick overview of the two books, along with a website that I highly recommend:
“Big Truths For Little Kids” (1999, Crossway). Written by Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt, the book’s subtitle is “Teaching Your Children To Live For God,” and it does that. Through 36 chapters of text, simple black and white drawings and discussion questions, it tells the story of a Christian family who leads a neighboring family to Christ. Each chapter includes several catechism questions quoted from “First Catechism – Biblical Truth for God’s Children” (1996). The first chapter goes through five questions — “Who made you?” God, “What else did God make?” God made all things – and then tells the story of a group of boys at the zoo. When one of the boys tells his friends that people “came from monkeys,” another boy responds, “We didn’t evolve from monkeys. God created us.” My son and I went through this book in a little over a month, and he loved it – so much so that he wanted to read it again. At the end of each story, we discussed the questions and then read the related verses. One word of caution for Baptist parents: You’ll either want to skip chapter 33 (pro-paedobaptism) or use it as a launching point to discuss with your child what you believe about baptism. Oh yeah: Remember my son’s question about teddy bears and heaven? That’s covered in chapter 5.
“Big Thoughts For Little Thinkers” (2005, New Leaf Press). This wonderful series of four books by Joey Allen covers four subjects, with which they are titled: The Trinity, The Gospel, The Scripture and The Mission. Each one is about 25 pages, and each page includes a color illustration, with simple text and related Scripture. Any time my oldest son has a question about the Trinity, this is my go-to. They’re aimed at ages 4-7, although I’m sure children older than that could benefit from them, too. The pictures are simply exquisite. Even though the series does have one book that focuses solely on The Gospel, each book explains the story of Christ to kids.
GQKidz.org (Got Questions Kidz). This stellar website designed just for children is a spinoff of the popular GotQuestions.org site, and it answers common biblical and theological questions children have – on everything from the Trinity to sin to heaven and hell. It includes fun pictures and employs simple, easy-to-understand language. My oldest son often asks me what Jesus was like as a child, and that’s covered on the site: “Did Jesus ever do anything bad when He was little?” (Answer: no) Each answer also includes supportive Scripture.
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes popcorn. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog for free? Send me a message in the comments section below (the message won’t go public).
Good resources, Michael. Hearing some research on why kids fall away from the faith when they grow up and how it’s connected to two things. First they are only exposed to the Bible as collection of stories (and stories are made up, like movies). Second is a lack of personal faith in the kids. Regardless, parents who have a grasp of theology and a real walk with Christ are much more likely to be able to pass that on to thier children. It is hard to wrap those theology questions into age appropriate words sometimes even then. Hopefully these resources will help some kids and their parents grow in their faith.
Great points and I completely agree. I know there are other books out there too. I stumbled upon the “catechism” one by listening to an episode of Family Life Today. Great to hear from you!