Apr / May 2014 Book Reviews

Pull-out Noah, Asperkids, Sunday DIY, Messy Church and Wiggly Waggly Worm

Pull-Out Noah and the Animals

Karen Williamson, Chris Emberton-Hall

Candle, £6.99

Noah book review

How do you explain the complexities of the story of Noah to a child? Here’s another children’s book that bypasses that dilemma and simply shares the fun of the animal-filled ark. With a chunky pull-out scene of Noah and the animals boarding their floating home at the centre, this board book is a little different to the usual offerings – at least in terms of product design. There’s a reminder for the adult reader of where to find the actual biblical narrative of Noah at the end of the story, where Genesis 6:9–9:17 is referenced. 1 to 2 year olds will enjoy this, but it is short and very simple so it won’t offer much to an older toddler.

Worth your time - a solid resource

Lucinda van der Hart is a journalist and mum to two bouncy toddlers

The Asperkid’s not-your-average-colouring-book

Jennifer Cook O’Toole

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, £7.50

Asperkids book review

This colouring book is more than it first appears. It is created by someone with Asperger’s, for children with Asperger’s. It is light but pacey in its manner and delivery. The short, punchy narrative at the start of each section suggests it would suit 8-11 year-olds. The book moves through a number of different topics and throwing in facts and information that would appeal to a child on the spectrum. However, it’s American, which jarred with me, as many of its examples don’t translate to UK contexts.

The book seeks to bring the information on the page to life and conjure a sense of ‘awe’ and I think it achieves that. But the centre of that awe is not in any spirituality but in the wonder of science. Part of it says, ‘Magic, it’s been said, isn’t just fantasy. It’s just science we don’t yet understand.’ It is a good resource for children on the spectrum as it acknowledges their value in being different and would definitely encourage a good sense of self-esteem. Being a secular book, it doesn’t consider the awesomeness of God in any way, yet it is good value for money and I would possibly use it with children with Asperger’s.

Worth your time - a solid resource

Simon Shutt is Director of Children’s Ministry for FACT (Faith Awareness in Children Trust)

Sunday DIY

Robin Barfield and Paul Crowther

10Publishing, £4.99

Sunday DIY book review

This is the type of book that many would glance over or put down in favour of getting on with the ‘real work’. However, I would recommend that anyone who works with children or young people puts time aside to work through it, either independently or with those they work with. Sunday DIY is written by practitioners with a wealth of experience who have recognised the potential value to others of sharing their creation, but offer it with humility.

The book is designed to help teams think through how and why they teach the Bible. It includes thoughtful questions with space to record
responses. It’s reassuring to know that there are resources that can help guide time-poor people who are willing to invest in their own Bible study in order to invest in the youngsters they work with. Why not give it a go yourself?

An excellent resource that really impacted my ministry

Louise Warner is the children and families officer for the Diocese of Leicester 

Messy Church Theology

Edited by George Lings

Messy Church, £9.99

Messy Church theology book review

This book is not a ‘how-to’, a suggestion of best practice, a top ten or anything like that. This book is a ‘why?’, ‘why not?’, ‘where next?’ and ‘in what way?’ kind of a book, based on research done by Church Army across a large number of Messy Churches, running in a variety of contexts.

If you’re studying church ministry at any level this is a useful resource to get you thinking about mission, Church, outreach and community, and where worship and faith fit in. If you’re not studying, but involved in Messy Church in any way, it’s useful for thinking about different aspects of what you’re doing, why you’re doing them, what you’re hoping to achieve. Each chapter is a very readable mini article in its own right.

It covers a range of topics in a way that means you don’t have to read through it all in one go. It’s a good little resource for a reasonable price if you’re someone who likes to ask the bigger questions of ministry.

An excellent resource that really impacted my ministry

Helena Kittle is the youth and children’s network leader and strategic developer for Youth With A Mission (YWAM) England

The Wiggly Waggly Worm

(& lots more brilliants kids songs)

Paul Field

Elevation Kids, £9.99

Wiggly Waggly WOrm book review

It is always a challenge to produce a good album of children’s songs. This resource has 23 such songs, designed to help children grow in faith, and is certainly value for money. The album has a variety of musical styles and covers a range of themes including God’s love, creation, inclusion, faith, anger and our responsibility towards the world. Three songs deal with more specific biblical or theological issues and there are the ‘usual’ fun songs about worms, snails, sprouts and racing cars.

The album handles Christian issues in a child-friendly manner and some songs would be relevant for a school assembly or even small-scale musical. I intend to use ‘This is God’s world’ in my school and ‘Talk to the saviour’ with my Sunday group. However, the production is slightly dated and younger adult voices might have been more appropriate. The album also lacks a ‘showstopper’ number that inspires excitement when it is played. Nevertheless it fulfils its remit and I would recommend it to any teachers in a church school or leaders of children’s discipleship activities.

Worth your time - a solid resource

Ruth Wills is the secretary of the International Association for Children’s Spirituality, a primary teacher and children’s work coordinator at her church

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