All of the following books have been reviewed in Friends Journal. I would recommend that readers read their full reviews by following the links below. In this list you will find enough information to allow further exploration if desired and get an idea of how this book might meet your needs. I have grouped them as biblical or as books that feature some aspect of worship (such as quiet, gratitude, or listening). —Eileen Redden, young Friends book review editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Bible
Maybe God Is Like That Too
By Jennifer Grant, illustrated by Benjamin Schipper
A boy who lives in an apartment with his grandmother asks her whether God lives in the city. He says he has never seen God. “You just need to know where to look,” she answers.
“I loved this book,” said Ann Birch. “I can imagine it having wide appeal in Quaker homes and First-day schools when questions arise about what people mean when they say ‘God.’”
The Good for Nothing Tree
By Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, illustrated by Annie Bowler
The Good for Nothing Tree asks us to consider lessons the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9) might hold for us today. In their telling, Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso turn the landowner into an impatient gardener, and turn the caretaker into a diverse group of five children who have come to love the little tree.
“As in a good parable, there are many potential lessons for us,” says Ken Jacobsen. “At the book’s end, they offer a number of queries with which grown-ups might explore these lessons with the young listeners.”
On Aspects of Worship
By Gabi Snyder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
In an overstimulating world, children sometimes lose sight of the difference between hearing and listening. In this story, a young girl walks out of her home and is barraged by a cacophony of sounds: engines revving, cars beeping, trucks backing up, dogs barking. The narrator then guides the reader through not just hearing the sounds together, but intently listening to each individual sound.
“Warmly illustrated in soothing shades of blue, this story is an exercise in mindfulness, guiding children to slow down and truly listen to what’s around them,” said Julia Copeland.
By Kathy Kiefer, illustrated by Kathy De Wit
Drawing God is a wonderful invitation for children (and adults) to consider metaphors that help us understand aspects of the Divine, and how artistic expression can help us explore and share these understandings.
Anne Nydam said, “This book talks very explicitly about God and prayer and the notes in the back use the languages of the New and Old Testament and Christian denominations (although Christ is not mentioned); at the same time, it is very open-ended and compatible with a variety of ways of experiencing the Spirit.”
By Tomie de Paola
A young boy and girl are walking in nature with their grandfather. They notice all the activities that the animals, frogs, birds, and insects are engaged in. Then the grandfather suggests that they sit together on a quiet bench.
“While de Paola’s book has no explicit spiritual element, it could be a useful tool to guide children into a period of worship,” says Paul Buckley. “You might read it and ask children what else they can discover about themselves when they are still.”
A Stone Sat Still
By Brendan Wenzel
The centerpiece of this lovely book is a stone, set at the edge of an ocean. Page by page, various animals experience the stone in different ways. To the chipmunk, the stone appears dark; to the owl, it is bright; to the moose, it seems a pebble; to the tick, it is a hill.
Alison James says, “First-day students could use this book as a thread into meditation, holding stones in their hands and imagining all the different experiences the stone has had in its million-year life.”
I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness
By Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter Reynolds
Peter Reynolds uses ink, gouache, watercolor, and tea to make vibrant yet simple illustrations that accompany Susan Verde’s story of a young boy who finds his anchor by focusing on his breath and paying attention to the world around him.
Lisa Rand says, “It shares a story that offers benefits to all people, and presents mindfulness as a practice useful to people of all faiths.”
By Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Archie Preston
Thankful‘s story is a bouncing poetic rollick through imagination, play, and family—a journey of appreciation experienced by two children on a summer day.
“The children’s interactions with their home,parents, and each other are precious moments to be thankful for,” says Emilie Gay. “The book inspires appreciation for many things, some very small, others imagined, but most importantly those done for us by others.”
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
By Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac
In simple, vivid, and sensory language, Sorell has layered a rich sampling of Cherokee life and culture throughout this book, showcasing traditional foods and amusements, family roles and responsibilities, customs and crafts, and key Cherokee words.
“We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga is an unexpectedly deep and moving book for young children, one that explains and demonstrates the core value of gratitude (otsaliheliga) in Cherokee culture and applies it through the seasons to traditional practices and celebrations,” shared Phila Hoopes.
For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day
By June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Helen Cann
The poems in For Every Little Thing are collected from a variety of writers, from classics such as Emily Dickinson to lesser-known modern poets. But what really makes this book shine is the illustrations. Some are ordinary everyday scenes, while others are dream-like and fantastical, but all reinforce the book’s goal to help children practice an attitude of wonder and gratitude.
“It does not offer anything radically new in either format or content, but it is a beautiful book that does exactly what it sets out to do: offer a structure that children can use to focus observation of daily wonders, gratitude for blessings large and small, and a sense of Divine Presence drawing them into communion and community with the world,” said Anne Nydam.