March 5, 2020

Sometimes Gospel-motivated voices read children’s books. Saving lives can be as simple as reading children’s books. Think of it as inoculating the next generation against the devil’s deceptions. Bedtime stories, Sunday school lessons, grandchild visits, chapel services and children’s messages, commutes and car trips give you privileges no one else has. You fill and form hearts in early years with the sanctity of life. After all, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” And the good Lord promises, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). These ones are my favorites:

  1. The Ugly Duckling (I like Disney’s version [Buena Vista Distribution Co., 1987] because it goes along with their cartoon.): Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale shows it doesn’t matter what you look like or what you can’t do, there’s no such thing as an unwanted child. Our Heavenly Father and His holy household (as well as adoptive parents!) love everyone He has created, redeemed, and called—even when it seems nobody else does.

  2. Love You Forever (Firefly Books, 2001): Robert Munsch captures the beautiful truth that every human being depends upon others, however old we are. A son grows to help and hold his mother – and his daughter—just as Mama loved him through all the stages and challenges of his life. Whether tiny babies or aging bodies, we are all blessed “burdens” to each other and all the more precious for it.

  3. I Loved You Before You Were Born (HarperCollins, 2001): Anne Bowen describes a grandmother’s anticipating the arrival of a little one. Accompanied by Greg Shed’s warm paintings, the story echoes Jeremiah 1:5 and memorably relates what gifts the unborn—and the elderly—bring to our families. Listeners learn that love comes not from age, appearance, or abilities but from the relationships God places us in.

  4. Just Because (Lion Children’s Books, 2010): Rebecca Elliott writes about her children, Toby and Clemmie. Toby thinks his sister Clemmie is the best, even though she doesn’t act exactly the same as some other sisters. By the time we realize Clemmie has disabilities, we’ve come to appreciate the very special bond between a brother and a sister, no matter what. Elliott’s illustrations are more than a bonus—they display the wonder and love of life through the eyes of a child.

  5. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born (Joanna Cotler Books, 1996): Jamie Lee Curtis (yes, the famous actress!) portrays the excitement of an adoptive mom and dad (as well as the loving sacrifice of a birth mother). The child’s tickled refrain (“tell me again about …”) powerfully expresses how a lifetime together sanctifies even the ordinary and unpleasant occurrences. Whose you are, not where you came from or how you got here, gives every life meaning.

  6. I Love You, Stinky Face (Scholastic, 1997): Mama, what if I were a big, scary ape? Would you still love me then? Lisa McCourt’s little one has all kinds of “what-if?” questions to test the boundaries of a mother’s love. Mama responds by assuring her child that no age, appearance, action, or circumstance can impair her devotion, which heroically adapts to all of her beloved’s needs.

  7. Now One Foot, Now the Other (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981): Award-winning author and illustrator Tomie de Paola traces how Grandson Bobby helps Grandpa Bob learn to walk and talk again after his stroke—just as the elder had once taught the younger. It’s a touching snapshot of the privileges and opportunities we receive when we share in one another’s crosses, especially in the morning and evening of life.

  8. Green Eggs and Ham (Random House Beginner Books, 1960): Perhaps the most familiar children’s book of all time, Dr. Seuss’s whimsical journey through a series of increasingly far-fetched scenarios lends itself nicely to an affirmation of life’s worth. Sam-I-Am’s friend loathes the thought of green eggs and ham because the dish comes in unfamiliar colors and uncomfortable locations—until he experiences it personally. Then his enthusiasm is relentless!

What other children’s books have given you and your family God’s love for life?