I have a two-year-old daughter, and my wife and I have been wrestling recently with how to begin teaching her about God and specifically where to start. Do we teach her lessons about the Christian life? Do we begin with memorization? My Little Words Devotional, as simple as it seems, has helped us begin to figure that out.
My Little Words Devotional is a collection of 19 short readings, each focused on a word. These words have Biblical application, such as “forgive”, “rest”, “creation”, and “patience”. Each reading introduces your child to the concept if they don’t already know the word. Even if your child knows the word already, there is always a question to end the reading and sometimes other questions embedded within it. Each short reading also ends with a prayer for your child to pray that relates to the concept.
While the word “devotional” is in the title, I don’t think this technically qualifies as a devotional as most people understand the word because there isn’t a Bible verse with each reading. For my two-year-old, I didn’t have a problem with that because any Bible verse that she could comprehend would have to be simplified down to the point where it is essentially no longer a Bible verse. I didn’t get caught up on that and just enjoyed the fact that my child was learning Bible vocabulary.
The way I approached this book was to read Eliana one of her “words” every night. Once she got into the habit, she was very into it. She would grab the book and try to find the page we were on. She would interact with me as I read to her. I tried to have her repeat the word to me so that she would know that was the word we were talking about that night, and I would ask her questions throughout, sometimes making up my own or applying something to her life. “How can you be “gentle” with your brother?” That sort of thing. She’s not the best at answering questions accurately right now, so it was harder to gauge how much she understood of each concept, but I feel that she now has a start on understanding some words that we can build on to teach new lessons. She really enjoys putting her hands together and praying (she’s not the best at closing her eyes yet!), so she LOVED the prayers at the end. I could always get her to repeat the prayer if I read it to her a couple of words at a time, and sometimes she said them extremely well. While I know she doesn’t fully understand prayer yet (who does, truly?), we are building a framework to add to throughout the months and years we are working through other lessons.
For those interested in other aspects of the book: first, it is highly durable. It’s a board book with a high quality cover, so this should last years. Second, the words chosen are very helpful and applicable for my two-year-old’s life. Lastly, and this is so important but overlooked for children’s books, the character illustrations are diverse. Those children are the things my child looks at the most, and I want her to know that Jesus is for all people and nations, not just children who look like her.
I don’t know if one word a night is best, ultimately. Maybe focusing on one lesson a week is better. Maybe you could do it Blues Clues -style, reading the same one every night for a week. What I do know is that my child is building a vocabulary of biblical words so that in the future we can turn that vocabulary into true understanding. She may be able to repeat (and repeat, and repeat) the prayer, “God, help me rest. Amen.” But what I really want for her is to know that God wants her to rest so that she can do good things for His kingdom.
I received a review copy of this book courtesy of B&H Books and Lifeway, but my opinions are my own.