Book review: Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus

Whether your children are obedient, rebellious, believers or non-believers, well-behaved or difficult to control, models of virtue or endlessly trying, this book is an eye-opening read for every Christian parent. Rather than a list of how-to’s, Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book “Give Them Grace”  focuses on our children’s need for a saviour and what we as parents can say and do to point them to Jesus.

I highly recommend listening to Elyse’s talk here. This free recording will give you a good understanding of the major themes in the book and if, like me, you find what she has to say is worth a deeper look, read the book to dig further into what she has to say.

Book Review: Grandpa’s Box by Starr Meade

We have just about finished reading “Grandpa’s Box” by Starr Meade for family devotions and we will be sad to see the end. This fresh retelling of some of the major bible stories is biblically accurate, entertaining, humorous at times and grabs the attention of all ages.

Grandpa shares bible stories with Marc and Amy using wooden figures from his special box as symbols and framing each one as a battle between God and Satan. The use of wooden symbols links in beautifully with a Jesse Tree at Christmas time or a Jesus Tree for Easter.

With insights that taught even the adults something new at times, this clever recount comes from an angle you wouldn’t ordinarily consider and rather than being scary, focuses on redemption and the promised child who comes to win the battle once and for all.

With a scripture reading and reference at the end of each chapter this is a perfect resource for circle time, family devotions or as a read aloud. Each chapter is complete in itself so provides a neat chunk of reading time with a natural conclusion. Beginning in Genesis and working its way chronologically through to Revelation it will help children to develop their understanding while having them eager for more.

My children look forward to evening devotions and constantly ask to hear another chapter through the day, despite the fact that Daddy doesn’t want to miss out!

Circle Time Planning

Circle time is next on the planning agenda. I’ve missed starting the day off together each morning and am looking forward to beginning our day with circle time again once we start our homeschooling programme.

We’ve used a lot of wonderful resources already. Here is our list of materials we have already worked through, plus the ones we will continue on with or start fresh this year. I have been very happy with those we have used so far and expect the new ones to be just as good as they are all based on the highest recommendations of homeschooling friends with similar philosophies to mine.

Click on these titles to see my reviews from previous posts and where to get them.

Our resources for 2011:
How God Used a Drought and an Umbrella: and Other Devotional StoriesHow God Stopped the Pirates: and Other Devotional StoriesHow God Used a Thunderstorm: and Other Devotional Stories
  •  Building On The Rock Series by Joel Beeke (These 5 books of short stories contain a very strong gospel and biblical message. Stories of great faith, conversions, answers to prayer and miraculous happenings will help you to explain the great truths of the Christian faith, challenge you and your children in their own Christian walk and inspire you to serve God with renewed vigour.)

  • Go To The Ant Check-list (Another great chart to work through with children and then put on display as a reference. In the publisher’s words: “Use the Go To The Ant Chart to help your children examine themselves and replace laziness with habits of godly diligence.”

The Answer Book for Kids, Volume 1: 22 Questions from Kids on Creation and the Fall  The Answers Book for Kids, Volume 3: 22 Questions from Kids on God and the Bible  The Answer Book for Kids, Volume 2: 22 Questions on Dinosaurs and the Flood of Noah

Parables from Nature

  • Parables from Nature by Mrs Alfred Gatty. (Great literature; Fictional stories that illustrate character qualities and Godly principles using nature as the setting. Very rich language of excellent quality but may be a little difficult for the very young to fully grasp.)

365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children and Teens Learn Etiquette

  • 365 Manners Kids Should Know by Sheryl Eberly (More to be used to read yourself and springboard ideas off – not so much to read aloud to the children. Contains explanations of what manners to teach, how to teach them and when to teach them. Not perfect for me for circle time as I prefer materials I can just pick up and read directly from then discuss what we have read with the children.)
Resources that I am planning to use this year that are new to me:
Leading Little Ones to God: A Child's Book of Bible Teachings

The Sorting Out Prayer (Sibling conflict)

Product: Parents Arise Image

After using the “Children Arise” CD’s with my children for circle time I was interested in reading the story of how they came about in “Parents Arise” by Janine Target. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend having a look. (Here at Koorong or here at Growing Families) With the author’s permission, I am reproducing below just one of the ideas she presented in her book and I think it was worth purchasing it for this alone.

We have always had our children apologise (say “sorry”) for mistakes and accidents and ask for forgiveness for deliberate sins (acts of unkindness etc.) They are required to reconcile by making eye contact, naming the specific sin, asking for forgiveness (I’m sorry I spoke unkindly to you, will you forgive me?) and then hugging the offended person. (There is just something about physical contact that melts hearts and helps siblings to reconcile. Older children, especially boys, are required to shake hands.)

Once they have worked through this process, they spend some time praying about it and asking for God’s forgiveness and help for future events. Janine’s sorting out prayer takes this part of the process a couple of vital steps further and I will be introducing it as part of our family pattern for making things right with God and between family members from now on.

Here it is as it appears on page 102 of her book:

The Sorting Out Prayer

1. I forgive ……….. for…………

(Matthew 6:14,15)

2. Dear God please forgive ……….. for ………….

(Luke 23:34)

3. Please forgive me for getting angry.

(1 John 1:9)

4. Please take all the anger and upset out of me.

(1 John 1:9)

5. Please bless ………

(Luke 6:27, 28)

In Janine’s words; “It keeps us free from resentment, kept our forgiveness up to date, and it helped create an environment for strong and healthy emotional growth in each of our children.”

Recommended Resources

Here are a couple of my favourite Christian resources for family devotions, circle time or for simply reading through with children.

The Lamb by John Cross is an amazing resource. It begins with creation and covers the gospel message in a clear and concise form that is easy for children to understand. Each chapter has beautiful, full colour illustrations and summary questions at the end to check for understanding and stimulate discussion. The book comes with an audio CD so children can listen to the story as many times as they like and follow along with the illustrations in the book.

It helps children to comprehend Jesus’ death and resurrection and shows the connection between the old testament sacrificial lamb and Jesus as the Lamb of God. It is aimed at 5 and up, however my children have read through it with me from the age of 3 and it has really helped their understanding of salvation and what it means to them.

The book is a large hardback and is beautifully presented; it makes a lovely gift. It is not available online in Australia but can be ordered from the Goodseed office on 1800 897 333 for a very reasonable price. Cartons of 16 can be purchased for a good discount.

Big Truths for Little Kids

Big Truths For Little Children by Susan and Richie Hunt works through the questions from the children’s catechism. It breaks the questions into small groups and follows each group with a related story about Caleb and Cassie that incorporates the truths from the catechism. We have been working on memorizing the Westminster Children’s Catechism for a while now and my children loved these stories. Our only problem was that they wanted to keep reading the next story before they could remember the answers to the questions! I think it is vital for all children to know exactly what it is they believe and the catechism is an excellent way to ensure that their understanding is thorough.  Even if the answers are a little above them, they can still remember them and grow into full understanding as they mature. My 3 1/2 year old knows the first 30 or 40 questions now and the others are further along, so start early while they are sponges just waiting to soak up knowledge.

Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism

Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade follows the Westminster Shorter Catechism (adult not children’s version). It is an excellent follow-on from the children’s catechism as it contains a similar flow of questions with much more detailed answers. The book follows each catechism question with 6 days of family devotions – short readings with bible references related to the catechism question. With each question studied for one week and reviewed on Sunday, it will take about 2 years to complete the entire catechism. Quite doable! We started with this but decided to do the children’s catechism first as our youngest was struggling to remember the longer answers. Our 6 year old plus could cope with it with a stretch but I want circle time to include everyone so we have put it on hold for now and will go back to it later.

Our 24 Family Ways (2010)

Our 24 Family Ways  by Clay Clarkson is another wonderful resources for family devotions. It includes 24 biblical values based “Family ways” with scripture memory passage, character quality definition and 5 devotions for each. The latest version includes colouring in pages for each family way and other than copying the colouring in if you are using it and finding a bible, no other preparation or materials are necessary.

A Child's Book of Character Building

A Child’s Book of Character Building  by R & R Coriell includes 12 different character qualities with a story to illustrate each; from the bible, at school, at home and at play. Each character has a definition and bible verse and the stories are such that the children can identify with the characters and situations. Easy reading and short enough for even the youngest listeners if one story is covered each day.


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