Recently I asked Alexandra, “What types of stories would you like to see more writers write for your children? And why?”
Her answer: Rarely do I go looking for a particular book for one of my four girls, I allow them (with my oversight) to make their book selections. But when I do go looking, I’m a mother in need of a tool: a conversation starter to help me guide my child in a specific, sensitive area. Working for MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) I’m quite familiar with parenting books on the market, especially those coming from a Christian perspective. But in these instances, I’m not looking for parenting books. I’m looking for stories to read with my child. And because my faith leads my decisions on most things sensitive, I am looking for children’s books with principles based on God’s written word.
Thinking back on my history of panicked searches, two instances come to mind. The first was when I decided it was time to have the birds and the bees talk with my eldest. She was getting to an age where details shared on the playground could (and would) start running over into areas I wanted to be the first to discuss with her. I’d heard from more seasoned parents that books could be a less intimidating way to introduce a potentially embarrassing topic into the family dialogue.
The second was when a friend at church, who beginning her chemotherapy treatment, mentioned she was worried about how her pending hair loss would impact her preschool-aged daughters. I promised to go home that day and look for a children’s book on the topic. Both subjects struck fear in a mother’s heart. Both were moments when we wanted help in selecting words that would both comfort and explain the matter to our children.
So I of course, went on-line in search of the perfect book. And in both cases I found options, but none that met my desired combination of faith-based, child-centered, story-formed, non-sappy text. Those that were more direct came off as clinical and cold with no mention of God’s hand in life, death and love. Those that mentioned Jesus seemed as nervous as I was about discussing the sensitive matters and left me wondering if the child would learn anything about the topic in question. I purchased what was available, but I was disappointed.
That’s a long winded way of saying write stories that cover difficult topics. Don’t shy away from things that may cause fear in children (and parents) because children need to hear how Jesus works in the real world. And if we don’t tell them, who will?
Alexandra Kuykendall will be teaching a workshop: “What Do I Have to Say? Writing with Your Voice” at NCWA’s Renewal Conference. Click here for more information.
At MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International, Alexandra, besides being an editor of MOPS content, is a regular contributor to MomSense magazine and Connections magazine. She was most recently featured in Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood. She co-blogs at Momology.