Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review: My First Read and Learn: Book of Prayer

My First Read and Learn: Book of Prayer. Dr. Mary Manz Simon. 2007. Scholastic. 40 pages.

Introduction: "Fold your hands, bow your head, and close your eyes." With these simple actions, a young child can begin a lifelong conversation with God. Prayer comes from the heart. Because of this, a four-year-old might thank God for ice cream or ask for a puppy. We know God hears our prayers, so even a toddler learns that the all-powerful Creator of the Universe cares about the little things in life. In My First Read and Learn Book of Prayers, you'll find ideas and suggestions for special days and specific situations. These prayers may be repeated so often that your child will actually memorize the words. That's fine, for a child receives comfort from what's familiar. Years from now, you or your child may open this book and use the same prayers. God is faithful, so He will respond again to your needs and concerns. As your child grows up, look for opportunities to talk with God anytime, anywhere. When your son hears a siren whir down the street, he might ask God to be with those first responders. When your daughter delights in splashing through a puddle, she might thank God for rain and you might thank Him for boots! As your conversations with God become more frequent, you will discover that prayer is not only talking to God, but prayer is listening for His voice. May you and your child experience God in new ways through My First Read and Learn Book of Prayers.

I honestly don't know how I feel about this one. It includes prayers for morning time, evening time, meal time, and anytime. It includes "holiday prayers" for Valentine's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It includes seasonal prayers for spring, summer, autumn,  and winter. And then it includes a section for "special situations." Now what does the author consider a special situation? Naptime!!!! Maybe the author NEEDED LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of prayer if her kids considered naptime to be such an infrequent occurrence. For consider what OTHER events are included in this section: moving, birthday, sick, new baby. Granted, we all have birthdays once a year. And granted, most children get sick at least a couple of times a year. But as far as moving and welcoming new babies in the house? That's not even an every-year event. So let's hope that your little ones nap more than that!!!

The sun still shines but I'm in bed
Because I need to rest my head.
So, God, please bless this quiet time
And when I wake, I'll feel just fine.
Dear God,
Thank you for Easter,
Which comes around each year
So that we all remember
Your Son, who is so dear.
Also worth mentioning--though the fault could be with the illustrator and NOT the author--the Easter page in the "holiday prayer" section features an Easter bunny with an Easter present. Granted, some Christians might do the Easter Bunny/egg hunt thing in addition to church celebrations celebrating the RESURRECTION. But I wouldn't say that every Christian welcomes the Easter bunny that openly.

The prayers didn't wow me. I wasn't impressed by the quality of each and every prayer included in the book. I guess my issue is that *most* adults don't pray to God in rhyme. Most adults don't talk in rhyme all that naturally. Rhyming can feel forced, or out of place. So if adults don't go around praying to God in rhyme, why do we try to make children pray in rhymes? Is it so that they "remember" a certain prayer. Do we think rhymes are the only way children learn anything? I don't think that's the case. I think repetition helps more than rhyming when it comes to that. So I think it is more important that the prayers sound natural and genuine and in-the-moment. So the rhyming--for me--was more of a distraction. The forced "cuteness" of it was unappealing.

Least favorite poem prayer:
Hello, God, I'm out of bed,
For I am not a sleepyhead.
Hello, toys, I'll play with you
Long before this day is through.
Hello, doggy, come right here.
Let me scratch behind your ear.
Hello, kitty, say "meow."
I'll reach down to pet you now.
But before I even eat
Or put my shoes upon my feet,
I will kneel beside my bed,
Close my eyes, and bow my head.
"Thank You, God" is what I'll say.
"Thank You, God, for this new day." 
Most favorite poem-prayer:
New Baby
Dear God, You sent a baby
Who makes a lot of noise.
The baby cannot play yet
Like other girls and boys.
I want to love this baby,
As You already do.
Help me to love this baby,
Dear God, I ask of You.

I don't know that any of the prayers are "bad" in a theological sense. I'm not saying that at all. It's just that there was something about this one that kept me from loving it.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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