Well my favourite book series Tales That Tell The Truth has it's most recent edition. It is called The Prisoners, The Earthquake, And The Midnight Song. And for those of you playing at home, it tells the story of Paul and Silas in Philippi from Acts 16. It is a bit of a different style to the other books, and here are some of my thoughts.
What I like about the book
1) Listen! Do you hear it?
This is a repeated phrase throughout the book to carry the narrative ahead. On my first read through I wasn't convinced by it, but it didn't take long to win me over. It is great for engaging particularly younger kids in a story that is more complex than one that they might be used to.
2) Gospel Repetition
Throughout the story, the gospel is repeated in the same words, but in a variety of contexts. This is awesome because our kids get to keep hearing it, and they see that it a truth that only applies the moment we ask Jesus for forgiveness. Yet, it highlights the power of the gospel at that moment, as we [SPOILER ALERT] see the jailer come to faith in Jesus.
3) The Illustrations
I like most of the illustrations in the series, but the pictures in this book add in so many wonderful details to the story that go beyond what words in a kids book are able to do.
4) The Flashbacks
Ok, full disclosure - I wasn't a fan of this at the start. At different moments Bob (the author) throws the story backwards in time to explain how they ended up in prison etc. I initially didn't like it, because telling a story in a non-linear fashion (events out of order) isn't the most easily accessible option for kids. And because this story doesn't make an appearance in many Kids Bibles, lots of kids will be unfamiliar with the story itself. However, because kids love reading stories multiple times, I discovered that it is actually really helpful in this book. Turns out the way that Bob does it is great for helping our kids understand the context in which they were in gaol (Australian spelling haha). It also opens the door to us as parents being able to fill out the whole story a bit more when we hit those moments in the book.
What you can do to make it even better
The book helpfully leaves us with the exclamation, 'You can tell people about Jesus too!' I love this. I really do. But if you want to make it actually land in your kids' lives, get them to practise the gospel that got repeated throughout the book. Go back to those pages and talk about that things. Why does Jesus' death matter? How does his resurrection mean we can live forever? What's the deal with the Holy Spirit enabling us to follow Jesus as our king?
2) Application #2
Brainstorm with your kids who they, as kids, you, as a parent, and you, as a family could tell this good news to. Have a bunch of practise conversations to get used to saying the words. And pray for those people.
Where can I get this book?
Well our friends over at The Wandering Bookseller are always the first stop! Get on it. Click here