Neither David nor I grew up aware of the church calendar, so we are navigating a bit of uncharted territory with our little family when it comes to things like observing Lent or celebrating other feast days throughout the Christian year. We so dearly want our children to grow up understanding that the significance of these holy seasons and days is because of Jesus and that they are only valuable insofar as they turn our affections and our attention to him. Because of this, I am always excited when I find a resource that we can use with our own children or with the children we teach at church, and I’m excited to be getting the chance to share a few with you over the next several weeks.
Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent & Easter provides a wonderful starting point for conversations about Lent with your family. Laura Alary does a skillful job of writing about the season with simple and beautiful words, and the watercolor illustrations by Ann Boyajian are engaging and colorful. The book is accessible to a wide range of ages. Our 2 & 4 year old were interested throughout the book, engaged by the illustrations and the easy-to-understand prose, and I imagine we’ll be reading it together each year as a family at least until our kids are in late elementary school.
The format of the book is versatile: it could be used for weekly readings in a Sunday school class or mid-week lenten service, or it can be read all in one sitting. From the perspective of a child, Alaray offers many examples of practices that Christians engage in to observe Lent and explains how these practices relate to the purpose of Lent (making room) and to the coming Kingdom of God.
“At supper we cross our arms this way
and pray that the Kingdom of God will come.
I wonder how this will happen?
Maybe the Kingdom of God starts very small
but grows bigger and bigger
so slowly we hardly notice.
Maybe the Kingdom of God happens right around us.
Maybe it is happening now.” (p. 19)
My very favorite thing about this book, however, is that Alaray has managed to naturally intertwine the explanation of the practice of Lent with stories from the life of Jesus, and this is the reason I feel comfortable recommending it. Pages alternate between the child’s explanation of the season of Lent and brief stories of Jesus’ ministry. Some of those mentioned include the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus welcoming the children, Palm Sunday, and the crucifixion.
I do think it is a bit misleading to call this book a guide to Lent and Easter. Although the book ends with a description of an Easter Sunday sunrise service and the familiar “Christ is risen–He is risen indeed,” of the 32 pages, only the final 3 of them are actually about Easter. This isn’t a problem, per se, because it is much easier to find children’s books about Easter than it is to find children’s books about Lent. But I think it’s worth mentioning since the subtitle bills the book as a guide to both.
Reading Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter is a wonderful way to begin your family’s observance of Lent together. It is rich with allusions to theological concepts and Bible stories and it includes “I wonder” and “maybe” statements that will be sure to spark discussion and offer opportunities for your family to engage God’s word together, if you choose to take them. The watercolor illustrations are also colorful and engaging to the youngest of readers, making this also a great choice for children’s ministries with large age ranges.
* I received a copy of Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter from Paraclete Press in exchange for my honest review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.