Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Berenstain Bears 5-Minute Inspirational Stories

It seems like all the companies are banking on our nostalgia these days. Why not do it with something wholesome like the Berenstain Bears? I grew up reading those books with my parents, and though Stan and Jan Berenstain passed away a few years ago, their son Mike is still producing these books. He's pretty faithful to the artistic style of his parents, but Mike uses more overt references to the Bible and Christian teaching in the stories.

I really appreciate Zondervan releasing these books in big collections—The Berenstain Bears 5-Minute Inspirational Stories comes with 12 different stories. Sometimes the stories include Bible verses or someone explaining what the Bible teaches. It usually feels forced to me (and I'm an ordained minister), but the message is positive and it gives parents a chance to talk about their faith, so I can live with the occasional moment of awkward dialogue. Some of the stories are repeats from their 5-in-1 collections, but there are enough original stories here to justify adding it to the kids' bookshelf even if you own one or two.

I loved reading the Berenstain Bears as a kid, and I'm happy to share them with my own children.


I received this book from the publisher in order to complete my review.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

When God Made You (Children's book)

Our family loves to read. I love seeing my kids pick up a book, walk over to their grandparents, and ask them to read. We care about what our children read, so we appreciate book reviews that give us an idea of what to expect, especially when we're considering a new book we've never heard of before.

When God Made You is a BEAUTIFULLY illustrated little book that strongly evokes the limerick and upbeat style of Dr. Seuss's Oh the Places You'll Go. It tells children they are loved by God and encourages them to be true to themselves. There's nothing explicitly Christian about the book, but it comes from a Christian publisher, so it's kind of assumed. As far as children's books go, it's got great pacing, a lyrical quality, and a positive message. Four or five stars...

But...

The book itself did cause me raise an eyebrow a few times, but not enough for me to completely discount it altogether. There are a couple of references to God "dreaming."

"You, you, when God dreams about you,
God dreams about all that in you will be true."

God doesn't dream, either in the sense of sleeping (Ps. 121:4), or in the sense that he's optimistically ignorant about how future events will unfold (Is. 46:9-10).

My real concern lies with the author. His name sounded familiar to me, so I looked him up and found out why. Matthew Paul Turner is not, to put it lightly, orthodox. He was raised in a very fundamentalist church environment, and now he seems to be on a crusade to call all Christians to repentance for not being accepting of others, while constantly affirming to non-Christians that God loves them just the way they are. To the extent that Christians are insensitive or outright hostile to others, they should be called to repent. But telling non-believers that God loves them without a call to repentance and faith is not evangelism, and it's not orthodox, and I'm using that term in the broadest possible way. None of this comes out in the book, but knowing it now kind of makes me glad I didn't pony up the cash to add it to the bookshelf. And it doesn't make me feel guilty if the book quietly disappears from that bookshelf, either.

I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of providing this review.