Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Playtime Devotions

Playtime Devotions by Christine Harder Tangvald, is a unique book by Focus on the Family, designed to instill Christian thought at an early age.

On each of the 30 pages that include "devotionals," there is a key thought, a Bible verse, a rhyme or song (often with suggested simple movements), a short prayer, and at least one small illustration. The key thoughts include: God is love, God is always with me, God made everything, God made me special, God loves me, God is good to me, God cares when I hurt, talking to God is important, God listens and cares, the Bible is God's word, read the Bible every day, Jesus is my friend, I love Jesus, sharing makes Jesus happy, church is a happy place, and praise God every day.

The Bible verses are extremely simple ("God is love," "Turn all your worries over to him," "Love the Lord your God," etc.), as are the prayers ("Dear God, thank you for making me exactly the way you want me to be! Amen!," "Dear God, thank you for helping me share. Amen."), making them a terrific way to introduce God's word in the lives of even the smallest children. The rhymes and songs are simple, too, which makes them easy to remember (for both parent and child!) and incorporate into the usual games of peek-a-boo and patty-cake. Here is one example, sung to the tune of "London Bridge:"

"God loves me. Yes, he does.
Yes, he does. Yes, he does.
God loves me. Yes, he does
And I love God!"

This one is a rhyme without music:

"This little boy has two trucks.
This little boy has none.
If this little boy shares his trucks,
Then both little boys have one!"

What I Like: I love the concept! We teach our children counting ("One, two, buckle my shoe!"), letters ("The Alphabet Song"), and lots of silly rhymes ("Patty-cake") from the time they are infants. Why not teach them something even more important: God loves them just the way they are, and wants to have a relationship with them. This book stands open easily, making it simple for parents to refer to it as they play with their child. (However, my two year old absolutely loves cuddling with me while I read this book traditionally, too.) And while the illustrations by Tamara Schmitz are small, they are bright, and engaging enough for my child. Playtime Devotions is my new favorite baby shower gift!

What I Dislike: In order to sing the songs, parents need to know some traditional tunes, including "London Bridge," "This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes," "This Old Man," When the Saints Go Marching In," "Clementine," "Where is Thumbkin," "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," and "Mary Had a Little Lamb." I know all but one of the tunes the author puts new words to, but not all parents may be so fortunate. (Such parents could, however, just speak the songs.) Also, an awful lot of the rhymes go to the rhythm of "Patty Cake" (eight of about 33). Some rhymes are far more meaningful than others, and the book would have been outstanding if there were a full page illustration to accompany each "devotion," but when it comes right down to it, my daughter is captivated by this book!

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 3 and under, but many preschool and even kindergarten kids will enjoy these songs and rhymes, too.

Publishing Info: Standard, 2002; ISBN: 0784713618; hard back spiral bound, $15.99.

Buy Now at Christianbook.com for $11.99.

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