I don’t know if we’re in a “golden age” of children’s books, but we’re certainly in an age of a tidal wave of them. And to some extent this makes sense, publishers know that people want good books. And people want good books. But what is a good book? Well, that’s the rub, of course. The answer from the publishing world seems to be “let’s just publish a ton of them and hopefully one or two will stick.” (I can’t throw stones, given that I’ve directly benefited from this in multiple ways–and of course most of the books that come out are fine, especially those from major publishers.) Which means that in a world full of opportunities to go wrong, it’s delightful to run across the things that go right. And the three new board books by Kristen Wetherell (author) and Grace Habib (illustrator) go exactly right.
God Cares for Me, God Speaks to Me, and God Hears Me, all have the chance to go wrong. They all steadfastly refuse to do so, and along the way go from being okay run-of-the-mill board books to excellent board books. (I remain eminently unqualified to comment on the art in these or in any children’s book, or in any non-children’s book, or in any non-book, but it seems fine to me too?)
For example, In God Cares for Me we are told that “From the fox in his den/to the dolphins so free,/ our God cares for them,/ and he cares for me.” And at that point a regular board book would have gone the “so God loves us all” direction, which is true enough but insufficient for a Christian. But the book doesn’t stop there, and instead culminates with “Now look at his Son/ who died on a tree–/ And you’ll see God is good,/ and he cares for me!” Obviously, there’s only so much you can do at the board book level to explain the Gospel. And they do it well. Each book points from a general truth to the specifics of the Gospel in way that is simple and that opens the door for simple explanations and conversations even with the youngest readers. These books do so in a way that is age-appropriate and that builds organically on the beginning themes of these books.
And I’ll stop there, lest the review be too much longer than the books themselves to be appropriate. I’ll just note that these books are ones that should be on your toddler’s shelf and be a regular part of the reading rotation.