One of my superhero powers—at least when I was the father to young children—was making up bedtime stories. While my wife read from a variety of our kids’ favorites—The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Are You My Mother?, Stella Luna, and of course a few children’s Bibles—I would make up bedtime stories based on their suggestions. Perhaps it was laziness on my part, but I always found it more entertaining for them to simply turn off the lights and ask them to tell me what they wanted to hear. Also, it was fun to use different voices and sound effects, to which the kids would join in. The boys’ favorite was undoubtedly a series of stories we called “Shoot Arrow and One Arrow,” the adventures of two first nations brothers living in a forest by the river. The girls’ favorite was about their two guinea pigs, “Goldilocks and Leo,” who would have fantastical spy adventures every night after the girls went to sleep.
After all, in the dark—without the days’ distractions and devices—all that children have left is their imaginations.
If you’re at the age where you are putting children (or grandchildren in my current case) to bed, I can’t stress enough how vital it is to read to your young ones. It helps them fall in love with reading, and jump starts their imaginations. And interacting with them about the stories, even the ones you make up, gives you another way to instill values and increase intimacy in your relationship with them.
I first met Andy McGuire in 2008. At that time, he was an Acquisition Editor for Moody Publishers, and he had reached out to me about publishing my first book, Imagine That. Since that time, he has been a constant source of encouragement and wisdom to me as I trudge through the ever-evolving landscape of the book publishing industry.
I share this because Andy is an accomplished children’s writer, with twelve titles to his credit. He both writes and illustrates his books, which can be characterized as both aesthetically realistic and whimsical. My favorite new book of his is The Things God Made (Zonderkids 2023), which is a children’s book concocted from equal parts of art, science, Scripture, and wonderment. He does a delightful job of speaking to young ones (I would especially say ages 4-8) in a way that inspires and cultivates a sense of curiosity and wonder.
I highly recommend this book, and his many others, to anyone who has a young person in their life.
Beyond the skillful and informative retelling of the days of creation, The Things God Made reminded me once again of the very special gift of creativity which God gave us. For to be made in the image of God implies more than we realize.
We have the ability to create as He creates. We are endowed with an innate and mysterious aesthetic which resonates to beauty, just as God does. We feel a holy satisfaction from creating, and we also derive satisfaction in the experiencing of creation, just as He does. And as we are God’s sons and daughters, He delights in our acts of creation, as a parent delights in the refrigerator art of their children.
When Andy informed me he was releasing a new book, he playfully queried me as to what my favorite animal was. And I replied, “My ‘spirit animal’ is a turtle.” So when the book arrived, he included a small handmade book mark: a pen-and-ink sketch of a turtle.
Thanks Andy. Slow and steady wins the race.