Sheila started with simple stories for her son but then she branched off onto a new direction.
"What if we could look at familiar Bible situations through new points of view?"
My oldest son was 2. We’d read all the baby books together and he, being an obstinate child, flatly refused to let me repeat a story unless he specifically told me he wanted it.
The simple solution, of course, was to tell him my own stories since I’d been making up fiction since before I learned to talk (ask my Mom—apparently I was a born storyteller—I just didn’t learn to use words for rather a while).
The problem was, said son, being an obstinate child, flatly refused to believe anything was a story unless it was written down. So I started writing and illustrating children’s fiction, just for him.
When oldest son was 6 he took “Mom’s book” into school for show-and-tell, and lost it!
Those first stories were all about a boy called Oscar and a cat called Timmie. But soon my kids were in Sunday school. I helped out by reading Bible stories—the “you-like-telling-stories-so-you-can-read-them” thing. The trouble was, the kids already knew these tales by heart; the same ones every year; same pictures; same lessons; as familiar as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. And I mustn’t change a single thing.
When the kids got older I heard their friends complain “The Bible’s only grown-up’s fairytales.”
So now I ask Sunday school teachers if I can please tell the story in my own words. I write my Bible stories down, secure in the knowledge my sons are too grown-up to lose “Mom’s book.” And I’ve even found a publisher for my Five-Minute Bible StoryTM Series, in Cape Arago Press.
If fiction is meant to entertain, it needs a mix of the familiar and the new. What if we could look at familiar Bible situations through new points of view? Imagine the shepherd boy whose granddad might complain at loud (angelic) music on Christmas night; the kid in the Temple who wonders if God told the old priest to “Hush;” the Egyptian child making friends with this strange new Israeli who’s moved in next door…
If fiction is meant to expand the mind, it needs a mix of the certain and the unknown. Could we add the best of history and science to stories the children have already heard before?
And if fiction is meant to invite the reader into someone else’s shoes, we might need to make those shoes wearable, rather than freezing them in “Don’t touch,” and wrapping them in cloaks of “Don’t ask questions.”
I suspect these things don’t just apply to Bible fiction. If we want our kids to listen while we read, or read books for themselves, we might need to find stories that comfort with the familiar, entertain with the new, stretch their minds with the unexpected, inspire with the joy of discovery, and welcome their questing, questioning minds to look deeper and ask for more.
Or we can give them fairytales and watch them turn away as they grow up.
Sheila Deeth is an English American, Catholic Protestant, mathematician writer, with a deep love for the Bible, history, science, people and dogs!
Find Bethlehem’s Baby at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EY172MA/
More of the Five-Minute Bible StoryTM Series on the publisher’s website: http://capearagopress.com/Five-Minute.html
Connect with Sheila at:
Sheila Deeth: http://about.me/SheilaDeeth
Fan page: https://www.facebook.com/SheilaDeethAuthor