If you’re like me, you’re a busy working parent of young children who (when the writing isn’t going as well as you’d like) wishes time could be spent being a SUPER-Parent and educating your adorable child into a baby-genius, or even a holy saint. Finding time to pray, feeling confused about how to involve such young children in prayer are two very common anxieties. If you’re a convert like me, you might struggle with ideas of how to provide your own children with the Catholic childhood you never had. I find myself bemused to say that one resource I’ve now found is a bird book, of all things.
This is a beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written children’s bird book, but I’m surprised at how useful it is as well. Each page sports a hand-painted picture of a North American bird, alongside a short description of basic facts to interest younger children. What sets this book apart, though, are the prayers and small spiritual meditations that invite young minds to consider what God might teach us from these small creatures. Each entry begins “Thank God for the [species]”.
Now whenever I see one of these birds in my own backyard, I find myself reaching for this book and drawing my toddler into prayer. Like most toddlers, he loves to be read to, and to be told things about nature, and he enjoys the little facts the book provides. It’s made bird-watching a game to him. It’s hard to know how affected he is by the prayerful nature of the entries, but he’s been more involved and attentive to these prayers than any other attempts of mine. I am very grateful for Etchison’s words and Plumlee-Tadlock’s arresting images. (I also formally request, on behalf of a two-year-old boy, sequels involving prayerful meditations on bugs, dinosaurs, cars and tractors.)
Parents seeking to involve children in prayer or bird watching will find this short book an excellent starter. Given the quotes from scripture and references to God the Father and Jesus, this book is appropriate for any Christian of any faith, but not for non-Christians or atheists.