Living Lent With Children: a kids’ book review

Lent comes early this year, it starts on February 10th.  I’m already thinking about what my Lenten practices will be, but as a father of four I haven’t always done so well on opening up Lent for my kids. Making Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by religious educator and children’s author Laura Alary, explores Lent and Holy Week in accessible ways for young children.  Illustrations from Ann Boyajian adorn each page.

Making Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary and Illusrated by Ann Boyajian

Four headings guide kids toward a meaningful experience of Lent and Easter: Making Time, Making Space, Making Room and Holy Week. Alary begins with a description of how in the church, Lent is a season of waiting before whisking us off to the wilderness where Jesus made time to be with God. Likewise, she encourages kids to make time for God by reading the bible, wondering what God is telling us and asking ourselves probing questions about the life we are living (9). She then talks about Jesus’ teaching of the kingdom and what it means to make space for God in our life:

This how you make space:

If you have done wrong,

tell God you are sorry.

Sweep your heart clean and start fresh.

Be kind to all people,

not just the ones who like you.

Open your heart wide.

If someone hurts you

ask God to help you forgive

Do not store angry thoughts.

Let them go.

Make space inside for better things.

Share so everyone has enough.

If you have two coats

give one to someone who has none.

Make space for what really matters . (14-15)

She goes on to describe how our Lenten practice can help us to live simply, and be generous with others, and how we can make room in our lives to include others in hospitality. Her suggestions are age appropriate (such as giving away toys, saving to donate to the food bank).  The section on Holy Week summarizes the final week of Jesus, with his resurrection as the grand finale.

Alary has a rare gift of talking about deep things in a way that children can understand. Adults, too, often miss the connection with how giving up sweets prepares the way of the Lord. By focusing attention on what this season is meant to make space for (time for God, space for Him and his kingdom and room to welcome others into it), she is able to suggest practices that call children to stretch their capacity to love God and others well. Kids aren’t the only one’s who will benefit from this book. Parents too will be challenged to deepen their love and devotion for Jesus.

My own kids range from eight to one. I would say this is most accessible for my eight-year old, though my six and five year old will also enjoy it. I look forward to reading this through with them throughout the coming season. I give this four stars.

  Note: I received this book from Paraclete Press in exchange for my honest review

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