“Hopefully this book can serve as a springboard for further interaction between parents and children, not just about manhood and womanhood, but about God and the gospel.” – Sally Michael & Gary Steward
As fathers of young children, it’s a bit surprising that neither Pastor Nate nor I have ever reviewed a children’s book. In fact, when I received God’s Design in the mail, I was incredibly excited because 1) I didn’t know it was coming— Thanks Roger!— and 2) I’d already been working through the Making HIM Known series with my children for a few months. So, upon realizing there was a new offering in this series, I was very excited.
On a superficial level, while technically a paperback book, the texture and feel of the pages is smooth but sturdier than a typical paperback. My kids have handled them roughly and each volume has held up very well. Illustrations are appropriately distributed throughout the text thus creating visual interest for the kids. That said, one would never refer to the books in this series as “picture books”.
Each of the book’s twenty-six chapters covers four total pages; typically including one half-page illustration and roughly one half-page set of discussion questions/activities. If one were to read each chapter straight through with no break for discussion, it would take roughly 5 minutes per chapter. Further, each chapter is rooted firmly in scripture. There are multiple verses integrated into the text of the book to remind the children that scripture is the foundation of our thinking.
When my family sits down each evening (myself, my wife, and my 6 and 4 year-olds), we typically will spend anywhere from 10-20 minutes going through the book and talking about what we’ve read. Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on your specific family situation.
In regards to comprehension level, obviously that will vary from child to child. My six year-old son has very little problem following along whereas my four year-old daughter grows periodically disinterested when broaching topics and subjects she simply doesn’t comprehend. Therefore, when reading through the evening’s chapter, I often pause and engage the children with questions or ask for their thoughts on what was just read.
While each volume in the Making HIM Known series is excellent, God’s Design has stood out to my wife and me as easily the most necessary offering in the line to-date. This book tenaciously clings to the truth of Adam and eve, gender roles, and God’s perfect design for the world and humanity prior to the fall. Roles of both men and women are extensively explored from all angles: God’s good design for men and women, rebellion against God’s design by both men and women, recovering God’s good design, distorted thinking, marriage, many examples of both Godly men and women, and more.
I likely do not need to remind readers of this site the importance of teaching our children to celebrate who God made them and how He made them. As is astutely noted on the back cover, “Wrong ideas about gender identity are lining up to influence our children, and they are no longer too young to learn what it means to be men and women!”
As our society continues to advance the anti-gender narrative of our postmodern age, it grows increasingly important that we construct a solid theological foundation upon which they may boldly stand. The beauty of God’s Design is that it provides a framework to do just that and as your child grows, the conversation and application questions at the end of each chapter grow right along with him/her.
If you’ve been looking for ways to approach the complicated topics of gender, marriage, and God’s design for men and women with your children, look no further than this solid work by Sally Michael and Gary Steward.
Title: God’s Design (Making HIM Known series)
Author: Sally Michael & Gary Steward
Publisher: P&R Publishing, 2016.
NOTE: A review copy was provided by P&R Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.