After several failed attempts at establishing a Sunday Night Family Devotional Time, we’ve switched tactics.
We’ve used several resources which we really liked, but were either too time-intensive and felt sort of contrived, or just lasted too long for Little Brother.
It kept ending in frustration–for Older Brother, who truly was engaged but did not appreciate the interruptions and distractions; for Mom and Dad, who were trying to meet the needs of two children almost four years apart and at completely different stages of development; and for Little Brother, who just wanted someone to play with him.
Our biggest obstacle, it seems, is the attention span of Little Brother, who is three. The other obstacle, to be frank, is our own preparation time.
So we finally took a timeout, vowing to resume some of the materials when Little Brother is old enough to participate.
We still wanted to find something easy and engaging–easy for us to insert into what we’re already doing in our home on a daily and weekly basis, as well as engaging for both boys.
So I pulled out a book I’d purchased on the basis of multiple recommendations and had been saving until everyone was old enough to appreciate it: Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories From the Lives of Christian Heroes, by Dave and Neta Jackson.
We decided to give it a shot, and guess what: it worked! The whole family is enjoying our Sunday Night Hero Tales.
Here’s what we love about Hero Tales:
Each selection is short–short enough to hold the attention of Little Brother. And short enough to read while everyone is finishing up dinner, which certainly helps in keeping Little Brother engaged. He has something to keep him occupied–his dinner–while still allowing him to participate.
Zero preparation required–every Sunday at dinner, we simply pull the book off the shelf and begin reading. We do ask a few questions about what we’ve been reading, just to refresh everyone’s memory. Each selection includes a relevant Bible verse at the end, along with a few questions to generate discussion.
Each tale is about a true Christian hero–real, live people who lived out their love for Christ in various, inspiring ways.
When asked for his impressions of our Sunday Night Hero Tales–for the purposes of this blog post–Mr. Native Texan lit up, noting the stories “are about real people.” They’re not fabricated situations such as we’ve encountered with other resources–which can be good and helpful, but often tend to over-moralize. Hero Tales simply relates the true story of what happened, allowing the story–and the actions of its real characters–to speak for itself.
It does point out character traits, like creativity, courage, resourcefulness, etc, but the approach is very subtle and really adds to the story, instead of trying to summarize it. The text merely points out that so-and-so was confident, for example–confident in God’s power–and then asks a related, thought-provoking question such as What is the difference between confidence in yourself and confidence in God?
Older Brother (almost seven) is absolutely engaged. The selections include just enough information and are just the right length to keep him hooked.
Truthfully, most of it still goes right over Little Brother’s head, but he does pick up things and chimes in here and there. Most notably, he simply “stays with us” for the whole session–as opposed to running off or trying to distract the rest of us with silly antics. He simply is more engaged.
Mom and Dad are more engaged, too! It’s a great cycle: we really enjoy the stories and questions, which must encourage the boys to enjoy the stories, which keeps them engaged, which encourages all of us to enjoy the time together. Mr. Native Texan revealed that he no longer dreads the Sunday Night Devotionals; instead, he looks forward to each week’s continuing story about our current Christian Hero.
A few other details:
- There are four volumes of Hero Tales. We’re reading Volume One.
- Each volume contains a short biography and three true stories for each of fifteen heroes. Volume One includes Amy Carmichael, Martin Luther, Dwight L. Moody, Harriet Tubman, and others.
- The Jacksons are prolific authors, well-know for their work on the bestselling Trailblazer (historical) Books.
- Hero Tales is recommended for children ages six to twelve.
Hero Tales has provided a breath of fresh air for our Sunday Night Family Devotional time. We highly recommend it!
Note: This post is part of a week-ish long series on one of my favorite topics–books: Children’s Books, Used Books, Favorite Books, Libraries and more. Not interested in books? Just skip over this series and join us again next week…
Have you entered the Children’s Books Giveaway yet? *It ends tonight!*
You can do it here: Giveaway: 10 Favorite Children’s Books.
Kathleen Henderson is the Yankee behind the Homestead, where she keeps up with Mr. Native Texan, three busy boys, a large dog, an assortment of chickens and an organic garden on three beautiful acres in Northern Virginia. Yankee Homestead is where she organizes her tips, tricks and resources for a healthy life. Favorite topics include real food recipes, gluten-free living, essential oils and home remedies, all things natural and nontoxic, plus mommy musings and homeschooling resources. Find out more on the About page