Children ask such questions as, “How do I know the Bible is true?” “What does it mean when the Bible talks about the kingdom of God?” “How can God be three persons at the same time?” “Why couldn’t Jesus just stay on Earth forever?” “What is baptism?” “Who invented time?”
Bible Gateway interviewed Kathryn Slattery about her book, 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids (Tommy Nelson, 2017).
In what way, if any, did Bible Gateway help you write this book?
Kathryn Slattery: Oh, my goodness, 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids, which is rooted in Scripture, could not have been written without Bible Gateway! This new book took me more than two years to write, and I literally must have entered at least 5,000 Scripture searches and comparisons in the process!
What a far cry from 30 years ago, when my resources for biblical research were limited to my dog-eared Layman’s Parallel Bible (which offered only four translations) and Cruden’s Handy Concordance to the Bible (which, truth be told, was not always so “handy!”)
Today, Bible Gateway sits at the top of my computer’s list of “Favorite” links and rarely a day goes by that I don’t consult it. Personally, I love the site’s “Verse of the Day,” and since I’m not the best memorizer, I’m forever grateful for how Bible Gateway helps me easily find the correct wording, chapter, and verse for favorite scriptures. Professionally, Bible Gateway is, in a word, a godsend. It is, far and away, my most important, essential Scripture resource.
Hooray for Bible Gateway! You’re a blessing to countless seekers and believers around the world, helping us all grow in both love and knowledge of our good and loving God. I just recently downloaded the Bible Gateway App, and it’s terrific, too—especially for searches on the go!
What inspired you to write 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids?
Kathryn Slattery: As the mother of two children, I understand that growing up these days isn’t easy. Children, like grown-ups, need faith. We’re now living in what historians and theologians call the “post-Christian” age. Secular humanism, moral relativism, political correctness, and a brutally raw popular culture have created a moral atmosphere of murky gray where there are few absolutes to help parents and children take a stand on what’s good and bad, right and wrong. Add to that, there’s the harsh cruelty of social media (Thumbs up! Thumbs down!) and our culture’s tendency to measure a person’s worth by their achievements (athletic, academic, artistic) rather than simply loving unconditionally … Oh my goodness. It’s not easy being human, that’s for sure!
At the same time, we can rejoice that children enter this world with a tremendous capacity for faith. For children, believing in God is instinctive. It’s as natural as breathing. As Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16).
As adults, it’s not only our privilege, but also our responsibility to nurture our children’s God-given faith. Typically, our children’s Christian education includes involvement in Sunday school, familiarity with the Bible, and routine prayers at meals and bedtimes. But in this challenging day and age, that’s not really enough. It takes a personal, intimate relationship with a loving God to breathe life and meaning into these religious traditions.
During my many years as a fifth grade Sunday school teacher, I was stunned to discover how little my students knew about the Bible and basic Christianity. Their questions really took me by surprise, and I was determined to find a way to help them find meaningful, helpful, age-appropriate answers. Today more than ever, children need to be informed and reassured of these three unchanging, eternal truths:
- God is real
- God personally loves them
- God has a unique purpose for each of their precious lives.
With this as my goal, a few years ago I wrote a book called If I Could Ask God Anything: Awesome Bible Answers for Curious Kids, featuring real-life questions from real-life kids about God, Jesus, the Bible and basic Christianity. Kids, parents and teachers really liked the book and wanted more—lots more! “Please write a 365-day devotional for kids,” they asked. So, I did!
What is your objective in writing this book? Is there a progression?
Kathryn Slattery: Day-by-day, naturally and gently, 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids nurtures and grows the young reader’s love and knowledge of God through a deep and lasting personal relationship with his Son, Jesus. The book begins with an introduction to God our loving heavenly Creator and Father, God’s Son Jesus our Savior, and God’s Holy Spirit, who lives in our human hearts. Each day’s devotion begins with a Bible verse and ends with a short prayer, and is written so that it can be read and enjoyed on its own.
In the book’s introduction, I reassure the young reader to not worry if they miss a day or week or month of readings. I explain that whenever the child opens the book, God is so happy to have their attention, and eager to speak and listen to them in a loving, personal way. If the child wants to read ahead to the next day or go back and read yesterday’s devotion, that’s okay. As I encourage in the introduction, “The more you read, the more you will learn!” To this end, most devotions include a “Want to know more?” interactive cross-reference at the bottom of the page for the extra-curious child who wants to dig deeper and learn more.
What makes this book different from other daily devotionals?
Kathryn Slattery: In addition to introducing the young reader to knowing our loving God through a personal relationship with Jesus, the book also offers a complete introduction to basic biblically-based orthodox Christianity! Day-by-day, over the course of one year, the daily devotions engage both the reader’s heart and mind. In other words, with its unique Q-&-A format, 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids is both inspirational and educational. It serves the dual purpose of being both a classic daily devotional and essential teaching resource. No other devotional does this!
What are your favorite features of the book?
Kathryn Slattery: I love the “Want to know more?” interactive cross-references for extra-curious kids. They remind me of yummy spiritual potato chips: once you’ve tasted one, you can’t stop! They’re steppingstones that lead the child on an exciting faith adventure.
I love the book’s emphasis on building the young reader’s faith vocabulary. Over time, children—like grownups—can and should be empowered to articulate what they believe about God, and why.
I love the way the book is written for all Christian denominations. The daily readings deepen the young reader’s understanding of how faith works both in their own church experience, and also helps them see how they fit into the larger historic, world-wide body of Christ at work in the world today.
I love the book’s incredibly comprehensive Index of 366 Questions which cover the following topics: Time; God; God’s Promises; Jesus; God’s Holy Spirit; The Bible; The Old Testament; The New Testament; Christianity; Prayer; The Church; Christian Seasons, Holidays and Traditions; Being a Christian Here and Now; Being a Christian Forever and Ever; Big Questions, and Famous Christians. Phew!
There are, of course, zillions of questions about God and Jesus and Christianity—way more than can be answered in a single year—but I think kids and grown-ups alike will appreciate the book’s thorough research and accuracy for such a wide range of theological, historical, and faith topics. (In case you’re wondering why there are 366 questions, it’s thanks to Leap Day on February 29!)
Finally, I love the book’s “voice.” Special care was taken to write in fresh, clear, easy-to-understand language, and to respectfully not “talk down” to the young reader! The end result is a book that’s not preachy, dry, dusty or boring! When I was writing the book, I imagined the voice of an everyday mom talking with her child, tenderly, lovingly—and with a little bit of humor, too!
What’s the number one question kids ask about God?
Kathryn Slattery: Little ones are very practical and literal-minded, and want to know answers to questions like, “If God is invisible how can I know he’s real?;” “What does Jesus look like?;” and “Will I see my pet in heaven?”
Bigger kids ask bigger questions, such as “Can I believe in God and still believe in science?;” “Is it okay to pray before a test?;” and “Does it matter to God how much time I spend online and watching TV?” I’ll never forget the day one of my fifth grade Sunday school students raised his hand and asked, “Mrs. Slattery, if God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does he allow evil to exist?” Yikes! Talk about a challenging question!
The amazing truth is, big or small, children basically have the same questions about God as grown-ups.
What’s your favorite question in 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids?
Kathryn Slattery: Oh, there are so many, I hardly know where to begin! Let’s see… Here’s a good one: “Is it true that an astronaut celebrated communion on the moon?” You’ll have to open the book and turn to the devotion for September 27 on page 282 to find out!
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, First Liquid Poured on the Moon and the First Food Eaten There Were Communion Elements]
I also love the question “Is it okay to question and sometimes have doubts about God?” The answer is yes! God loves it when his children ask questions. Questioning God is not unbelief. It’s the sign of a healthy, curious human mind! That’s why I encourage young readers to keep asking God questions. God loves a curious mind and a seeking heart. At one time or another, we’re all like the early believer who cried, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 NIV)!
How do you answer the question in the book, “What should I do when I think a church service is boring?”
Kathryn Slattery: Oh, I’m so glad you asked! This is a great example of one of the more practical, everyone-experiences-this-sometimes questions. Here’s my answer, including the opening Bible verse, closing prayer, and “Want to know more?” cross-references, which demonstrates how they’re like yummy spiritual potato chips!
(October 9) Help! What Should I Do When I Think a Church Service Is Boring?
Continue to think about the things that are good and worthy of praise.
Philippians 4:8 (ICB)
Everyone gets a little sleepy or bored during church sometimes. It’s not always easy to sit still indoors when outside the sun is shining or to stay awake when you’re sleepy. It’s not always easy to pay attention if the preacher is talking about something hard to understand. Not to worry! Jesus was human, so he experienced times of restlessness, sleepiness, and boredom too. In other words, God understands. Here are a few ideas to help you the next time you find yourself a little bit sleepy or bored during church:
- Tell God how you feel, and ask him to help you.
- Make a list of all the things you’re thankful for.
- Make a list of nice things you might do for other people.
- Pray for all the people you love.
God, when my thoughts wander, remind me to ask for your help.
Want to know more? See August 26, “Can God Actually Talk to Me?”; September 1, “What Should I Do When I Can’t Think of What to Pray?”; and November 28, “What Does It Mean to Count My Blessings?”
How should families use 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids?
Kathryn Slattery: I absolutely love the thought of a young reader curled up in a quiet spot, lost in the pages of the book, and with each passing day being increasingly comforted and reassured of God’s reality and love. I also love picturing a mom or dad with a little one snuggled on their lap, reading and praying out loud together to their heavenly Father. With its Q-&-A format, the book is also perfect for family devotions around the kitchen table. You’d be amazed at the lively conversation each day’s devotion can inspire!
Who benefits most from the book?
Kathryn Slattery: Oh, that’s easy! Everyone who has a precious little one in their life will want to share 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids because it’s a book that promises to make a powerful positive difference in that child’s life. By “everyone,” I mean every mom, dad, grandparent, godparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, friend, Sunday school teacher, home schooling parent—everyone!
What is your favorite Bible passage and why?
I absolutely love the 23rd Psalm. Thanks to Bible Gateway, I only recently committed it to memory, and it’s so reassuring, comforting, and hopeful. As I drift off to sleep, I love picturing Jesus, my Good Shepherd, making me lie down in green pastures … leading me beside still waters … guiding me along his chosen paths … his rod and his staff protecting me. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6 KJV) Amen! What a beautiful promise!
Bio: Known by millions as a longtime Contributing Editor for Guideposts magazine, Kathryn “Kitty” Slattery has written hundreds of stories of hope and inspiration for a wide variety of publications, including ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, and Angels on Earth magazines.
In addition to her latest children’s book, 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids: An “If I Could Ask God Anything” Devotional (Tommy Nelson), she’s the author of My Friend Jesus (Tommy Nelson), If I Could Ask God Anything: Awesome Bible Answers for Curious Kids (Tommy Nelson), Heart Songs: A Family Treasury of True Stories of Hope and Inspiration (Guideposts Inspiring Voices), the memoir Lost & Found: One Daughter’s Story of Amazing Grace (Guideposts Books), Grandma I’ll Miss You: A Child’s Story about Death and New Life (David C. Cook), The Grace To Grow: The Power of Christian Faith in Emotional Healing, A Bright-Shining Place: the Story of a Miracle, and she’s a contributing author to numerous Guideposts anthologies, and TommyNelson.com. Her children’s book The Gospel for Kids (David C. Cook) has more than 100,000 copies in print in nine languages. Kathryn, who is known as “Kitty,” resides in New Hampshire with her husband Tom, and they’re the parents of two grown children. Visit Kitty and learn more about her work at her website, KathrynSlattery.com and her Facebook Author Page, Kathryn “Kitty” Slattery.
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