Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
This is the verse that echoes through the church building Friday evenings, by a loud chorus of high-pitched individuals, ready for a great evening of fun and learning. Working with kids is such a blessing and I am indeed grateful to the Lord for having brought me to this ministry. At such a young and teachable age, kids are able to listen and take in what is being taught to them with a child like faith…don’t we sometimes wish we had that kind of faith: taking the truth at face value.
This blog post however is not about how teachable kids are or having a childlike faith, but rather on writing for kids as a means of reaching them without necessarily preaching to them. Writing stories for kids, stories that would contain biblical values, principles, truths, verses maybe even characters that the kids can embrace and relate to, all of whom would point to Christ and His work on the cross. Of course I would not want to minimize Christ nor His works, nor would I want to dumb down the gospel for the sake of my stories. However, I do want to reach the kids on a level that they can understand and grasp the crux of the stories, gaining some knowledge about the bible, about Christ, about the Holy Spirit and about God.
I found a great post on writing biblical stories for children and its on par with what I am trying to achieve. It was written by Rose Ross Zediker who is a Christian author. The post below belongs to her and you can read the full article here: http://www.writing-world.com/children/bible.shtml
A Biblical retelling must stay true to the Bible verse. Don’t add characters or character names if they aren’t in the Bible story. Choose a point of view and stick with it. Most Biblical retellings are in third person, but some can be told in first person.
Rephrasing the dialogue of a Bible verse can get tricky. The language must be kid friendly yet not change the meaning of what the character says. Keeping your target age group in mind, find and replace the difficult words in the text with simpler words. Look for words children may be familiar with but don’t really understand. Sin is a simple word yet children may not really grasp its meaning, try to define those types of words by inserting an explanation of the word.
Enrich your story with the addition of emotions, actions and setting details. A few simple words like water jars and robes transport the children into the Biblical life style and holds their attention.
The first paragraph of The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 NIV) says:
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
A retelling in the first person viewpoint of the expert in the law could begin:
Finally! I had a chance to test Jesus by asking a question. I knew the laws. I stood with my shoulders back and head held high. I looked into Jesus eyes. “Teacher,” I asked “what must I do now so someday I can live in Heaven?”
A third person viewpoint may be retold like this:
A smart man who knew the law wanted to test Jesus. The man smoothed his robes as he stood. He raised his eyebrows in question. “Teacher,” he asked, “what do I need to do now so I can live in Heaven when I die?”
In both retellings, actions were added to show the man’s confidence in his own knowledge. This makes the story more interesting for the child but doesn’t change the meaning of any of the original verse.
A contemporary retelling is a modern story with a beginning, middle and end. The theme of the contemporary Bible story retelling must reflect the lesson of the Bible verse. Apply the verse’s message to a real life situation. This real life situation must be believable so the child can apply the lesson to their daily lives. You can’t tag on the moral of the Bible verse at the end of the story. The lesson has to unfold during the story and the readers need to care about the characters and situation.
The following is a synopsis of a contemporary retelling of Luke 10:25:
A young girl and her mother wait at the bus stop. The young girl notices the people around her. She sees an old man in worn clothes and thick glasses approach the bench. The man politely asks a businessman for the time. The businessman frowns at the old man and refuses to tell him the time. The young girl can’t figure out why the businessman is being so mean to the old man. Two teen-age boys walk past the bus stop. Again, the old man politely asks for the time. One young boy looks at his watch but the other pulls him along, telling him not to talk to bums. The old man worries that he’s missed his bus. The old man looks sad and the young girl knows that Jesus would want her to help. She asks her mother if she can tell him the time. Her mother says yes and the young girl shows kindness to the old man by telling him the time so he doesn’t miss his bus.
This modern retelling synopsis is true to the Bible verse. Two sets of people won’t tell the elderly gentleman the time. However, an unlikely source, a young girl shows this stranger kindness. The theme of the Bible verse is shown in the last action of the contemporary story, the young girl helps the elderly man by telling him the time.
Copyright © 2007 Rose Ross Zediker