Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers & The Berenstain Bears Go To Sunday School by Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers by Mike Berenstain (created by Stan & Jan Berenstain)
Geared Towards: 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71246-6

During their team baseball game Brother notices Cousin Fred quietly standing on the mound with his head bowed and his eyes closed. Whatever could he be doing?, Brother wonders. Later in the dugout Brother inquires, and much to his surprise learns that Cousin Fred had been praying. Both Brother and Sister Bear pray at home, but usually they only do it at bedtime and usually they just pray for God to bless their friends and family. Brother didn't realize you could pray any time, any place about any thing.

Taking a page from Cousin Fred's book, Brother says his own prayer before going up to bat. However, he doesn't get what he prayed for, and Brother doesn't understand what happened. So he decides to talk to Cousin Fred about it. What Brother ends up learning is that God does answer our prayers- all of them. He just doesn't always answer them in the way we'd initially expect or even like.

I think this was a great story, and again brings an excellent topic to the table. I believe it reinforces the idea of prayer time not having to be a structured, only here and at this time, kind of thing. I also believe it will help encourage little ones to pray for even things that maybe they wouldn't think ranked high enough on God's importance scale to pray for otherwise. Brother didn't get what he prayed for, but he learned a valuable lesson. Children need to learn that God isn't a prayer ATM able and willing to immediately dole out whatever kind of withdraw you request. Sometimes the answer isn't what you'd like and sometimes it doesn't come in the way you'd expect. But what you can always count on is the fact that one way or another God will answer your prayers.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

The Berenstain Bears Go to Sunday School by Mike Berenstain (created by Stan & Jan Berenstain)
Geared Towards: 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71248-0

When reminiscing about days gone by, Mama Bear realizes how much she misses the family attending church together on Sunday mornings. Once a weekly activity, now the Bear family has become so preoccupied with all their other going ons that they haven't been to church in ages. Knowing how important church is to them each as individuals and especially as a family, Mama decides to set her foot down and determines to her family back in the habit of going to church.

Brother and Sister, and even Papa, aren't too keen on the idea because it means they have to get up really early on the weekend. Mama assures them they'll have a good time at Sunday School and still be done in time to get to their other Sunday activities. Getting up and moving that first Sunday morning doesn't prove easy, but in the end the family does go to church and comes out all the better for it.

I come from a family that has always gone to church, and my girls have been mostly raised in the church as well. They both absolutely adore going to Sunday School, and actually on the mornings that maybe I just don't feel like crawling out of bed to get ready- they're the ones that help me do it. Church is such an important part of a Christian's life. I believe it's very important to take the chance to be around others of the same faith, to be filled with the Word, and to simply step back from everything else you focus on in your day to day life. At church your soul is restored, and you are given the perfect environment to put your focus fully on God. Not that you have to be at church to do this, but it's very instrumental in your relationship with God. And I do believe that going to church as a family not only strengthens your bond with God but with each other too.

I quite enjoyed this book, and I appreciate how the author took the opportunity to even include a Bible story (Noah's Ark). I'm not sure it's my favorite of the series because it didn't really seem to me like a natural portrayal of the Bear family. Them going to church is fine, great even. There was just something about the feel of the book as a whole that didn't seem as easy flowing to me when considering the entire series of original and new books.

Ooh, and one last thing I totally forgot to mention before now.

Each of the four books in this new series has a fun final page that gives you, the reader, a chance to discuss and actively apply the book's lesson(s) to your own life. With two questions from Brother and Sister bear and then two recommended activities to complete, readers can continue to learn from and apply the book's lessons even after they've finished reading.

OUR RATING: 4 hearts

No comments: