When Esmé was younger, church was always a stressful time. Even on her best behavior, she had no idea how loud her voice might come out, or she would accidentally drop items onto the floor with a loud clang. She loved crawling under chairs or pews, bumping into other people’s feet.
Oh, *Esmé* loved church! It was her mamma who got tired of whispering “No!”, “Shhhh!”, or trying to peel her off the floor and mold her wiggly body into a hard seat.
Who wanted to just turn the other way and pretend she had no association with the child. Who wanted a little girl to associate the Sabbath with the word “Yes!” instead of “No!”
So I was happy to review the children’s book, Rufus and Ryan Go to Church! And grateful that it took a realistic snapshot of childhood, with a little boy who isn’t always perfectly still and perfectly quiet, but who enjoys sharing the church experience with his monkey companion.
In Rufus and Ryan Go to Church!, four-year-old Ryan explains to his stuffed monkey, Rufus, what is happening as they attend church on Sunday morning. He lets Rufus know when it’s time to sing and to pray and to be quiet. Author Kathleen Bostrom brings a delightfully light touch to the text as she provides an introduction to an experience that most children are exposed to long before they understand why. And children everywhere will relate to the idea of explaining their surroundings to their favorite companions as they go about their daily activities.
This is just one of the first titles in a new series of inspirational books for preschoolers.
Rufus and Ryan is a new series of books for preschoolers, featuring Ryan, an energetic little boy, and his stuffed monkey Rufus. Basic Christian and church concepts serve as the foundation of the series, with an additional focus on character traits and development. The text is presented in young Ryan’s voice as he teaches Rufus about the concepts he is learning himself. Each story is about 150 words, using age-appropriate vocabulary and themes.
Also available now, Rufus and Ryan Say Their Prayers
WHO is this book for?
- Children ages 2 to 5 and their parents, grandparents
- These faith-based board books make great gifts during any season: Christmas, Easter, baby
- Toddler birthday
- Gift from grandparents
- Gift for your child's Sunday School teacher of children's minister
- Perfect for church nurseries, Sunday school classes, preschools, and church worship settings
About the Author
Kathleen Long Bostrom is a published children’s author in both the Christian and trade markets. She has a Master’s in Christian Education and a Doctorate of Ministry in Preaching, and she has worked in children’s ministry for many years. Kathy and her husband, Greg, have three grown children and live in Illinois.
About the Illustrator
Rebecca Thornburgh began illustrating children’s books full-time in 1996 and today has almost 100 books to her name. Rebecca’s vibrant watercolors have been showcased in previous Ideals titles, including the new edition of The Story of Christmas. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two daughters.
Format: Children’s picture board book
Age Recommendation: 2 – 5 years old
Publisher: Ideal Books
This is a sweet book to introduce or tie in to a little one’s church experience! It goes through many of the typical steps of a church service, but having Rufus along for each step of the way keeps it from being a dry, factual book. The softly colorful illustrations tie perfectly with the text.
This is a book that will appeal to the littlest of ages. In my experience, I’d probably rank it for ages 1-4. The board book format is perfect for chubby little hands to hold, and the quantity of words on each page is about the right amount amount to keep a little one’s attention. It could also work as an easy reader – particularly for a beginning reader to engage with a little sibling.
Church services aren’t always known for their family-friendliness. I’ve spent many hours in a “mothers’ room” dealing with my miniature miscreant, and I love the positive tone of the book – which shows Ryan in the sanctuary along with his family rather than being entertained elsewhere.
There are a number of Sabbath-keepers following this blog, so I feel obliged to mention that “Sunday” is referred to as “church day” in this book. It is easy enough to substitute if you’re reading to a non-reader, of course.
And now, we have a giveaway copy to offer to one of you! US or Canada addresses only on this one.
Disclosure: Thanks to FlyBy Promotions and the publisher for coordinating providing review and giveaway copies of this book, as well as the Top Ten Tips resource below:
TOP TEN TIPS FOR INTRODUCING YOUR CHILD TO WORSHIP
1. Attend a child-friendly church.
A church that invites children to attend worship, that has a children’s time during worship or a service in which children are included, will not mind the noise and commotion that comes with having young children in worship.
2. Bring your child to church on a day other than Sabbath morning.
Call the church office and make an appointment with a pastor, Christian education director, or church school teacher. Go on a tour of the church facility, and locate the Sabbath school rooms and bathrooms as well as the sanctuary. Let your child explore the sanctuary, see how it feels to sit in the pew, and leaf through the Bibles and hymnbooks. Look behind the pulpit, Communion table, and baptismal font, and explain the use of these.
3. Take home a worship bulletin and go through the service at home.
Show your child that there are times to sit, to stand (and in some places, to kneel), to sing, to pray, and to listen. If the Lord’s Prayer is used, write down the words and let your child practice at home. Prepare offering envelopes and let your child put money in the envelope, and explain why the offering is important.
4. Play “Let’s go to church” at home.
Practicing the worship service at home will help your child feel more comfortable with what happens in worship.
5. Read the Bible and pray at home.
Purchase an age-appropriate Bible for your child and read the stories. Let your child handle the Bible and encourage questions. You can explain that the Bible is where we learn God’s story, and how we are part of that story. If you let prayer be a part of your everyday life, not just something you do at church, your child will understand its importance.
6. Sit near an aisle or in a place where you can make an exit if needed.
If your child needs to go to the bathroom, or is feeling overly stimulated or having a disruptive day, don’t be embarrassed. Walk your child out of the sanctuary until she can work off a little energy, and then come back in. This is much easier if you don’t have to crawl across a row of other people in the pew!
7. Be prepared with a worship notebook or bag.
Many churches provide materials for children to use during worship, but if not, bring your own supplies. Colored pencils can be used to mark the parts of worship in the bulletin as you go through them one by one. Get to church a few minutes in advance and use a bookmark to mark the hymns that will be sung that day. Have some coloring pages from a Bible coloring book for your child to color, or some blank pages for doodling. This is not disrespectful, and can help your child listen more attentively. Have the words of the Lord’s Prayer printed on a page for the child to follow, if he or she is of reading age. Let your child draw a picture of the anthem or hymns being sung, or the sermon, and give this to the choir director or pastor afterwards.
8. Teach basic church etiquette.
Speak to people before and after worship, and teach your child how to shake hands and greet others. If your child is shy, don’t force it, but practice at home and let your child see you greeting others. Let the child put the hymnbook and Bible away after use, and be sure to take your bulletin with you, rather than leaving it in the pew. Meeting other people and taking care of the church facility helps a child feel that “This is my church!”
9. Get to know the pastor.
Pastors of child-friendly churches love to get to know the children of the church. Introduce your child to the pastor after worship, and participate in other church activities so that the pastor becomes a friend and not a scary adult.
10. Don’t give up!
It may take awhile for your child to become comfortable in worship, and to learn how to sit quietly. The best way for this to happen is to attend worship on a regular basis. There may be days when it doesn’t go well, but don’t let this stop you from coming the following week. Practice makes perfect!