Perhaps before children start asking questions about belief or spirituality, they start asking questions about people. Kids notice differences, and it’s important that we, as parents, can listen and respond to our kids when they ask about these differences, including about the different religions in our communities.
“This book is a modest attempt to help young children become aware of the diversity in spiritual traditions and of the similarities between their families and those whose faith-based traditions differ from their own.”
The focus is on the photographs in this book, and there is minimal text. This may suit families who want to open a discussion based on the photographs while others may find the lack of details frustrating. Nonetheless, the book is an opportunity to introduce several major religions to young children without overwhelming them.
Faith by Maya Ajmera is a very similar look at religion, though this book provides a bit more context with captions for the photographs as well as some back matter that discusses the elements of faith for older readers (including parents) who want more context.
The publishers description of the book puts it this way, ”. . . Faith highlights the common threads that bring people together in reverence and joy.” I think one of the more interesting opportunities with this book for secular families is to bring themselves into the book. Ask your kids how we ‘come together in reverence and joy.’ Perhaps you talk about prayer or singing or one of the other aspects of faith pictured and come up with some things that your family does that are similar. I’d love to see a secular family create their own version of this book with photographs of the ways they celebrate and care for their community or how they connect with something bigger than themselves.
A Unitarian Universalist pastor even wrote a sermon that incorporated Maya Ajmera’s take on faith, which he called “Love is a Verb.” Towards the end of the sermon, he lists the ways that Unitarians express their faith in the ways discussed in Faith.
Of course, we needn’t wait for a time when we can sit down with books to talk to our kids about our diverse world. Look for opportunities to “toss tidbits of religious knowledge into your everyday conversations” as advised in Raising Freethinkers. We can point out places of worship in our community and connect that with what our kids may know about the religion. Really, it’s about talking. And talking…. and talking.
This post is part of a series inspired by my appearance on Atheist Talk where I spoke about children’s books for secular families. These posts are not intended to be taken as insulting to my religious friends in any way. I merely want to empower secular families to encourage their children to engage with the world through books. Read more: Behind the Scenes of Atheist Talk and there is more to come.