Growing up I was unfamiliar with Lent as our church did not observe the church year. When I did hear individuals speak of Lent much later as a college student, the context was typically the question "What are you giving up for Lent?" As an adult, I learned more about the church year and try to observe it personally and with my family. However, the sticking point has always been how to explain Lent to my children and observe it in a meaningful way in a congregation which doesn't practice Lent. Seeking out books about Lent was difficult as many required explanations of unfamiliar practices or terminology. Enter Laura Alary's new book Make Room: A Child's Guide to Lent.
Make Room is a picture book for children. Right away several things caught my attention. To begin, Alary arranges her book around the themes of Make Time, Make Space, and Make Room as ways to get ready while waiting for Easter and leading up to Holy Week. Each section begins with a text, anchored in an example from Christ's life or teaching, followed by practical examples presented in an engaging and winsome manner which children and families can accomplish. This emphasis on making Jesus a priority, rather than giving up something, is refreshing. The text does include examples of turning off the TV and giving away items you no longer need, but the emphasis is always on doing so in order to make room in your life and heart for Christ and becoming more Christ-like in the process.
In a picture book, the text and pictures are equally important. The pictures by illustrator Ann Boyajian are beautiful water color illustrations which complement each section. The illustrations depict children actively engaged in the activities mentioned in the text. Diverse children are shown increasing the appeal to a wide audience.
While this book contains some references which may be confusing to a child, such as a Maundy Thursday service or going to the lake on Easter morning--particularly if not practice by your local congregation, they are easily explained. While geared toward early elementary aged children, older children may benefit from this book as well. The sections are ideal to read and discuss one at a time for family devotions followed by carrying out the examples given. All in all, Alary's Make Room: A Child's Guide to Lent makes the practice of Lent understandable, meaningful, and doable for children and families from a variety of Christian traditions. I look forward to sharing this book with my family and encourage you to do the same.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Paraclete Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”