Bringing Your Faith to Life Through Picture Books: Five Tips
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
Psalm 78:4 ESV
What is the one thing you most want to leave with your child as a legacy? Would it be your faith? Would it be hope? Would it be money? We all want our children to grow up to be decent, civil human beings who love and are loved and bring goodness to a dark world.
To me, my faith in Jesus is everything. My whole outlook on life stems from my faith. God blessed us with two children. One is now 15, and the other 12; however, when they were small, and I first started writing, I thought about how to share my faith in stories so that my young kids would understand. I landed two work-for-hire contracts that did just that. One was a faith-based coloring book that I wrote the words to and the other was a girls’ guide that included devotions, stories, crafts, recipes, and more.
But my goal was picture books. How do you bring your faith to life through picture books?
Show your faith in action.
Your kids need to SEE your faith in action. Perhaps you share what you believe with them, take them to church, but seeing your faith in action takes it to a whole new level. Picture books are not meant to be didactic, nor preachy. But children will understand your message by seeing action. In my debut picture book, Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans, a young South Korean girl participates in a cause that she believes in—sending rice in balloons over the North Korean border to hungry families. I want my children to care for others less fortunate than themselves. I want them to be active in the community. I want them to show compassion. This book is based on a real event that I participated in because I care for the cause.
What topic could you write about that shows your faith in action?
Show your faith in creative ways.
Rice from Heaven is not meant to be a faith-based book; it’s not even published with a Christian publisher. However, bits of pieces of my faith shine through. One spot is in the title. The title Rice from Heaven came to me as I thought about how God rained down manna or bread from heaven to the Israelites in Exodus 16. Another place is toward the end of the book when the main character says, “I pray that North Korean soldiers do not spot the balloons.” And one last hint is at the very beginning in the dedication. I dedicate the book to three groups, one of whom is our “Heavenly Father who sends rice from heaven.”
How can you show your faith in creative ways?
Show your faith on a childlike level.
My latest sale is a faith-based picture book titled Breakfast with Jesus with a Christian publisher, Harvest House. It’s based on the Bible story in John 21 when Jesus cooks breakfast for his disciples. My nonfiction picture book shows children around the world eating their diverse breakfasts and sharing Jesus’s love with others. First of all, I love this Bible story. It’s so simple. Just sharing breakfast together! I showcase twelve cultures and easy, nonintrusive ways kids share Jesus’s love.
How can you write about your faith on a childlike level?
Show your faith through themes.
I think it’s pretty easy to tell the themes of the two picture books I’ve already mentioned—Jesus’s love, showing compassion, and putting faith into action. Another forthcoming picture book is titled Korean Celebrations, a nonfiction book about Korean holidays. I married into Korean culture which seems to have a holiday every month. I wanted my kids and I to understand the holidays, so I wrote a book about them. I think family togetherness is important as well as knowing your cultural roots. However, a couple holidays we celebrate differently because of our faith. And I made a small note in the text when that occurred. For example, Christians don’t always perform Buddhist rites and vice versa. Again, this isn’t a Christian picture book, but there are ways to let your faith shine through!
What theme is important to you? What story can you build from that theme?
Show your faith through Scripture.
As I already mentioned, Breakfast with Jesus is built from the story in the Bible of John 21. My picture book author friend, Laura Sassi, has a forthcoming book called Love Is Kind (Zonderkidz, August 2018), which is centered around the iconic love chapter 1 Corinthians 13. As you probably know, the Holy Bible is the best-selling book through the ages and is a perfect mentor text. What better way to design a picture book story from your favorite verses?
What are your favorite verses? Can you design a story around those verses?
I hope something here inspired you as you consider ways to bring your faith to life through picture books. I hope to leave a rich legacy behind for my children and future grandchildren. I know you wish for the same. I pray God opens up doors and ideas for you to share your faith with children.