From an early age, we begin to teach our children the alphabet. The “ABCs” are a series of building blocks which work together to create the words that we use to build sentences that share our concepts and ideas. Perfecting the use of these 26 letters takes a lifetime, but using them throws open doors to learning, enjoyment, and communication along the way. We do well to begin familiarizing our children with the alphabet from a very early age.
From an early age, we also introduce our children to the Faith. The book H is for Holy by Nika Boyd offers one way to help us introduce our children to the Faith. This book associates one piece of Orthodox Christianity with each letter of the English alphabet. Each page of this book is filled with a colorful, child-friendly illustration and a sentence explaining which part of our Faith is associated with that letter. Every page also offers more information about that piece, often also incorporating a related personal application and/or questions. These “pieces” of Orthodox Christianity become building blocks on which our children can build their faith.
Each concept presented in H is for Holy opens the door to learning more about the Faith as a whole. The book is an enjoyable way to begin this learning. It can be used with a variety of age levels. One could simply read the basic sentence at the top of each page and savor the illustrations with very young listeners. With older children, one can read all of the words on the page. Read each page in its entirety and discuss it further, perhaps by relating it to scripture, icons, divine services, or other related resources with even older children. This book is an excellent way to begin (and also build) communication with our children about what we as Orthodox Christians believe.
Perfecting our faith, God willing, lasts for our whole lifetime. Every day we make choices that can build or hinder our faith. We need all of the help we can get as we grow in godliness. H is for Holy offers a way to encourage our children to learn more about the Faith, but it also encourages us to grow in faith. The personal applications and questions throughout the book give us opportunities to further discuss each page of the book with our children. These discussions can lead us to open the scriptures, pay better attention during the Divine Liturgy, and be better observant of the Faith in our home.
We do well to begin familiarizing our children with the Faith from a very early age. H is for Holy is an excellent resource to help us accomplish this goal. This book is filled with learning opportunities on every page. A key message of the book is also its last sentence: “You may be small, but your faith can do mighty things!” H is for Holy offers building blocks with which Orthodox Christian children can build their faith.
See the trailer for the book at https://ancientfaith.wistia.com/medias/3jfhnm71ox.
If you do not have your own copy of the book yet, H is for Holy by Nika Boyd is available from Ancient Faith Publishing, here: http://store.ancientfaith.com/h-is-for-holy.
Here are a few suggestions of ways to extend the learning offered in this book:
A is for altar table.
Ask your parish priest if he would be willing to do a “show and tell” type presentation of items used at/on the altar for interested parish members, as suggested in this blog: http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/search/label/Altar. That way you and your children could see the items that are used on the altar every Divine Liturgy, and learn more about them!
G is for Gospel.
Prepare your heart, and the hearts of your children, by listening to this Sunday’s Gospel in this podcast: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/letusattend. The Gospel is paraphrased for younger children and read for older children, and each is followed by engaging questions to help the listener think about what was heard. You can also download an illustrated copy of each week’s Gospel at www.antiochian.org/christianeducation.
Some weeks’ Gospel readings are the focus of family Gospel lessons found here: http://lent.goarch.org/family/.
L is for Lazarus.
Read the story of Lazarus and complete the icon activity in this printable lesson: http://www.orthodoxabc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/034-EN-ed05.pdf
T is for Transfiguration.
Talk together about the Transfiguration as suggested in the discussion at the end of this blog: http://charmingthebirdsfromthetrees.blogspot.com/2010/08/wear-white-to-liturgy.html. Near the Feast of the Transfiguration, select from the variety of activities in the beginning of the blog to help your family better prepare for the feast.
Z is for Zacchaeus.
Here is one mother’s blog about how she “played” the story of Zacchaeus with her boys and, to make it realistic, she allowed them to keep a small portion of the money he had, but took them to the grocery store to buy (and donate) food for needy people with the majority of the money. They came home and followed it all up with a “tree” snack and then some printed activities. What a fun way to help children learn! http://www.whenyourise.com/2012/03/from-cradle-to-cross-zacchaeus.html