Parables Jesus Told: The Tell-Me Stories

The Tell-Me Stories: Parables Jesus Told
Ella Lindvall & H. Kent Puckett
Moody, 2000

It’s surprising to me that more Christian children’s books don’t focus on Jesus’ parables.  They’re simple yet profound, short yet expandable, imaginative, and easily illustrated.  More importantly, they convey powerful truths about the Kingdom of God in a way that people of all ages can relate to.

Ella Lindvall saw this potential and has done us a great favor by writing Parables Jesus Told: The Tell-Me Stories, a book of five parables done in the tradition of her Read-Aloud Bible Stories series.  If you’re familiar with the Read-Aloud books you already know that she is a master storyteller; this book is yet another showcase of her ability to faithfully retell biblical stories for the youngest readers.  Her writing style is perfect for the task; she combines repetition and suspense in a way that I’ve not seen any other author do quite as well.

The beauty of this book is that the retellings maintain the power of the originals.  I am quite certain, in fact, that you and your child will be equally challenged as you read.  And as with all of the best theological books for children, you will find yourself stopping to talk together about the meaning and implications of the stories.  Are we building our lives on the Rock or on the sand?  Knowing that God is your good father, do we pray with faith that he hears?  Will we choose to store up treasures on earth, knowing that they will not last?  You’ll notice that I phrased those questions in the first person plural: my guess is that you’ll find yourself discussing the parables as fellow sojourners and not as a teacher and student.  That seems to me is one of the great things about Parables Jesus Told, actually.  The author knows that the questions raised by Jesus’ parables are relevant to Christians at every age and she has written her book to reflects that.

Overall, I love this book.  One minor quibble I have is that her efforts to change language to be more relevant to preschoolers are sometimes unnecessary.  For instance, she calls money “pennies,” Christians are “God’s friends,” and instead of judge she uses the term “people helper.”  Another quibble is that each section ends with a schoolish “what did you learn?” question which is followed by telling the moral of the story.  I can’t help but think that Jesus would have left children to ponder this on their own instead of spoon feeding the answers to them.

Unfortunately, The Tell-Me Stories is out of print and right now used copies at Amazon cost a pretty penny.  Happily, though, Sarah spotted at least one copy at Hearts and Minds bookstore when she was there a few weeks ago.  I’m sure they’d be happy to ship you one if it’s still in stock!

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