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Side by Side with God in Everyday Life

Helping children to grow with God through all times

Yvonne Morris

Currently out of print £7.99 View sample pages

Just done 'A time for laughing' with Jamie. Big success. Loved it and had a really good chat! Gonna dig deeper tomorrow!
Derek Old, father of eight-year-old Jamie

Content

Side by Side with God in Everyday Life invites churches and families alike to use a simple retelling of stories from the Bible as the basis for helping children to think more deeply about a wide range of everyday topics.

In total there are 28 easy-to use story-based sessions, each one featuring one of the times and seasons outlined in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, such as birth, death, planting, uprooting, laughing, mourning, dancing, giving, listening, love, hate, war and peace.

Each session picks out two related Bible stories, one to set the scene and the other to go deeper into the theme. The idea is that these simple retellings can be used to promote open questions, reflection, discussion, further exploration and prayer, and readily act as prompts towards a deeper understanding of what it means to walk side by side with God in everything we do.

Includes 28 themes for exploring everyday topics with children. Ideal for 6-10s.

Foreword by The Right Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford

Yvonne Morris introduces her book:

Endorsements

Just done 'A time for laughing' with Jamie. Big success. Loved it and had a really good chat! Gonna dig deeper tomorrow!
Derek Old, father of eight-year-old Jamie

This kind of resource would be very helpful at home as well as at church. It has been a useful guide to 'getting into the habit of wondering'. Often I'll read the Bible to the children but not always chat about it unless the children raise questions.
A parent

...this book gives you the confidence to explore with children, issues in the Bible and for everybody to ask questions without feeling that those questions need to be answered.
A parent

Author info

Yvonne Morris is Children's Adviser for the Diocese of Oxford, helping, supporting, training and advising churches and their workers on their ministry with children. Yvonne still gets to practise ministry locally at St Matthew's and Luke's Churches in Oxford, where she was Youth and Children's Minister for ten and a half years before taking up her diocesan role and, further afield, working with tweens on summer camps for West Runton Holidays.

Reviews

From The Church Times - 17 February 2012

Central to the ethos of Side by Side with God is accompanied reflection. Yvonne Morris offers 28 sessions for primary-school-age children, based on the seasons of Ecclesiastes 3. In his foreword, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, suggests that this book opens up questions of faith and life. Morris offers sensitive reflections on some deep and complex issues including dying, killing, and destroying. These intentionally offer more questions than answers.

She resists a simplistic reading of the Bible, instead integrating biblical and contemporary life experience. Her emphasis on making these connections in a nurturing environment allows important subjects to be explored by children in safety.

Bible stories from Old and New Testaments that set the theme in this book are followed by reflective questions, and suggestions for the direction of the following discussion. Links to other parts of the Bible are included, and are followed by more in-depth biblical reflection on the theme.

Finally, there are ideas for how those present might end by 'chatting to God'. The theological reflection offered in these sessions is more complex than is usually available in resources for children, allowing for a greater engagement with both scripture and related personal experience. Adults, too, would benefit from this style of learning, which is seldom presented so clearly.

Side by Side with God does not follow the lectionary or seasons, and might not help in the weekly preparation for junior church. It could, however, be used for assemblies and clubs, and would complement Personal, Social, Health and Economic education programmes in schools. Because it tackles issues that most resources available to junior-church leaders avoid, I consider it the gem in this collection of new books. I will hold it in readiness for that moment when a pastoral issue arises that demands a departure from the lectionary cycle, and when I need to find a way to open up the biggest questions of life for the children in my care.

Reviewed by Dana Delap, a member of the Church of England's Liturgical Commission.


From Magnet - Winter 2011

Using the Contemporary English Version of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 as a basis, Yvonne Morris has constructed a model for use by all those called to nurture children within families and without. The 28 sessions are each bible based with a story plus verses to stimulate more chatting. She uses the word 'wonder' to bring the essence of the story to mind and to share. She encourages communication with God in asking what questions need to be asked and listening for answers. Just as the writer of Ecclesiastes faced up to all aspects of life, so here laughing, weeping, building, destroying, embracing are all included. Might be worth a visit for more ideas how to link the Bible stories with everyday activities.

Reviewed by Tania Brosnan


From Child in the Midst - October 2011

Side by Side with God invites children and adults to join together on a journey of encounter, discovering God through story, wondering, prayer and activity. The short introductory chapter shouldn't be missed as Yvonne helpfully outlines how each section can be used to open up conversations, activities and prayer around the biblical stories. Families, churches and children's leaders will find it a useful way to start thinking about more deeply about everyday life and faith with children.


From The Door - October 2011

Although written with children in mind, this book enables parents to ponder, wonder and explore their relationship with God at the same time as helping children approach, and deal with the difficult areas of life. How often do adults give themselves time to reflect on topics such as planting and uprooting; finding and losing, laughing and weeping to name just a few of the topics covered. It gives the guidance which parents need to tackle these more unusual topics which are based on the times and seasons taken from Ecclesiastes 3, an unusual approach, but it works very well, offering a much wider variety of areas than one would have imagined possible.

Each topic is introduced and illustrated with Yvonne's gifted re-telling of a bible story in an imaginative and concise way. These are complemented by the 'Digging deeper' stories which are also well chosen and well told. The 'Chatting together' section is helpful giving ideas to stimulate conversation and explore different aspects of the topic, but some of the ideas would need to be simplified for younger children. When considering the David and Jonathan story, wondering how Jonathan would feel, caught between his best friend and his father, would need some high level thinking skills. Yvonne does point out, helpfully, that parents don't need to have all the answers and that the journey of discovery is a joint venture.

To get the most out of this excellent book one would need to know the children well, and to be able to spend time with them. Christian parents using it with their children would be ideal, or a small Christian group with a trusted leader. Parents without a Christian background may find the approach challenging, but worth the effort. The 'prayer' section, entitled 'Chatting with God' really does get the message across that, building a relationship with God, is a two way process and doesn't need any special churchy words.

This book is a 'must' for Christian parents to have at their finger tips for life's special moments and for those times when their children ask those spiritual questions about everyday life which adults are too shy to ask.

Reviewed by Jo Duckles

From The Good Bookstall - October 2011

Everything has its time and there is a time for everything, but in our fast moving, ever changing society too often family time is pressured and cultivating a time to get alongside our children and a good book is squeezed out, let alone time to talk through some of those existential questions!

This book offers a helpful rhythm to sharing and unpacking bible stories with children in the home. Arranged thematically based on Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, each section starts with the bible to set the scene; leads onto 'wondering questions'; encourages conversation; identifies further 'bible links' before 'capturing the question' we might want to ask God; a further story enables us to 'dig deeper' before we 'chat with God'.

This is not a book that gives a neatly packaged interpretation or message; it is a gem that will stimulate thought, engage with uncertainties and provide a safe place to explore new understandings as parents nurture their child's developing spirituality. Make time to journey closer to God side by side with your children.

Reviewed by Sian Hancock

Book details

  • ISBN: 9781841018553
  • Published: 19 August 2011
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144