If you’ve never read a Todd Parr book, you might want to check one out. Parr is a wonderful children’s book author whose work heavily emphasizes inclusiveness and self-confidence. His writing is sweet and simple, his illustrations vibrant and kid-like.
His first book, The Okay Book, is my all-time favorite — and my daughter’s. She loves that little board book just as much today (age 6) as she did when we bought it for her at 9 months. In “The Okay Book,” Parr writes:
It’s okay to be be short/ It’s okay to be tall/ It’s okay to wear two different socks/ It’s okay to have freckles/ It’s okay to eat all the frosting off your birthday cake/ It’s okay to wear glasses/ It’s okay to come from a different place/ It’s okay to be scared… And so on.
I mention this book because Parr’s approach — simplicity, along with the ever-present notion that it’s okay for people to be different — is perfectly aligned with mine when it comes to talking about religion with kids. If I were to write a Parr book, I would want it to offer an unbiased, non-indoctrinating description of God for kids. It would be called The God Book or maybe Some People Believe, and it would go something like this:
Some people believe everything in the world was created by a being called God.
Some people believe God watches over them and keeps them safe.
Some people believe God helps them make good decisions.
Some people believe God answers their prayers.
Some people believe books written a long time ago tell true stories about God.
Some people believe God has chosen certain human beings to talk to.
Some people believe these human beings are important to God, and so they should be important to us.
Some people believe when they die, they will see God for the first time in a place called Heaven.
Some people believe that only those who believe in God go to Heaven.
Some people believe there is not one God, but many gods.
Some people believe God may not be real.
Some people believe God is not real.
Some people believe it’s very important to believe in God.
Some people believe it’s not at all important to believe in God.
And then, ala Todd Parr, I’d write:
No matter what you believe, always be kind to people who believe a different way.
Now, If I could just get Parr to illustrate…