Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Child's Guide to Confession

An engaging, illustrated guide to confession for children. This 100-page, easy-to-use aid will help a child understand and prepare for confession. Designed for both younger and older children, this book assists the child with brief, inspirational thoughts followed by prayers and an age-appropriate self-examination based on 1 Corinthians 13 (the "love chapter"). A Child's Guide to Confession also includes a glossary of basic vocabulary that children typically encounter when learning about or going to confession. Fully illustrated in a simple, colorful, yet reverent style.

This work for our children was compiled by the editors, as well as various staff members and content contributors, of Ancient Faith Ministries under the supervision of several Orthodox clergy as cited on the copyright page: namely, Fr Noah Bushelli, Fr Nicholas Speier, and Fr Andrew Stephen Damick.

A Child's Guide to Confession recently came out from Ancient Faith Publishing and I was happy to pick up a copy because my daughter is at just the right age to receive some pre-confession education. I'm a believer in parents being the key instructors in the faith of their children as leaving it to church programs gives the family the idea that the parish "will take care of it." It's the parish church school that reinforces the lessons of the parents, it's not the church school's role to replace the responsibility of the parents. Also, parent-child conversations on the topic of religion are essential from young ages on so that when the child grows into adolescence and questions the faith, there is already a dialogue and understanding that reaches beyond "Because I said so."

I've found over the years that much of peoples' trepidation over coming to confession is not the confession of sins itself, but the form of confession. Fear of saying something "dumb" or looking lost stops people of all ages from requesting a few minutes to have their confessions heard. There's lots of room in this book to discuss that. You can practice at home and as you read through the book, the child will better understand why he is saying and doing what the book prescribes. There's even a helpful "Short Note for Parents" that should kickstart a discussion about confession for the entire family. And as a very illustration-heavy book, photos will surely pique conversations as well.

The largest section is "Self-Examination" which explains those things that we confession in a way a child can understand. There aren't paragraphs on every page, but ideas that you can touch on and expand as needed. You know your child, so you're uniquely positioned to know when to spend more time on one page and less on others.

Finally, I really appreciate the "Glossary" section at the back of the book. Knowing what something is and knowing how to explain it in a way your child will understand is not the same thing. I went through the glossary with my daughter a little bit at a time just so she gained a wider confessional vocabulary.

I recommend this book for elementary-aged children and I think it's sturdy enough to be a book children can pick up at church to page through when appropriate. Most churches have a basket of books for little fingers to riffle through, and this would be a welcome addition. Unlike some children's books, it's not so regionally specific that a Greek or Russian parish is going to shrink from terminology or illustrations that don't quite fit the lived experience of their children. There are some pages in the middle for note-taking, so keep the crayons away if this is going to be a shared copy; they scream "Draw on me!"

Pick up a copy and tell me what you think.

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