Monday, October 26, 2015

"The Plans I Have For You" prompts kids to think about God's plan for their lives

During our Sunday morning devotional time, after some raucous worship in the basement, the boys and I sat down to read The Plans I Have For You by Amy Parker and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. The title seems to come from Jeremiah 29:11, in which God promises a future and a hope and has plans to prosper and not to harm the the Jews exiled in Babylon. It's an oft quoted verse among Christians, perhaps so much so that the authors didn't feel the need to mention the scripture anywhere. Instead, the book is written in the voice of God, speaking both to readers and to the cute, multicultural children depicted in the lively illustrations. A visual metaphor of the "You Factory" runs through the pages, as God creates children destined to be firefighters, chefs, nurses, mountain climbers and ballerinas.  I appreciate the message of this book, which encourages children to not only dream about their futures, but to rest in the thought that God has formed them with a specific talents and gifts to accomplish a specific task on the earth.

I had a slight reservation about the book because the idea that God's Very Special Plan Just For You seems to be equated with one's career. It's not that I don't believe people should be passionate about their job, but I wondered if that view of God's plan was a little too limiting. Not everyone grows up to be the zookeeper or pilot they dreamed of as a child. Not everyone gets to be passionate about their career. I don't think that necessarily means those people missed their true calling, which might be in their homes, neighborhoods or volunteer work. Our lives should be full of passion... but our specific role in God's big plan is usually harder to pin down to a single job description. Of course, after I got off my soap box, my husband pointed out: this is a children's book. Children's books are not typically the place for complexity and nuance. And children's brains aren't usually the place where we test out our philosophical ideas. So, back to the upshot:

I was pleasantly surprised that all three littles (ages 7, 4 and 2) stayed tuned in for the entire book (albeit for different reasons). My oldest enjoyed answering my husband's questions about the metaphors in the book: "Steve, why do you think they're parachuting? Where do the plans come from? Where are the kids going?" The final prompt on the last page, which urges children to drop the book and get out and find that special, just-for-them plan, caused him to immediately pray, "God? What is your plan for me?" My younger boys insisted on "reading" the book again themselves, delighting in the children on conveyor belts and parachuting out of the sky.

*I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.*

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