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on November 6, 2009
Kenneth Taylor - well known as the author of The Living Bible, and founder of Tyndale House publishers - was a man dedicated to conveying the Christian message to children (he had 10 himself) in simple, understandable truths. Big Thoughts for Little People, a much-loved, best-selling picture book has now received fresh new illustrations while maintaining Taylor's text from the original edition.

Many readers my age may be familiar with the original version of this classic title, which was wildly popular during the `80s, and be looking forward with nostalgic fondness to sharing this new release with their own children. I however, missed out on the first edition as a child, so it was with fresh eyes that my daughters and I dug into it together. My first impression was that this vibrantly illustrated hardcover filled with bright, action-filled paintings of children with simple text and discussion questions might appeal to my three-year-old, I was wrong. Every time I open its pages I'm surrounded by a flock of eager faces - 6, 3, and 1, as all of my children adore this newly revised classic.

Arranged around the letters of the alphabet, each letter features a lesson relating to Christian character and moral development. A is for Asking, B is for Behave, C is for Crying and so on. Introduced by a four lines of rhyming verse:

D is for doing
What needs to be done.
So please do it cheerfully.
Then you'll have fun.

At this points all parents are saying, "Huzzah!" Who can argue with reading this to their children? But, how do the children react? I was afraid that the simple, direct, and pull-no punches moral teachings might be considered boring for my little ones, but if we take it one letter at a time and allow the lessons to sink in, they eat it right up.

A paragraph discussing the concept and relating it to the accompanying illustration follows the rhyme. Three brief, age-appropriate questions are then asked. At times these questions encourage children to examine and interact with the artwork ("What are some good things the children are doing? Tell about each one."). At other times the questions encourage the child to engage in personal reflection and encourage brainstorming ways to do better ("What kind of thing could you do to help someone?"). Each letter closes with a scripture verse from Taylor's own The Living Bible.

At times my three-year-old needs some guidance through the more contemplative questions, my six-year-old dives right in (they actually can't wait for their turn to tackle each question), and my one-year-old slaps at the bright illustrations and tries to turn pages (I have the page tears to prove it). Who would have guessed? My children have been captivated by this seemingly simple formula that repeats throughout the book.

Does it work? If taken a letter at a time and reinforced by the parent, I'm going to say yes! After reading, "C is for Crying", in which Taylor explains that crying isn't really necessary unless an injury has been sustained, I started asking my three-year-old if she'd been hurt when she was sniffling to herself. Sometimes she said yes, I kissed her better, and she went on with her day happily. Other times she didn't say anything, thought about it, and stopped crying. Wow.

Andrea Petrlik Huseinovic new illustrations for the classic text certainly provide much of the appeal found within the pages of Big Thoughts. Her use of thickly layered bright paints, and `toothy' paper lend her bold palette a highly developed sense of texture and motion. Busy paintings filled with a plethora of active children, activities and objects that start with the target letter, and hidden ladybugs to count give equally busy eyes something to keep them busy while little minds absorb the lesson embedded in the text.

Big Thoughts for Little People can easily serve as a comprehensive, back-to-basics course in proper behaviour for preschoolers, and a launching pad into further discussions with any early-primary students who may want to listen in and chime in when it's time to answer the questions. Ken Taylor went home in 2005, years after the first edition of this enduring title was published. One of his life's goals was to reach children with the knowledge of God and instruct them in Christian living. It's clear that his vision is an enduring one which will continue to reach many children for years to come.
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on March 23, 2013
I was looking for something more biblically based then this. Instead of true, Biblical lessons that I can teach my kids, it includes things like, "When we get hurt, we don't always have to cry..." Not exactly what I wanted in a devotional.
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on April 22, 2014
Using this for my 2 and 5 yr. old along with Little Hands to Heaven (from Heart of Dakota, HOD). It's has very busy pages that will keep your little ones entertained for a minute while you read and much in the picture is good for incorperating in discusion of the leter on the page and the charactert trait :) I didn't care for The Singing Bible; which was recommended to go along with Little Hands to Heaven & this little ABC book...Do yourself a favor and buy this, but don't waste any money on those CD's the curriculum recommends like I did!
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on June 19, 2012
This book is timeless. A perfect baby gift. The child will really use it as they get older. Illustrations are colorful and have children in all the pages. There is a 1 minute story on each page. Questions for the parent to ask, and the child to answer about each photo. The author has also placed ladybugs on each page for the child to find. A great interactive book. Questions about JEsus and God. Right and wrong. If you want your child to show love to others as Jesus commanded us in the New Testament, a wonderful book. I cannot find it in the Christian bookstores but Amazon has it. The author, Kenneth Taylor is deceased. I read this book to my children 30 years ago and it is still in print, with updated illustrations. I buy this book in quantities of 10. Love it.
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on July 12, 2015
I should have listened to the reviews. Many of the poems for the individual letters have no religious application other than the verse given at the end of each letter. Some of the verses are a real stretch that don't fit the write-up very well. But I skip through and find the best poems to read to my little Sunday School class. I won't toss it, but I definitely wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. This is first disappointing Kenneth Taylor book I've seen.
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on October 17, 2015
The content is okay for the most part, but it tends towards legalism/moral behavior and doesn't point children to their need for Jesus and the truth of the gospel as much as I'd hoped. As a parent, it means additional comments and tie-ins of other Scriptures to help along the messages when they seem to focus so much on behavior instead of helping us to draw out heart issues.
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on September 22, 2014
If your only goal for a book like this is to evoke good behavior and teach children "how to behave", this is a good book. It is cute, is easy to understand and the illustrations are very engaging.
But nowhere in this book will you see Grace. God, in this book, is a taskmaster with a list of things to do and not do, and things that will make him happy and not happy.
Even in obvious places, a chance to introduce truly Big Thoughts are missed. For Forgiveness, for example, he correctly says God wishes for us to forgive others. Yet, despite it being so central to scripture, it is not mentioned that we should forgive others because God has forgiven us!
Relationship with Scripture is quite weak as well. A verse, often out of context, is all we we will get for each word. No stories from the bible of the ways people have failed or lived up to God's law.
Lest I seem to be nit-picky, let me give you a challenge: Count the number of times Jesus appears in this book.
The answer: exactly once, and only in reference to Christmas.Which is pretty much what we get from the rest of the world.
I know the author intended this as a guidebook for good behavior, which is why I'm not giving it one star. But good behavior, from a Christian point of view, serves as a constant reminder that we will never achieve it, and that we are constantly in need of God's mercy and grace.
Again, I know this is intended for children, but a child is never too young to learn about Grace!
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on January 2, 2015
This is one of the best devotional books for toddlers and preschoolers. I read it to my 30 something daughter when she was small and she is now giving it as gifts to her friends with young children as am I. Great way to learn the alphabet as well and to look for the "lady bug" in all the illustrations.
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on April 22, 2016
Wonderful book, each page talks about a moral or trait that goes with each letter of the alphabet. It engages the child with questions about God, themselves, and the pictures of the books. My 4 year old loves this one! It was a gift when my daughter was born so it sat on the shelf for a while but now it's kept on the nightstand it's so popular. I have started buying it for family and friends for showers and birthdays!
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on February 12, 2016
This Devotional mixes biblical principles with the alphabet. I was divided as to whether to order this as part of a homeschool curriculum; but, could not be more pleased. children LOVE it! It would be a great addition to anyone's collection.
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