Abdu’l-Baha was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah. When Abdu’l-Baha passed away on 28 November 1921, He was eulogized as One who led humanity to the “Way of Truth,” as a “pillar of peace” and the embodiment of “glory and greatness.”
Baha’is see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment, such as can be found in the children’s classes happening all around the world.
Reading to young children not only encourages a love of reading but it can also be an opportunity to teach children about the virtues they are endowed with, the principles of the Faith and its history. This short list includes some of my favourite titles for little ones that I have come across in my adventures as a mother.
1. Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury.
This book by the renowned author Mem Fox is a wonderful way to teach little ones about the diversity of the human family and our inherent equality. It is short, it rhymes and it has a chorus that offers toddlers the chance to wiggle their fingers and dance their little toes – perfect for a child who likes to keep moving. It can be purchased from Amazon.
2. Hank Finds an Eggby Rebecca Dudley.
There is a special place in my heart for children’s books without words as they provide an opportunity to narrate the story to your pace and liking.This beautifully illustrated story is about a little brown bear that labours and strives to return a lost egg safely to its nest. It is a tale of kindness and perseverance that presents you with the wonderful opportunity to weave short quotes from the Writings with its narrative. It is also for sale on Amazon.
3. Daily Reflections and Stories for Children by Munirih Hodge and illustrated Margo Styan.
This trilogy of virtues-based books feature short quotations from the Writings, short stories and illustrations. They can be a resource to use during your morning or nighttime family devotions. They are available for purchase from Amazon.
4. B is for Bulldozer: A Construction ABC.
June Sorbel’s board book is a go-to favorite in our home. I love that its characters are multicultural and that it features many women construction workers, thereby providing an empowering example of the equality of men and women without being over the top or heavy-handed. Although it is structured around the alphabet, its narrative is of two little boys and their dog who watch the progress at a construction site over the course of a year. It many ways, it is also a story about patience. Its rhyme scheme is captivating and its final word — “Zooooom!” — always leaves my little one asking for it to be read again and again. This title can be purchased here.
5. The Good in Me from A to Z by Dottie.
This lovely book is about a little hippopotamus named Dottie and how she exemplifies virtues. Not only does it rhyme, but it can also be sung aloud to the tune of “ABC”. Its illustrations are very sweet and it provides a very concrete but concise definition of many virtues parents aspire to cultivate in their children. It is written Lisa Blecker and can be purchased from Amazon.
6. The Naming of Femi’s Brother by Kiser Barnes.
I remember loving this classic Baha’i book when I was little. It tells the tale of a Baha’i Yoruba family in Nigeria and the naming ceremony of Femi’s little brother. It also shares how the Manifestations of God received Their names and titles. It is a George Ronald publication and can be ordered from them.
7. Corinne True by Melanie Lotfali.
This is one of the three books in the Crowned Hearts series. It is accompanied by beautiful watercolour illustrations and it tells the inspiring life story of Hand of the Cause of God Corinne True and the qualities that made her a heroine. This book is available for purchase here.
8. Ancient Beauty: Stories from the Life of Baha’u’llah.
At this point my list starts to go off the rails a little — this title isn’t actually a book, but rather it’s a compilation of stories enchantingly told by Sarah Perceval and set to beautiful music. It is a perfect tool to teach children stories of the Blessed Beauty’s life. It is available for download or purchase through 9-star media.
9. A prayer book or book of selected writings.
There are several wonderful prayer books for children in distribution but my favorites for this age are board books (books with cardboard pages) as little hands can easily hold them and turn their pages unassisted. We read Elaheh Mottahedeh-Bos’ illustrated Baha’i Readings for Children: Selections from the words of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha (available for purchase through the US Baha’i Distribution Service). Among our collection of children’s sacred books are small photo albums filled with typed or handwritten prayers that my mother-in-law put together for when my husband was little. It is just almost as sturdy as a board book and making them can perhaps be a wonderful family activity or a thoughtful Ayyam-i-Ha gift.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list. What books do you like to share with young children?
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.