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.
Baha’is believe in the power of prayer and you’ll find Baha’is and their friends, throughout the world, getting together to pray. This is often referred to as a ‘devotional gathering’ or ‘devotional meeting’, and they happen in diverse settings, whether in cities or villages. These gatherings are open to all and are intended to embrace that attitude of prayer and practice of devotion that is universal to all religions.
Bursting Into Bloom – A New Board Book of Prayers by Abdu’l-Baha
Ahva Afnani Aflatooni, a young mother, has illustrated and designed a beautiful board book to adorn many of those prayers and it’s titled Bursting Into Bloom. Board books, thus named for their thick cardboard pages, are perfect for little ones to hold. It’s wonderful to see another resource made available for really young kids.
Ahva generously agreed to tell us about the prayer book she designed. Here’s what she shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area (USA) and am a mother to an adventurous three year old girl. I work as a real estate attorney, but my true passion lies in environmental and climate advocacy. After my daughter was born, the realities of the climate and biodiversity crises weighed on me like never before, and she has nurtured within me an urgent passion for preserving and caring for the planet and all the people and creatures that inhabit it.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about your book?
One of my favorite activities with my toddler has been to sit and read prayers with her, particularly from board books with illustrations that she can admire (without destroying). I love so many of the Baha’i children’s prayer books currently on the market, but I was craving more variety in the prayers that appeared in those books. Many of the existing children’s prayer books feature the same set of prayers (such as “Is there any remover of difficulties…” and “O God! Guide me…”). Around the time my daughter was born, the Baha’i World Center released new English translations of prayers for children revealed by Abdu’l-Baha. They are such beautiful prayers, rich in their imagery, with many references to florals and springtime and innocence. I found His words so inspirational and I decided to create a children’s board book featuring them, for parents to enjoy with their little ones.
Baha’i Blog: Can you please tell us about its illustrations?
Each spread within the book features an insect in one of its natural habitats — a meadow, a beach, a grove, etc. One of my most vivid memories as a child was playing outdoors and spotting insects. And looking back, I feel like I saw a ladybug or a snail on an almost daily basis as a child. It’s something I didn’t know that I missed until my daughter started pointing out the little critters she would encounter at the park or in our yard. I wanted my illustrations to capture the beauty and wonder of the natural world in a way that is familiar to children and nostalgic for parents, while also paying homage to the disappearing pollinators (bees, butterflies, etc.) that are so vital to humanity’s continued existence on this planet.
Baha’i Blog: What’s something you’ve learned in the process of creating this book?
I’ve learned that perfection is unattainable, and I’ve learned to live with it and to see the charm in it. At a certain point, as a creator, you need to acknowledge that an artwork is “good enough” and share it with the world!
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Ahva, for sharing this with us.
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.