June 18, 2023 will mark 40 years since 10 Baha’i women were hanged in Shiraz. Their only ‘crime’ was their refusal to renounce their beliefs in a faith that promotes the principles of gender equality, unity, justice, and truthfulness. This collection highlights Baha’i Blog content relating to the ongoing persecution of Baha’is in Iran.
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.
Signs of God’s Love – A New Children’s Book by Tahirih Lemon
Tahirih Lemon has penned a new book for children called Signs of God’s Love and, to judge a book by its cover, it looks delightful! Illustrated by Lusya Stetskovych, this book introduces the concept of God, the loving Creator, and what makes humans special.
It was lovely to interview Tahirih Lemon about her book series for junior youth called The Independent Investigator (you can find that interview here on Baha’i Blog) and I was thrilled to hear from her about this new publication:
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book Signs of God’s Love?
Signs of God’s Love is a story about a boy named Aidan, who learns about the signs of God’s love throughout creation, while hiking with his father. As Aidan wonders and ponders, his father teaches him about the unique power each form of creation possesses. It is a beautifully illustrated book introducing the concept of God, the loving Creator, and what makes humans special.
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write it?
Signs of God’s Love was first published in 2006, however, it has been re-illustrated and although the original content is still used throughout the text, it has been rewritten as a conversation between a father and his son. The initial idea for the book came while teaching classes for children. One of the concepts I used to teach children from a preschool/kindergarten age was about what Baha’i’s term as ‘kingdoms of God’ – the mineral, vegetable (plant), animal, human and spiritual kingdoms, and the vital power(s) each possesses. I believe these concepts are so vital to our understanding of the physical world, the interrelationships between all of creation, and ‘our place’ within God’s creation.
Baha’i Blog: Who is your primary audience for this book?
The book’s primary audience is children aged four to eight years from all religious or non-religious backgrounds. I have noticed quite a few people, who are not affiliated with any religion but acknowledge we are essentially spiritual beings and there is a Creator, buying copies of the book for their children or grandchildren. In some cases, future children, and grandchildren!
Baha’i Blog: Could you tell us a little bit about the illustrations?
I used the same talented illustrator Lusya Stetskovych to illustrate Signs of God’s Love, as she did such a wonderful job illustrating my other children’s picture book, A Gift from God published in 2020. I sent Lusya an electronic copy of the original book and invited her to come up with something different, including the use of another style of illustration from our previous book. I like to see what ideas Lusya will formulate and suggest before providing any input into the illustrations. It was Lusya who suggested the book would be less abstract for young children if for example a parent and child were on a journey, and while hiking came across each of the different kingdoms. She thought since A Gift from God featured a mother and her daughter perhaps this time the main characters could be a father and his son. I loved the idea and gave the green light for her to draw up the storyboard and a two-page spread of the style she proposed. It was then I decided to rewrite the text and turned it into a dialogue between Aidan and his father as opposed to a being more like a poem. This is a perfect example of synergy.
The only initial request I made was regarding the physical appearance of Aidan and his father. I asked that they look like they were part of a bi-racial family, perhaps curly hair, and the identification of the ethnicity was not necessarily apparent; therefore, the characters would be more relatable to a greater range of children from different cultural backgrounds.
I also used the same editor I used for A Gift from God. My advice to anyone writing books on spiritual concepts to appeal to people of different faiths and to use editors and illustrators from different faiths from yours. We tend to see the world through our own ‘lens’ and at times we can take things for granted and assume others will perceive or interpret something in a similar way. The editor and illustrator both stated how they loved the concept of the oneness of religion, and how it was presented in the story through the Golden Rule.
Baha’i Blog: What was something you learned in the process of creating this book?
Something I have learned in the process of creating this book and previous books is the following quote by Shoghi Effendi:
“Have faith and confidence that the power will flow through you, the right way will appear, the door will open, the right thought, the right message, the right principle, or the right book will be given to you. Have confidence and the right thing will come to your need.”
I can honestly affirm when you put the above guidance into practice it truly works. I attribute this to what led me my wonderful illustrator, Lusya and my current editor. As well as being approached for this interview.
Baha’i Blog: What do you hope people will take away with them, long after they’ve finished reading?
My greatest hope people will take away with them, long after they’ve finished reading Signs of God’s Love is the oneness of God, oneness of religion and the oneness of humanity. What a different world we would be living in if we truly believed and practiced these!
Baha’i Blog: Thank you, Tahirih, for taking the time to share 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.