When writing devotions for children, the challenge is to keep them kid-friendly while addressing a variety of spiritual topics. A picture book can zero in on one theme or concept and use 24 + pages to develop the lesson. In devotional books, however, the writer has only one or two pages to develop a complete message.
My most recent book of devotions for little ones is titled My Mama and Me–Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Child (Tyndale, 2013). Each devotion is featured on a two-page spread which includes a Bible verse, a short devotion, a prayer, a simple activity, and an illustration. There are many biblical truths that young children can understand if they are presented and explained using age-appropriate and specific language.
Here’s an example:
God is Good
The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. Psalm 145:9
God helps the squirrels find nuts to eat.
He helps the bees make honey sweet.
He helps the robins build their nest,
so they can have a place to rest.
He makes it rain when the earth is dry
and puts his rainbow in the sky.
He wakes us with the morning sun.
Our God is good to everyone.
The devotion is followed by a prayer and a suggestion for a fun activity.The devotions in this book are divided into four sections: Can You Tell Me about God; Can You Tell Me about Jesus; What Does God Think about Me? How Can I Show God I Love Him? I refer to this book as Christianity 101 for preschoolers!
Another one of my devotional books for children is The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers (Tyndale 2004). This book is almost 10 years old and is still going strong. This book features one devotion per page with a Bible verse, prayer, and illustrations from the Little Blessings series. The text and illustrations are closely tied together to help explain the message of the devotion. Young children are literal and do not understand metaphors, therefore, it is often necessary to explain what you are trying to teach.
For example, the following devotion has a picture of one of the characters playing with toy sheep:
The Shepherd and His Sheep
Do you see the toy sheep? Real sheep never have to worry. Do you know why? It’s because a person called a shepherd takes care of them. If the sheep need food, the shepherd leads them to a place where they can eat. If the sheep are tired, the shepherd watches over them while they sleep. If one sheep gets lost, the shepherd finds it. The Bible says that God is our Shepherd and we are his sheep. He loves us and takes care of us just like a shepherd takes care of his sheep.
My Bible Verse: The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. Psalm 23:1
My Prayer: You are my Shepherd and I am your sheep. You give me food and a safe place to sleep.
A few more tips:
- Devotions for children can cover a broad range of topics from obeying your parents and being kind to others, to learning about God’s love and the sacrifice of his Son. The topics are endless, but the language is critical. Using words like "blessings" are fine as long as they are explained. For example: God gives us many things like food and sunshine and families. The things God gives us are called blessings. God gives us many blessings because he loves us.
- Notice that the text for children’s devotions is present tense. Why? Because young children live in the present. Past tense is needed when referring to Bible stories, but for a general topic devotion, use present tense.
- When writing for children, write the devotions in second person. Many adult devotions are written in first person which allows the writer to draw from his or her own experiences to develop the devotion. This does not work for young children because they cannot relate to the writer. Make the devotion about the child and not the writer.
The joy of writing for children is that it gives the writer an opportunity to teach little ones about God at an early age. But as I have said before, writing for children is not easy. If it were, everyone would do it!