May 9, 2018

Exploring Hard Topics with Sweet Books by Kayla Jarmon {Product Review}

As parents there are times we going to have to deal with tough topics--like the idea of where babies come from, and what happens after death. It can be hard to find the right words to talk about these topics when our children are young. There are lot of "how to" books for us as parents to read, but there really aren't a lot of options out there for us to read as a more casual discussion. Especially in the form of picture books or books to read aloud as a family. Needless to say I was interested to review three books by Kayla Jarmon, including two which are from her Discussion Book Series--tackling hard topics in a read aloud form.

About the Books

Kayla Jarmon is Christian mother, wife, and homeschooler. She loves storytelling, which has blossomed into her authoring a increasing collection of books for families! Her collection is starting with three lovely books:

A Boy and His Dog
Don't Forget Me (Book 1 in the Discussion Book Series)
Dying is Part of This World (Book 2 in the Discussion Book Series)

The author shared that they are currently working on radio drama/audio books for these selections, and to eventually make all of her books available in audio format. These books are all available in print and for Kindle (or the like). These books are of a Christian worldview and incorporate some doctrinal beliefs in their material.

Our Thoughts on These Books

Because we were given the flip version of these books, I had to use my laptop to read them. I would have preferred to have had the Kindle version, but that just wasn't an option for us at this time.

The first book we looked at was A Boy and His Dog. This was a sweet book that my 7 year old was able to read for himself. He thought it was a darling little book--especially when they were covered in mud! The reading level was perfect for him (3rd grade) and I didn't have to help him at all. I loved the illustrations (except the black eyed child. LOL) and thought it really captured the love that boys can have with puppies. We aren't a dog family really, but the book reminded me A LOT of the relationship my brother had with his dog, which we got when she was just a puppy. If we had a puppy, I could easily imagine all of this happening with my own boys. Especially the getting covered in mud and just tearing around outside. I also appreciated that none of the images had the boy watching TV or on a device of any kind. Just a boy being a boy with his dog.

Together, we read Dying is Part of This World. This book has a child discussion death with Mommy on the way home from Papa's house. Through the course of discussion, the child declares that they are sad thinking about the potential death of Mommy, because it means not being with Mommy anymore. The rest of the book is the Mommy's explanation about how we don't have to be fear death (even though sadness is normal) because death is just another beautiful beginning. This book discusses heaven and hell, what it means to be a child of God, and the immortal soul. The Mommy gives scenarios and walks the child through different ideas about what it means to remember our loved ones. Also what it would be like if the daughter might die before Mommy. The idea of time in eternity, and other large ideas like that. But the author does an excellent job putting it into explanations that children can understand. My 7 year old was able to understand the book very well.

Because we believe differently about what happens after death in our faith, I had to do a LOT of rewording to make it work for us. We ended up actually skipping several pages. Thus my thoughts are---if you don't believe in the traditional idea of heaven/hell or the immortal soul, this book won't be a good fit for you. But there were several parts of the story that were very good and easy for a child to understand relating to the loss of loved ones in general.

The third book is Don't Forget Me, which is a sweet book from the viewpoint of an unborn child having conversations with God throughout the pregnancy. Beginning at conception (nothing inappropriate at all!) and going up to birth, God and the baby have chats about things like the sounds mommy makes, what it feels like to grow in the "room", what it will be like leaving mommy's womb and moving to a new room (the nursery). In the discussion, God even guides the baby through experiencing birth itself (also done very well and nothing inappropriate). This book is definitely appropriate for children to work through. I haven't read this one to my boys yet, but I think it will be a great one to read to them soon. Neither is very inquisitive about life before they were born, or about pregnancy itself. I absolutely love the cover and the idea of God holding the baby in His hands. As someone who has experienced 5 miscarriages, this book is a good reminder that God cared about my baby even when "no one else" knew about it or cared. A few of the images brought tears to my eyes. The artwork was just so...well precious is the best word I can come up with.

The first thing I will say is that I wish we had gotten the printed books! I'm sure A Boy and His Dog would be a favorite and become quite "dog-eared". I think the third book Don't Forget Me is a beautiful book to share with any Christian family expecting a baby--I think it is especially a great book for children to read to understand how God has ALWAYS been with them--even before they were born. I love that it is a great teaching tool for the sanctity of life. Dying is a Part of This World provides great topic starters, and the scriptures and discussion questions could be used regardless of whether you have the same doctrinal beliefs as the author. The topic is presented very gently and matter-of-factly, yet guides the child to look beyond what is in front of them. It also shows death as a part of life, even if we tend to fear it. It would really be a great book during times when the family is going through the loss of a loved one or a friend.

I really like the premise of the 2nd and 3rd books. Making hard questions into a type of read aloud discussion book is very clever. I would be very interested in reading others in this series by the author.
Discussion Book Series and A Boy and His Dog {Kayla Jarmon Reviews}

These were very sweet books and different from others that I have read. I would especially recommend Don't Forget Me and A Boy and His Dog!

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