The end materials of The Apostles’ Creed: For All God’s Children say, “Families are little churches.”
So true. That’s why we fill our book baskets with good books that help us disciple our children. That’s why we dutifully examine the theology in our picture books to make sure they line up with God’s word. So, let’s examine the newly published non-fiction Christian picture book The Apostles’ Creed: For All God’s Children by Ben Myers.
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I was provided with a copy of The Apostles’ Creed: For All God’s Children to review. However, this review is not paid for, and all thoughts are my own.
My overall thoughts on this faith-filled picture book
The Apostles’ Creed: For All God’s Children is great. On each page is a phrase from the creed, along with more text to dive a little bit into what it means. It’s not really an explanation on every page, more a lyrical (but non-rhyming) expansion of the creed’s phrase. I love it, and highly recommend it. I think it would make a lovely Easter gift, or a good gift from a church to all member families.
Of course, you know I’m not going to just leave it at that, so let’s talk about the details you want to know before you purchase!
Related: If you like the theology deep dives like this, be sure to check out my review of the theology in the picture book God Gave Us Prayer.
Halos in Illustrations
First, let’s address the elephant in the room – halos. I actually didn’t even notice the “aura” around Jesus in the illustrations until I checked out the coloring book that you can get to accompany the picture book. Then I was like, “Ohhhhhhhh, that’s a halo.”
So, I went back through the book, picture by picture. There is an “aura” around Jesus’ head in every illustration. I definitely wouldn’t have called it a halo until I saw the coloring book and the clear line. Now some good news for the halo-averse: it is ONLY around Jesus, never around Mary or the apostles.
Since it’s a normal way to denote Jesus as being fully God even while fully human, I’m ok with it. But FYI, it’s pretty prominent in the coloring book, so buyer-be-warned if you have strong halo feelings.
Related: Halos in picture books are nothing new. I talk about them more in my review of the Baby Believer board books on this list of the best gospel board books.
The publisher recommends The Apostles’ Creed: For All God’s Children for ages 4 through 8. I’d agree with that, although I think you could definitely push it up older because of the high word count. (It could be a really nice gift even for an adult who recently joined the faith, maybe with a copy of a simple devotional like New Morning Mercies.) Nobody’s too old for a good faith filled picture book!
I also think you could use this faith based picture book with younger kids with a little tweaking. There are A LOT of words, so if you’re reading it to the younger set, you could always read only the “creed” portion on each page, then work up to reading all of the explanation of the creed. The pictures are engaging, and I read it to our 2 year old (just the “creed” part) with absolutely no problem. (And it’s not like she’s my best listener…)
Also, if you aren’t familiar with the Apostles’ Creed, it does say, “…who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary…”
If reciting creeds is a new faith practice in your family, be ready to explain “conceived” and “virgin” if the kids ask. We all been there, go with God on that one…
Who is this picture book for?
This picture book is for any family who believes what the Apostles’ Creed says. Heads up that every page ends with “That’s what I believe.”
That “I” can make it slightly tricky, as it wouldn’t make any sense to have a non-believer reading it. I leave it to your discretion if you’re planning to give the book to unbelievers.
ALSO, heads up that there are a lot of questions in the text that the author doesn’t answer. For example, on one page the text said, “Did he deserve it? Did he ever do anything wrong? Why did he suffer so much? He suffered for us.”
Now, that’s true that Jesus suffered for us, but it doesn’t actually answer all of the questions. Did he deserve it??
Other times the author clearly answers the question. For example, the text says, “Was he really dead or was he just pretending? He really died.”
Great, got it.
Now, I don’t think the unanswered questions are a bad thing! It leaves space for response from the kids, which is great. However, I want you to know they’re in there in case you don’t feel comfortable answering yourself. Also, it might affect who you let read the book to your children. If you have questions about how to answer the questions in the text, definitely reach out to your pastor, or holler, I can recommend some good books.
Catholic Church and “he descended into hell” in the Apostles’ Creed
The Apostles’ Creed that my denomination recites says, “The holy catholic church, the communion of saints.”
This Christian picture book says the same thing, then the extra text that goes with the creed says, among other things, “God’s family is so big- and it’s always growing!”
There’s an asterisk in the back parent section that explains, “The phrase ‘catholic church’ means all Christians throughout time and space who confess the Christian faith.”
Now, certain denominations say “holy Christian church,” instead of “holy catholic church.” (Hello, Lutheran friends! Welcome.)
I think if you wanted to change the text from “catholic” to “Christian” on the page where it says it, you easily could. I did that with another Easter book this year that only used “Quiet Man” instead of “Jesus” – a tiny piece of card stock, a fine-tip sharpie, and a smidge of smooth packing tape and the kids will never know! I edited Pug the Elf the same way years ago because it had “darn.” Some books are just so close to perfect, and with a little tweaking we can make them say what we want for when Grandma or the babysitter is reading to the kids!
Also, The Apostles’ Creed: For All God’s Children does say, “he descended into hell.” Not all churches recite that line, so be aware that it’s in there. The additional text next to the creed statement doesn’t say anything that you would disagree with even if you don’t say that line, because it basically just says Jesus for sure physically died, and that he is stronger than death. Amen!
A Tiny Bit More Theology Discussion About the Picture Book
At one point the author states, “He [Jesus] took Eve and Adam, our first parents, by the hand and made them his sister and brother.”
Cue me furiously googling, “Are Adam and Eve FOR SURE in heaven?”
It feels just a bit odd to be ascribing salvation to anyone. Just a heads up it’s in there if you have strong feelings about that. And be prepared to answer that question if your kids ask. When I looked into it, most sources I trusted said something like, “Probably.”
Also, while we’re talking about theology, I thought that the author handled the trinity very well. That can be tricky in a children’s book, but it was all theologically on the up-and-up, no modalism in sight!
Gah, the illustrations are so theologically rich!! The text doesn’t even begin to cover all of the things you can catch in the illustrations. There are more obvious things, like soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ clothes, and more subtle touches, like Hebrew writing around God’s throne room. It feels like one of those wonderful moments when the illustrator really understood what the author’s main message was, and went all in.
Full disclosure, the publisher’s marketing material that says to “find the cat” is a stretch…because the cat is front and center in every picture. Not much “finding” going on.
If they really wanted to lean into the seek-and-find concept, it could have benefited from hiding a cat tail on every page, with just a tail peeking out from behind a tree, things like that. (Lexham Press, I stand by that idea for your next CATechism book. Have your people call my people.)
The Apostles’ Creed: For All God’s Children is great. It is a great stepping stone for rich family conversations, but it also stands well on its own.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. said in one of his books, “All Christians believe more than is contained in the Apostles’ Creed, but none can believe less.”
That’s why I’m happy to have this great faith based picture book in our book basket – it’s the minimum of what I want them to know about our faith. I think it should be in your book basket, too!
Related: You’ll find other great books like this on my list of Gospel books for Easter, and year round.