Monday, March 17, 2008

On Tour With Nana's Bible Stories!


Meet Roberta Simpson, author of "Nana's Bible Stories"!

It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to share some of my personal thoughts and experiences as a new author with you, Deena, and the A Peek at My Bookshelf ladies! I am so blessed to see the work you are doing to help and encourage each other!

There are so many gifts lying dormant in the lives of women—just waiting to be discovered or understood. I pray not only that my book, Nana’s Bible Stories will be encouraging to the children in your life—but, also that my personal story will be of encouragement to many of you as you pursue your calling.

You have been telling stories to your five children and nine grandchildren for many years. Why do you believe the art of storytelling is so important…and why do children respond so well to stories?

ROBERTA: Storytelling is so important firstly because you are engaging a child or children for a special time. I love to use my grandchildren’s names in the stories as I have done in Nana’s Bible Stories.

I believe storytelling is an adventure, and what you are doing is bringing children into the story. It is also a great time for cuddling, and being close to the kids – it is a time for bonding, and engaging their trust. I find there is not a child I have met who does not just LOVE having a story read, or told to them!

I believe that children respond to stories (if they are good stories!) because it is a time where they can listen to a story about someone or something else other than what they see and feel everyday, and many times can place themselves into the story – e.g. “What would I have done?”

While playing with kids, I love starting a story – “Once upon a time, there was a…” then I would point to one of the kids, and they would have to make up something. I would continue this way until all the kids had a turn, and we had a story! It was crazy, fun, and lots of loud laughter.


Why did you decide to write Nana’s Bible Stories?

ROBERTA: Books are such an important element in a child’s life. Books with stories of the Bible are wonderful, because kids can start at an early age, learning wonderful lessons from this great book. The Bible has more adventure and excitement than any book ever published.

I wanted so much to write stories that were warm, exciting, with the emphasis on how much Jesus loves children, and how He was such a wonderful loving person on this earth, even though He was the Son of God! I wish for children know how important they are in the Kingdom of God. Jesus was passionate about them and I want kids to be passionate about Him!

Bible literacy is so important! The Bible is the most influential text in all of Western culture – in fact, ninety percent of high school teachers in a 2005 study said that Bible knowledge is critical to a good education. Yet, sadly, the rate of Bible illiteracy among teens entering college is alarmingly high and is severely limiting their ability to understand classic and modern literature, art, music and culture.

Your personal story is one of obedience. You didn’t plan to become an author. Tell us about some of the challenges you faced from family, friends, etc. on your journey.

ROBERTA: Challenges do come, and they come often. Some years ago, I did a writing seminar, here in Barbados. I remember being so excited, as I did want to write, but up until then, I had only written articles for the newspaper, and a few plays for church.

The gentleman who read and corrected all that I had written scribbled all over them with a nasty little red pen. On the bottom he wrote, “You can’t write!” I shrugged and thought, “I have five kids to raise and I have lots to do, so never mind!” He was a very influential man in Barbados – in fact, he was a well known Pastor! Lesson to be learned in this? When God says you can do it, even a well known Pastor cannot get in the way with his negative comments!

Years later, when I knew God spoke to me about writing, I felt excited and flew home (I mean drove!) and started to write. I believe what was important at that time, was obeying God, and not listening to man!

Friends and especially family have totally encouraged me on my adventure, and this is really special!

Your stories are told from the perspective of a child or an animal. Why is this beneficial to the child listening to the stories?

ROBERTA: I believe that when a child listens or reads the stories about other children, they can identify with the child in the story. I hope that they will say to themselves – “I could have been that boy/girl!” I also believe that they will see how much Jesus loves children, and they were always uplifted and loved by Him in the stories.

I just love animals, and so do children. It is fun writing about them, and I know that God was pleased and loves all He created and He sure created a beautiful animal kingdom!

Why do you believe it is important to introduce our children to the Bible when they are young?

ROBERTA: I do believe, and it is also scripturally true, that if you train up a child in the scripture, and encourage that child to have a personal relationship with God, then when he/she grows up they will truly not depart from it. I have done this, and seen the results. I can truly say that all my children, and their children, know the Lord!

If we can promote the Bible as interesting, exciting, etc. then children will want to know the content. I want my stories to be exciting and truthful, so that my book can serve as an introduction to the Bible, and they will want to read more!

We need to reach kids when they are young, when their minds are open to accepting new concepts, characters etc. Look at how easily young kids can pick up new languages. When I was five years old I went to a Welsh school, where no English was spoken. I could choose to hide in a corner, as I did the first day, or jump in and learn the language. I chose to learn, and learn I did!

The minds of children are so open, and accepting. When kids learn the Bible at an early age, it teaches them great values, and greatly influences the development of their character!

I think it would make such a positive and wonderful difference in children’s lives if they were required to learn Bible stories!

Thank you for allowing me to share a part of my life and calling with you. If you would like to learn more about me or my book, please go to Nanasbiblestories. You may download one of my favorite stories, The Butterfly and the Cross—the story of the crucifixion as told through the gentle and tender eyes of a butterfly. I have also included a special devotional for the story which you may share with your children this Easter season. Cuddle up with a child and enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by My Bookshelf, Roberta!

Happy Reading!


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