Friday, March 07, 2008
Nana's Bible Stories
Today, I’m delighted to interview Roberta Simpson, author of Nana's Bible Stories (Thomas Nelson, Inc.)—a beautifully illustrated children’s book recounting Bible-based stories tailored for children. The book comes with a narrated CD (As a Brit, I chose the Jane Seymour version). This is Roberta’s first book and she’s beginning her career at the ripe age of 70. Enjoy.
Note: RS = Roberta Simpson / JD = Janey DeMeo.
RB--It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to share some of my personal thoughts and experiences as a new author with you, Janey, and the Janey’s News 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.
JD--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?
RB--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.
JD--Your stories are told from the perspective of a child or an animal. Why is this beneficial to the child listening to the stories?
RS--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!
JD--Why do you believe it is important to introduce our children to the Bible when they are young?
RS--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!
JD--Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, wrote the foreword for Nana’s Bible Stories. Tell us how she became involved in your work.
RS--My husband and I have been friends with Prince Andrew for many years and were invited to Fergie and Andrew’s wedding.
We met Sarah the evening before the wedding and soon after they came to Barbados for a short holiday. Even though we do not see each other often, we have remained friends through the years.
I was speaking to her one day, after I had started writing my book. I asked her about the illustrator she used for one of her books, as I loved the illustrations. She was very kind, and really enjoyed my stories. She told me that when I was ready to publish she would write a foreword for my book. I am very grateful for this, and appreciate very much her offering to do this for me.
JD--You are “Lady” Roberta Simpson. How did you receive that title?
RB--Actually, I did not receive the title. My husband received a title and was knighted. As a result he is titled Sir Kyffin Simpson, and I am Lady Simpson.
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 www.nanasbiblestories.com. 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!
JD—Thank you Roberta. May God continue blessing your work and the children who read it. And thank you to the faithful readers of this blog. (I’ll post a link to my televised radio broadcast in French soon.
Janey L. DeMeo M.A.
www.JaneyDeMeo.com / www.orphansfirst.org