Over the past few years, I have slowly been creating a collection of Orthodox children’s books for our family. We keep these books in the living room on a bottom shelf for easy access. We also take a few with us to church each Sunday for the younger children to read.
We have many lovely books about saints, the life of Christ and the Theotokos, the feasts of the Church, and more. However, we have nothing at all like the new Orthodox children’s book, Let There by Light! by Alisa Rakich Brooks.
A Review of Let There Be Light!
Let There Be Light! tells the story of a curious young girl named Mila and her mother as they explore the concept of light. One night as they were reading the book of Genesis, Mila asked her mother, “What is light?” This leads them to a scientific experiment with prisms to discover the nature of light. All that they learn leads them to a greater appreciation for the creation and a deeper worship of the Creator.
What I Liked About the Book
1. Distinctively Orthodox
I appreciated the Orthodox nature of the book. Some of the illustrations are of icons (the first illustration of the book–an icon of Creation–is particularly lovely), Mila and her mother make the sign of the cross and venerate icons, and they always pray in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is also a beautiful prayer at the beginning of the book that would make an excellent prayer before any study.
2. Unique Concept
As I mentioned, I have not seen any Orthodox children’s book quite like Let There Be Light! before. The mixture of science and faith is very appealing to curious children and helps them bring their faith into their studies. My children already enjoy books like Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace that integrate scientific ideas into everyday family life. So, I am excited to have an Orthodox book that does the same.
It is easy for young children (and adults!) to intentionally or unintentionally draw a dividing line between faith and science. Especially as children grow older and begin delving into complex scientific concepts in school, they may fail to make a connection between all that they are learning and the One who created it. Brooks’ book can serve as a conversation starter for this larger issue.
The illustrations are very simple and sweet–my preferred kind! The illustrator of the book is R.E. Bursik, whose pictures bring a light and sense of joy to the work.
4. Just the Beginning
I am also very excited to read the other books planned in this series. Let There Be Light! is the first in a series of books about the days of creation. Each book will take one day of creation and explore the scientific concepts of that day–always in light of our Orthodox faith. What a great idea!
My only major criticisms are related to the physical book itself.
–I would prefer a hardcover book. Because my children are still young and (ahem!) slightly destructive, hardcover books have a much better chance of lasting longer around here.
–Some pages had too many words on them. For younger readers, the balance of words and text is important for their overall experience of the book. I found that some of the pages were overloaded with words, which made it harder for my younger children to pay attention. My older son, age 7, had no problem, however. And, he is likely the intended audience of the book.
–I would love to know more about the author and illustrator. There was no “About the Author and Illustrator” section of the book. I would love to know more about them!
Who This Book is For
Let There Be Light! by Alisa Rakich Brooks (illustrated by R.E. Bursik and published by Sebastian Press) would be perfect for:
- A Church School class of students ages 5-10 studying creation
- An Orthodox family who homeschools and wants to supplement their curriculum with Orthodox resources
- Any Orthodox family with children aged 5-10
- A gift for godchildren or grandchildren
- The library of any Orthodox Church
I am so happy to add Let There Be Light! to our family’s growing library of Orthodox children’s books and look forward to reading it for years to come.
What are your family’s favorite Orthodox children’s books?
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All favorable opinions of excellent children’s literature are completely my own!)
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