Episode 195: Honoring Fathers and Encouraging Parents

In this episode we replay part of one of our Father’s Day episodes, but we also share some new books you won’t want to miss for Father’s Day this year. We’ll be back for Season 8 in July!

Books Discussed in this Episode:

Show Notes/Transcript with Links:


Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. We’ve been talking a lot about how we want to disciple the next generation, and we’ve learned through some of the interviews we’ve had recently that we can use any book we’re reading to disciple our kids. Any circumstance we’re in, we can find those teachable moments that we can grasp and really speak into the lives of our children and encourage them in their walks and their development toward following Christ. Now we are at the end of season seven and we are on a break for a few weeks, and so I’ve chosen some episodes that I think will really be worth listening to again, and I hope they will bless you and I hope you enjoy them. Today we have one of those replays and we will be back for season eight of “Books That Spark” in just a couple weeks.


In the meantime, enjoy these replays. We’re so glad you joined us. Today we’re going to be sharing a replay of a Father’s Day episode with Father’s Day coming up. We wanted to acknowledge our fathers, but in this episode I have some great books to share with you, but I don’t have a couple books that we’ve featured in our blog on our book club, and they are two of my favorite books for Father’s Day this year. So I don’t want to miss out and not share those with you as well. If you don’t know about our book club, each month we post a blog post that is our book club post, where we recommend four board books, four picture books, or five depending on the weeks of the month, and then we have one or two novels or chapter books for your middle schoolers and older, and usually we also offer a book for parents and other adults.


These are listed each month. We usually do choose some books that have questions included in them, like for a Bible study or a discussion group, and sometimes we will include extra materials in the post as well that you can use with the books mentioned, but sometimes we just list some really good books for you to jump into for the month based on a certain theme that we’re following. We hope you enjoy them and we would love to in the future if we get a good enough following for the book club, have a discussion group on Zoom or on one of the platforms where we can meet together and discuss the books, especially as parents, some of the parenting books. If that’s something you would be interested in, please let me know. You can contact me through the contact form on my website and that will come into my email.


Or you can put a comment on the blog post and we will see that, but if you’re interested in that, we would love to do that, so let us know. Okay, so the two Father’s Day books that I wanted to make sure that we mention today, both are picture books, and one is Daddy Tell Me a Story by Kathleen Long Bostrom, who’s been a guest on our podcast a few times, and I love her books, but this one is just adorable, reminds me of my own kids when they were growing up and their dad and he would always make up stories for them and this one is just wonderful, and then the other one is by Derek Munson who wrote Enemy Pie, which if you’ve listened for any length of time, you know that’s one of my favorite picture books. I’ve featured it in my devotional book, Building Character through Picture Books, but he has written one called Bad Dad and it is adorable.


It is the cutest book, and so I highly recommend these two books. In addition to the other books that will be mentioned in this replay episode, I wanted to at least mention those two books for you today. I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about some really cute special books honoring fathers and books that would be fantastic for a new father to read to his children. So let’s just jump right in to talking about some of these cool books. The first one, Because of You, Dad by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Natalie Russell is a gift book for dad. I think this would be wonderful to have the child read the book to the dad. It would just be amazingly special if the child could do that. It’s just really special talks about how having a dad has caused me to be confident to know who I am.


The father really has had an impact on the child’s life. Now for dads to read to children, of course I believe any book that dad wants to read to his children is amazing and we should encourage that, but there’s one that’s really cute for a first time dad to read or just to be the first book he reads to each child. It’s called, This is The First Book I Will Read to You, and it’s really a celebration of reading aloud together. The dad goes through, you know, he’s a little nervous at first and he worries that the baby may not listen, and of course the baby’s just going to hear your voice and enjoy your voice, but it’s just cute and it’s a very loving, very gentle- it’s a book that shows a father’s love for a child and a father’s love for reading aloud to that child.


And I think that’s such an important thing to start a child’s life with is the dad and the mom reading aloud to that child and how that influences that child in so many wonderful ways. So this one is by Francisco Sedita, and illustrated by Magenta Fox, and this one is, the illustrations in this book are just so funny. This is called Dad by My Side and it’s written and illustrated by Soosh. The dad is ginormous and the daughter is very tiny and it’s just an exaggeration there of how, you know, a child may see their father as so big. He’s a giant in their eyes and it just really reflects that in the illustrations. But the story is so cute and talks about spending time with your father and how important he is and the mutual love and relationship and respect that they have together. It’s just a cute book.


And I think I shared this on my first year on this podcast because I thought it was such a unique book to share with a dad. There’s a lot of picture books out where the main character is, or one of the main characters or the main influencer in the story is the dad. I think of Enemy Pie, which I’ve mentioned many times on this podcast because it’s one of my favorite books, and then the one, Quinn’s Promise Rock shows a story between a father owl and a daughter owl, and it talks, the main point of this one is that God is always there for us no matter where we go, but it’s reflected through the father relationship with the child. And this is by Christie Thomas and illustrated by Sydney Hanson, and I love this book, so it’s not exactly a Father’s Day book, a father book, but I think these would be great books for fathers to read with their children.


If your kids are a little bit older, there’s a book called The Night Gardener, which was written and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan. This is a book about their father and the way he would sculpt trees and things to make their home and their, you know, neighborhood, their yard, look so interesting, and they took that idea and what they experienced with their dad and wrote this story and it’s just a really beautiful story. The illustrations, any of their illustrations in any of their books are really beautifully done, so I love this book. It would be a fun one with, you know, a little bit older middle grade elementary school. I think they would enjoy this and it, like I said, the illustrations are just beautiful. So look at some books and you can look and see kind of who the main characters are.


And it would be fun for fathers to read these books that focus more on the father figure in the family being important in the story, and there are quite a few of those today because picture books go in trends and right now the trend is to have animals as main characters for the most part so that you don’t have to worry about gender, you don’t have to worry about race and all those different things. It’s just easier for the illustrators to have animals in the pictures. A few years ago, the big trend was to have fathers be the main family member in the story, so moms were kind of in the background for a while there. So we have a lot of books that were written from a father’s perspective, you can find those very easily. Start looking in, you know, the area of 2016, 2015.


That era was very much into the fathers being a big part of the story, which I love because I think that’s important as well. Not that we need to do away with the moms, but it’s important to emphasize all of the different characters in a child’s life. Another one that I love that’s more of a grandfather, I just love this book. It’s called Drawn Together and it’s by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat. This is about a grandfather who is artistic and the grandson finds out that his grandfather can draw and they are drawn together in their mutual interest in art, and it’s such a beautiful story and it’s a great book to share together. But the point of all of this, of course, is number one, we need to celebrate fathers. Fathers who are there fathers who do their best, fathers who love and care for their families are an amazing blessing in a child’s life.


It gives us security, it enables our kids, empowers our kids to be able to step out of their comfort zones. There’s something about knowing your father has your back that just empowers a child. So I think that’s tremendous. To know that we’re loved and accepted by our fathers is very important. Second to read together, whether you’re reading a book about fathers or you’re reading a book that’s an old fairytale, it doesn’t matter; reading together is what is important and sharing that time with your father. I think that it’s such a blessing and such a wise choice for fathers to read to their children. It can even be an opportunity for mom to have a break if you have a lot of little ones in your home. If dad decides to read the bedtime story each night, mom can either listen along or have a moment to herself from a hectic day with little children.


And so it can be an amazing gift that the father gives to come and read bedtime stories to the children. I want to say one thing. I hear from some parents that they feel like it’s too late to really influence their child well, to disciple their kids. Maybe they came to the Lord late in their lives and their children have seen the bad, seen the rough part of life because of the choices parents have made and now they’ve become Christians, and it’s a new world and they want their children to understand how important a life in Christ is and they feel like it’s too late, they’ve messed up too much, and I just want to encourage you, it’s never too late. God is changing you. He can change them in their time. He is in love with your children just as much or more than more than you are.


He cares about them. Keep praying, keep trusting. Keep living out your faith in front of your children and be patient with them and let the Holy Spirit work on them. They see the change in you and if they see it long enough and they listen to the Holy Spirit, he’s going to be able to change their lives. They’re going to see the difference in your life. Now, maybe you weren’t such a good parent in the past, but now you take that role very seriously because of what God has done in your life. They’re going to notice that even if they rebel against it at times they’re going to notice it, and so I just want to encourage you, it’s never too late. And if your children are still young, it definitely is still an opportunity for you to plant seeds, to water those seeds and to see God bring to life the spiritual life of your child.


Keep praying and keep sharing as God opens up the opportunities to do. So, I want to share too that sometimes we are hard on dads. I think dads more than moms sometimes have a harder time adjusting to being a parent. One person I know his son fell down the stairs and like a typical dad, he’s picking the kid up, like shake it off, you know, and he’s rubbing his arm and the kid’s saying his arm hurts, and come to find out he had a broken collarbone and rubbing it, probably rubbing his arm is probably not the best thing he could have done, but you know, he was doing the best he could and he didn’t know, and immediately, as soon as they realized something more was wrong than just bumps and bruises, they ran him to the hospital. But we can beat ourselves up for those kinds of mistakes, especially when it’s our first child.


And we often call that our Guinea pig child, cause we’re learning the ropes of being a parent. We need to give ourselves a little bit of grace and a little bit of mercy and trust that God is still in control and he is caring for us and he’s caring for our children. Realize that they most likely will grow up just fine if we can just continue to learn, continue to apologize when we mess up, continue to try to teach and love and guide our children. God is not finished with us and he is not finished with our kids. He’s still working in and through our lives daily. Plant those seeds, water them, pray and trust God to bring the increase, to bring the fruit and to bring the plant to life. I also want to encourage those of you who maybe you are already a parent yourself and you have a hard time with your relationship with your father.


That father relationship is such a vital one to our wellbeing and when it hasn’t been what it should be. Maybe your father wasn’t there for you. Maybe he was there but he was abusive or just clueless. My father was not the best father when I was growing up, and I loved him, I respected him. I still felt secure when he was home. He traveled a lot and so he wasn’t home all the time, but when he was home, I always slept better. Just knowing he was there, there was just something about it, and it gave me such security. And anytime he would encourage me or praise me, which wasn’t very often, it was like getting gold, but most of the time he was more critical and told me how I was doing wrong, even when I was making straight A’s and doing the best I knew how to do.


And so it was a hard time sometimes for years I prayed for my dad. He went to church, but it was more like a social club. It seemed like as a child I could even see his reaction at church was just different than my moms and other people I knew, and I didn’t understand what the difference was. I just knew something wasn’t quite right. Well, a few years ago, it’s actually been almost 20 years now, it’s been about 17 years ago, something happened. God changed my dad so much, a complete 180, and he is such a godly man now. This is a new creation. He loves God with all his heart. When he prays, it’s like wow, a whole sermon in a prayer. God can change the hardest heart, he can change the most lost person in this world. That is the true miracle. You know, we talk a lot about miracles in the Bible and does God still do miracles?


And honestly he does. The biggest miracle you’ll ever see is God changing a heart of stone into a heart of clay. He’ll change a hard-hearted person into a person who loves and gives and encourages. Only God can do that. We can’t pretend, we can’t act our way into being a changed creation. We can try to be religious, we can try to go to church and look good, but until God changes our heart, it’s not real, and when he changes a heart, that is a miracle beyond any miracle to see him, like I said, take a stone heart and make it into a living, beating, loving, encouraging heart. It’s amazing, and I wish we could grasp that. That the biggest miracle we’ll ever see is a changed heart, and God has changed our hearts, and he can change our hearts, and he can change our parents’ hearts, our children’s hearts, and we need to just trust him, let him do the work he’s doing.


We get impatient, we want to make things happen and we can actually hinder the process when we are doing that. And so I hope I can encourage you today to just know that God is at work in and through and around you always, and he is changing your heart. He’s changing mine and he’s renewing our minds and helping us to become more Christ-like, and he’s doing the same thing to the people around us, to our parents, to our children. As we pray for them, we can watch and see what God is doing and see the miracles of him changing lives. We are equipped, we are able to disciple our kids. We don’t have to have a seminary degree. We don’t have to be perfect, thank goodness, but our kids can grow in their faith as we authentically live out our faith in front of them, and as we openly share our faith and our love for Christ with them, you are able. You are called. God has gifted you, he has equipped you, and he is walking with you as you disciple and train your children and raise them up to follow Christ.


So I hope you’re encouraged today. I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day and that you see God at work in your life around you and in you and through you, and that your family is truly blessed by what God is doing in your lives today. Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. I hope you enjoyed this episode and like I said, we will be back for season eight in just a couple weeks, so keep on listening and join us each time. We would love to hear from you. We welcome your comments on our blog post or social media and just jump into the conversation we would love for you to join in. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her newest book, A World of Pancakes, just launched and is available at terriehellardbrown.com. Her devotional for families, Building Character through Picture Books: 25 Family Devotions Based on Favorite Picture Books, is available on her website and through Amazon.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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