Episode 82: Interview with Nancy I. Sanders and Helping Our Kids Love Reading the Bible

In this episode I interview best-selling author of over 100 books, Nancy I. Sanders. We discuss her wonderful books and how to help our children fall in love with reading the Bible. 

Our Guest: Nancy I. Sanders

Nancy accepting the gold medal award from Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards

Nancy I. Sanders is the bestselling and award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books including the gold-medal award-winning board book Bedtime with Mommy. Her book The Bible Explorer’s Guide: 1000 Amazing Facts and Photos (Zonderkidz, 2017) was co-winner of ECPA’s 2018 Young People’s Literature Award. Jane Austen for Kids (Chicago Review Press, 2019) explores the daily life, faith, and writings of one of the most beloved authors in literature. For more information about Nancy, visit her website at www.nancyisanders.com

Books Discussed in the Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Terrie:

Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. Today, we have a very special guest with us. Nancy I. Sanders, who is the best-selling and award-winning children’s book author of more than 100 books. And her most recent book is a wonderful award-winning board book called Bedtime with Mommy. Nancy, we’re so excited to have you with us today. Thank you for joining us.

Nancy:

Oh, it’s so great to be here, Terrie. Thanks for inviting me along.

Terrie:

You have some great books to talk about, and I don’t know where to start. Should we start with your bedtime picture books maybe? Those are so sweet.

Nancy:

Thank you. Yeah, actually that’s my newest book, so that’s a great place to start. The first one’s called Bedtime with Mommy. It just came out, and it just won the gold medal for the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. So yeah, so excited about that, and then Bedtime with Daddy will be coming next September. It’s already at the artist, and she’s busy making all the beautiful art for that. Felia is doing that. So yeah, so Bedtime with Mommy I really wrote kind of as an instruction manual for new mommies because you know, kids don’t come out with an instruction manual when they’re born. And I wrote this as a way for them to learn how to impart their faith and build a foundation of faith even when they’re just a little tiny baby. It talks about what to do at bedtime routine. And it has animals from around the world. Animal moms are tucking their babies in, and they read the Psalms. They pray together. They sing a hymn, all while taking baths or having a bedtime snack or getting on their jammies. And this is really, I think, a special book that will show mommies what they can do at bedtime with their little ones.

Terrie:

Oh, that’s wonderful. And we so need that when we’re new moms.

Nancy:

Yes, we do. We really do. And I actually picked a unique slant to put in animals around the world because I wanted, no matter where a mom and her child are, I want them all to identify with the animals. There’s elephants from the grasslands. There’s pandas from the bamboo forest. There’s kangaroos from the Outback. And so it’s very simple, easy text and a padded board book, but I really think little ones and their mamas will really find themselves here in this book.

Terrie:

Sounds like it’s going to be fun. You also have several books that focus on black history.

Nancy:

Oh, yes. Now that actually happened, oh, probably about 20 years ago. I had sent a proposal in to a publisher. They couldn’t use my proposal, but they said, “You know, we really do need some books on African-American history.” And so I started researching that and just fell in love with all the amazing men and women who have done so many things. And so I’ve written a book called Frederick Douglass for Kids, which is his biography. Now that was fun to do. My husband and I went on a photo research tour, and we took all these photographs. We found places that I don’t think have ever been published in a book that we’d run across people and say, “Oh, well, he worked over here at this house in our community,” you know, but nobody knows about it. So it was just so exciting, and he was such a man of God. And even though the publisher is not in the Christian publishing, they’re just in the general market, they encouraged me to put his faith journey in there too because they knew that a lot of churches would want to know his biography as well. And then I have America’s Black Founders, and that covers the Revolutionary War Era. And those are men and women who really made a difference in the founding of our country. So many of them were Christians. So many of them were passionate about helping our country get started under God’s rule. And so that’s was an exciting book to write as well.

Terrie:

And you have the one D Is for Drinking Gourd. One of my favorite songs from the, you know, spirituals is the “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” but I love that.

Nancy:

Oh, thank you. That’s a picture book. And that had a unique journey too. That’s with Sleeping Bear Press, and their alphabet books have a small little poem in the middle of each page that really, you can read to young ones –kindergarten. They use it in kindergarten a lot. But on the sidebars, there is university-level information that has never before been presented in a children’s book. And so this picture book is used all the way up through high school. I know I’ve had librarians from high school contact me and say how they display it and use it with the students that come in. And so those are talking points for the adult to talk with a child. And the illustrations are just beautiful too. I love the illustrations. They are by E. B. Lewis.

Terrie:

Yes, they are really nice. Love that. I also want to ask you about your One Sentence Storybooks. Several of my listeners are homeschoolers, and I thought these sound intriguing for helping kids learn to love reading and to learn to read. Can you tell us about those?

Nancy:

Yes. I’d love to. Now you say to teach kids to learn to love reading. See my goal as a Christian is to teach kids to learn to love reading, so they’re going to love to read their Bible. So I have a best seller with Scholastic teaching resources. It’s sold over 300,000 copies so far, and it’s a book that uses reproducible stories that are one sentence long to teach children how to read. And so I took that concept that I have with Scholastic, and I made these little Bible story books. Each book is probably eight to 10 pages long, and it introduces one new word on each page that builds into a sentence throughout the book. So by the end of the book, the child has read one whole sentence and learned four new words. And I’ll tell you that it is the first step into reading for many children. And we have heard so many testimonies from parents, how these books have helped their children gain confidence in reading while also learning the Bible stories I could go on and on about testimonies. We’ve heard from parents about this. It’s just the confidence this gives to little ones.

Terrie:

That’s awesome. It sounds fascinating. I’ve got to check those out. I haven’t gotten to check those out yet. Then another book you have that I found so– I love the history that you’ve covered in many of your books, but especially the Endicott Pear Tree. What a unique story. I love it. Tell us about that one.

Nancy:

Okay. That one’s called The Very Oldest Pear Tree. And somewhere in my research, I discovered there is a tree near Boston. It’s near Salem and Danvers. It is actually recorded as being the oldest tree that’s ever known to be planted in America, and it’s still alive. And so, of course, my husband and I had to go back and visit the tree, and we had some relatives back there we visited. But I studied the history of that tree, and talk about a survivor and an inspiration for us as Americans! So many people just have responded so positively about this book because it really teaches children the spirit of what it means to be an American, to grow and survive obstacles, and be an inspiration. And if you love trees like I do, and you love old trees, you will really, really like this book too, just to see what its history has been.

Terrie:

That’s cool. And that’s a picture book?

Nancy:

That’s a picture book. And yeah, one thing it shows is all the famous people like John Adams and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who knew about the tree and interacted with it and how this tree really did grow up with our nation.

Terrie:

That is so neat. Definitely, we want to touch on Jane Austin. You have resources on your website and I’ll have the link to your website in the show notes, her website is a plethora of resources. If you’re a homeschool or a teacher, you definitely want to go check out her website. But tell us about the Jane Austin book.

Nancy:

Well, I love Jane Austin. I started reading her when I was in high school. I read aloud Pride and Prejudice with a friend of mine who later became my sister-in-law, and we would swim out to a raft in the middle of our pond. I grew up on a farm, and we had bailed hay together, and we would go out there to relax in the afternoon. And we read Pride and Prejudice to each other out loud out there. And so I had fallen in love with Jane Austin at a young age. When the idea came to me to write a biography of her for kids, I just got so excited about it, and the publisher got so excited about it. So my husband and I actually took a photo research tour through Jane Austin’s footsteps back in England with the Jane Austin society (JASNA), and it was a wonderful tour. And we’ve got permission to take photographs all over the place. And in that book, because it’s for children– it’s called Jane Austin for Kids— I really focused on her childhood. And I discovered parts of her childhood that really nobody talks about in the biographies that are written about her for adults, because most bio for adults will cover her childhood in one chapter and spend the rest of her book talking about the books she wrote. Well, I did the opposite in this one. I spent most of the chapters talking about her childhood and growing up to be the literary genius that she was. And she had such an amazing faith, and so I brought that out too in the book. There’s activities there to do that are historically based about things that like she used to do. And it was just a lot of fun to write. And I think it’s great for like fifth graders on up who are just beginning to learn about Jane Austin and, and her works.

Terrie:

It sounds great. I just, I can’t wait to check it out more. Well, one of the things I always ask my guests is what are some of the picture books that influenced you as a child? And what picture books did you use with your children?

Nancy:

As I was thinking about that question, the first thing that came to mind is called The Christian Mother Goose Book of Nursery Rhymes. I love nursery rhymes. In fact, I’ve written a funny book called A Pirate’s Mother Goose, which is all these nursery rhymes, rewritten with pirates theme, but the picture book, The Christian Mother Goose Book of Nursery Rhymes takes all these favorite nursery rhymes and just has the gospel in them and such beautiful messages of the Christian faith in there. And children are just captivated by this. I love reading this to our grandchildren now. And so that really is one of my favorite picture books of all time.

Terrie:

That sounds great. Yeah. Do you have any books that you would recommend for parents to help them in parenting and mostly focusing on, you know, discipling our kids and helping them fall in love–like you were saying–fall in love with reading the Bible.

Nancy:

Well, there’s so many to choose from, and I chose one to talk about today. It’s called, I Believe in Jesus: Leading Your Child to Christ by John MacArthur. And you know, I became a Christian as a child, and I remember it so clearly. So this book is a really thorough way to sit and read with your child and explain the gospel message and really lead them to making a decision for Christ. And so I think that should be added to every parent’s bookshelf.

Terrie:

Wonderful. Yeah. I actually have not seen that one yet, so I’m glad you brought it up. There’s so many books to go through. I spend hours researching books and I don’t know how I’ve missed that one, but I did.

Nancy:

Well good. I’m so glad that you have it now in your repertoire.

Terrie:

Yes, me too. Okay. Awesome. Is there anything else you would like to add to encourage parents or teachers in the work they’re doing in the ministry they have with their children?

Nancy:

Absolutely. I am a firm advocate of reading to children. We have two sons and we read aloud to them up through junior high. And once we stopped reading at junior high, then we listened to audio books together, you know, and so really that continued into adulthood. If we would take a trip or something, we would look into an audio book. And so I know there’s a lot of devices out there and it’s easy to let them spend time on devices, but I think there’s something very wonderful and special about sitting down and reading with your child on a regular basis. It helps them become a good reader. And it’s a good segue into having a regular time every day where you’re reading the Bible either as a family or having them read it on their own. And you read yours on your own. So reading together is just the most precious tool that I think we can do with our children.

Terrie:

That’s wonderful. Amen into that. And how can we best support you in the ministry God has given you?

Nancy:

I think along with sharing my books with the teachers you know, a lot of my books will work great at either a Christian school or a public school or using them in your homeschooling. I provide a lot of free activities. If you go on my website and look at the links for different books, you’ll find a lot of free activities you can use. But if you have a book of mine that really ministers to you, if you could give it a five star review, say on Amazon or on Christian book distributors, where you like to post reviews, that really does help spread the word in a simple way that you can do at your own leisure.

Terrie:

I thank you so much for being here. I really encourage everyone to check out your website and check out your books. I have just been having a blast looking through all the resources and things on your website, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to talk with you today.

Nancy:

Thank you so much, Terrie. It’s been a joy to be here.

Terrie:

Thanks for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions as we disciple our children and help them follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you would like to get in touch with Nancy, you can reach her at www.NancyISanders.com, and please check out her website. She has many free items on there to help with homeschooling or with lesson plans. Lots of great resources. If you would like to reach me, you can reach me at TerrieHellardBrown.com. If you join my mailing list, you will get notified when we post a new podcast and you’ll get my monthly newsletter. And thank you so much for supporting “Books that Spark.”

Your Host:

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 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 are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.

For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com

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 “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

5 thoughts on “Episode 82: Interview with Nancy I. Sanders and Helping Our Kids Love Reading the Bible”

  1. Pingback: Welcome to Nancy’s Bookzone! | Bookzone

  2. Beverly Zubik Regensberg

    Terrie, this was wonderful! Thank you for having Nancy share. I have lots of new ideas for upcoming presents! 💖

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