Discipleship is one of the most important aspects of Christian parenting. The young hearts of children are very impressionable and need to be carefully guarded and led. It is for this reason why it is crucial to start discipleship early in a child’s life. Proverbs 22:6 reminds us that if we “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (ESV). While this is not the case for every child, the principle still holds true. As a general rule, children who are discipled starting a young age will grow up to be men and women of faith. It is never too early or too late to get started. One of the best ways to disciple younger children is through story. In her new book Arlo and the Great Big Cover-Up, published by Crossway, author Betsy Childs Howard provides an excellent resource for parents to teach their children about obedience and the heart of God towards us when we sin.
When we sin, it is our natural proclivity to cover it up. We see this not only in our first parents in Genesis 3, but we see this in ourselves and young children. The fact that we start at a young age with the bent towards covering up sin gives strong evidence to a fallen sin nature inherited by the first Adam. Yet, just like Genesis 3, the Lord calls Adam and Eve out of hiding, so too parents are tasked with calling their children out of hiding and discipling then towards faith in the finished and sufficient work of Christ.
The story by Ms. Howard is well written and is captivating. The illustrations by Samara Hardy are well done and highlight the story well. At the beginning of the story, we are introduced to Arlo, a little boy who has been instructed by his mother to take a nap. Yet, while lying in bed, he notices a scratch on the wall that piques his curiosity. Before long, Arlo has disobeyed his mother by getting out of bed and draws a face on the wall around the scratch. Wracked with guilt, Arlo decides that it is best to cover it up before his mother finds out. All of his efforts, however, are not enough. Hearing his mother coming up the stairs to check on the commotion, Arlo jumps under the bed to hide himself as well. His mother discovers him and the drawing on the wall. To his surprise, his mother is not angry, yet is disappointed with his actions. She lovingly reminds him that she does not need to cover up his sin because she loves him. More importantly, however, she tells him that God loves him and has made a way of forgiveness through the person and work of Jesus. She does impose an appropriate punishment, but lovingly disciples her young son.
Arlo and the Great Big Cover-Up is an excellent tool to use in family discipleship with young children. Arlo and the Great Big Cover-Up is an excellent resource for reminding children that they do not need to hide when they sin. Children need to be taught that they are loved and can tell their parents when they sin. It doesn’t mean that they will not be punished, but they can rest in God’s love and the love of their parents. I would highly recommend this excellent resource to all Christian parents who are looking for a way to disciple their young children and an excellent reminder of God’s love towards us in Christ.
Zach is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He blogs at zachkendrick.wordpress.com, and is a contributor for Servants of Grace. He has written book reviews for Cross-Focused Reviews, Crossway, New Growth Press, Tyndale House Publishers and Fortress Press. He resides in Birmingham with his wife, Courtney.