Have you been taking your #OneADayGenesis prescription? Every day on Twitter you'll find #OneADayGenesis tweets with links to that day's five-minute story.
Download one story
Read to the kids at bedtime
and repeat... That's my publisher's prescription for bedtime fun until the kids go back to school.
But you want a sample story here and now. Really? Okay. Here's a 3-minute story from Exodus Tales (the sequel to Genesis People)--Remember those midwives?
~ 5 ~
When the Israelites lived in Egypt there were two ladies, called Shiprah and Puah, who looked after all the Israelite mothers that were going to have babies. Shiprah and Puah knew a lot about health and good medicines for mothers and babies. But they didn’t have any children of their own, even though they really wanted them. “Maybe God just wants us to look after other people’s babies,” they said, though they wished God would change his mind.
One day the Egyptian Pharaoh sent his soldiers to bring Shiprah and Puah to his palace. They wondered if maybe one of the Pharaoh’s wives was going to have a baby.
“No,” said the Pharaoh, with an angry shout. “And none of you Israelites are going to have babies either. At least, no boy babies.”
“Whatever do you mean?” asked Puah.
The Pharaoh explained that he wanted Shiprah and Puah to make sure that any boy babies died as soon as they were born. “And I’m the Pharaoh,” he said, “so you’ll do as you’re told.”
But Shiprah and Puah knew they had to obey God as well as obeying the Pharaoh. And they knew that God wouldn’t want them to kill anyone. So, when the next Israelite mother had a baby boy, Shiprah and Puah wrapped him up and took care of him just the same as usual. But they told the mother, “If anyone asks, say he was born so fast we didn’t get here in time. Then we won’t get into trouble for not killing him.”
The Pharaoh was cross when he learned that the Israelite women were still having baby boys. “What have you done?” he asked Shiprah and Puah. They told him just what they’d planned to say, that the baby boys were born too fast and too healthy for them to kill them. “You’re no good,” said the Pharaoh, and he ordered his soldiers to kill them. But Shiprah and Puah slipped away into the corridors of his palace and escaped.
Now Pharaoh gave his soldiers a new law. “Next time you pick up slaves from an Israelite village,” he said, “you must search for any baby boys and throw them into the river. That’ll make the Israelites know I’m boss.”
But Shiprah and Puah heard him. They warned the Israelites so they could hide all their baby boys away and keep them safe. Then God gave Shiprah and Puah children of their own. That way all the Israelites learned that God was the real boss, not Pharaoh. And Shiprah and Puah and their baby boys lived happily ever after.
Lord God, we know that you’re in charge.
We’re glad you’re the boss of us.
Please help us know what’s right and wrong,
and help us obey your laws.
Please help us listen to you,
not to others who tell us to do wrong.
Please help us remember to read your Bible and pray,
so we’ll know what’s best.
Still reading? Then here's a 4-minute story from More Psalm Stories:
~ 76 ~
Psalm 76:7 “…Who can stand before thee when once thy anger is roused?”
Are your teachers scary when they get angry? What about your parents? What about you?
Once there was a little boy called Tommy who thought he hated baths. Whenever his mother said it was bath-time, Tommy would get angry and run around the house screaming, “I don’t like baths.” But, in the end, Tommy’s mother would always catch him. She’d get him undressed and tip him into the water. Then Tommy would find himself splashing and playing in the bubbles, swishing his yellow submarine through the waves, chasing it with his blue turtle, and giggling happily. Then Tommy’s mother would wonder what all the fuss had been about, and why he’d been so angry.
When the water began to get cold, Tommy’s mother would tell him it was time to get out of the bath. Then Tommy would get angry again. He would splash and scream and shout, “I don’t want to get out! I’m not going to get out!” Did you know screaming in a bathroom makes a very big noise? And splashing makes a very big mess. Tommy’s screaming and splashing always made a very big headache for his mother.
Eventually Tommy’s mother would lift Tommy out of the water. He’d kick and wriggle and scream in her arms while she dried him with a towel. Then he’d try to run away. Tommy’s mother would tell him he was bound to catch cold if he ran around all wet and without any clothes. But, of course, Tommy wouldn’t listen.
One time Tommy ran all around the house, screaming and shouting, and dripping all over the floor. He ran into the kitchen and slipped because his feet were wet. He ran into the living room and left soggy footprints on the carpet. He ran and he ran, with cold air on his cold wet skin and goose bumps prickling his arms, until eventually he really did catch a cold.
Tommy caught such a very big cold that he simply couldn’t stop sneezing. Even when he was angry and shouting he had to keep stopping to sneeze. “I won’t, achoo, get out, achoo! I like, achoo, my bath,” he said. And his little wet body slipped and slithered and slid, until a very, very big sneeze knocked poor Tommy backward and sideways in the bath and made him fall over. Then Tommy banged his head really hard and started to cry.
Tommy’s mother cuddled Tommy and dried him with a soft warm towel. She dressed him in his favorite pajamas. She put soothing cream on the big purple bruise on his forehead. And then she told him he’d really better not get so angry next time he had a bath. Otherwise he might fall again and hurt himself even more. But I don’t think Tommy listened. I think he rather liked the big noises and big splashes that screaming and shouting can make in the bathroom.
Tommy was silly to get so angry wasn’t he? But his mother was sensible and Tommy should have listened when his mother got angry. We ought to listen when God is angry with us too. Let’s pray.
If you show your anger O Lord, we’ll have to run and hide.
If you judge us for our sins, we’ll be condemned forever.
But if you guide us, we’ll try to learn.
We’ll try to only be angry at the things that make you angry.
We’ll try to love our neighbors the way we know you want us to.
Are you still here? If so, I'm delighted, and here, for your reading pleasure, is a 5-minute story from the upcoming Bethlehem's Baby:
~ 5 ~
One day a noisy little boy called Simon walked through town with his mother and father, and aunts and uncles and grandfathers and grandmothers and all his other relatives, even the tiny new baby cousin wrapped in blankets in his mother’s arms. They were heading for the big white Temple in the big bright town.
“Mom,” Simon asked, very loudly because his voice was very loud. “What’s going to happen at the Temple?”
“We’ll offer a sacrifice for Baby Andrew,” said his mother quietly, shifting Simon’s baby cousin to her other arm.
“But Andrew doesn’t need a sack to look nice. He’s got nice clothes on already.” Simon peeked under Andrew’s blanket to make sure. The baby’s clothes really were much nicer than any kind of sack, or sacky-fie-whatever.
“Not a sack, Simon,” said Simon’s mother, “and you don’t need to shout. I said sacrifice. We’re going to buy some pigeons to give to God, so God won’t take Baby Andrew away.” Poor Simon couldn’t imagine why God would want to take his cousin away but, when he shouted “Why?” his Mom just said, “Hush. Go talk to your dad.”
Simon ran ahead and tugged his father’s sleeve. “Dad,” he shouted. “Why might God take our baby Andrew away?”
“He won’t,” said Simon’s dad quietly, “and please don’t shout. But it’s complicated. Go ask your grandfather to explain.” So Simon waited for his grandfather to catch up and shouted his question to him instead.
“Hush,” said Simon’s grandfather patiently. “I’ll tell you how it works. Baby Andrew already belongs to God, just like you did when you were born. But now we want God to give him to us for a while.”
Simon thought for a moment then shouted, “Mom said God would give him to us for a pigeon, not a whale.”
“Yes, we’re going to give God a pair of pigeons,” said his grandfather quietly.
Then Simon shouted again, “Why does God want smelly pigeons?” but nobody answered.
Two guards stood in front of them as they approached the Temple gate. The guards were making sure no one went through who wasn’t allowed. Simon’s dad explained who he was and what they were doing. Then the guards ushered the family under the arch. Everything was so much quieter and more peaceful now. Simon’s voice rang out beautifully loud and clear. “Granddad, tell me! Why does God want a pigeon?”
“Shush,” said his grandfather. “This is God’s holy place. We have to be quiet and listen to the priests.”
“But I want God to listen to me instead. I want to ask him…”
“Shush,” said everyone.
The family stopped in front of a priest who was selling pigeons and turtle doves in tiny cages. The birds looked very pretty. Simon’s aunt and uncle bought a pair, paid their money, then handed the cage back to the priest instead of carrying it away. “What d’you do that for?” shouted Simon. “I thought you wanted to buy them.”
“Yes,” said Simon’s dad. “But hush. The priest will sacrifice the pigeons to God for us.”
“How do they sack-a-face a pigeon?” asked Simon, thinking that pigeon’s faces were far too small to fill a sack.
“They roast them, like dinner, on an altar,” said his dad.
“Then can we eat them?” asked Simon but his father said no; God would give the cooked birds to the priests.
Simon could smell such warm aromas of dinner, his little tummy started to rumble almost as loudly as his voice. “Can I watch them roast the pigeons?” he shouted, hoping he might at least grab a bite while no one was looking. But his dad said hush and no; Simon was too young. “Well, will you watch?”
Simon’s father and grandfather and uncles went through the next stone gateway, but Simon stayed behind with the women and littler children. He could see a beautiful clean white building through the arch. Smoke poured into the sky from altars where meat was cooking in front of it. “That’s God’s Temple,” whispered Simon’s mom. Simon shouted, “Wow.” Then a priest in bright robes walked out from the shiny white house and stood at the top of the steps. He held his arms in the air and opened his mouth to shout but no sound came out.
“What’s he saying?” people asked. Then they said, “The priest has lost his voice. God’s taken the priest’s voice away.”
Little Simon looked a bit scared and whispered very quietly, not loudly at all, “D’you think the priest shouted too much and God made him hush.”
Lord God, thank you for always being ready to listen to us,
whether we whisper quietly or shout our prayers out loud.
Thank you for not telling us to hush and not sending us away.
And thank you for answering us with so many good things.
Thank you so much if you've read this far, and please may I trouble you to answer a few questions for me:
- What age would you recommend each of these stories for?
- Does the recommended age increase as the stories get longer?
- Do pictures make the stories more interesting for younger readers?
- And should I go back to 3-minute stories when I edit Nazareth Neighbors?