When we read to young children an illustrated children’s book or Bible story, they are not so concerned about what we read as they are by the pictures they see. They see things in the illustrations that we would never observe. They will put their fingers on the pictures. If the book has a little fuzzy and/or anything tactile they will touch it. Vicariously, children will jump into the illustrations in order to explore that world on the page before them. Give them all the time in the world to wonder, wander, and use their imaginations in this way.
We are, in effect, teaching them how to combine right-brain with left-brain activity, how to associate what they are hearing with what they are seeing and feeling. It is important to have good illustrated children’s books on prayer and Bible stories.
Jesus lived when photographs did not exist and actual descriptions of what he looked like were unimportant next to his teachings. However, through the ages, each generation’s artists produced their own idea of his appearance. What we do know, however, that He was a man and was truly human. So different male images are acceptable so long as no one particular static image dominates in all the different picture books you read to children.
Likewise, artists have drawn their interpretation of God as an old man in the sky, as a dove, and/or sun rays in the sky. None of their illustrations can be substantiated and must remain symbolic as no one knows whether God has a body or form. Therefore, stay clear of bodily images of God.
We do not want children to have to unlearn the bad theology some illustrations teach.
It is good to let books on God, as made known to us through Jesus and the Bible, and on prayer be a natural part of their daily routine. These books, unlike television, are not aimed at making our children consumers in a market-driven economy. They are there to teach them about God. They plant moral values and a moral standard that can be built upon. God’s will becomes their standard for the way they make critical life decisions and the way they will live their lives. In this way, we honor God and nurture and cherish our children.