Smile, God Loves You: enjoyable story for Catholic kids

Author: Mark Restaino
Illustrator: Ignacio Loza Coll
Publisher: Self published
Age Range: 0 – 6.

Here’s a beautiful Christian book for the little ones. A gorgeous book to look at and hold, the story is simple and the colourful illustrations endearing. With rhyming sentences and the use of repetition, the message is straightforward – God loves you!

Small children will enjoy reciting the words with you. The story is perfectly aimed at younger children and explores their emotional worlds. Children will recognize the situations and the emotions of those in the illustrations. The illustrations are bright and clear with emotional expressions easy to identify. In the story, one child is bored, one is sad and another lonely. This would be a wonderful book to help children explore their own emotional responses. At the end of each ‘scenario’ the reassuring words are repeated – “God Loves You!”

What I particularly liked was the use of a little girl who ‘notices’ when someone is feeling down. On every page, she is in the background watching with her camera. You might need to explain what a polaroid camera is, but that shouldn’t be too hard for children to understand. Every second page is designed like a photograph with the problem of the previous page resolved – the rhythm in language and design will assist young readers. You could talk with children about how each problem was solved and how other children in the story are often part of the solution. I could see this book being put to good use in a classroom setting – helping children to identify emotions and encouraging empathy.

There’s also a colouring book version available through Amazon. What a great idea!

Mark Restaino is a youth minister in a Catholic church in Chicago. He has written and produced a number of story books for children, each with a special Gospel message. Check his website out HERE. You can buy Smile God Loves You from Mark Restaino’ website or Amazon HERE.

Here’s a lovely review of Smile God Loves You from My Holly Dog Official. RIGHT HERE

Mark Restaino

Homeschool and Teacher Ideas:

• Make up a board with snapshots of the children in your class or homeschool. The children might act out some of the scenarios in this book, or even make up their own.

• Make up a banner to string across the classroom or home schoolroom “Smile, God Loves You!”

• Choose one of the scenarios and have a discussion about it:
o       Prompting questions might include: What is happening in this picture; how does the little boy/girl feel? Have you ever felt like that?  Tell me about it?  What happens in the story – yes, the other children notice and help out.  Have you ever helped someone out who was feeling lost/sad/left out/scared etc? What did you do? What do you think God would like us to do if we notice someone feeling ……? How do you know that God loves you? Tell me about a time when you knew that God loved you… (and so on).

o Following on from a discussion you can draw a picture or poster of the situation; don’t forget the words “Smile, God Loves You”.

• How about a sing-a-long:

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