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Building Character: Personal Devotions for Children Review by Brandi Tesreau

Betty Ward Cain
Bedford Publications
2201 Heritage Place Drive
NW Cleveland, TN 37312

Building Character by Betty Ward Cain is a 118-page personal guide to help children build character values. Included are 57 different devotions written especially for children between the ages of 8-12. Although this book is written for personal devotions, it can be used for family or homeschool devotions and would also work well in churches, schools, daycares, or other Christian organizations involving children. Besides devotions, this book is filled with poems, crafts, recipes, songs, and many other fun activities. 

I chose to use Building Character during morning Bible time with my three children (ages 4, 8, and 10). All devotions begin with a Bible verse relating to the character topic of the day. The verses are from the King James Version, I believe, but we read from the New International Version. We all have that translation, and I think it is a little easier for children to understand. Sometimes other Scripture is referenced for further study, which I really liked. In fact, I wish all of the devotions had included this feature. (For those who purchase, I would like to point out a minor misprint on p. 73--the Scripture reference should be II Chronicles 1:7-12, not I Chronicles.) 

After the Scripture, there are poems, stories, or exhortations written by the author. We liked the stories and exhortations best. Instead of reading the poems, we would usually just discuss the topic together. We all enjoyed learning interesting facts about fruit while studying Fruits of the Spirit. I even learned something really neat about the fig! 

Finally, each devotion closes with a specific prayer concerning the topic. Prayers are centered on asking the Lord to help us become more like Him and to develop Godly character in our lives. 

As I mentioned above, Building Character is filled with a variety of activities. My 4-year-old daughter liked the crafts and coloring, whereas my two boys felt they were too old for those. Instead of doing the crafts, my boys kept a journal of all the verses they'd learned. All of my kids enjoyed experimenting with different fruits and making some of the recipes throughout the book.

There is one particular craft covering several lessons; it involves your child making his or her own armor of God t-shirt using fabric crayons. Because I am not very crafty in that sort of way and have never even heard of fabric crayons, I chose to make it easy on myself. We simply used the armor of God reproducible sheets as coloring pages. I easily traced over the pictures with a Sharpie and reprinted the words myself so they wouldn't appear backwards. (They are written backwards for the intended purpose of ironing them onto a shirt.) 

If you'd like to see inside the devotional before purchasing, you can go the website and download a few sample pages. If you like what you see, the book can be purchased there for $14.95. (I spent less than a dollar making copies of the reproducible pages.) 

Overall, I have enjoyed using Building Character as our homeschool Bible study for the past few months. I found it easy to use, and I had no problem adapting the lessons to meet each child's level of comprehension. I recommend this to anyone who wants a simple, fun, and easy-to-use devotional for children. 

Product review by Brandi Tesreau, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010