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Bright Gems for His Crown Review by Jennifer Harrision

By Maxine Randall
Speakable Gifts
17 Elridge Lane
Willingboro, NJ 08046

After breakfast, my family likes to linger at the table and savor our time together as we laugh and share before Daddy has to leave for work. After the giggles wind down a bit, my husband pulls out a devotion book and reads to all of us, stopping to discuss and ask questions. With children ranging from five years old to fourteen years old, we've had some trouble finding devotions that weren't geared toward specific age groups. We found a few children's devotionals that are written for multiple ages, but most of these consist of a short story about a child facing a temptation or a struggle, followed by an average of three questions about how the child should behave in the given scenario. The answers are always sadly obvious and require no effort or thought on the part of the listeners. If there is a scripture, it is generally a short verse that acts as a kind of 'moral of the story'.

Last year, we went through Joyce Herzog's devotions for families, called Stepping Stones, and loved them. Though written for children, they were a blessing to all of us. We were challenged with the truth of God's Word. Eventually, the book came to a close, and we were on the hunt once more for a devotion that we could enjoy together. We searched for over a year without luck. After many mornings without spiritual meat, we would pull out the Bible to supplement the books we were using. Eventually, we gave up on ever finding a devotional and continued to read s cripture instead. After our devotion time together, the children would start their school day with their own Bible studies. While there is always something to be gleaned whenever Scripture is read, I kept hoping that I might somehow run across a devotion, to make it easier for my younger ones to stay focused as they listened and to guide us in explaining Scripture.

Finally, I discovered Maxine Randall's book, called Bright Gems for His Crown. It contains 93 daily devotions written "to help build qualities of character in children." Children are not the only ones able to benefit from these devotions. Everyone in my family enjoys sitting down to listen to this devotional. There are 31 topics taught in the book, such as "Trusting God" and "Doing Your Best." Different aspects of the topics are taught three times over a course of three months. For instance, while learning about Being Responsible, children will learn how to "Do Your Duty," "Keep Your Word," and "Take Care of Things."

The layout of the book is a little different from what I am used to. Month One, Day One is followed by Month Two, Day One on the following page. You would need to flip ahead 30 pages to find Month One, Day Two. In this way, each of the topics is covered once a month for three months. If you prefer, you can go straight through the book, ignoring the days listed, and cover different aspects of each topic for three days in a row.

The book is actually written so that students can study it independently, but it also works well as a family devotion. Each day's reading takes less than ten minutes. Bible verses are read and then explained in such a way that children can understand them. Then they are discussed in such a way that children can understand how to apply them to their own lives. While very brief, the lessons are also very strong. A simple activity is given at the end of each day's lesson, which is intended to be finished later in the day to illustrate the lesson. These activities can be done with regular household items, such as pennies, baking soda, or even just imagination and discussion. There is something for everyone in this devotional, and it makes a great start (and ending) to our day.

Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2011