Children's Literature Bookshelf

“When Daddy Prays,” by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Tim Ladwig. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, Mich., 2002, 32 pages, K-3.

“When Daddy Prays,” by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Tim Ladwig.
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, Mich., 2002, 32 pages, K-3.

There are many kinds of prayer. First, there are prayers of supplication. We need something and beg God to send it to us. Second, there are prayers of thanksgiving. In this type of prayer, people praise God and thank Him for their blessings.

A third type of prayer is that of adoration and contemplation. This is an exalted form of prayer in which we meditate on God and try to let His grace fill our hearts and souls. Children need to see their parents praying because the home is the domestic church. In the home, youngsters develop their love for God through the actions and examples of their parents. Nikki Grimes has written a beautiful book of poems describing the beautiful effect a devout father has on the growth and development of his son. The name of this inspiring book is “When Daddy Prays.”

A little boy sits on the strong shoulders of his father as they walk to the baseball field. He is dressed in his uniform and is excited to be playing. His father prays in simple language as they go to the game. The child is comforted by the prayers and his father’s love.

At the ballpark, the child walks up to the plate to bat. In the background he hears his father cheering him to “rip a line drive.” The boy swings with all his might and connects. The ball sails over the fence for a home run. The man’s powerful presence fills up the little boy’s heart.

When they return home, the child is jealous of his new baby brother when he hears his father asking God to make him a worthy father. But then he falls asleep when he hears his daddy lovingly asking God to watch him as well.

In the coming days, the boy goes out with his daddy to work in a nearby garden. His father tells him that he is the best weed-puller there is and his work is helpful. With this the boy diligently pulls up dandelions as his daddy trims the bushes and manicures the lawn. When they return home for supper, there is not much to eat. The child wants to complain but listens to his father thanking God for the meal they have. He learns through the strong, gentle kindness of his father. As the days go on, more everyday events happen. Finally, it is Christmas and they go to church. What happens at midnight?

Is there a special blessing? Why are Daddy’s prayers so meaningful? Have you ever prayed for anything? Did you receive the blessing? Does God sometimes give us what we need rather than the things we want? Why is Daddy such a tremendous role model for his son? Why does the boy seem to be filled with virtue? To find out, go the library and check out this inspirational book, “When Daddy Prays,” by Nikki Grimes.

Nikki Grimes frequently writes stories, such as this one, about caring African American families. The illustrations show the father praying, leading and helping his family in many situations. The great physical strength of the father is matched by his remarkable moral development. This is an altogether terrific book and I hope you get a chance to read this beautiful story of fatherhood and spirituality.

Terrence Nollen




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