Gleanings from a Book: “H is for Holy” by Nika Boyd

From an early age, we begin to teach our children the alphabet. The “ABCs” are a series of building blocks which work together to create the words that we use to build sentences that share our concepts and ideas. Perfecting the use of these 26 letters takes a lifetime, but using them throws open doors to learning, enjoyment, and communication along the way. We do well to begin familiarizing our children with the alphabet from a very early age.

From an early age, we also introduce our children to the Faith. The book H is for Holy by Nika Boyd offers one way to help us introduce our children to the Faith. This book associates one piece of Orthodox Christianity with each letter of the English alphabet. Each page of this book is filled with a colorful, child-friendly illustration and a sentence explaining which part of our Faith is associated with that letter. Every page also offers more information about that piece, often also incorporating a related personal application and/or questions. These “pieces” of Orthodox Christianity become building blocks on which our children can build their faith.

Each concept presented in H is for Holy opens the door to learning more about the Faith as a whole. The book is an enjoyable way to begin this learning. It can be used with a variety of age levels. One could simply read the basic sentence at the top of each page and savor the illustrations with very young listeners. With older children, one can read all of the words on the page. Read each page in its entirety and discuss it further, perhaps by relating it to scripture, icons, divine services, or other related resources with even older children. This book is an excellent way to begin (and also build) communication with our children about what we as Orthodox Christians believe.

Perfecting our faith, God willing, lasts for our whole lifetime. Every day we make choices that can build or hinder our faith. We need all of the help we can get as we grow in godliness. H is for Holy offers a way to encourage our children to learn more about the Faith, but it also encourages us to grow in faith. The personal applications and questions throughout the book give us opportunities to further discuss each page of the book with our children. These discussions can lead us to open the scriptures, pay better attention during the Divine Liturgy, and be better observant of the Faith in our home.

We do well to begin familiarizing our children with the Faith from a very early age. H is for Holy is an excellent resource to help us accomplish this goal. This book is filled with learning opportunities on every page. A key message of the book is also its last sentence: “You may be small, but your faith can do mighty things!” H is for Holy offers building blocks with which Orthodox Christian children can build their faith.

See the trailer for the book at https://ancientfaith.wistia.com/medias/3jfhnm71ox.

H is for Holy by Nika Boyd is available from Ancient Faith Publishing here: http://store.ancientfaith.com/h-is-for-holy.

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Here are a few suggestions of ways that Sunday Church School teachers can benefit from/ use this book:

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“H is for Holy” by Nika Boyd would be an excellent springboard for a Sunday Church School class’ curriculum. Each week of the Church School year could feature one page of the book and focus on the concept being taught on that page. Every one of the 26 concepts can be further communicated through related activities, readings from scripture/the Holy Fathers/divine services texts, etc., and a lesson could easily be built for each. At the end of the year, each student in the class could receive their own copy of this book to remind them of what they had studied during the Sunday Church School year, allowing them to “review” their learnings whenever they read the book.

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Read “H is for Holy” by Nika Boyd to your class. Have each student select their favorite letter/Faith concept pair and write it at the top of a piece of paper. Provide art supplies and allow the students to illustrate their page with their own idea of how it should look. (ie: John likes “L is for Lazarus” best because he loves the story of Lazarus being resurrected by Christ. John’s paper will read “L is for Lazarus” at the top and feature John’s own illustration of Lazarus coming out of the tomb.) Hang your class’ unique ABC illustrations on an “H is for Holy: our favorite Orthodox ABCs” bulletin board in your classroom or Sunday Church School hallway.

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So many of the Orthodox Christian ABC concepts found in Nika Boyd’s book “H is for Holy” have a whole kids’ magazine devoted to them! Check out the back issues of “Little Falcons Magazine” here for these: http://www.littlefalcons.net/pdf/2014_Backissues.pdf. Each issue contains information related to the theme of the issue, as well as supplemental stories and activities.

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Have each student write an acrostic of their name, filling in the words that go along with each letter in the book “H is for Holy.” (ie: Amy would write Altar, Mary, Youths). Have them select their favorite of the letters and explain why. (ie: Amy might choose “Youths” because she wants to be brave like the youths were and do what is right even if it means she will be persecuted.)

(Teacher’s note: if you are unfamiliar with acrostics, read more here: http://www.poetry4kids.com/blog/lessons/how-to-write-an-acrostic-poem/.)

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Purchase and listen to this song by Kh. Gigi Shadid, called “Orthodox ABCs,” for another alphabetical list of things important to our faith. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006HTE4OQ/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk3

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Find an older kids’/grownups’ version of an Orthodox Christian ABC book here: http://issuu.com/holytrinitybridgeport/docs/abcsoforthodoxbooklet-2010! This booklet has several important parts of the Faith listed for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief description of each.

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Challenge your class to collectively write your own Orthodox Christian ABC book, using a DIFFERENT part of the Faith for each letter than is used in Nika Boyd’s book “H is for Holy.” Have each student work on one page, writing what the letter is for at the top of the page, illustrating the concept, and writing more information and/or personal challenges or questions at the bottom of the page. Find a free printable alphabet book template here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/FREE-Alphabet-Book-Template-124772

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