Part 2 of an interview with Jared Kennedy,
Author of Jesus Came for Me
Every Christmas, we celebrate the coming of the Messiah, but what does that mean for the youngest members of the family? Jesus Came for Me: The True Story of Christmas by Jared Kennedy helps little ones learn about the birth of Christ in a personal, memorable way. Created for children ages two to five, this beautifully illustrated board book begins with the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth to Zechariah and ends with the visit of the wise men. They will learn that Jesus is always present, and he helps us believe and wait for him.
Q: Jesus Came for Me sets out to teach toddlers and preschoolers about the true story of Christmas. How much are children that young able to grasp the importance of Jesus as the promised Savior?
You know, toddlers and young preschoolers are learning by rote and by recognition. Here’s what I mean by that. Little kids are learning to repeat back stories, verses, and biblical truth; sometimes they do that without a whole lot of thought about what the words and stories mean. But those basic concepts are foundational; learning these truths are essential for kids if they’re going to grow up to have a more mature faith later in life.
Think about this for a moment. Two-year-olds typically have a 200-word vocabulary while three-year-olds have a 1,500-word vocabulary. That’s 1,300 words in a year! Even if we’re faithfully learning the “word of the day” along with Alexa, adults might only learn 350 or so new words in a year. But our youngest kids are learning so many brand-new truths! So, when you read to your preschooler about basic Bible concepts—God’s promise, Jesus being both God and man, his miraculous birth and the angels’ announcement, or even the word, Christmas—they’re just learning those words and their significance for the first time. Later on, preschoolers will be able to recognize biblical concepts that have been taught before. And, by God’s grace, they’ll spend their whole lives learning to trust the God those stories point them to.
Q: Do you begin the retelling of the story on the night of his birth or do you tell more leading up and following his actual birth?
The board book begins with the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth to Zechariah and ends with the visit of the wise men.
Q: How do you interject thoughts and questions into the book to make the Bible story more personal to the little readers?
Each of the three stories that make up the book is accompanied by brightly colored illustrations by Trish Mahoney that both highlight the story and add fun interactive elements to keep even the youngest child’s attention. Each of the stories also ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce a key truth such as: “Have you ever had a wait a long time? Will you share the good news like the shepherds?”
I’d encourage parents to read the book slowly, to point out the facial expressions on the people’s faces, and talk with their children about how each person in the story reacted to the events of Christmas. Point out how the birth of Jesus in a Bethlehem stable and the announcement to poor shepherds isn’t what we’d expect when a king is born.
Q: Jesus Came for Me isn’t your only new release. Can you tell us a little about your other new book, God Made Me for Worship?
God Made Me for Worship focuses on teaching kids about the key movements in a church worship gathering, including the call to worship, praise and adoration, confession, assurance, passing the peace, ministry of the Word and sacraments, and benediction and sending.
My goal with that book was to help parents help their kids understand why we’re intentional about worship, encouraging them to engage not just to manage behavior during a worship gathering, but to invite kids to respond to God along with the whole church body.Jesus Came for Me
by Jared Kennedy, Illustrated by Trish Mahoney
October 19, 2020 / Board book / Retail Price: $11.99
Print ISBN 978-1-645070-49-8
Religion / Christian Ministry/ Children  About the author Jared Kennedy, MDiv, ThM, is the co-founder and managing editor of Gospel-Centered Family, a ministry that helps churches and families share Jesus with the next generation. He also serves as the Children’s and Family Ministry Strategist for the Sojourn Network, and is an adjunct professor at Boyce College. 
He is the author of The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible, Are You Close to God?Jesus Rose for Me, Jesus Came for Me, and God Made Me for Worship. He has also helped to develop two VBS programs, Proof Pirates and Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet
Kennedy blogs regularly at Gospel Centered Family and contributes to The Gospel Coalition, ERLC and He Reads Truth.  He and his wife, Megan, have three daughters.
Read more from Jared Kennedy at He can also be found on Twitter (@jaredskennedy).

Trish Mahoney is a graphic designer and illustrator in Seattle where she runs The Mahoney Studio with her husband, Patrick, also a designer and illustrator. They have two children—both budding artists too. Trish illustrated The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible and is also the illustrator for the God Made Me series
 New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered Christian books, small group, and children’s Bible resources for discipleship, biblical counseling, and missional ministry. For more information about other releases from New Growth Press, visit  Copyright © 2020 New Growth Press, All rights reserved.
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