Friday, March 07, 2008

Nana's Bible Stories by Roberta Simpson

Today, I'm interviewing Roberta Simpson and giving away a copy of her book Nana's Bible Stories.

ROBERTA SIMPSON is Nana, the Mother Goose of Bible stories, a 71-year-young Jewish grandmother of nine with a deep love for the Messiah of the New Testament, which pours out in her special stories.

You have been telling stories to your five children and nine grandchildren for many years. Why do you believe the art of storytelling is so important…and why do children respond so well to stories?

Roberta: Storytelling is so important firstly because you are engaging a child or children for a special time. I love to use my grandchildren’s names in the stories as I have done in Nana’s Bible Stories.

I believe storytelling is an adventure, and what you are doing is bringing children into the story. It is also a great time for cuddling, and being close to the kids – it is a time for bonding, and engaging their trust. I find there is not a child I have met who does not just LOVE having a story read, or told to them!

I believe that children respond to stories (if they are good stories!) because it is a time where they can listen to a story about someone or something else other than what they see and feel everyday, and many times can place themselves into the story – e.g. “What would I have done?”

While playing with kids, I love starting a story – “Once upon a time, there was a…” then I would point to one of the kids, and they would have to make up something. I would continue this way until all the kids had a turn, and we had a story! It was crazy, fun, and lots
of loud laughter.

Why did you decide to write Nana’s Bible Stories?

Roberta: Books are such an important element in a child’s life. Books with stories of the Bible are wonderful, because kids can start at an early age, learning wonderful lessons from this great book. The Bible has more adventure and excitement than any book ever published.

I wanted so much to write stories that were warm, exciting, with the emphasis on how much Jesus loves children, and how He was such a wonderful loving person on this earth, even though He was the Son of God! I wish for children know how important they are in the Kingdom of God. Jesus was passionate about them and I want kids to be passionate about Him!

Bible literacy is so important! The Bible is the most influential text in all of Western culture – in fact, ninety percent of high school teachers in a 2005 study said that Bible knowledge is critical to a good education. Yet, sadly, the rate of Bible illiteracy among teens entering college is alarmingly high and is severely limiting their ability to understand classic and modern literature, art, music and culture.

Jesus told many stories to his adult followers; do you believe Nana’s Bible Stories can speak to adults as well as children?

Roberta: Jesus was the greatest storyteller. The story of the Lost Lamb, he told to adults – we tell it to children!

I have had many adults, in tears, telling me how they love the stories. Some adults have bought the book, not having any children to give it to, but reading it themselves. Bible stories are for everyone, regardless of age – they are timeless!!! The truth of the Bible is for all. My prayer has been that many adults, while reading the stories to their children, will be touched and encouraged. In fact, I have had grown women call me crying after reading the stories!

I heard several stories recently that really touched my heart regarding my book. One was the mother of a friend, who was sick in the hospital. The mother wanted the stories read to her, and they brought her comfort during her pain.

Another was about a young man who died of a drug overdose. He had always loved butterflies. When his mom heard about the book, and there was a story about a butterfly in it, she went and bought it.

In Pensacola, there was a five year old little girl who died. Her mother kept thinking about butterflies. She also went and bought the book and felt comforted.


The seven stories featured in Nana’s Bible Stories are biblically correct – but, you have a unique style of storytelling. You have created stories within stories. Would you please explain why you used this style?

Roberta: When reading the Bible, I tend to stop and meditate on what I have read, and often, especially looking at characters in the Bible, I wonder how they felt, where they lived, etc. My heart always went out to the leper who Jesus healed. For instance, did he have a family? His heart must have been broken at having to leave home. I believe other people—including children—might wonder the same things…so I thought it would be interesting to develop stories around the stories.

I do a lot of research and I insist on maintaining the actual story from the Bible. I do not remove the tiniest meaning from the Word!

I had a wonderful time writing “A Father’s Miracle.” Here is a little boy, who I invented, who just loved his Abba – Daddy. His dad gets sick and has to move away from his home, and all he loves. I wanted kids to be able to identify with this child. It could have been them, and many kids face this sad experience – maybe not leprosy, but sickness and death!

I believe kids will be encouraged and inspired, like the little boy, and pray for loved ones who are sick, and have faith that they will be healed by Jesus, who is the same today as He was yesterday!

Some of your royalties from Nana’s Bible Stories will be going to children’s charities. Please explain.

Roberta: While we were working with Jane Seymour on her narration, we learned about all the wonderful work that she was doing on behalf of various children’s charities. It was touching to see first hand the work that is being done and actually meeting some of the young people who are benefiting from her charity work. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of my book will go to these charities, including City Hearts in Los Angeles.

I am also involved the Children’s Trust in Barbados. They do a marvelous job of helping, sick, and underprivileged children on this island.

It is a great joy to be writing, knowing that the Lord is blessing children both spiritually and financially through Nana’s Bible Stories.

Thank you for allowing me to share a part of my life and calling with you. If you would like to learn more about me or my book, please go to
http://www.nanasbiblestories.com/. You may download one of my favorite stories, The Butterfly and the Cross—the story of the crucifixion as told through the gentle and tender eyes of a butterfly. I have also included a special devotional for the story which you may share with your children this Easter season. Cuddle up with a child and enjoy!

Roberta, thanks for being a guest here on Gatorskunkz and Mudcats.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Roberta's book Nana's Bible Stories (narrated by Sheila Walsh) then leave a comment on this post. Please make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll go to random.org and do the drawing next Thursday night and post the winner next Friday morning.

6 comments:

Carrie said...

Oh! Me! Me! I may get that book anyway. I have been looking for a gentle way to introduce Bible stories into Erik's life.

Cheryl Wray said...

I haven't seen this book yet, but it sounds WONDERFUL!!! Great interview too!!!

Deborah and Sally said...

Sounds like a good book, sign me up !:)

Deborah

Crystal Laine Miller said...

I love children's books as a former teacher. I have a little girl in mind for this book, so would love a chance to win! but if not, I definitely will look it up.

Thanks for this unique interview. Nana(Roberta)--you look younger than I do!

crystal.mrsinewa[at]gmail.com

Anonymous said...

What an adorable book!! Would love to have a chance to win it!! Thanks and God Bless!!

ain1138(at)aol (dot)com

Korene said...

Well written article.