A trinity of siblings tells children's stories about the (holy) Trinity
Dad recruited his three kids to help write three new Arch books
When the editors at Concordia Publishing House (CPH), the LCMS church publisher in St. Louis, Missouri, invited Twin Citian Jim Gimbel to write three new titles for its famous Arch Books children’s series, wheels began to turn in the college professor’s head. Gimbel saw an opportunity for shaping young authors and doing a family project together.
“I asked if I could involve my own three kids in writing these books,” said Gimbel, “so that the books read by, and to, kids might reflect a kid’s perspective. My [children] were already good writers, and I thought it would give each of them a rare opportunity to see firsthand how the whole publishing process unfolds.”
Gimbel, former Senior Editor of Youth, Family, and Sunday School Materials at CPH, currently serves on the faculty at Concordia University, St. Paul, as program chair of the Organizational Management and Communication major in the adult degree completion program (School of Adult Learning).
He wrote the first book in the trilogy, God My Creator, with younger daughter, Jo, age 15, a sophomore at Lutheran High School of Greater Minneapolis. Together they examined Martin Luther’s Catechism, explored early church history for information about the Christian creeds, brainstormed ideas about how a children’s story might develop the concept of the Apostles Creed’s First Article (on God the Father), and created a detailed outline and storyboard.
The first book was released in late summer, 2003, and is already in its second printing. In October both were interviewed on the Jubilee Network morning radio program, another new adventure for Jo.
Each book is written from the viewpoint of an early church personality, someone who heard about Jesus as a child. Each learns about the work of one of the persons of the Trinity when he crosses paths with an apostle of Jesus.
“Although each book is very short, and needed to fit into the pattern of rhythm and rhyme used in Arch Books, it was a great experience,” said Gimbel.
The second book was written with daughter Abby, age 18, a freshman at Concordia University, St. Paul, in the Director of Christian Outreach Program. According to Abby, the most unique challenge was “finding good words to rhyme that are understandable to kids and still make sense using good English style and grammar.” She hopes the book Jesus My Savior, focusing on Jesus as the second person of the Trinity, “shares the true message of Christ so that even young ones may learn about their Savior.”
The third, Holy Spirit My Helper, just released this month, was co-authored with Andy, 21, a junior in the Pre-seminary Program at Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois. Andy says, “My dad and I tried to show that the Holy Spirit is at work sharing the Gospel of Jesus and nurturing faith.” He explained, “The most unique challenge for this book was collaborating on the project even though we were miles apart. We began working on it over a break but didn’t finish, so we continued by using instant messaging and e-mails, bouncing ideas back and forth.”
Another challenge, he said, was attempting to condense all of the qualities of the Holy Spirit into fifteen four-line stanzas. “I learned that writing children’s literature is actually a lot more difficult than writing for adults because you have to account for, and adapt to, children’s comprehension, reading, and vocabulary levels.”
Andy described what he hoped his writing effort might accomplish. “In my happiest vision for this book, I imagine a parent holding a child [on] his or her lap, softly reading this book to the child at bedtime. I hope this is a good channel for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed to families — and, especially, to children.”