What inspired you to write your first book, namely a board book for young children? How did you come up with the idea for Who Sang the First Song?
I have two little kids who love to read books, so writing a board book for children was a very natural extension of my everyday life. It was so fun to be able to have a little test audience in my own home while writing Who Sang the First Song?.
I came up with idea for the book because my little girl actually asked me one day in passing, “Mom, who sang the first song?” I love that kids are ALWAYS asking questions, and I love how my kids’ questions often make me slow down and think about things that I normally wouldn’t. So instead of answering my daughter right away, I decided to do some research and write a book!
Emmylou’s question reminded me of some beautiful passages we have read in Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally-Lloyd Jones. In the first of many beautiful family devotionals in the book, Sally says this: “In the beginning, God sang everything into being—for the joy of it—and set the whole universe dancing” (p19).
I’ve always loved that image she gives of God singing creation into being, and it felt like a clue to my daughter’s question, so I went on a treasure hunt of sorts looking for the answer.
Sally happens to be a sweet friend of mine, so I met up with her when she was in town to pick her brain on the idea that she presented in her book. She was kind enough to point me to a sermon on Genesis 1 by Tim Keller, who is one of my very favorite teachers. In this sermon, Keller talks about how we often get caught up in the “how” of Creation, but he was more curious about “why” God decided to create the world and all of us. He explains that the first chapter of Genesis is written in the form of an archaic Hebrew poem, so there was a cadence and a rhythm to the way that God spoke the world into being. It feels very close to a song, and Keller suggests that perhaps God sang the world into being so that the world itself could sing of the goodness, power , and love of its’ Creator!
But Keller doesn’t stop there. He explains that while God’s song says we are good and wonderfully made, and while He fully intends for us to sing that song, we know that something is off and broken in this world and in our own hearts. He asks where else in the Bible we see the words “In the beginning,” other than Genesis 1, and points us to chapter 1 of John: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.” So it is through the work of the Living Word, Jesus Christ Himself, who died on a cross and rose again, that we can be restored to the whole versions of ourselves and sing the song of love and beauty that God created us all to sing. I was captivated and deeply encouraged by this insight, and I’m so grateful that this message is woven throughout the pages of Who Sang the First Song?.
How can parents use this book to spark conversations with their kids on God’s creation and how/why He made us?
The majority of the book loosely follows the creation story in Genesis by asking questions, which feels very appropriate for children, since they are always full of questions! Parents can start by letting their kids take their own guesses at who sang the first song. Was it the sun? The moon? The stars? The waves? As I was writing the book, it was so fun to hear my kids take their own guesses at this question. My four-year-old’s first guess was Dolly Parton!
I hope this book will spark conversations between adults and children not only about WHO made the earth, but HOW and WHY the earth was created. I think all of us want to know why we are here. We’re all looking for purpose and direction for our lives, and I hope this book will be a conversation starter about what we were created for. I hope there are conversations about how we can sing both with our voices but also with our lives. I am so grateful that we were created in the image of a VERY creative God, and I love the idea that adults and children would be talking about how we can create beauty and love with the gifts that we’ve been given.
Here are some questions for parents or adults to ask children that will hopefully spark wonderful conversation:
- Who do you think sang the first song?
- Who created the world?
- How was the world created?
- What does God say about us?
- Why did God make the world?
- Why did God make you?
- What did God make the world and us to do?
- How can we “sing” and share the beauty of God’s love with the way we live our lives?