Written by Carol Gordon Ekster and illustrated by Mary Rojas

Rating: 4 out of 4.

“Let’s take a moment to think about our day.”

How often do we take the time to reflect and give thanks? Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You, written by Carol Gordon Ekster and illustrated by Mary Rojas, is an accessible child’s guide to the Examen prayer, introduced by Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Written in a simple and lighthearted way, Before I Sleep is a sweet story about a little boy saying his goodnight prayers with his mother. According to Gordon Ekster, the Examen prayer is “a prayer of the heart . . . a method for reviewing the day and experiencing how God is present throughout that day” and says Saint Ignatius considered gratitude the “single most important practice of spirituality”. The book is a fantastic way for Catholic parents to introduce prayer as a daily practice in reflection in a way that children can understand and reasonably outwork.

Gordon Ekster’s simple and practical writing style is perfect for children aged 3-8 years to read either with a loved one or independently. It teaches little ones the importance of daily reflection, encouraging them to examine their behaviour and whether there is anything from their day they could improve next time. Then the book encourages gratitude by thinking of 5 things to be thankful for that day.

Rojas’ illustrations are simple yet emotive, and thoughtfully convey different emotions as our characters reflect on their day and behaviour. Colour and white shading is used to convey mood, as well as the overall comforting tone of the book, and the main characters are portrayed in a relatable and friendly manner.

This book encourages self-awareness, gratitude and peace in children and would make the perfect gift for a young child celebrating a birthday, Easter, Christmas or a feast day.

Reviewed by: Lil van Wyngaard – Veritatis Publishing

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