Title: Sunday Is For God
Author: Michael McGowan
Illustrator: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Publisher: Schwartz Wade Books
Audience: Ages 4-8
Summary: “Weekdays are for school. Saturday’s for having fun. But Sunday is the Lord’s day. Sunday is for God. That’s what Momma says.” So begins a young African-American boy’s account of the day in his family – parents, three siblings, and, Papaw, the grandfather. The age and name of the narrator are unknown; the time and place, perhaps a rural community, are not certain. Still there is a timeless, real, and honest quality in this young boy’s account of home, church, and community. Art and words together depict a church at worship-the special church smell, the heat, the music, the movement, the preaching. “Brother Cartwright is a little like the star of the show,” says the boy, whose mind and imagination are at work during the service while he struggles to sit still. Then the service is over and it’s home to a bountiful lunch and an afternoon of play. Johnson and Fancher have painted realistic acrylic pictures over a collage of scripture, hymns and pictures. Their work underscores the quiet depth of the subject and can be explored for hours.
Literary elements at work in the story: The first person narrative gives immediacy to a subject that may be foreign to many children. It’s an insightful picture of how a boy, perhaps eight or nine, experiences worship. The boy draws the reader into the day with details of his surroundings and the questions that fill his mind. Unspoken, but evident, is the security and identity that come with this foundation of worship and community.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The book is about an African American family, church, and community. There may be one or two caucasians in the congregation but this is a black church at worship and it may seem foreign to some children. Even stranger may be the importance of Sunday, a day for God. The family is strict and loving, and evidently economically comfortable. Good manners for both adults and children are a part of the home. Minister and church leaders are all male; however, it is “Momma” who enforces the family practice. Shopping, soccer practice, and meetings do not intrude on the day.
Theological Conversation Partners: The call to worship fills the Bible. Psalm 121; Psalm 100; Exodus 20:8–11, a day set apart is one of the ten commandments; the practice of gathering with a community is evident in the life of Jesus (Luke 4:16) and the New Testament Church (Hebrews 10:25). In our desire to make all days sacred we lose sight of the call to make one day sacred. If we fail in this, we are not likely to make all days sacred. This book is an excellent stimulus to examining our Sunday practices and for talking about worship.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What made Sunday a special day for the boy and his family?
- What keeps the narrator from laughing at Joey’s funny face?
- Why is it important in the narrator’s family to dress nicely for church?
- Why did the Bible words that God knows our thoughts seem slightly scary to the narrator?
- Do you think that the children in the narrator’s family liked Sunday?
- Why is Sunday a special day for Christians?
- How do you and your family make it special?
- In what ways was this church service like yours? In what ways was it different?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Virginia Thomas
Sunday is for God by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.