A Gift of Myself, the second book in the Little Douglings series by Carissa Douglas is even more delightful than her first story, I Go to Jesus, which focused on a child’s intimate and individual relationship with Jesus while still being part of a family. A Gift of Myself, on the other hand, is the story of how little children can give themselves to others—the selfless and heroic little acts children can do throughout the day in their own family. It is a simple and child-friendly introduction to John Paul II’s teaching of Theology of the Body, and the giving of oneself to others. The story uses very concrete and child-friendly examples: children offering up their precious space, toys, time, help, and treats in the home for their brothers and sisters.
The story starts with a moment every parent will sympathize with: the mother in the story sitting all the children down for a family meeting, and asking them to work on being kinder and more loving to each other for a happier home. Then, counting out every day of the week (my four-year-old was thrilled to recognize each day as it was read and decided on our first reading to work on the kindness mentioned on Thursday, because we first read the story on a Thursday) the different little children go through their thought processes in rising to the occasion and offering something of themselves out of love for another sibling. Each example is age-appropriate to the character, making this story work for a variety of age groups. As a teaching tool the story is also perfect because all the teachings are Catholic and theologically sound, allowing the parent to breathe easy when using the story.
Just as important as the content in a children’s story is the word choice, the descriptions, the poetry or prose actually used, and the poetry in A Gift of Myself is lovely. The lines are long and full of ideas but read in a gentle and happy-sounding rhythm. Douglas’ choice of words is impeccable. The lines are evocative and filled with words the reader can almost taste and feel. Most important of all in a children’s story (in my opinion) are the pictures on every page; again Douglas succeeds with pictures which are beautiful, charming, and uplifting for children.
A Gift of Myself is an excellent addition to a series which gives children an introduction to the greatest of all Christ’s commandments. I Go to Jesus was a story of learning to talk to God, and to love with a child’s heart, soul, mind, and body. A Gift of Myself now focuses on the next step: loving a child’s neighbour (i.e. family). I deeply appreciated this opportunity to continue teaching these lessons in Douglas’ context of the home, which is and should be the most important place in any child’s life.
A Gift of Myself
by Carissa Douglas
Little Douglings, 2013