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What is God? - A Book Review

Review of a book that attempts to explain this timeless question to children.

Etan Boritzer attempts a very hard task. He tries to explain the What is God?, and to give children a sense of connection to other faith traditions. This is a good goal. In a world where our children are asking tough questions about other faiths and what they believe, this book provides a good beginning. The text itself admits this is "a very, very big question."

Boritzer addresses the major faiths by celebrating their similarities. He also discusses experiences of God, explaining well, that a relationship with God is more experiential than concrete. He also touches on the sacred writings and leaders of major world faiths. The page that recognizes atheism and religious suppression is well done.

These are very good efforts, but the attempt falls short of the goal. The picture book format, colorful illustrations, and vocabulary would give the impression that this book is designed for primary grade children. This group would be confused by the phrasing and ideas expressed in the book. The age that would most benefit from this book, 9-12 year olds, would not pick it up because it looks "too babyish."

The biggest problem comes with the lines

If everything is God,
Then I am God,
You are God,
All of us are God!

This is contrary to the beliefs of the three major faith traditions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The insertion of this pantheistic belief impedes the beneficial aspects of the book. If you are a family that wishes to introduce metaphysical thought to your children this might be the book for you. If you are an adherent to a mainstream branch of Christianity you may not like this book.

If I were to use this book with children I would take the book apart and use the pages independently to spark thought and discussion with older students. A "heretical" thought for a librarian, but more beneficial than handing this book to a student without guidance.

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