________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 35 . . . . May 11, 2012


Faith: Five Religions and What They Share.

Richard Steckel & Michele Steckel.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2012.
36 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-750-1.

Subject Heading:
Religions-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-6 / Ages 7-11.

Review by Shelbey Krahn.

***˝ /4



Where do we come from? Where do we go when we die? Why are we here? How should we live? Why do bad things happen?

For as long as people have walked the earth, they have pondered these questions. Faith helps provide answers.

There are twenty-two major religions in the world plus many, many smaller ones, and there are many differences between them. But at the heart of every religion is faith: the belief that there is something larger than us, larger than our universe. Faith is something beyond what we can see, hear and touch that gives meaning to our lives…

Perhaps if we recognized that all faiths are more alike than they are different, we could replace intolerance with respect. Perhaps if we learned more about one another’s religions, we would have fewer reasons for misunderstandings, conflicts or even wars.

In a world of conflict, too often troubled by religious differences, a book that focuses on how religions share many valuable facets of faith is a treasure. This book is carefully and gently written to be kid friendly and to encourage openness, tolerance, and understanding. The authors have a rich understanding of the complexities of each faith, but keep to the broad strokes, making the content easy to understand, not distracted by too much detail. There are chapters on One Golden Rule, Spiritual leaders, Sacred texts, Clothing, Symbols, Places of worship, Common acts of worship, Actions during prayer, Charity, and Cherishing children.

      As well as breaking down barriers between the religions, the book dissolves ethnic barriers too. On the cover of the book, the young woman with her hands folded in prayer could be Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, or even Jewish. She could also be South Asian, Southeast Asian, Hispanic, or from one of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. Her clothing seems European or North American. In the photo, the similarities between the faiths and the nations erase boundaries. The theme of differences being unimportant is continued in other photos. One of my favourites is a candid photo of three Muslim girls in hijabs: three skin colours (brown, pink, and olive) and three demeanors (exuberant, content, and serious). The many photos, delightfully varied in their combination of races, ethnicities, and religions, help the reader let go of preconceptions and embrace the humanity in others.

Highly Recommended.

Shelbey Krahn is a librarian in Sudbury, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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