Monday, November 7, 2011

Book review -- Heaven is for Real for Kids

My rating = 5 stars (Gibbee!)

I received this beautiful little treasure from Book Sneeze this week. It is an illustrated children's version of the bestseller Heaven Is For Real. In this book, Colton Burpo acts as narrator of his own afterlife experience, explaining in a very childlike and simple way how wonderful and beautiful heaven is. The story is told strictly from his own 4 year old point of view.

When reviewing a children's book, my rule is to read it to the target audience - children! In this case, I read this book to my own children (ages 11, 7, 6, and 3) for bedtme. As we read, my kids got more and more excited about the things Colton described in his story. They loved it so much that When my kids eventually shuffled off to bed, I heard my 7 year old saying, "I wish I could go to heaven right now." My 11 year old said, "Heaven is just like earth, but happier!"

A couple of my kids favorite parts:

Colton's description of playing with any animals you want-- all of my kids LOVED this part!! My 3 year old especially liked the pictures of the white horse with rainbow hair. He said, "I would want to feed him his carrots!"

At the end of the book is a short Q&A list, and the question of angels having wings is discussed. Colton's answer is "You get to choose if you want to walk or fly." My oldest thought this was very very cool!

The illustrations are beautiful - full of rich color and vibrancy. They help convey the feelings of love, peace and happiness Colton describes in the story. The language is simplistic, which makes potentially confusing points of doctrine quite easy for children to understand. I feel this book would be a blessing to any child's library, but will be especially beneficial for children who are dealing with terminal illness, or who have lost a loved one. It completely takes away any confusion or fear about what heaven is like, and helps children become very comfortable with the idea of going there.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. I've never read this book, but must politely admit that I shuddered a bit when I read the description. I remember similar lessons on heaven as a child in church, particularly a class where we were given papers, to draw heaven, and it was a haunting experience for me. The idea of heaven bothered me as a child, in ways I couldn't quite tease out then - but now that I'm older, I remember the feeling and partly understand it. Basically, as a little kid, heaven felt like a bribe, like that mistake you make as a parent sometimes, when you connect good behavior to some arbitrary reward, rather than natural consequence. Heaven felt like an arbitrary gift, since, clearly (and more than one sacrament talk reinforced this - kids pick up on talks more than we give them credit) whatever I did I couldn't possibly deserve such a reward. So in the end, it seemed to me that heaven would HAVE all this awesome stuff (sort of the modern equivalent 'and the streets are paved with gold'), but that I would be miserable in the midst of it, because I'd know I deserved hell (since, doctrinally, we all do deserve hell in such a scheme, being saved only by the grace of Christ). Humility made heaven a painful thing, I guess - when happiness becomes a result of someone else's suffering (Christ's, in this case) can you really enjoy it? I once heard as a kid that heaven would be miserable for a sinner, because being too close to gods presence would hurt them, and I think I took that to heart. So, drawing bowls of ice cream and magical houses, and flying and rainbow-haired ponies just left me feeling kind of sick - the rainbow hair and ice cream was the blood of Christ. It made suffering into essentially a huge toy, for me to play with.

    Probably makes very little sense when I try to express it, but it really bothered me as a child, still does - a lot of why I can't accept the idea of a heaven and a hell, now, I suppose.

  2. Jason, that's really interesting to hear about how uncomfortable heaven made you as a child, and still seems to make you as an adult. It's interesting because that is basically the same thing April started talking about when she was around nine. She didn't feel like she was worthy of the Atonement of Jesus Christ or going to heaven, and she hadn't earned it. And that's the whole point of the Atonement - it isn't something we earn, and it's not something we have to be good enough for. God made it happen BECAUSE he knew we wouldn't be worthy, and wouldn't be able to get back to him. And because he loves us so much, and doesn't want us to be "stuck" outside of his presence. April has since come to see herself as daughter of God who He thinks is important enough to love and bless.

    Anyway, I loved this book because it's not one child's creative imagination of what heaven is like. It's his actual afterlife experience. I also think it's so fascinating how a 4 year old boy witnessed so many things that directly correspond with Bible teachings. Several verses are even included in the book throughout the story

  3. I suppose the underlying issue there, though, is that some people will be in God's presence in most dogmas, and some will not (full universal salvation was always a nice thought, but not what I grew up with). There is a grading of behvaious in the judgement day idea, you know? So, if one receives celestial glory, and someone else receives telestial glory, how can you ever really resolve yourself to an idea of the justice of that? If you didn't deserve what you got, how can you profess to accept that someone else deserved the far less that they got? Not to start a theological debate or anything, just commiserating with your nine year old :). Thanks for the honest response.

  4. As a Christian, this book has changed my life and strengthened my faith. It will definitely give you a lot to consider and you may rethink your attitude on the role and importance of prayer, among other things. Very interesting read!