Truth & Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Girls is a new devotional for girls ages 9-11 by Ann-Margaret Hovsepian. When I saw this, I was intrigued. I’ve blogged a little bit about looking for good resources for raising girls as mine enter the pre-teen years, and that includes books for them to read on their own. I’ve also been impressed with the need to get our morning routine back on track and to give my kids the tools and training to create good bible study habits. I’m not the only one, either. I’ve read and heard other moms express the same desires. So when the opportunity to read and review this book came through my inbox I was, as I said, intrigued and very interested.
At first glance the Truth & Dare devotional is colorful and inviting, and I’m not the only one who thought so. Eleven-year-old Princess grabbed it up with bright eyes as she asked, “Is this for ME??” The cover and the description on the back compel you to open the book and read further. Inside, the pages (though black and white) are decorated with a doodled pencil look–fun and tween girly. Each devotion is divided into sections: a verse to look up, a summary thought, a paragraph to read and think about, a “dare” – a follow-up live-it-out-in-real-life challenge, and a place to journal your thoughts. You can see the inside preview on the Amazon website.
Princess has been reading Truth & Dare for several weeks now. She’s trying to develop a daily habit and even though she often forgets she’s self-initiating her devotion time when she does remember. She looks forward to it. On the occasion that she’s shared what she has learned and showed me what she journaled, I’ve been surprised and impressed with what she has written. It gives me an insight into the heart of my otherwise introverted little girl who finds it hard to share what she’s thinking and feeling.
Overall we’ve been fairly pleased with the book so far, but before I share my final thoughts I thought I’d share what Princess had to say about it. Princess’ final assessment: “I like it.”
~ That it gives things to do after each devotion.
~ That the devotions are “labeled” by the days of the week at the top. She says “It helps me keep track.”
~ That the lessons are short.
~ That it’s only in black and white on the inside and not color also. I think she got her hopes up by the colorful cover.
As you can see, Princess likes Truth & Dare despite the lack of color illustration on the inside. Her desire to grow as a person and Christian and her hopes for letting this book help her do that are evident by how she turned to me one day and asked, “Have I been a better person since I’ve started using this devotion book?”
For me, it’s become clear that I have high expectations for Christian literature, and that I have special issues with devotion books of most types. As a general rule, I have a dislike for teaching that operates on a one-verse method. “Here’s a verse, here’s something we can learn from it, let’s discuss that, and then pray a specific prayer about that.” Granted, every verse has truth and wisdom to be gained by studying it. On the other hand, perhaps we can learn more from a verse when we study it in context, when we read the whole paragraph or the whole chapter. Perhaps by doing that we can make sure that we keep the intent of the verse true. Maybe the message of a verse can be further proven and strengthened when we study other passages with the same recurring message. Perhaps there is value in learning to study the bible in this way. Obviously I’m using words like “maybe” and “perhaps” to encourage thought and discussion and it’s obvious that I feel definitively that “yes, these are good things.” I tend to find devotions like the above (verse, paragraph, prayer) usually lacking, sometimes superficial, often wrapped up in emotional or material matters and less-than-desirably pointed at Jesus and God,…. in other words, “low calorie.” It’s not that there’s no nutritional value to them, it’s that devotion books can still leave me hungry. Maybe devotionals give little nibbles on purpose, and I just need to read meatier books. Having said that, I wanted to approach this book objectively so I kept this in perspective as I flipped through and read the pages. I came to a few conclusions:
1.) This book is aimed at young girls, girls who are probably new or young in their faith, and they need small bites. And this book does that.
2.) The book is aimed at giving practical advice for living out their faith. The author wants to challenge girls to think about how they will live for God in the midst of various daily situations. This book does that.
3.) The author wants to enable young girls to develop a daily habit of meeting with God and thinking about living for Him throughout the day. The author does (of course, the rest is up to the girl.)
So, yes, this is one of “those” devotionals with one verse, a paragraph, a thought for the day. But all in all, it’s not so bad. It does, after all, take it a step farther with a daily challenge and there are valuable nuggets of wisdom for relating to family, friends and others and sharing/living your faith for all to see. My assessment: “I like it pretty well. I love that my daughter likes it wants to use it. But a devotional alone is obviously not enough and I want to encourage her to read her bible daily as well. It is, after all, THE source of truth and wisdom.”
~ age appropriate
~ well written
~ habit setting
~ The verse to read isn’t typed on the page, just the reference. I presume this is so the girls have to look it up. But since the whole devotion is centered around the one verse, it would be nice if it was on the page.
~ I would have been even happier with the book if the girls were asked to read the whole passage and then focus on the one verse, obviously, and if there were passages listed for further reading.
On the whole, I think this will be a good book for my daughter to read. I think it’s helpful for her when she reads lessons from other women instructing them to treat her siblings, friends, parents, etc, the same way that I’ve been teaching her to treat her siblings, friends, parents, etc. It reinforces the fact that I’m not making it up or asking too much of her. It will hopefully encourage her as we try to develop a better daily morning habit. And it will hopefully encourage her in her walk as she navigates the ever perplexing road that is the pre-teen years. As her mother, I’m encouraged already by what I’ve seen of her desire to study and learn and grow in God. Over this past year we’ve worked on simply establishing a morning routine that includes individual bible study — which we fluxed in an out of throughout the year. My goal for the new upcoming year is to keep striving toward a regular morning routine but also to deepen our study in the word, together. This devotional is going to be Princess’ devotional for most of the year and I look forward to seeing the future discussions and growth that come out of it.
Author: Ann-Margret Hovsepian
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
**Special thanks to Audra Jennings at The B&B Media Group for sending me a copy to review.