Call me ignorant, but I wouldn’t have turned to France in search of contemporary Christian literature for kids. Nevertheless, I recently discovered two great books of Psalms rendered for children that both have roots in France.
Sing a New Song (Eerdmans, 1997) is a collection of single lines from the psalms, paraphrased, combined, and illustrated by Bijou Le Tord. The book reads like a single psalm, even though the phrases have been selected from various psalms and recombined. Le Tord was born and raised on the French Riviera; she now lives in Sag Harbor New York.
Psalms for Young Children (Eerdmans 2008) is a translation of Les Psaumes pour les tout-petits (Bayard Editions Jeunesse 2003). The themes, ideas, and images from selected psalms have been distilled into language accessible to children by Marie-Helene Delval and illustrated by Arno. Unfortunately, Eerdmans does not identify a translator (unless it was Delval herself ).
Some might object to the liberties taken with the text of these two books, but I think they are a great way to introduce children to the concrete imagery, themes, and language of the psalms. The original psalms might connect with some children, but most, I suspect, have trouble identifying with the language and focusing their attention through an entire psalm. In contrast, after we had read Psalms for Young Children once through (in a number of sittings), my five-year-old started making requests like, “Read the one with the mother hen with her chicks,” or “Read the one that says you always forgives me when I do wrong things.'” It even inspired her, eventually, to write her own “psalm.”
We’ve also enjoyed a third book in a similar vein: Regolo Ricci’s illustrated version of the twenty-third Psalm, The Lord is My Shepherd (Tundra Books, 2007). My daughter and I both loved the rich illustrations of nature and farm life in bold hues, set into intricate borders. The text is based on the King James Version of the Bible. Ricci, as his name suggests, is Italian born, raised in Italy.