Slugs and Snails and Puppy Dogs’ Tails is a brilliant book, trying to readdress the balance of what it means for boys to be able to connect with God. The chapters are peppered with real examples of how Edwards has seen it working and seen how God can work powerfully in the lives of boys.
In a society where we are constantly having a discussion about the lack of men in the church, and the femininity of what we do as part of worship, this book steps in and makes us look at where it all begins.
It is a tough book to read, and it’s not the kind of book you can get through in a week – and indeed you shouldn’t, as you will miss out on the wisdom tried and tested by research. It does still have the feel of reading a research paper, but this is no bad thing, and in fact I found it very helpful. My suggested way of reading is to read a chapter, try out some of the ideas suggested, and then read some more. You are invited in to experience the research alongside the author.
As a youth and children’s pastor some of the knowledge that is shared and the advice that is given is like gold dust. My groups tend to be very boy heavy and yet the needs aren’t always addressed. However, after trying even just a couple of ideas from the book, the boys are more talkative and more open about expressing their feelings about God and themselves.
Edwards is careful to ensure that she is not misunderstood and good practice guidelines are given with regards to some of the activities, but, this does not stop her in making us aware that children long to feel as though they belong and are accepted – through play, through interaction and through touch. Edwards is very good at making you realise again what you know to be true… she’s just putting her finger on it and pointing it out.
Along the way Edwards asks you questions, making sure that you are engaging with the book rather than just being a passive passenger. At no point does she leave you floundering for the answer, but neither are her answers off hand. You are encouraged to think yourself into the role, to experience this stuff for yourself and see it happen.
This book is a must read for children’s workers, youth pastors, parents with boys, well really anyone in church. I have already begun to recommend it as a must read for those on our teams. Helping children connect with God is not just the responsibility of the parents or the Sunday school teacher, but for the whole church.
Vicky Piggott-Genge is Youth and Children’s Pastor for The Beacon Church, Poole