Helen Flynn has written a simple yet profound book for children. It is titled The Glory of God and it is lovingly illustrated by Louisa Kwan Shabani (who also created the art in Robbie’s Special Calling). The book is a compilation of some of the titles of Baha’u’llah and it is hoped that it will assist children to meditate and reflect on His Station and Personage.
Here’s what Helen kindly shared with us about The Glory of God:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Helen. I’m a mom of three, a sister to two older brothers, a wife to my one and only, a daughter to my Ugandan mom and Irish dad as well as a friend and soul sister to many. I developed my passion for education during my year of service at the Iringa Baha’i School in Tanzania and later completed my Bachelor in Early Childhood Development. While I worked as a kindergarten teacher for a decade, I currently train and support aspiring teachers at university level. My creative outlet is writing (big surprise there!). I find joy in nature, being inspired by a good picture story book, listening to audio books during my walks, a good conversation around any kitchen table and hanging out with my crew – a.k.a my kids.
Can you tell us a little bit about The Glory of God?
The Glory of God is a compilation of titles given to or chosen by Baha’u’llah Himself. The purpose behind this compilation was to provide children with a more engaging means to not only access but to reflect on some of the Writings of Baha’u’llah. Picture story books are targeted at a younger audience, some of which can’t yet read or have just started to. The illustrations therefore play an important part as they work in harmony with the text. While children can read the book themselves or simply look at the pictures and gain a great deal from just that, this age strongly benefits from adult engagement. Their role is then to engage children in conversations and listen to what children pick up on themselves, extend and build up on it. This compilation has twelve titles of Baha’u’llah for children to reflect about, accompanied by beautiful illustrations by the gifted artist Louisa Shabani (@lou_illustrates).
What inspired you to put this book together? What does it include?
As my passion is in education, I like to think and learn about how to support children in learning about the world. Writing Baha’i inspired literature for children merges my passion for education and my love for the Faith; it is considering children who live in an adult world and thinking of ways on how to make it more accessible to them. Anyone who has truly engaged with children would know that their capacity to grasp even the most profound concept is immense and that downplaying them is doing a disservice. My intention in writing for children is therefore to create resources in and around the Baha’i Faith that considers their age and stage of development and therefore speaks more easily to their tender heart and mind.
This particular compilation came to life when I was reading the Writings of Baha’u’llah. My mind began to wonder and I started to think about how I could support children in studying the Writings. The answer seemed almost too simple. The heart of children, and everyone in fact, is attracted to beauty and the Writings are full of beautiful imagery. I started compiling a list of titles of Baha’u’llah, then I called Louisa and we started the journey.
What was something you learned in the process of compiling this book?
As I went down the path of self-publishing, it is the process – the ‘behind the scenes’ of creating a book that is the most humbling aspect. Needless to say that there is no picture story book without the words or the illustrations, but there is more that needs to harmonize and be set in motion to create the end product. Thinking back, I still get quite emotional. I had first approached Louisa back in 2019 and we had a first print in 2020. While I wanted the book to be finished, it was obvious that it simply wasn’t. I couldn’t help but feel that every time I took a step forward, a number of setbacks followed and I didn’t or couldn’t think about writing or publishing for a long time. Of course I can now look at it differently. Good old hindsight. I now appreciate that the book hadn’t reached its highest state yet, because I hadn’t learnt everything I needed to, practically and spiritually, to ensure that the final product is one that is worthy for children to enjoy. It took some time to understand and accept that truth and to begin the hard work of working on myself. During some time with family in Uganda, a confirming feeling that I was ready overcame me. I returned with fresh eyes and took one step at a time with calm determination, breathed through my anxiety, prayed, and approached every aspect systematically and with a posture of learning. Word on the street is that this is a proven approach and that growth is the only outcome, no matter how small. It’s true. What did I learn? That good things take time and that anything that is meant to be, will come to pass.
Who is its audience? What do you hope your readers will take away with them long after they’ve finished reading?
The Glory of God is particularly suited for children 3 to 8 years. However, we know that reading to children from birth has many neurological benefits, creates beautiful bonding moments but most importantly, who doesn’t enjoy snuggling up with their little ones to read a good book, no matter the age?! Children over the age of 8 could use it as a point of reference and be inspired to do further research or express their reflections through beautiful artwork. My biggest hope is that this book will support families to have elevated conversations about Baha’u’llah and that they start to see aspects of His glory wherever they go.
Are you working on more books?
Yes! There are more books to come and I am so excited that I have been able to put processes in place to start sharing them. Louisa and I are currently finalizing the second book called When the Smoke Cleared. It is one of my favourites stories, which will come out as a hardcover picture story book written in verse. It tells the moving and inspiring story of the Martyrdom of the Bab. It is very special.
At this point I’m humbled to share that just under a hundred copies of The Glory of God have been shipped across Australia, but also to Uganda, Germany and the States!
There are a little over 50 copies left of this print run, with more prints dependent on me being able to gauge the interest of friends. So please follow @fresh_breeze_creations to keep up to date with upcoming projects, get insight into this ongoing learning journey and/or to simply show your support. I would also love to connect with illustrators to collaborate on bringing more stories to life. These books really are a collective endeavor and the hope is to contribute to getting more Baha’i inspired literature for children out there. It truly is a great privilege to be able to serve in such a capacity and to contribute to children’s ever growing understanding about the Faith.
You can order your copy of The Glory of God at www.freshbreezecreations.com
Many thanks, Helen, for sharing this with us!
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she’s driving at night.