The repeated lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us that human beings need each other. “Human beings are wired to connect,” says Michael Platt, Ph.D., a biological anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.
“This social behavior is a critical part of our adaptive toolkit. It allows us to come together and do things that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.”1 Conversely, social isolation can lead to loneliness, anxiety, depression, and even poor cardiovascular health and cognitive function.
“Children are not immune to such issues: “The proportion of children’s emergency room visits related to mental health . . . increased significantly during the pandemic,” reports Emma Goldberg for the New York Times.2
The Bible repeatedly proclaims the value of friendship and how vital it is to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thess. 5:11 NIV). In her picture book The Best Trophy (Redemption Press), Jennifer Noel Wilson demonstrates how friendship can help children learn to put others ahead of their own self-centered interests to benefit others, while encouraging sportsmanship, and teamwork.
In this new release, Liam learns this on the day of the big trail race. He sets out, flying over sticks, pebbles, and leaves to the front of the pack. But just when the finish line and the trophy are in sight, an accident on the trail challenges Liam to choose what he values most.
“I wanted to combine my passion and knowledge of running and children’s ministry to write a great story that will appeal to kids and encourage them to be there for each other,” says Wilson. As an athlete, Wilson longs for children to learn “how to be a Christ-like friend and to understand that reaching out to help a friend is more important than trophies, ribbons, sports, or anything materialistic.”
Whether competitive or not, young children will thrill to the excitement of the race in this engaging portrayal of kids growing in their Christian faith by learning victory doesn’t always mean bringing home the trophy.