After writing several books for adults through the years, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black will debut with a book for children, A Prayer for Our Country: Words to Unite and Inspire Hope.
The book is scheduled to be published by Zonderkidz on June 7, 2022. Illustrated by artist Kim Holt, the picture book for young readers celebrates the things that make the United States of America “an amazing place,” the publisher said.
“I believe one of the greatest blessings of my life was learning to pray,” Black said in a statement to Adventist Review. “My mother and church members taught me by precepts and example how to make my spiritual whispering heard in heaven. My new book is an attempt to help this generation of children learn to harness prayer power as well.”
According to a report by Publishers Weekly, the idea for the book started with Katherine Jacobs, senior acquisitions editor at Zonderkidz, after she came across a prayer that Black delivered during a session of both Congress and the Senate after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“He remembered those who had died, asked for guidance through the dysfunction threatening our democracy, and called people to look for the common humanity in one another,” Jacobs told Publishers Weekly.
According to the same report, Jacobs connected with Black about the book idea and discovered his “huge heart for speaking to children.” She added, “We immediately had a shared vision for this title. [And so,] A Prayer for Our Country was born.”
Black began serving as chaplain to the Senate in 2003, after almost three decades in the U.S. Navy. Among his books is his autobiography, From the Hood to the Hill (Thomas Nelson, 2006), which tells his story of growing up to become the first military chaplain, the first Seventh-day Adventist, and the first African American to hold the office of chaplain to the U.S. Senate.
The publisher is advertising the book as a volume that leads children in thanking God for the United States, “while also exploring the ways we can model God’s love to support our country’s citizens, heal hurts that divide us, and look to a stronger, united future.” It adds, “Senate Chaplain Barry Black believes words matter, and that healing and unity are possible in [the United States] if we see the image of God in others. In this prayer for children based on wisdom from his almost two decades of daily praying over the U.S. Senate, Black offers needed and inspiring text to help the next generation grow stronger in faith.”
The book uses kid-friendly language to show children how prayer can be part of their everyday lives, explores ways children can live out their faith, and presents a positive message about kindness and respect, according to the publisher’s release note. “A Prayer for Our Country is perfect for helping kids better understand and respond to the events happening in [the United States] today, teaching children how to pray, and reading aloud in classrooms, story time, and families,” it said.