The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 26, 2013

Beckley author releases children's devotional book

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

A local author recently released a new children’s book, “Come Inside: 31 Days of Devotions.”

Judith Harrah, a retired elementary school teacher with 28 years of experience, explained she strives to create books that incorporate devotions into the text in a way kids can understand.

This book, released in November, is actually a companion book to “Come Inside the Ark,” which is aimed toward a younger audience.

Harrah said she had read many books that all told the story of Noah and the Ark, but all of them were basically the same.

“I wrote this one in rhyme, to be different, and to show more to children about what the Bible does not tell us.”

She said more than 21 animals are featured in the book and children can see how each animal’s special qualities were put to use on the Ark.

For example, the pelican with its large beak gathered water to give everyone a drink before bedtime. The kangaroo used its pouch to deliver tools for Noah. The owl, who is nocturnal, watch-ed over everyone at night.

Harrah said the beautiful illustrations and vibrant colors aid the story.

“It’s a great tool for parents to use to show their children that like the animals, you are special in God’s eyes as well. He will use your unique talents in church, school and at your job. There is something special about all of us.”

“31 Days of Devotions” is for a slightly older age group, Harrah said. In addition to her 28 years of teaching, Harrah was also a Sunday school teacher.

She decided to focus these books on animals, because if you can find something kids are interested in, she said they will find more joy in it.

The book addresses topics like overcoming obstacles and forgiving others.

After much research, she took all her newly found animal facts and found ways to parallel spiritual applications.

For example, she said pigs do not have sweat glands, so if they become overheated, they will get sick. They have to find ways to cool down, such as wallowing in mud. She asks, “Do we wallow in the word of God? Are we cool with God?”

She uses other interesting facts — for example, a giraffe has a heart that is 2 feet wide because blood has to be pumped to all of its extremities, and giraffes can sometimes be as tall as 21 feet — to tie into spiritual contexts.

“I want children to know and understand the word of God — that’s my passion and my goal. I want them to be able to understand God’s character and be able to live out the word.”

She said as a teacher, she knew exactly which library books sat dusty on the shelves and which ones kids would wait in line to read, so she believes she has created books that will really resonate with them.

In addition to showing kids the word of God, she hopes parents can use her books as tools with their children.

These days, Harrah said there are many diversions and dangers out there because of technology, but her books give parents an opportunity to connect with their children and teach them.

She’s already in the process of writing another book, “Games Children Play and the Life Lessons They Teach.”

The upcoming book will look at the history of all sorts of games and apply a spiritual application.

Just like the “ball-in-a-cup” game, with more practice, the better you get, and Harrah said the same is true about being a Christian.

She anticipates this book will be released in May or June.

Harrah lived for a time in Santa Cruz, Calif., where she wrote textbooks for Beacon Enterprises. She has conducted national reading workshops and has an album of educational songs for elementary children.

She is locally famous for composing the Mountain State University alma mater and designing the official government flag of Raleigh County. She continues to reside in Beckley, where she is actively involved in children’s ministries and spends her time writing Bible curriculum, children’s books and music.

Her books are available at the Christian Bookstore in Beckley beside Tudor’s Biscuit World, and also at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

— E-mail: wholdren@