In searching for a new Christmas story for K4 through beginning readers, I was deeply impressed when I discovered Eileen Berry’s Benjamin’s Sling. Initially, I saw it as a fresh, beautifully, simple children’s Christmas story. But as I read further, I unearthed abundantly satisfying answers to some of life’s most complex and timeless questions. Perhaps like me, you may be surprised that Benjamin’s Sling appeals to everyone from grandparents to preschoolers.
The story opens with a sleepless night. An orphaned shepherd boy wrestles with the comforts that he sees around him but that have been denied him personally. The twinkling lights of Bethlehem just before it slumbers stir his envy of those with a normal family life as he looks down on the town from the pastures he calls home. Fear and loneliness run deep for this child—the sad results of trauma and loss—and the author brings them vividly forward in the pastoral musings of the boy’s heart.
Jumpy and trigger-happy when it comes to using his sling, Benjamin has joined the ranks of the hyper-aware at a young age. Modern readers easily identify with the questions and doubts that swirl in his head concerning God’s sovereignty and whether His good will toward men is real. “Why didn’t God—who is able—prevent his father’s untimely death? What dangers yet await him, as a vulnerable lad?” An older shepherd—Caleb, who is Benjamin’s close and kind guardian—doesn’t have all the answers to the boy’s questions. But, as is characteristic of the wise guide, he points Benjamin to the One who does. Fully aware that there are places only experience, maturity, and divine grace can take Benjamin, Caleb reminds him of his father’s strong love and of God’s protection of that most famous shepherd—David. But words are not enough to bring Benjamin to peace with his past.
Only seeing the Savior can quiet the shepherd boy’s trembling heart—and it all begins with some very loud voices on the hillside.
You, your children, and your grandchildren will thrill again when you read of these simple shepherds meeting with the King of Kings. You will rejoice at the transforming power experienced by the humble few, chosen to experience that first Christmas. In this rich, poetic setting of Eileen Berry’s enthralling account, I found the perfect Christmas gift. I cannot recommend highly enough this classic story that will bless your family year after year.
View the opening pages of Benjamin’s Sling at bjupresshomeschool.com. Discussion questions are also available on the product page.