We’re all familiar with the scenario: a family attending church and the little ones get restless, naturally enough. A few parishes stock pews with Christian activity books and children’s picture Bibles or have some available as families walk in. After receiving repeated requests for toddler resources about the Armenian Church, the Diocesan Christian Education department responded with a delightful book for our youngest worshippers: When I Go To Church.
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Chris Zakian
Tel: (212) 686-0710; Fax: (212) 779-3558
October 18, 2013
NEW BOOK FOR TODDLERS RELEASED: “WHEN I GO TO CHURCH”
We’re all familiar with the scenario: a family attending church and the little ones get restless, naturally enough. A few parishes stock pews with Christian activity books and children’s picture Bibles or have some available as families walk in. After receiving repeated requests for toddler resources about the Armenian Church, the Diocesan Christian Education department responded with a delightful book for our youngest worshippers: When I Go To Church. Sized for children’s small hands at 5″ X 5″, the book is also made of thick coated cardboard to withstand the curiosity and energy of a toddler. Its 15 pages feature simple bilingual text lines describing what children experience in church—praying, lighting candles, singing, receiving Holy Communion, and more. Best of all, children will be entranced by the illustrations of Anush Movsesian Avejic whose winning renderings are certain to charm toddlers into reading again and again.
This is Anush’s first project for the Diocese. She grew up in California inspired by her family’s love for the Armenian Church; she attended church as a child, sang in the choir and held various executive offices in the ACYO. Later she joined the Diocesan Camp committee, organizing and running Armenian church-centered programs for the children of the Diocese. She taught at the St. Gregory Hovsepian School, helping it to achieve full accreditation. Currently, she is a member of the St. Peter Armenian Church and Youth Ministries Center in Glendale, where she is one of the directors of the “In His Shoes” mission (launched by her brother, Fr. Vazken Movsesian), providing outreach to the local community and working on projects of global responsibility for the Armenian Church.
Anush received her degree in Graphic Design/Illustration and her first love is illustrating children’s books (specializing in pen & ink, watercolor and colored pencil media). Her pleasure in creating beautiful things was the impulse behind her own line of jewelry— Pomegranate & Eye—which (obviously enough) often features the Armenian pomegranate motif.
Anush was very excited about illustrating When I Go To Church from the beginning: “I really feel very passionate about our spiritual journey and love our church, viewing it as not only beautiful and sacred, but ALIVE! As a child, I would sit between my two grandmothers—both Genocide survivors—while my parents sang in choir and my brothers served on the altar. I loved the fact that our church is interactive, and this is what I wanted to convey to the children. We worship actively— crossing ourselves, kneeling, bowing, sharing the good news with others that Christ is among us! I grew up in the church, singing in the choir as a teenager, getting married and raising a family there, and then serving within my church with its various outreaches to the needy of our community. The appeal of this project—and I hope it’s apparent in my illustrations—was to be able to share the love of our Armenian Church and its richness with families everywhere.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge of the project was the attention to detail and the need for accuracy. In the Armenian liturgy the priest and deacons are clothed a certain way, and church altars and buildings have a very distinctive look; people are crossing themselves and receiving Communion in a prescribed manner. “There is reason and meaning behind everything that is done in our Badarak—the way the censor is held, how the priest holds the hand cross—all of these things had to be taken into consideration and fine-tuned by a clergyman before the illustrations were done.” Finalizing the pencil drawing was the hardest part—each one took quite a few sketches and roughs before it was considered finished. As challenging as it was though, it was truly a labor of love and a joy to watch the drawings grow to the final stage of laying down the color.
Regardless of her contribution, Anush is delighted that such a book is being published. “Children need to feel connected to their church family. When parents bring their children to church, they begin to understand that there is something greater than themselves. Setting aside time for weekly worship at church becomes the norm, and children grow up with a sense of belonging to God and His family. But kids do need some attention-getters and what a great resource this will be as toddlers turn the pages and see, on their own level of understanding, what it means to worship.”
Ideal for placing in the pews, or for Sunday School and Armenian School, it is, as well, a perfect gift for baptisms, name days, birthdays, and Christmas. When I Go To Church is available from the Diocese’s St. Vartan Bookstore ($10.00).
Photo 1: The cover of When I Go To Church.
Photo 2: Illustrator Anush Movsesian Avejic.