Skip to content

What I believe

Kids Talk About faith

I wear a necklace of Buddha, and I try to do like Buddha said -- be a good person, follow the rules of Buddhism, and walk the middle path. The middle path means walks in peace...
What I Believe: Kids Talk About Faith

Six students age twelve to thirteen candidly discuss their feelings about their religious beliefs. Janina, a Hindu; Min, a Buddhist; Carmel, a Jew; Alex, a Christian; Aly, a Muslim; and Kaila, a Native American, describe in their own words a little bit about themselves and their interests, their views on God and prayer, the ways in which they worship, and the impact that religion has on their daily lives.

The comments of these young people are surprising, touching, and insightful. They provide a fresh new perspective on faith and the richness and diversity of America’s religious life.

But a giant doesn’t give up so easily. Lickety-split he is at Jack’s doorstep, mad as a rained-on rooster. As soon as Jack can say “Uh-oh,” he hatches a plan to save his skin . . . but will he be a match for the giant?`

Oregon Book Award nominee

“Heartwarming . . . Unexpectedly fascinating”  -Kirkus

“Unpretentious . . . refreshing change from the books about kids whose lives are in constant disarray . . . an affirmation of faith that goes beyond any single faith”  -Booklist

“Individualized and accessible approach . . . an excellent jumping-off point for discussion of world religions”  -Publishers Weekly

“Conversational, personal, and interesting . . . reinforcing strongly the ecumenical value of learning about one another” -School Library Journal


In the Spring of 1995, a group of children in Corvallis, Oregon put together a list of questions asking adults about their religious beliefs. The questionnaire was nicely done, and the answers the adults gave were very interesting.

My wife and I, however, found ourselves more curious about how kids would respond to the same sort of questions, especially kids from different religious backgrounds. So we decided to put together a questionnaire of our own and do a little asking, too.

But, like most things in life, it wasn’t quite that simple. There are hundreds, if not thousands of religious traditions in the world, each with its own set of firmly held beliefs and rituals. (For example, in Christianity alone there are over two hundred active denominations, and that’s just within the United States.) We couldn’t possibly include a kid from each. How could we choose? Who should we ask?

After a lot of thought (and worry about who might feel left out), we finally narrowed the choices down to six general perspectives: Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Native American. Then we went looking for six kids who were willing to talk about what they, as individuals, believe.

Despite what some adults think of the youth of today — that they are only interested in video games, rock stars, TV, and when dinner will be ready — our job turned out to be quite easy. The world, it seems, is brimming with wonderful kids from all walks of life who are giving a great deal of thought to their spirituality.

What we present in WHAT I BELIEVE: KIDS TALK ABOUT FAITH are their words, full of eagerness, sincerity, and hope, like new leaves unfurling in the Spring.

I wear a necklace of Buddha, and I try to do like Buddha said — be a good person, follow the rules of Buddhism, and walk the middle path. The middle path means walks in peace, don’t talk to yourself too much. So, if I want to do something, I don’t work so hard that I never get any sleep. For example, if I studied like that every day, then I’d be too tired and wouldn’t do well on a test. I’d fail. If I go the middle way — not too much hard work, but not too much relaxing either — then I will probably get my training, and I will get an A.