Thursday, September 16, 2021

Godly Silence for Everyone

 


Picture Book: Shhh… God is in the Silence:                                                                     A Story for All Ages

Author: Fiona Basile

Illustrator: Alice Mount

Summary: This is a book of shushes and questions. Every page begins "Shhh... God is in the silence. Can you here him?" 


What follows is a series of statements declaring this ideas repeatedly:
God speaks to your heart, saying...
I love you.
You are precious.
There is no one else like you.
I created you.
You are mine.
I am with you always.
Next, it declares that God lives in your heart, and adds to the reassurances above: You are safe so rest little one.
Hanna’s Comments: This beautiful book gets to the heart of what children and families need today: silence and a sense of God's presence. The subtitle declares this is a story (book) for all ages, and surely it is! 

If you prefer to avoid masculine language for God, simply change the text. Sticky notes are helpful for this. 

This book has its own website. Click: here to check it out. You can order the book, while finding activities and instructions on teaching children how to pray. These methods could easily be adapted for adults or teens. I especially liked this: Personal Noise Survey

Original Publisher & Date: Loyola  Press, 2016

Age Appropriateness: 3 and up

Formats other than Book: None at present, but there is a bilingual (Spanish & English) edition of the book.

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about silence, such as Psalm 46:10 (mentioned below) and Elijah's experience of God in the silence (1 Kings 19), connects strongly to this book.

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I listed this book in my Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum for a summer lesson in Year C (theme: Be Still) based on Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.

PBT Applications: This book would be perfect to read to a group of parents of young children. You might want to leave out the "little one" endearment. Then have them brainstorm ways to be in relative silence with their children while modeling mindful experiences of God's presence. For young children, you may want to read only a few pages and show all the images. With each illustration, encourage their responses about God in those images. For teens, you may want to simply read the text since the images are of young children, but the questions are intriguing for any age.

If you are interested in learning about Trinity Treasures, a scripture-based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at hannaschock@bellsouth.net. Right now, free lessons are emailed if you fill out the monthly feedback form.


Friday, September 10, 2021

A Treasure from a Tender Warrior

Picture Book: When I Hold You

Author: Ashley Huffstutler

Illustrator: Airin O’Callaghan

Summary: This treasure of a book is authored by a young mother who, with tenderness and faith, is battling cancer. She has written it for her young children. It would be a wonderful resource for someone ministering to young children or their families. Here is the article which inspired my purchase: on-line article

This book’s structure is quite unique. Each double page spread has a beautiful image of a mother and young child. There are 2 pieces of text: 

One is the author’s description of a moment of faithful mothering. The other is a scripture in a different font floating above or below.

Unfortunately, the scriptures are hard to see. I especially appreciate the illustrator's use of diverse images of mothers and children and how natural settings give rich context.

Hanna’s Comments: I once heard in an interview, beloved priest Richard Rohr  list 3 crucial ideas to explain Jesus to children.

    1. You are not alone.

    2. There is someone protecting you.

    3. There is someone you can call upon.


I believe these same 3 ideas would apply to the other 2 members of The Trinity.

Upon reading this book, I decided to give it to a much-beloved young mother. She and her husband are progressive Christians who will appreciate the absence of limited interpretations of the scriptures. But this book would be a treasure for any Christian family. 


If your church gives gifts to young parents when a child is born or welcomed into a congregation, this book would be an excellent choice. Another excellent choice, if your church practices infant baptism, is this other PBT book: Welcome, Child of God

Original Publisher & Date: B & H Kids, 2021

Age Appropriateness: Infant & up

Formats other than Book: None at present

Scripture Connections: Look for these 12 scriptures:

Job 33:4        Philippians 4:5    Psalm 73:28    Psalm 63:3

John 1:16        Psalm 4:8            Psalm 56:8        Psalm 95:1

Psalm 147:4    Psalm 91:4        John 8:12        Isaiah 41:13

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I listed this book in my Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum for a summer lesson during Year B (Psalm 34:1-8.) The theme for that lesson is God Hears Cries. It could be read in a nursery or preschool to convey God's comfort and unconditional love, like the love shown by these mothers.

PBT Applications: I would not read this book to children beyond age 3. However, the images and scriptures can be very inspiring for ministry to older groups. Pick a scripture, consider how it applies to your audience, and plan from there. God’s presence offers motherly comfort to all of us, no matter our age!

If you are interested in learning about Trinity Treasures, a scripture-based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at hannaschock@bellsouth.net. Right now, free lessons are emailed if you fill out the monthly feedback form.

Monday, September 6, 2021

from the late Rachel Held Evans

 


Want more about this beloved writer? See the previous PBT post, including website link.

Picture Book: What is God Like?

Author: Rachel Held Evans & Matthew Paul Turner

Illustrator: Ying Hui Tan

Forward: Daniel Jonce Evans (Evan’s husband who gives context to her beginning this book & explains the couple’s relationship to Turner.)

Summary: This daring book begins with an acknowledgement that the title is a very big question. It explains that no one has seen “all of God,” but “we can know what God is like.” At the book’s end, it says all people have been asking the title question throughout time. The reader is encouraged to keep wondering and learning. It ends profoundly and assuredly: 

But whenever you aren’t sure what God is like, think about what makes you feel safe, what makes you feel brave, and what makes you feel loved. That’s what God is like.

Hanna’s Comments:  The bulk of these pages are similes (what God is like) and metaphors (“God is…” statements). The illustrations of young children shouldn't limit the age of your audience. For an older or mixed-age audience, such as a whole congregation, simply read the text without showing the book. Besides the compelling and rich text, I especially appreciate the beauty & diversity of Tan's images.

Original Publisher & Date: Convergent, 2021

Age Appropriateness: Preschool & up

Formats other than Book: None at present

Scripture Connections: Scripture ties will be driven by the specific images for God you choose to explore. Many tie directly to familiar scriptures. Here are just a few of the 14 images I found: God is like… an eagle, a fort, a rainbow, the stars, a mother, a father, a candle flame, an artist, a shepherd...


PBT Applications: There is a lot of text here. Read it entirely if to a group older than preschool age. This will easily start a faith conversation. For preschoolers, a few select pages will do. If you want to dig into some specifics, pass out several books and have small groups choose which images and words they respond to most.