Sunday, August 11, 2019

Who is My Neighbor, Mr. Rogers?

The first page of today’s book says,
Love your neighbor as yourself,
and love the stranger,
because you know what it was like to be a stranger.
Isn’t that true of us all? This book and the wisdom of Fred Rogers are featured here at PBT because we need their wisdom more than ever in our world. 
Picture Book: Who is My Neighbor?
Authors: Amy-Jill Levine & Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Illustrator: Denise Turu
Summary: These 2 authors, a rabbi and a religion professor, have a knack for putting a new spin on biblical parables. Here they offer a more innocent, less violent version of The Good Samaritan for preschoolers and young elementary kiddos. The story begins with the Blues, who live in a very blue culture and think they must be the coolest, especially when compared to...
the Yellows, in the neighboring town, who enjoy all things yellow. They are certain to be the hottest! Each group doesn't go near the others, claiming, "They are not our neighbors." For Blues there was no such thing as a good Yellow and visa versa. 
Things change when Midnight Blue has a bike accident. Neither Navy nor Powder Blue help when passing. Midnight thinks this is puzzling. Aren't they his neighbors? But when Lemon comes along, she helps Midnight, despite both feeling suspicious and afraid. She lifts Midnight onto her bike and takes him to her doctor. Midnight comments that Lemon is "a good Yellow, not like the others." Lemon explains that most Yellows are good. Midnight says the same of most Blues and shares his squished blueberries. Also, Midnight is surprised that Dr. Gold is so kind and good. After being bandaged, Midnight says thanks to Lemon and declares, "I would like to be your friend." Lemon agrees enthusiastically.  
When the new friends go home, they tell their stories to surprised audiences. Everyone wonders if Blues and Yellows could all be helpful friends, despite their many differences. "Maybe just maybe," hopes Midnight and Lemon. 
Hanna’s Comments: A new story from Flyaway Books is always a treat! Along with a few questions, find in the back of Flyaway’s books by these 2 authors a helpful Note for Parents and Educators where the important concept and tradition of parables is explained. Check out 2 more fabulous books by these authors [here] and [here.] 
Image result for fred rogers
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Fred Rogers and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Did you know he was an ordained minister? His positive messages of neighborliness and acceptance are crucial for children to hear and learn and everyone else to practice for the sake of our world. You might consider tapping into this gold mine in your church's family programming. Find out more about the popular 2018 documentary [here]. Also, Tom Hanks will be starring as Fred Rogers in an up-coming movie in theaters. Check out the trailer [here].     
Original Publisher & Date: Flyaway Books, 2019      
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: This book is a retelling of The Good Samaritan from The Gospel of Luke, chapter 10.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of young elementary-aged students who are studying The Shema or the parable of The Good Samaritan.

Friday, July 26, 2019

PBT God Book #14

Here’s another favorite God Book from PBT’s archives. Most books here are secular, but I include God books because they might be difficult to know about or find. These books are about the general nature of God or our relationship with God. I could have put this book in the PBT Grab & Go series because there is so much intriguing text. Little prep would be necessary for a great lesson; a discussion will naturally follow.
Picture Book: I Wanted to Know All about God
Author: Virginia L. Kroll
Illustrator: Debra Reid Jenkins
Summary: This picture book is designed to encourage children to be attentive to how God’s creation might inform them about God's nature. Various questions and environmental contexts are offered. The sentences have a somewhat repeated pattern: I wanted to know if God… then I …. Here are two examples: 
I wanted to know if God likes music, then I heard a pond on a summer night.
I wanted to know what colors God likes. Then I met several children of other races.
Hanna’s Comments: Two strengths of this book are the diversity of the children and the variety of experiences depicted in the illustrations. A book like this could be interrupted at each double page spread with conversation about whether your audience members have had similar questions or experiences. Help them see how their experiences might give hints to God’s nature. You could end your time together by writing some new pages to the book with the same pattern of words. Talk about what the illustrations might show or have the children create some illustrations if you have time. If you want to share this book with adults but aren't sure how they will respond to having a picture book read to them, simply transfer the text to your notes and read it. BUT do give the author credit at some point during your lesson by showing or explaining that the text came from a book. 
Publisher & Date of Publication: Eerdmans, 1994
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Elijah in the cave encountering God (1 Kings 19); The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23); Jesus’ "I am..." statements (John 6-15)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book before going on a nature walk with children. On the walk, invite them to reflect on how God's creation informs them of God’s nature.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Litttle + Little = Big

Picture Book: Little Elliot Big City
Author & Illustrator: Mike Curato
Summary: The city is big and scary, especially for an unusual little elephant named Elliot.  
But Elliot loves his city, even when his size and the crowds are not a good match, like when he is easily stepped on and pushed aside.
Many tasks are difficult, such as catching a cab. 
 But sometimes Elliot is very clever 
and solves problems on his own.   
Because of his size, Elliot especially enjoys small things, 
particularly cupcakes!
But he is too often overlooked at the bakery counter! NO CUPCAKES! 
Elliot's disappointment leads him to nearly miss an even smaller creature, a mouse, who also is having trouble getting food because of being small. 
Elliot listens to mouse's tale of hunger 
and quickly helps.  
A fast friendship is formed in which each of the little guys helps the other. 
In this way, the good things in life are more accessible and joyful, 
like cupcakes and so much more! 
Hanna’s Comments: This is the first of the Little Elliott series of books. Right now there are 3 others. All encourage deep connections and have illustrations that hearken back to the 1930's. In one story, Elliot finds a family in the big lonely city and in another, Mouse helps Elliot with his fears at an amusement park. The best part of these books is how easily an audience of children will relate. Like Elliot, they struggle with being too small or young or unable or not seen. If you have children in your group who have disabilities, consider their perspectives and levels of sensitivity. You might need to let them know of your plans and even ask them to share their perspective and experiences. And check out Jessica's Box, a beautiful PBT tale about a child in a wheelchair longing for new friends. Not being noticed is a spiritual issue. All humans (and apparently little elephants too!) are worthy of attention and love. God has desires for us to have encouraging friendships in which we build each other up and out for joy and service.  
Original Publisher & Date: Henry Holt, 2014
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: A scripture about someone small (i.e. Zacchaeus in Luke 19 or the boy who gave loaves & fishes in John 6);  Made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26); Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil… (Ecclesiastes 4:9); God has plans for our welfare, not evil, to give us a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11); where two or three are gathered... (Matthew 18:20); The Body of Christ (Romans 12:4-5); …you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:18); Encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11); Behold what manner of love God has given to us that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)
Idea(s) for Application: This book is perfect for talking about God's desire for strong, supportive, and encouraging connections within faith families, especially between those who are small or disadvantaged such as those with disabilities or the elderly.