Friday, March 23, 2018

Favorite PBT Posts: The 1st Crayon Book!

Crayons are something special for adults! Like picture books, they tap into feelings of nostalgia or a simpler time. A big box of 64 is a metaphor for the breadth of creativity and possibility that I wish I hadn't left behind in childhood. 
Image result for crayons
The author/illustrator duo, whose books are featured below and on Monday, offer a new (and clever) way to think about crayons. This is one of my favorite PBT posts and very timely given the Times Up Movement! The book's sequel will be re-posted next time. Enjoy!
Picture Book: The Day the Crayons Quit
Author: Drew Daywalt
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers 
Summary: When Duncan pulls out his crayons at school, he finds a stack of letters instead. 
Each crayon has written him a letter of complaint. Here are a few of the hilarious examples: 
The red crayon is working too hard, not even getting off for Christmas!
The white crayon is used mainly on white paper so it feels misused and empty. 
The black crayon is only used to draw the outline of things. It’s not fair! The pink crayon hasn’t been used once! You can guess why. 
After all the letters are read, Duncan turns in a new piece of art that is very different from his usual productions. The result is unique and praised by the teacher. Clearly the crayons have been heard and change is the result.
Hanna’s Comments: Immediately, I saw 2 ways this clever book can be connected to scripture. I'm sure there are others. My first reaction was to focus on the tone of these letters. The Psalms are full of complaints, called lamentations. Doing a lesson on this kind of prayer can be very eye-opening for children and adults. Secondly, I thought about the biblical prophets and the phrase “speaking truth to power.” Sometimes the right words, to the right people can bring forth positive change with regards to injustice, neglect, or inefficient systems. That’s what happens in this book and that's what drives positive change, like justice movements. Justice is one of the priorities of most religions in the world. Keep in mind that there is a lot of text in this book. I suggest reading a few crayons' letters per sitting if your children are easily distracted. You could do a whole series of lessons or a week of arts camp with the ideas in this book and its sequel. It’s about a new group of crayons that Duncan abandoned. They want him to rescue them. Sounds pretty biblical too! It’s called The Day the Crayons Came Home. Comment added later: Since the great popularity of this series, there are several products that you can purchase. This one really peaked my interest. 
Original Publisher & Date: Philomel, 2013
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Available in Spanish: Yes
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: I pour out my complaint before God, I tell my trouble before God (Psalm 142:2) – search on Google “psalms of complaint" for more options; What does the Lord require of you but to do justice… (Micah 6:8); other scriptures or biblical stories about speaking truth to power
Idea(s) for Application: Read this fun book to a group of children, teens, or adults in a lesson on psalms of complaint or speaking truth to power when doing justice. 

Monday, March 19, 2018


Picture Book: What Will Grow?
Author: Jennifer Ward
Illustrator: Susie Ghahremani
Summary: It's almost spring here in Alabama so it's time for folks to plant seeds.
This gorgeous book introduces young children to the idea that seeds are varied and determine what will grow. In the back you'll find lots of information about common seeds 
and the 4 stages from seed to plant.
The title question is asked and answered after each seed is described in a fun rhyming couplet. 
Sometimes the seed is described, the question asked and then ...
you are treated to an extra, fold-out page.  
Big plants for climbing are here. 
The origins of common flowers are considered. 
And an uncommon flower is featured  
with a surprising fold-out treat! 
But this book is not just about the plants we expect to enjoy in spring and summer. 
Some we harvest in autumn
and some we celebrate in winter. 
Here's another gorgeous surprise. 
You'll find animal interactions which you can expand on with more science, helping children understand the God-ordained interactions of plants and animals. 
The parts of a plant are mentioned 
as well as the different directions of growth. 
The wrap-up shows the busyness of the underground 
and the results of all that work and time. 
Hanna’s Comments: Because the Bible was written in an agrarian culture and a simpler time, seeds are used repeatedly as literary illustrations of godly potential. Their symbolism is straightforward and relateable to young and old. Each seed has the godly wisdom to grow in its own way just as we have God's image in us to bless the world. Although we are each a unique seed with varied potential, our genetics tie us to other humans, particular animals, and the plants we depend on.   
The first book in Ward & Ghahremani's series is What Will Hatch?  Likewise, in that book the author/illustrator duo transform a set of simple scientific ideas about eggs into beauty we can then use for spiritual metaphors. The beautiful pages in both books (my photos don't do them justice) are thick for little hands to turn. 
Original Publisher & Date: Bloomsbury, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Scriptures about the image of God in us, seed parables, and our connections with plants and other animals
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book during a lesson for young children in your faith family and link to scriptures in which seeds symbolically represent potential.

Friday, March 16, 2018

PBT Question #5 to Ask about Any Secular Book

Does this book have the potential to positively affect the behavior or future of those who experience it? 

Good teachers teach to improve the quality of audience members' lives. With this last question, PBT encourages you to consider the future of your listeners' understanding of God, their places in a family of faith, or their relationships with The Holy.

PBT is all about connecting the content in picture books to scripture and/or spiritual truths so that spiritual growth can be more personally meaningful. Longer lasting learning occurs when theological ideas are connected to realistic situations or meaningful concepts. What affects you connects with you!

Asking yourself how a picture book will positively affect your listeners is a worthy consideration that gives focus to your planning and teaching.   

As a nationally certified school psychologist, I’m passionate about improving social and emotional skills; those include spiritual skills. Modern psychological research is finding that social and emotional learning (SEL) and its affects on behavior is crucial for success in all relationships as well as in academic learning. For more on this critical link, check out CASEL has identified 5 Interrelated Sets of COGNITIVE, AFFECTIVE, AND BEHAVIORAL COMPETENCIES: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making.
With this last PBT question, I’m offering an example book, Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg (see my PBT re-post where I offer it as a Grab & Go book [here]). It's a story of a careless boy and his discovery of an array of environmental concerns. Connecting this story to God’s desire that we have respectful and intelligent guardianship of Earth’s inhabitants and resources might inspire listeners to evaluate their relationship with the Earth. They could find connections between their behavior and the Earth’s health and see this as a God-ordained relationship. Additionally, this book addresses all 5 of CASELs competencies listed above. 

Here are a couple of amazing illustrations from Van Allsburg. First, I show a scene from Walter’s bad dream. 
Here is a “post-dream” scene in which Walter plants a tree for his birthday:
This book is one of many possibilities. Think of an important SEL skill, find it or a related word in the large list of search words at the bottom of this screen (on the web version), and see the vast potential PBT has for your ministry and/or your family. May your own SEL learning be enhanced as you teach, Hanna