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

Monday, March 12, 2018

Beauty, Gratitude, and Worship

Picture Book: For the Beauty of the Earth
Author: Folliot S. Pierpoint
Illustrator: Lucy Fleming
Summary & Hanna’s Comments: Hopefully you know this hymn which was written in 1864 and is still sung across worship communities and settings. 
I was thrilled to see it become a picture book! We requested that it be sung when each of our children was baptized so it has extraordinary meaning in our family. 
The most famous hymn from this English hymnist, its lyrics are a bountiful celebration of a spectrum of God’s great gifts. The illustrator offers rich imagery of the lyrics. 
Initially, I love this hymn (and admire this book) for its affirmation of God's glory in nature. 

It also emphasizes the gift of love that surrounds us upon our birth and raises us in family.

This hymn acknowledges community in all that is Holy 
and the opportunity for worship in the glory of nature.   

Here you have diversity, in nature and people, honored as one of God's greatest patterns. 
A variety of human activities are shown. Each of them honoring our Creator God. But as you might expect from the title, the focus of this book is on the spectacle of God's glory outdoors. 
This is a picture book about worship, not just praise but contemplation, gratitude, and connection to everything that is Holy.  
In one of the later verses, you're given traditional images of  The Church universal who is "offering a pure sacrifice of love."  
If only this was always so and if only the illustrator had chosen to show Church in non-traditional ways, apart from a building. 
This gorgeous book ends with a fervent hope for peace.
The score is in the back so that you can sing it together as you enjoy the illustrations. The text is rich enough to feature in a series of ministry experiences and family readings. This would allow your audience to become comfortable with the text and their singing. 
Original Publisher & Date: Sparkhouse Family, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Scriptures about gratitude, Earth’s beauty, and God’s glory would all connect to this picture book.
Idea(s) for Application: One of many applications of this book in ministry is to use it in a lesson that introduces an exploration of why and how we worship God.

Friday, March 9, 2018

PBT Redux #21 Waiting for Spring & Easter

Today I post again about a picture book that is perfect for children just before spring and during the season of Lent, the liturgical season before Easter. 
Picture Book: Waiting for Wings
Author & Illustrator: Lois Ehlert
Summary: In clever verse, bold shapes, and interesting paper cuts, Lois Ehlert depicts the entire life cycle of 4 different kinds of butterflies. Beginning as tiny eggs hidden among the leaves of plants, these 4 creatures change form into caterpillars, build their cocoons, and become butterflies ready to lay eggs. This book may look simple (and sideways) from the cover, but the amount of information you'll find here is amazing! 
Hanna’s Comments: This picture book offers scientific concepts in an appealing context. Find in the back identifying tips for the 4 butterflies and the many flowers that star in this book, general butterfly information, and instructions on planting a butterfly garden. The butterfly has often been used as a metaphor for spiritual transformation. Even young children can begin to see the connections between changes over time in humans and how butterflies evolve. Because they are growing so rapidly and learning new skills, the idea of transformation is not foreign to young children. Also, the symbol of the cocoon and transformation to new life as a butterfly are natural metaphors for Lent (the 40 days before Easter). This book can help you explain to even the youngest children the symbolic darkness and ritual sacrifices of the Lenten season.
Publisher & Date of Publication: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 2001
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Audio, In the video collection: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type and More Amusing Animal Tales.
Scripture Connections: In general, this book connects to any Bible character for which there is great transformation such as Joseph (in Genesis), disciples such as Matthew (in the Gospels), the woman at the well (in John), Saul/Paul (in Acts), and Jesus (in the Easter story). The way in which a caterpillar cocoons and then becomes a butterfly also connects metaphorically to the seasons of Lent and Easter.
Idea(s) for Application: Use the book above and the author’s partner book about a rainbow of plants [here] to celebrate God’s creative diversity by connecting the butterflies and plants to various people in your faith community. With permission, talk about transformations that person has experienced. Then have the children color or draw that butterfly/plant and present their depiction to the person.