Friday, October 19, 2018

Iowa Presentation: Book #3

This simple but profound book was a favorite at my 2 CEF conference presentations in Iowa! Here's my original post with some additional scripture connections: 

This brand-new picture book is about empowering positive responses to the anger and hatred we see in media. It will prompt meaningful faith-based conversations with children and adults about how together our small actions will make a difference. This story ends with an invitation to you!
Picture Book: Come with Me
Author: Holly M. McGhee
Illustrator: Pascal Lemaitree
Summary: A little girl is fearful while watching the stream of news. The anger and hatred that she sees - "people against people"- is troubling.
She asks her papa how she could help. His response? "Come with me." They go to the subway. 
While there, the girl notices her father tips his hat to everyone he meets so she does the same. 
As they ride the subway, they are willing to risk kindness and connection. 
These small acts help them overcome their fears and connect them to each other and the people in the world. 
The news of violence and hate doesn't end. 
The girl turns to her mama next, asking how to make the world better. 
Her mama says, "Come with me." This time the journey is to their local grocery store where they see the bounty and diversity of our world. 
The little girl realizes that a person she has seen on the screen doesn't tell her about one person or one family or one race or one people. 
Once home, the ritual of setting the table and eating a meal are grounding to her as is the company of her parents and her dog.
She becomes inspired and more confident! She asks if she can walk her dog so she can do something on her own to make the world better. 
Her parents consider this. It's risky, but they decide to let her go, another sort of message to the world - a refusal to live in fear. 
Just as the little girl exits, a neighbor asks where she is going. 
She decides two people are better than one. Like her parents, she offers an invitation, "Come with me." 
He does come and together they discover that it's good to be outside. 
They see the world is not so bad. All living things deserve their bravery, gentleness, strength, and kindness.  
They see simple ways they can respond with goodness 
and learn that even small gestures matter to the world. 
Everyone's small contributions matter too. They can even come together for more goodness.
To end the young hero speaks to the reader, "Your part matters, too. Come with me."
Hanna’s Comments: This timely story proclaims that hiding in fear and homogeneity is not going to make our divided world better. It's a clarion call to action for children that will be heard by adults who will be reminded that children watch what they do and mimic their approaches to the world. I love that these small acts are doable - goodness in simple and hopeful ways. It's reassuring to consider how simple gestures matter too. The author & illustrator offer a dedication explaining that this book was written "in honor of friendship, bravery, and the fact that we aren't powerless, no matter how small and insignificant we may feel." The scripture connections are so many! 
Original Publisher & Date: Putnam’s, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Diversity in Creation (Genesis 1:20-25); Learn to do good; seek justice; correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless; plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:17); We are the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:8); The grounding of rituals (Matthew 7:24-25); Jesus says, "Come follow me." (Matthew 4:19); Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32); Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:9); Extend hospitality to strangers (Romans 12:13b); Diversity in The Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:15-19); Who is wise and understanding among you? By your good conduct show works in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to begin a conversation with your faith family about responses to anger, hatred, and violence in our world. This book would be especially great for parenting class or a small group of parents.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Iowa Presentation: Book #2

Here's a re-posting featuring the 2nd book I offered at the CEF conference last week. In this post, I featured 2 books. The first is the secular book that I talked about in Iowa. Here's the post...

At present I’m writing a children’s curriculum for my church that connects to The Revised Common Lectionary. This week one of those scriptures is a portion of the story of Jonah. Jonah’s story is one of my favorites in the Bible so I thought I’d feature a couple of beautiful books, one secular and one sacred, that could be used in a lesson about Jonah. Enjoy!
Picture Book: The Boy and the Whale
Author & Illustrator: Mordecai Gerstein
Summary: In this powerful story, a boy and his father discover that a whale is caught in one of their nets. 
The father is concerned about his net which he cannot afford to replace; the boy is focused on the whale. 
They dive into the sea, assuming the whale is dead, 
and the boy remembers being caught in a net as a younger child. 
Then a surprise 
 and a rush for air!
Papa leaves, hoping to beg a relative for another net. Although the boy is forbidden to do so, he drives the boat out to the whale because he remembers how terrified he was to be caught in a net and how he needed his father to rescue him.
As the net is cut, the boy hopes the whale will wiggle to freedom, realizing how dangerous the situation is. 
He talks to the whale and apologizes for the net, explaining that fishing is "how we live." 
Looking again in the whale's enormous eyes, the boy begs the whale not to die. 
 The nets begin slipping away 
so the boy pulls the nets into the boat. 
Suddenly, the whale dives. As the boy stands, hoping to see the whale one last time... 
it springs out the sea, spinning and crashing again and again. The boy wonders if it is a dance of freedom or a dance of gratitude. 
When the boy returns to shore he realizes his father has been watching. After the boy admits to disobeying his father, his father simply says that what he did was foolish but brave. Then they go to repair an uncle's net.
Hanna’s Comments: One of the amazing aspects of Picture Book Theology is how children will be able to connect two very different stories. They've been taught to do this at school and may be more skilled at this than adults. The Jonah story could be presented via a children's Bible reading (it's a whole chapter in the Bible), another picture book like the one below, or by simply telling the story. Encourage them to find similarities and differences between these stories. They'll leave the lesson with a better understanding of Jonah in the Bible, and they'll have another great story in their experience. 
Original Publisher & Date: Roaring Brook Press, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: The Book of Jonah; Courage/God with us (Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:13, 2 Timothy 1:7); Breath (Psalm 150:6, John 20:22); Defiance as a sacred practice (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 2:23-28); Justice for the Captive (Luke 4:18, John 8:32, Galatians 5:1,13)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of adults and ask them to consider how defiance can be a spiritual practice and how Jesus models such action for us in the gospels. 

Picture Book: Jonah’s Whale
Author: Eileen Spinelli
Illustrator: Giuliano Ferri
Summary: This is the traditional story of Jonah told beautifully through the point of view of the whale. It begins simply: "God made Whale. God gave Whale a home in the blue-deep waters of the sea."
It focuses on the job God gave Whale and Whale's faithful response. But first, the whale is lonely so God gives Whale a family. Whale is hungry so God gives Whale "silvery sea-clouds of fish." 
God also gives Whale a "joyful song to sing" 
and the ability to move so that Whale can disrupt fishermen's lunches. 
And God gave Whale beauty.  
One evening a storm comes, and Whale spies a boat that is about to be torn apart by the waves. 
Whale hears a man confessing to his shipmates, saying that he is the reason for the storm. 
When the man jumps into the sea, God tells Whale to save the man so Whale does so in the way only Whale can. 
The man lands inside Whale, who burps and thinks, "Now what?" 
The first day, Whale does only gentle swimming for the sake of the man while the man prays in Whale's belly. Whale waits for God's instruction.
The second day, Whale becomes queezy and worries he might throw up. No instruction comes.   
By the third day, Whale becomes discouraged and knows the man must be discouraged too. Whale begins singing the song God has given him, hoping it will lighten the heart of the man. 
Eventually, "a whisper in the music" comes. God tells Whale to spit the man onto dry land. Whale does just that and then swims out to sea. 
Whale never forgets the man. Whenever he sees other boats in distress, he stays close and waits for requests from God. The man never forgets Whale either. Later, he walks beside the ocean and listens for Whale's comforting song.  
Hanna’s Comments: I hope you can see why I chose this book for my preschool lesson. It is beautiful and poignant. There are many picture books about Jonah ranging from board books for toddlers to this more complex tale. Choose wisely with the age and attention spans of your audience in mind. Also, notice where the story ends. In my opinion, the last part of Jonah's tale, the part where he is sitting outside of Nineveh feeling sorry for himself, is important. However, you'll see it left out of most picture books about Jonah. 
Original Publisher & Date: Erdman’s, 2012
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book about Jonah to a group of elementary children and challenge them to consider how they are like Whale and like Jonah.

Yesterday I received a gift from a reader. I was so grateful! It reminded me that it's been a while since I mentioned my PayPal Donate button in the upper right of this website. I do this work for you for free. I love it, but it takes a lot of investment of my time, energy, and money. Please consider showing me your gratitude with a donation so that I am encouraged to keep telling you about great picture books for your family, ministry, or classroom. Thanks! Hanna