Monday, August 22, 2016

Secrets and God’s Presence

Picture Book: Can I Tell You a Secret?
Author: Anna Kang
Illustrator: Christopher Weyant
Summary: The hook with this book is that you, the reader, and your audience are Monty’s friend to whom he is confessing his secret.
This little frog can’t swim; he’s afraid of the water! 
He acknowledges that a frog should be able to swim, but since he was a tadpole he has been finding ways to avoid the water. 
Thanks to his new friends (you and your audience), Monty decides that he must confess this to his parents. 
After a few tries, he tells them the news. Like the good parents they are, they already know and decide it’s time he overcomes his fear and learn to swim. 
He invites his new friends (you and your audience) to come with him as he tries. 
He has limited success, but he’s thrilled with his progress and thankful you came along. 
You get the sense that Monty’s going to be a swimmer after all.
Hanna’s Comments: Here’s an idea for a simple but very meaningful lesson for your children at home or the children of your faith family. Read the scripture below. Talk about how the Israelites had been in the wilderness where they had struggled with the idea of God being with them wherever they went. It took a long time for some of them to believe this.
Next, begin the book by explaining that Monty is addressing your listeners. Then read this fun book straight through with no commentary. Lastly, read the book again but direct the children to imagine that Monty is talking to God. 
The story will be transformed and the conversation you facilitate as you read will be rich and full of possibilities for understanding how God can be a comfort and companion in times of fear. That's the power of Picture Book Theology!
Original Publisher & Date: Harper Collins, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9); Do not fear for I will be with you… (Isaiah 41:10)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a child who is struggling with any new or difficult situation and encourage him or her to remember God’s presence and unconditional love. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

For Wind-Wild Tweens & Teens

Picture Book: Wind-Wild Dog
Author: Barbara Joosse
Illustrator: Kate Kiesler 
Summary: This is the story of Ziva, a future sled dog, born with a brown eye and a blue, making potential buyers wary. They believed this would make her half-wild. 
One man does purchase and train her for mushing. 
Told from the point of view of Ziva, the desire to run wild is ever present, particularly when she sees the Man running and hears in the wind the call of a wolf. 
The Man suspects Ziva’s inclinations. At the first opportunity, Ziva does run for freedom.
When she encounters a wolf, it smells wild like the wind, but Ziva also smells on herself the smell of the Man. 
She knows the Man’s smell is her smell now and misses the Man so she returns. 
The Man has tears of relief in his eyes once Ziva returns. He hoped the wind-wild dog he loved so much would stay with him. 
A helpful Author’s Note in the back serves as a glossary of unusual words.
Hanna’s Comments:  Now and then I read a book that connects directly to a Bible story. Do you see the connections between Ziva and the Prodigal Son? Your children will. They are used to finding connections across literature in school. One of the benefits of PBT is that secular books often offer a window into a world in which readers know little or nothing. Few of your children will know the world of dog sledding and particularly how the dogs are trained. 
Children will like this book for that reason. When you add a faith component to this reading experience, the learning becomes more meaningful. Be sure to link the concept of running wild to the scripture as well as to modern contexts. If your children are tweens or older, they are likely already facing temptations involving the “wild” possibilities of adulthood. Learning how to handle their freedom, like Ziva, is an important aspect of faith development. 
Use this opportunity to offer wisdom and direction grounded in their faith. Like the father in the parable and the Man in the picture book, emphasize the freedom God gives us and the availability of God’s mercy no matter what they might do in their futures. Returning is always an option. 
Original Publisher & Date: Henry Holt & Co., 2006
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or teens who are studying about Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son and God’s ever-present mercy.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Jesus as Miracle Man

Picture Book: Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus
Author & Illustrator: John Hendrix 
Summary: This author/illustrator is known for his use of unusual fonts incorporated into his creative illustrations. Here he offers a unique perspective on 7 of Jesus miracles and 4 of the last crucial events in Jesus’ story. Children will love this book! 

The featured miracles:
Calling Disciples & a Miraculous Catch of Fish
The Healing of the Leper
The Healing of the Paralytic
Jesus Calms the Storm
The Healing of the Blind Man
The Feeding of the 5000
Jesus Walks on Water

The featured last events:
The Last Supper
The Betrayal of Christ
The Crucifixion
The Resurrection of Christ
Hanna’s Comments: I’m not inclined to feature books about Jesus on my PBT blog, not because I don’t think they are important. I do! Instead I choose to focus on secular books you might not suspect would be great resources for ministry and God books that are difficult to find. Jesus books (and picture books about other Bible stories) have obvious potential and are easy to find in a search engine. 

This book, however, is exceptional and brand new so I wanted to make sure you knew about it. There is so much here that you might want to read it aloud in portions so that you and your children can dive into the questions and theology of each miracle. Share with your children what you thought about these miracles when you were a child and then tell them what you think now. Be sure to read the Author’s Note in the back before reading to your children and give children access to these fabulous illustrations while reading.
Original Publisher & Date: Abrams Books, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet, Audio CD
Scripture Connections: The scripture connections for these stories are listed on the last page of the book.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book over a series of lessons or family readings and talk about the implications of Jesus’ many miracles.