Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Accepting Different Natures

Illustration from Virgil and Owen by Paulette Bogan
As a nationally certified school psychologist, I’m often asked about how to deal with children’s behavior. Sometimes the underlying question is about a child’s temperament. Can it be changed?
Illustration from Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
Certainly there are practices that do affect children’s behavior. Thank goodness! But I believe that when it comes to a child’s inclinations, there are patterns from that start that are unlikely to change.
Illustration from Virgil and Owen Stick Together by Paulette Bogan
I remember learning years ago that children’s temperaments are largely settled at birth. I can’t back-up this statement with academic references or research, but my many and varied experiences with children, especially the two I gave birth to, confirm this statement.
Illustration from Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
My children are alike in many ways but on opposite ends of some spectrums. I could have predicted these differences very early in their lives. Accepting who they are has been a delight at times, a struggle at other times, and a spiritual practice always. Why do I say that?
Illustration from Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
When I’m delighting in their selfhood, I’m grateful to God and accepting of their differences. When I’m frustrated with the ways they are different from me (silly on my part and a waste of time!), I’m trying to practice self-control and patience (two entries in Paul’s list of Fruits of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23)
Illustration from Virgil and Owen by Paulette Bogan
I believe that it behooves us to recognize that we are all born precious children of God, beloved in our uniqueness and likely to live out particular patterns (strengths and struggles) all our lives. Sure it’s good to adapt and refine, but the struggles (and strengths) are often a theme throughout our lives.
Illustration from Virgil and Owen Stick Together by Paulette Bogan
The books I’ve selected for this post celebrate the different natures of two characters. Connect these books with the verse in Genesis about us all being created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) or with Bible stories or history that involve very different characters (Jacob & Esau, Martha & Mary, Barnabas & Paul, etc.).
Illustration from Virgil and Owen Stick Together by Paulette Bogan
If you are struggling with division in your family of faith, one of these books might be great for a group of adults to experience. Adults, sadly, are too often the ones who most need to hear the messages of these books and the scriptures you will connect to them.
Illustration from Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
The first picture book offering is about two owl siblings in Paris. The older owl tries to teach the younger to “hoo” appropriately. The learning doesn’t go as expected. 
Illustration from Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
The younger owl sings with all sorts of sounds because the Parisian night, particularly the cathedrals, are so gorgeous. Eventually the younger teaches the older to respond to the beauty that surrounds them. 
Illustration from Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think of the various ways we worship God and how that issue is sometimes quite divisive. 
Picture Book: Hoot and Peep
Author & Illustrator: Lita Judge
Original Publisher & Date: Dial Books, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet

The next two books are part of a series about a couple of very different animals. In the first book, Virgil, a penguin, finds Owen, a polar bear, and claims him as his personal property.  
Illustration from Virgil and Owen by Paulette Bogan
When Owen acts independently, Virgil becomes very upset. Eventually Owen, who is fun-loving and easygoing, responds with a firm, “No!” His limit has been reached. Virgil realizes his mistake and becomes more accepting and a friend rather than an owner.
Picture Book: Virgil and Owen
Author & Illustrator: Paulette Bogan
Original Publisher & Date: Bloomsbury, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet

The second book in this series emphasizes Virgil and Owen’s different natures. The two are on a trip to school. Owen gets sidetracked, and Virgil hurries Owen repeatedly. 
Illustration from Virgil and Owen Stick Together by Paulette Bogan
As in the first book, Owen reaches the limit to his patience and lets out a big roar, sending Virgil toppling into the snow. Apologies follow and the relationship is restored.
Illustration from Virgil and Owen Stick Together by Paulette Bogan
Besides the scripture connections listed above, both of these books would be great to read to a small group of parents or a group of adults who work with young children.
Picture Book: Virgil and Owen Stick Together
Author & Illustrator: Paulette Bogan
Original Publisher & Date: Bloomsbury, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet