Monday, May 9, 2016

PBT Blog Series: Theological Statements for Young Children #12

Illustration from The Incredible Peepers of Penelope Budd by Marie Karns
Today’s post wraps up this PBT series highlighting secular books that teachers, parents, or grandparents can use to have a short conversation about their faith with toddlers or preschoolers.

The last statement of 12 is God wants to be worshiped. Note that worship here is a broad term for any activity that sincerely calls God to mind. Anytime we bring God to mind, I believe it is worship, no matter where we are.  Also, worship doesn’t need to last a long time. A moment of thanksgiving, a shout of praise, or a quick cry for help is worthy of the label worship. God is pleased whenever we turn our thoughts to that which is Holy.
 The first book I offer is a delightful rendition of the song Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. It’s in board book form so it will survive the treatment of little hands. 
There’s just one line per double page spread so sing it slowly with the help of your children. The lyrics are just the first verse so you and your children will likely have no trouble singing along.
What I’m simply suggesting is that after you read this book, talk about how looking at the stars and thinking about God’s beautiful universe is a way of worshiping God. Teach your children the word “wonder.” Then use this word over the next days and weeks as you and your children wonder about aspects of God’s glorious creation.
Picture Book: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Author & Illustrator: Caroline Jayne Church
Original Publisher & Date: Cartwheel Books, 2014
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, toddler and up
Formats other than Book: None at present

This next book is brand new and such a treasure! Listen to Our World is simple but rich. It begins with a several children in an apartment building being awakened and encouraged to “hear the sounds of our world. Listen! Listen! Listen!”
Then with each double page spread you are introduced to a particular habitat that is named.You view a particular animal or family of animals making a particular sound. Here’s an example:
Most species here are exotic. All the art is gorgeous and inviting.
On the last page, we are back at the apartment with the human animals where one Mommy says, “All is well in our world.”
There is some reference material for each of the species on the last few pages. With this book, you can have a combination science and faith conversation! God’s creativity are all over these pages!
Picture Book: Listen to Our World
Author: Bill Martin, Jr. & Michael Sampson
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Original Publisher & Date: Simon & Schuster, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet

The book I feature next is similar in that it encourages listening. 
Instead of taking us to places all over the world, it shows us a young girl who enjoys listening to the simple aspects of her life:
Waves crashing,
“the wind playing with” her kite,
her heart beating when she runs,
her breath when she’s still.
At night she listens for “what the stars tell”.
In the morning she listens for “what the birds say.”
This book would be so easy to tie to Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God. For on the last page you have:
Be still.
How many things can you hear?
Interestingly, this book is published by the American Psychological Association (APA). Certainly, the APA is learning the psychological benefits of mindfulness and meditation for children and adults. These practices, developed in the Eastern world, have much in common with prayer and worship.
You might notice the unusual word in the author & illustrator slot below. The authors are a group of artists and designers who share a studio in Barcelona, Spain.
Picture Book: Silence
Authors & Illustrators: Lemniscates
Original Publisher & Date: Magination Press, 2012
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Update: This author also has several other beautifully simple books about holy ideas. Worshipping God via these 3 gifts of nature (seeds, trees, and birds for which there are memorable scriptural connections) would be as easy as lying under a tree among its seeds, listening to the birds, and feeling very grateful!

The last book I’m offering to wrap up this PBT series about 12 theological statements for young children begins in this way:
“This is a boy whose head is filled with wonder.”
On his way to school, we are shown several aspects of the world that he wonders about such as “where birds are flying to” or “who makes the clouds” or “what the best playground in the world might be like.” What great questions!
A few adults warn him to be more attentive, but he’s not deterred. As the book progresses, his wonderings are represented by colorful possibilities that are in direct contrast with this little fellow’s bland world.
When given a blank piece of paper in art class, he is encouraged to use his imagination. Boy does he! He is able, in vivid ways, to bring possibilities to the page. Have your audience notice that the masterpieces correspond to his earlier questions.
When his art teacher says that the students must share their art, he walks to the front of the room with much trepidation. The teacher affirms his incredible imagination. He takes his art home to his parents, and then the timeline jumps years to a large and crowded exhibit space where his large sculpture, The Wonder, is being revealed.
When you offer this book to little ones, don’t just talk about the life of a traditional artist. I believe that all of us have the potential to be some kind of artist. It might involve offering beauty with a paintbrush or a solution with a machine, setting up a classroom or a worship space, using our bodies to serve or our ideas to motivate, changing others with a touch or a kind word. The possibilities are endless. Thanks be to God!
Within each of us is that “image of God” that encourages us to create. When we create and then offer that creation for the betterment of the world or simply in gratitude, it is a kind of worship to God.
Picture Book: The Wonder
Author & Illustrator: Faye Hanson
Original Publisher & Date: Templar, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present

Other PBT books that connect and links to posts:
Give Me Grace - 2/26/16               
Anna Hibiscus’ Song - 8/26/14
If You’re Happy and You Know It - 1/17/15              
The Quiet Book - 6/30/14              
The Incredible Peepers of Penelope Budd - 2/7/15             
This is the Day - 5/2/16
This Little Light of Mine- 4/27/14

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