Monday, July 18, 2016

Microphones, Bullies, & Stinky Feet

The following 3 books are a series. Each is rich with potential conversations about what it means to be meek and yet self-determining, manipulated and then powerful, anxious and yet willing to trust joy. Through these 3 books, you’ll see Willow evolve in ways that are worth examining. It is likely that the children in your faith family are like Willow at times, struggling with the demands of school and their own uncertainty. Adults could learn a thing or two from Willow’s tenderness, courage, and determination.  
Picture Book: Willow’s Whispers
Author: Lana Button
Illustrator: Tania Howells
Summary: In this introduction to Willow, we learn that she is very soft-spoken.
This causes some problems in her classroom because she is not able to communicate her desires. Eventually, she cleverly creates a microphone that helps. 
When the mike is accidentally crushed, she realizes her strength to speak so that she can be heard.
Hanna’s Comments: The reasons for Willow’s soft voice are not told to us here. Instead, we get a glimpse of what it’s like to be unheard and even unseen.
This situation can be applied to all sorts of individuals and groups, in school situations and in adult situations such as in the office, in faith contexts, or in situations of disenfranchisement. Think broadly and personally while getting to know Willow. Consider how your children’s faith might inform their responses to personal limitations and others who are left out.
Original Publisher & Date: Kid’s Can Press, 2010
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections:  Put on then… compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Colossians 3:12); Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:4)
Idea(s) for Application: Let Willow teach the children in your faith family all about striving beyond personal limitations with determination and God’s creative problem-solving.

Picture Book: Willow Finds a Way
Author: Lana Button
Illustrator: Tania Howells
Summary: In the 2nd book, Willow and her classmates struggle with a class bully. We glimpse Kristabelle in book 1. Here she comes to class with a party invitation list and threatens to mark off the name of anyone who doesn’t follow her demands. 
Eventually, Willow is the one who courageously marks her own name off of the list. Other classmates follow. Kristabelle is hurt and isolated until Willow goes to the back of the line to “stand with Kristabelle” who then apologizes. 
Kristabelle tears up the invitation list saying, “My party will be fantastic… if all of my friends will come… please.” 
Hanna’s Comments: This book is about hospitality and courage, 2 important subjects for children to explore with their faith families. The world is hurting right now because of bullies sowing division and good people on the sidelines feeling powerless to speak up in ways that are civil, courageous, and kind. Point out that Willow also stands with Kristabelle, when she is hurting, and that makes all the difference. 
Ground all of this behavior in the context of biblical principles so that your kids will feel more empowered to make a positive difference in their classrooms and their world. Teach your children well and perhaps their parents will learn from them.
Original Publisher & Date: Kid’s Can Press, 2013
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections:  The righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1); God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7)
Idea(s) for Application: Let Willow teach the children in your faith family how to stand up to bullies and then be compassionate towards their hurting.

Picture Book: Willow’s Smile
Author: Lana Button
Illustrator: Tania Howells
Summary: In book 3 Willow is anxious about picture day. Again, the reason is not given, but her anxiety is very real. 
Her teacher handles this beautifully by asking the photographer to allow Willow to be his assistant. As photos of her friends are taken amidst the shouts of the silly names such an occasion calls for, Willow is encouraged to help each friend smile. 
When it’s her turn, Willow doesn’t smile until her friends give her many reasons, including a shout of “Hey, Mrs. Tickle Toes!” At the group photo, Willow joins all her friends in saying “Stinky Feet!” with a smile.
Hanna’s Comments: My favorite point in this story is when Willow, without hesitation, gives a ribbon to her friend who forgot it was picture day. 
This is such a simple gesture, but it speaks volumes to Willow’s character and lack of vanity. Children need examples like this. Spend some time on just this little Willow moment, connecting it with scripture and your faith family’s values.   
Original Publisher & Date: Kid’s Can Press, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections:  The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, anything worthy of praise, think about these things… and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9); Count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds (James 1:2)
Idea(s) for Application: Let Willow teach the children in your faith family how to let their community help when they are struggling with anxiety.