Monday, July 4, 2016

The Beatitudes: A Newer Context

Picture Book: The Beatitudes:                                                                                     From Slavery to Civil Rights
Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator: Tim Ladwig
Summary: This book begins with a paragraph explaining that much of the African American people’s struggle for freedom has been founded on biblical values and emboldened in a belief in God’s presence and desire for justice. 
The text then begins, “I am the Lord your God.” What follows are key moments and figures in chronological African-American history, some very specific and some more general, along with declarations of God’s presence with them. For instance:
I was with Harriet Tubman when she fled slavery.
As she led others out of bondage,
I was the star guiding them north.
Jesus’ words known as the Beatitudes are a running border at the bottom of each page and on the end papers, offering a newer context for these familiar sayings than in Jesus' time.  The book ends with a promise from God to be with “your offspring, standing on the side of justice.”
Hanna’s Comments: Today is Independence Day here in The States so this book seems particularly appropriate. The illustrations are marvelous. When reading this book to a group of children or adults, be sure to point out my 2 favorite illustrations. 
One has MLK’s image in the reflecting pool on the DC mall as 2 young girls (1 white, 1 black) hug with joy. My other favorite is on the title page. There you find a collection of key figures gathered together apparently in prayer. After reading the entire book, go back to this picture and have children identify the characters that they can, such as a slave, a soldier, Ruby Bridges, Marian Anderson, and others. 
Don’t let the fact that your church has no African-American members keep you from sharing this incredible book that declares God’s presence in crucial times in history.
Original Publisher & Date: Eerdmans, 2010
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 8 and up, 3rd and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: The Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:3-12)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book when teaching a group of tweens, teens, or adults in your faith family about the Beatitudes.