Friday, November 4, 2016

Faith Based Resilience

Picture Book: The Hugging Tree:                                                                     A Story about Resilience
Author: Jill Neimark
Illustrator: Nicole Wong
Summary: This book is a poetic story about The Lone Cypress, a world-famous tree and tourist attraction in California. 

But it is much more than that. The author offers a rich consideration of this tree being a symbol of resilience. 
She begins with an entire page that does my work for me. 
She explains the concept of resilience and connects this book to The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. You’ll find my post about that classic [here]
Because the tree is personified in the story, there is struggle and relationship. 
As you would expect, the tree grows, suffers through bad weather, 
clings to the its rock, offers beauty, creates a home for others, and endures despite its circumstances.
You’ll also find in the back a very thorough and helpful Note to Parents and Caregivers written by Dr. Elizabeth McCallum. Note that there is another picture book by this name.
Hanna’s Comments: As a school psychologist, I have been fascinated by the research on resilience. In my work, I have not only connected the research to children but to adults and even congregations. Don’t limit your use of this book to children or teachers. Having faith based programming about what makes a child, adult, or congregation more resilient can have long-lasting results and encourage the good outcomes that resilience offers. There is much overlap with the resilience research and faithful ideas. For instance, in this book you see a community quickly surrounding and helping the tree. There’s the rock, the moon, birds, and a boy. 
These characters make strong connections with the tree. 
Having empathy and making meaningful connections are central to resilience just as they are central to a well-functioning family of faith. 
Be sure to show your audience an actual photo of The Lone Cypress which can be found easily on-line [here]. If you need more reasons to read this book to others, note that the publisher is The American Psychological Association. Here’s a warning: I found reading this book awkward. The poetry is tricky. You may choose to read it as a story rather than trying to figure out the meter and rhyme scheme. Either way, practice before you have an audience. The book is worth the effort!
Original Publisher & Date: Magination Press, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9); suffering produces endurance… (Romans 5:3-5); in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Romans 8:37); Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. (Ephesians 6:10); God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love… (2 Timothy 1:7); count it all joy (James 1:2-4)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book in a lesson about resilience to a faith based, adult small group that is concerned about their future together.