Monday, May 29, 2017

Community as Tutorial for Peace

Picture Book: Peace is an Offering
Author: Annette LeBox
Illustrator: Stepanie Graegin 
Summary: These simple rhyming phrases explore the concept of peace via ordinary, loving gestures in a neighborhood setting, the place where young children would most understand peace. Generous acts like visiting and serving someone in need 
and enjoying God's gifts of nature with friends, instruct young children to notice how peace is abundant. 
This book explains in simple terms that gratitude and contemplation are important tools for peace, 
 as is affection 
 and being at table together.
This diverse community of children (and sometimes their parents) are shown engaging in thoughtful acts, 
companionship rituals, 
hospitality, 

 play,
and even strategic avoidance of violence.
 
You’ll find a reference to 9/11/01, but it is subtle and isn’t likely to be disturbing to young children.  
Hope and joy are interwoven in this text and the images are comforting.
 
Hanna’s Comments: These are fear-ridden times. Sometimes the loudest messages of fear come from faith families; young children often overhear these. Instead, I believe the place where children first worship and learn about God should be grounded in peace and love. We have many children riddled with anxiety. Their worship communities can address some of their fears and offer God's hope instead. The key to this heartwarming book are messages of abundance and calls to be sensitive to another’s needs while contemplating with gratitude the beauty of our world. Here be reminded that when loving acts occur, peace can be found. Opportunities for such acts are everywhere, especially in your neighborhood, but also with those you love most, like those in your faith family.
Original Publisher & Date: Dial, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Give and it will be given to you(Luke 6:38); I came that you may have abundant life (John 10:10); …so far as it depends on you, live peaceable with all (Romans 12:18); may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13); the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:12); every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of young children to explore what peace looks like in community, school, home, or your faith family. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

New PBT Series: Theme Lists - Picture Books about Memory Rituals

Here in The States, we’re headed toward Memorial Day on Monday so I thought I’d give you a demo showing how helpful the PBT search engine can be. 
You’ll find a large list of search words at the bottom of your screen if viewing PBT on a computer. If you’re on a phone, you must click on “view web version,” a choice found under the comments of a post or at the bottom of the list of recent posts. Play around with it and you'll be amazed at the variety of books you'll find here at PBT, over 600!
This first entry in a new PBT series highlighting books that share a particular theme all have in them some sort of memory ritual. To use the PBT search engine, I clicked on the search words “memories,” “remembering,” and “war.” I found ten stories that have this element.
In the list below, I give you the title, the author, and the PBT postdate. Click on the date, and you’ll go to that book’s post. Not all of these books are appropriate for Memorial Day, but they give you some ideas for creating your own memory rituals which are useful for such a holiday.
Memory rituals you find in these books include hanging objects on an ancient tree for remembering an ancestor (immediately above) and collecting a string of buttons which once belonged to a deceased mother and then using them like prayer beads to remember her (immediately below). 
I’d love a comment about any of these books that you’ve read. Perhaps you have ideas on how they can be used. Some are simple like this one (immediately below) which has the animals publicly sharing what the late Badger taught them. 
Some are complicated and particular such as an usual arrangement of roses created after the destruction of The Twin Towers (immediately below). Ask me a question, if you see some books that interest you but you aren’t sure how to use them at home, a classroom, a therapy session, or with your family of faith.
You might choose to not read the picture book to others. Instead you let the story inspire you to create a memory ritual for yourself or for your group. Memory rituals are healing. They are especially meaningful and found in most religions. In Christianity, communion, remembering our baptism, creating altars, and wearing particular jewelry are just a few ways we remember crucial events and important people. Sometimes creating your own ritual makes such experiences all the more meaningful.
These books highlight some secular ways to remember sacred ideas, pivotal events, or loved ones who are missed:
Lila’s Sunflowers by Kosinski - 11/11/16
September Roses by Winter - 9/11/16
The Wall by Bunting - 5/23/15
I Have an Olive Tree by Bunting - 3/12/15
Sadako by Coerr - 2/15/15
Grandpa Green by Smith - 8/7/14
Badger’s Parting Gifts by Varley - 8/8/14
The Tsunami Quilt by Fredericks - 11/6/14
Aunt Mary’s Rose by Wood - 8/4/14
The Memory String by Bunting -  7/28/14

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Crayons are Back!

Picture Book: The Day the Crayons Came Home
Author: Drew Daywalt
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers 
Summary: Poor Duncan! Now he must contend with a new group of crayons. 
A bunch of postcards arrive, each with a tale of separation and longing for home. 
Maroon Crayon has been stuck in the couch since Duncan’s father sat on him. 
Pea Green Crayon (who has changed his name to Esteban the Magnificent!) runs away because no one likes the color Pea Green.
Neon Red Crayon, who was dropped by the pool at a vacation spot, is giving up on Duncan’s rescue and walking home. 
She makes her way back despite being geographically challenged. Here she says she's just entered New Jersey via China, Canada, & France!
No longer sunny, Yellow and Orange, who argued about the color of the sun in the first book, have now melted together since being left outside.
Tan crayon was eaten by the dog and puked up on the rug. He’s downstairs in a fuzzy mess. 
Since Halloween, Glow in the Dark Crayon has been trapped in the basement. (If you “charge” these pages with light, they’ll glow.) 
Gold crayon is worn down and stuck in a sharpener 
after coloring every coin in Captain Green Beard’s treasure. 
Turquoise Crayon has a sock stuck to his head thanks to the dryer. He had been left in Duncan’s pocket. 
Big Chunky Toddler Crayon (who belongs to Duncan’s younger brother), can’t take the abuse anymore and pleads for rescue. 
Lastly, Brown Crayon ran away out of embarrassment when Duncan colored a particular scribble. 
Duncan does go and rescue his crayon friends. After their ordeals, he decides they deserve a new home and creates a wonderful place for them.
Hanna’s Comments: Here at PBT, I connected Daywalt’s bestseller, The Day the Crayons Quit, to the spiritual concept of speaking truth to power. Check out that post [here]. Duncan’s crayons are also featured in a couple of board books for very young children: The Crayons Book of Colors & The Crayons Book of Numbers. For a ministry idea using the book featured here, consider a biblical literacy lesson by helping your audience empathize with the Jewish diaspora. You see evidence of the diaspora in Bible stories in which many travel to Jerusalem (i.e. the story of Pentecost). This is a key concept for understanding the culture and desires of Jews in both testaments. If you don’t like this idea, there are several Bible stories about going home or longing to be home (see below).  
Original Publisher & Date: Philomel Bks, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Jacob returns home (Genesis 33); Naomi returns home (Ruth 1); exiles return to Jerusalem (Ezra 1 & 2); the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
Idea(s) for Application: Desires for home, to a place where one lives or where one worships, are powerful spiritual longings as are desires to explore new places. Use this hilarious book to help your audience consider why God places these desire in us.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Divine Hours for Children

Picture Book: This is What I Pray Today:                                                     The Divine Hours Prayers for Children
Author: Phyllis Tickle
Illustrator: Elsa Warnick
Summary: When Phyllis Tickle published a new version of the Benedictine Rule of fixed-hour prayer called The Divine Hours, many Christians were not familiar with the practice. Today her versions of these old prayers structure the days of many protestants. 
In this book, she offers psalm-inspired prayers for young children to mark 3 specific times of each day of the week: Waking Up, 
Resting, 
and Ending My Day. 
The conceptual level is simple enough so that reading from this book can become a thrice daily ritual of children as young as two or three. 
For most children, this book could be read independently within a couple of years of learning to read.
Hanna’s Comments: In offering this book to children, the late, great Phyllis Tickle provides a structure of prayer that could be transformative to a child and the entire family.
This book would make an excellent gift for a family with a new baby, a family with children upon joining your congregation, or for parents who want to better ground their family life in scripture and prayer.
Additionally, a red ribbon bookmark is provided to mark the day throughout the week as your children read their first prayer book. 
Tickle gives some context and expanse to the text in her remarks in the back by suggesting these prayers are offered for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim parents and grandparents so that their "very young can be introduced early to the patterns and very grown-up practice of fixed-hour prayer."  
Original Publisher & Date: Dutton, 2007
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: This book’s prayers are based on many Psalms, all of which are listed on each page.
Idea(s) for Application: Read a few of these prayers to participants of a faith-based preschool or elementary parenting class to encourage families to begin a ritual of praying together multiple times a day.