Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday Peace

I recently heard a podcast about the symbolism of the cross. It challenged me to see the cross as a question: Is there a better way to be human? I now realize the cross can serve as a reminder of Jesus’ refusal to perpetuate the myth of redemptive violence. A cross, an instrument of torture, surprisingly is a symbol of peace! 
[Here’s] the podcast if you’re interested and 2 new PBT picture books about peace to consider for your ministry, your classroom, or your family. I end the post with links to 5 other PBT books about peace. 
I hope this weekend, no matter your relationship to Christianity or the symbolism of the cross, finds you contemplating our great need for peace and how you and your faith community might play your part in meeting that need.
Picture Book: The Peace Book
Author & Illustrator: Todd Parr
Hanna’s Comments: For thoughts about peace with elementary or preschool children, consider Todd Parr's fun exploration of what peace looks like. 
He also offers a global and even ecological perspective,
 often with a bit of humor...  
and some meaningful situations for young children. 
His books often connect directly to scripture,... 
 sometimes with a little twist. 
These peaceful acts can lead to life-long changes to self... 
and aspirations for world change.
Parr finds peace in simple, fun gestures... 
and big, hard work. 
His characters are sometimes surprising, 
often human and animal, 
but very relatable. 
Your children will love his whimsy...
 and his heart.
As usual, Parr ends this book with a letter to his readers.
Original Publisher & Date: Little, Brown & Co., 2004
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Any scripture that encourages peaceful acts such as If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:11) OR peace and pursue it. 1 Peter: 3:11)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of preschoolers who are having lots of conflict in their classroom.

Picture Book: Can You Say Peace?
Author & Illustrator: Karen Katz
Hanna’s Comments: For a truly global perspective, consider this book as a start to a series of lessons about peace. 
Even young children pick up on international news events so it's important for faith families to humanize all persons, 
even those who might be demonized in mass media. 
This book is published with International Day of Peace in mind.  
That's September 21, but you can use it (and particularly it's verbal content) anytime you are providing an experience about world peace. The structure is simple. Most double-page spreads highlight one child from a particular country. That child's way of saying peace (the word and the pronunciation) are given. Given recent headlines here are a few timely examples: Hana in Iran... 
Stephan in Russia,... 
 and May in China. 
Resource material in the back shows a map and a list of even more ways to say "peace."
Original Publisher & Date: Henry Holt & Co., 2006
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Any scripture that explores the concept of peace such as Strive for peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14)
Idea(s) for Application: Use this book as a resource when wanting to introduce various ways of saying "peace" during a faith family lesson or sermon about peace for any age. 
I have several others books about peace here at PBT where I'm about to celebrate my 4th anniversary on Sunday! Yay! Here are those links:

Monday, March 26, 2018

Favorite PBT Posts: The 2nd Crayon Book

Here's the post about the sequel to Friday's book. Enjoy! 
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 melted together since being left outside.
Tan crayon was eaten by the dog and vomited 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” this page with light, it’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 rough handling anymore and pleads for rescue. 
Lastly, Brown Crayon ran away out of embarrassment when Duncan colored a particular scribble. 
Duncan does rescue his crayon friends. After their ordeals, he decides they deserve a new home and creates a wonderful place for them.
Hanna’s Comments: Earlier I connected Daywalt’s bestseller, The Day the Crayons Quit, to the spiritual concept of speaking truth to power. 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 those affected by the Jewish diaspora. You see evidence of the diaspora in Bible stories in which many travel to Jerusalem (i.e. the story of Pentecost) or many long for Jerusalem and the faith and culture of home (the books of Esther and Daniel). The diaspora is a key concept for understanding the culture and desires of Jews in both Testaments. Another ideas: There are several Bible stories about going home or longing to be at a spiritual home (some listed below). And of course, the hope for a savior or being saved is throughout our holy scriptures. 
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, March 23, 2018

Favorite PBT Posts: The 1st Crayon Book!

Crayons are something special for adults! Like picture books, they tap into feelings of nostalgia or a simpler time. A big box of 64 is a metaphor for the breadth of creativity and possibility that I wish I hadn't left behind in childhood. 
Image result for crayons
The author/illustrator duo, whose books are featured below and on Monday, offer a new (and clever) way to think about crayons. This is one of my favorite PBT posts and very timely given the Times Up Movement! The book's sequel will be re-posted next time. Enjoy!
Picture Book: The Day the Crayons Quit
Author: Drew Daywalt
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers 
Summary: When Duncan pulls out his crayons at school, he finds a stack of letters instead. 
Each crayon has written him a letter of complaint. Here are a few of the hilarious examples: 
The red crayon is working too hard, not even getting off for Christmas!
The white crayon is used mainly on white paper so it feels misused and empty. 
The black crayon is only used to draw the outline of things. It’s not fair! The pink crayon hasn’t been used once! You can guess why. 
After all the letters are read, Duncan turns in a new piece of art that is very different from his usual productions. The result is unique and praised by the teacher. Clearly the crayons have been heard and change is the result.
Hanna’s Comments: Immediately, I saw 2 ways this clever book can be connected to scripture. I'm sure there are others. My first reaction was to focus on the tone of these letters. The Psalms are full of complaints, called lamentations. A lesson on this kind of prayer can be very eye-opening for children and adults. The fun of the crayons balances the negative emotions you are exploring. Secondly, I thought about the biblical prophets and the phrase “speaking truth to power.” Sometimes the right words to the right people can bring forth positive change with regards to injustice, neglect, or inefficient systems. That’s what happens in this book and that's what drives positive change, like justice movements. Justice is one of the priorities of most religions in the world. Keep in mind that there is a lot of text in this book. I suggest reading a few crayons' letters per sitting if your children are easily distracted. You could do a whole series of lessons or a week of arts camp with the ideas in this book and its sequel. The new book is about a different group of crayons that Duncan abandoned. They want him to rescue them. Sounds pretty biblical too! It’s called The Day the Crayons Came Home. Comment added later: Since the great popularity of this series, there are several products that you can purchase. This one really peaked my interest. 
Original Publisher & Date: Philomel, 2013
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Available in Spanish: Yes
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: I pour out my complaint before God, I tell my trouble before God (Psalm 142:2) – search on Google “psalms of complaint" for more options; What does the Lord require of you but to do justice… (Micah 6:8); other scriptures or biblical stories about speaking truth to power
Idea(s) for Application: Read this fun book and it's sequel to a group of children, teens, or adults in lessons on psalms of complaint or speaking truth to power when doing justice.