Monday, May 28, 2018

PBT God Book #11

Picture Book: God’s Dream

Authors: Desmond Tutu & Douglas Carlton Abrams

Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

Summary: Along with his co-author, Archbishop Tutu’s offers young children his vision of God’s dream for all people. Sharing, caring, and reaching out to hold hands are a part of God’s dream for us but so is saying sorry and forgiving when we hurt each other or are hurt by someone. The authors explain that we all carry within us "a piece of God’s heart" so that when we love each other, God’s heart becomes whole. God wishes everyone would see themselves as family members across the globe even when they are different in their looks, languages, and ways of speaking to God.  How do you make God’s dream come true? By simply knowing we are all one family of God’s children and loving each other accordingly. This book is also available in board book form for young children. 

Hanna’s Comments: This picture book offers the wise vision of Anglican Archbishop Tutu, a charismatic leader who has captured the world's attention with his desires for justice in South Africa and his message that ALL are beings made in the image of God. Here he encourages young children to lead the world towards God’s dream for humanity: a dream of empathy, tenderness, respect, forgiveness, reconciliation, and joy. Grabbing this book for a children's lesson in your place of worship would be a no-brainer. Reading it to your child or grandchild would be a privilege. Teaching it to the children in your private school classroom would be a treasure passed on to the next generation. 

Original Publisher & Date: Candlewick, 2008

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

Formats other than Book: None at present

Scripture Connections: Made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18 & Matthew 7:12); God’s plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11)

Idea(s) for Application: This would be an easy book to use with children who are learning about these concepts: God's hope for God's kingdom, our being made in God's image, or The Great Commandment.  

Friday, May 25, 2018

PBT God Book #10 - God's Paintbrush x 2

Picture Book: God’s Paintbrush
Author: Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Illustrator: Annette Compton
Summary: This book is designed to evoke conversation between adults and children about what God is like and how individuals might make their beliefs more meaningful. Through the imagination of the child characters, God’s nature and design for our world are considered via everyday images and experiences that children often encounter. Each page or double page spread has 1 or 2 questions that will likely lead to meaningful conversations.
Hanna’s Comments: This is one of the most popular books for children about God’s nature. Although it is written by a rabbi, she has written it in a way that is non-sectarian and very open-ended. It's very inviting and non-threatening. Parents, grandparents, teachers, and ministers will all see it as a valuable tool. The 10th Anniversary edition has a message from the author and ideas for encouraging even more conversation about God. Also available is God’s Paintbrush Celebration Kit, a curriculum that offers materials on 5 topics: What is God Like?, Seeing, Hearing & Speaking, Touching, and Doing. These are the Biblical texts explored in this curriculum: portions of Genesis 1, Deuteronomy 6, 1 Kings 19, Psalms 29, 34, 100, & 150 and Isaiah 66. For very young children, look for I am God's Paintbrush, a board book version of this book. 
Original Publisher & Date: Jewish Lights, 1992
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: O Lord, how manifold are Your works (Psalm 104:24); for we are God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); work heartily as for the Lord (Colossians 3:23)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book as part of a discussion with children on what God is like. Be sure to take advantage of all the questions provided in the book for an easy and meaningful lesson for many age groups.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Series: Psalms for All Ages #1 (Ps. 139)

Coming up the first week of June, The Revised Common Lectionary has Christians all over the world reading portions of Psalm 139. It's my favorite psalm so I thought it would be fun to create a new PBT series that promotes connecting picture books to The Psalms
I'm passionate about The Psalms. We don't typically think of them as good subjects for lessons, particularly for children. But the whole range of human emotions and a vast range of human experiences are found in The Psalms. Besides, it's really good for our ears to hear poetry. Below you'll find 2 new books and many links to already featured books for exploring Psalm 139 across some age groups, youngest to adult.

Picture Book: From Head to Toe, God Made Me
Author: Mikal Keefer
Illustrator: David Harrington
Summary: This board book is part of a new 6 book series: Best of Li’l Buddies. 
The buddies featured are part of Group's VBS curricula. 
Whether or not your a fan of Group Publishing, you should check these out. 
The ideas are simple and the pages are few. 
Your kids will love the animals and the adventures each human has. 
At the bottom of this book's Amazon page, find a great chart that gives you the "Bible Truth" that each book covers.
Original Publisher & Date: Group Publishing, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 1 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
Hanna’s Comments: It's hard to find books for this age that are short enough but rich with content. Be sure to point out the other things in the book that God made wonderfully.

If your kiddos are a little older...
Picture Book: The Wonderful Happens
Author: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator: Coco Dowley
Summary: Cynthia Rylant is a master picture book author! This is a secular book, like most I feature at PBT, but it celebrates God's created world so beautifully.
The setting is a farm where the ordinary is declared extraordinary! Wheat becomes yummy bread. 
A simple egg becomes a creature of the air. 
A seed becomes a beautiful rose. 
Other transforming miracles are celebrated. 
Fruit becomes pies. Water makes tea. 
Puppies become dogs and weather changes. 
And these changes happen everyday in an on-going way. But the most amazing is You (the reader or listener), who "happened" in miraculous ways. 
The wonderful is you!
Hanna’s Comments: Earlier at PBT, I featured some other books for young children that connect well with the concept of being wonderfully made as is celebrated in Psalm 139. Molly Bang's All of Me! is a celebration of body parts. For preschool and elementary ages, consider Beaumont & Catrow's I Like Myself! Kids a little older will enjoy Turner and Catrow's When God Made You
Original Publisher & Date: Simon & Schuster, 2000 
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present 
Scripture Connections: I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

For older elementary children, tweens, teens, or adults, consider one of the many books here at PBT that celebrates artists. For these you can view the artists as wonderfully made OR you can see them as a metaphor for God - our wonderful maker. Here are links to several PBT books about artists:

Friday, May 18, 2018

CEF Conference Workshop and PBT eBook

Picture Book Theology: 5 Books, 20 Applications
How does that sound for a workshop title? 

If you’d like to see my presentation, attend the Curious Church Conference sponsored by CEF (Christians Engaged in Faith Formation) October 9-12 in Des Moines, Iowa. This is a great opportunity for those in church ministry (lay, staff, or pastors) to gather, connect, learn, worship, and discover. Some Christian headliners will be at the conference, like Brian McLaren and Carrie Newcomer. Find out more [here]. I hope many of you will join me in Iowa!

If you join CEF or are a member now, you can access my eBook 25 Picture Books about Justice published in partnership with CEF. Everyone can access a free sample via the PBT eBook tab above!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fruit of the Spirit Series: List & PBT Links

Find below a general book about Galatians 5:22-23, 3-4 books for each Fruit of the Spirit with a question to help you explore these, and a couple of books about a particular fruit or fruit in general. Find links to those PBT posts in the titles.  
I’ve changed the order of the Fruits. I end the list with Love, Kindness, Goodness, & Faithfulness because conceptually they overlap. Conceptual overlapping is also true for Gentleness and Self-Control. 
Twice below I refer to a PBT series called 12 Theological Statements for Young Children which is a workshop I do for church-based preschool events. 
Paul's collection of positive and godly behaviors are traits we can all aspire to. Make this learning enjoyable and more meaningful to children (and their parents) in your faith family with these books:

Fruits of the Spirit (general- Ask: Where do you see these fruits in your faith family?)
Maybe God is Like That Too by Grant & Schipper

JOY  (Ask: How is joy shown in different ways by different characters?)
Yes Day! by Rosenthal & Lichtenheld (also a great secular book for Easter.)
Lola Loves Stories by McQuinn & Beardshaw
Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke & Tobia

PEACE (Ask: How does peace change you and others in the moment?)
Peace, Baby! By Ashman & Lew-Vriethoff
The Peace Book by Parr  
A Little Peace by Kerley     

PATIENCE (Ask: What does having no patience look like?)
Albert by Napoli & LaMarche (Too long? Tell the story & show the pictures.) 
Bear Has a Story to Tell by Stead & Stead
Owl Moon by Yolen & Schoenherr

GENTLENESS (Ask: How does gentleness help others and you?)
Be Gentle by Miller
You Will Be My Friend! by Brown (an opposite of gentleness offers humor and redemption)

SELF-CONTROL (Ask: How does self-control help everyone including you?)
More by Springman & Lies
Wild Feelings by Milgrim
#5 Theological Statement for Young Children: God gave you feelings. They’re not good or bad. What matters is how you act on your feelings.

LOVE (Ask: What does love look like here? Feel like here? Sound like here?)
The Invisible String by Karst & Stevenson
I Will Love You Anyway by Inkpen & Inkpen
Love is… by Adams & Keane 
Love by La Pena & Long (dark situations here, consider using paper clips to skip pages)     

KINDNESS (Ask: What kinds of hard choices are being made here?)
The Kindness Quilt by Wallace
Be Kind by Miller 

GOODNESS (Some translations call this COMPASSION. Ask: What makes these characters’ behaviors good?)
Bear Feels Sick by Wilson & Chapman (This book is about servanthood.)
What Baby Wants by Root & Bartow (This book is about empathy.)
One Winter’s Day by Butler & Macnaughton (This book is about generosity.)

FAITHFULNESS (Ask: Who do you know that is faithful?)
The Carrot Seed by Krauss & Johnson (This books connects with being faithful to God. The other books are about being faithful to other people.)
I Promise by McPhail
Mama Always Comes Home by Wilson & Dyer
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Stead & Stead

Two Bonus Books about fruit:
An Orange In January by Aston & Maren

Friday, May 11, 2018

Grab & Go #13: Little Apple Goat

Picture Book: Little Apple Goat
Author & Illustrator: Caroline Jayne Church 
Summary: In this story, an ordinary goat has quite an extraordinary appetite
Wednesday's laundry isn't appetizing to her. 
Instead she loves fruit! Each autumn, Little Apple Goat patiently waits for fruit to fall before she munches and munches. 
Any fruit will do: cherries, pears, and especially apples.
For years, Little Apple Goat spits the pits and seeds over the hedge on her way home from the orchard
On one particular day, the breeze is strong. 
It picks up to a bluster and then a storm, a terrible storm. 
The animals gather in their barn, huddled together while watching and hearing the terrible wind. 
Once it's safe, Little Apple Goat hurries to see her beloved fruit trees.
Every tree is destroyed! 
As the farmer cuts and drags debris away, the animals are sad. They agree that the farm "just won't be the same without the orchard." 
When winter comes, Little Apple Goat thinks how the logs from the orchard trees are keeping the farmer warm. 
Spring comes, and Little Apple Goat notices blossoms peeking out over the hedge. She wonders about them.
"Then one Autumn" the fruit trees are back and their yummy fruit! The animals wonder who could have planted all the new fruit trees. 
We know who!
Hanna’s Comments: I'm amazed at the emotion this illustrator is able to capture with simple marks! Spend some time discussing the characters' feelings in this story. Recently I’ve heard several radio stories about the destruction of fruit crops in Florida because of Hurricane Irma. This book seems perfect for children or families in congregations who have experienced the destruction of recent hurricanes because it offers a comforting long view, a hopeful view that seeds (even Fruit of the Spirit seeds) are already planted for their recovery. Fruit is coming - sweet, juicy fruit and the fruit we see in the generous goodness of others who have compassionately responded to pain and loss. Picture books are a non-threatening and comforting tool for difficult subjects, even for adults. Having a faith orientation that helps with this kind of hope builds resilience and sustains in the difficult work and wait ahead. Read this book to other groups as well because we all suffer through disasters or tragedies and need to lean on our faithful hope to wait and endure. Seeds are planted without us knowing. Later we enjoy their goodness and sustenance.  
Original Publisher & Date: Eerdmans, 2007
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: They who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength… (Isaiah 40:31); Behold, for I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19); For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11); Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation… Romans 12:12); What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (1 Corinthians 15: 36); the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in your faith family and talk about recent natural disasters. Help the children view those negative consequences with hope that is found in their faith. OR Tie this book to Paul's Fruit of the Spirit by considering those in your audience's lives who generously plant such fruit.