Friday, May 4, 2018

Fruit of the Spirit: Love

This is the last of the books highlighting one of the Fruits of the Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians. It’s a great book to end on because love under-girds all the ways God inspires us to add to the kindom (sic). If one of your parents are due a gift soon, consider this story of messy but rewarding parental love. I have a couple of more general books to feature. Then I’ll give you a handy list of all the books in this series with links to their posts.
Picture Book: Love is…
Author: Diane Adams
Illustrator: Claire Keane
Summary: This is a common story of a love found, invested in, freed, and then returned. The verses have a simple structure of declaring what love is while telling of a girl, her unexpected pet, and the difficult decision she makes at year's end. It begins subtly on the title page with a baby duck being distracted from its mother because of a butterfly. 
Then the opportunity for love begins the verses, "Love is… holding something fragile, tiny wings and downy head.” 
The hard work of love is comically portrayed again 
and again in ways your children will enjoy. 
Comfort and companionship is central to this relationship! 
Joy and purpose are throughout. 
As the duckling grows, it's troublesome ways grow also. 
Common human experiences incorporate the little duckling in surprising ways. 
So many of these illustrations will directly relate to raising human children, 
like playing Hide & Seek 
and pushing to new heights and strengths with growing bodies. 
Some situations won't translate to typical childhood messes. 
As months go by, this little mother struggles with the limits of her parenting. Between the poetic lines are confusing questions of freedom versus protection. 
Later in the park, she lets her duckling decide. 
I especially appreciate the verbs in this text: nudging, tugging, coaxing, getting to the edge, hoping, and letting. These capture the active work of good loving
and the heartbreak it inevitably encompasses
Absence is felt in the words and the illustrations as the girl longs for her duck.  
The seasons change and hope is revived. 
Here love watches, wonders, waves  
remembers and... 
grows!
Hanna’s Comments: This may be a common story, but it’s a story that children will never tire of experiencing because it is so relatable. They can consider how they have been nurtured and be encouraged to develop their own nurturing skills. Pets are obvious subjects of such skill building, but be sure to broaden your conversation to ways of nurturing other human beings and even groups such as your faith family. This kind of loving loyalty is crucial for the future. Also, the theme of letting go that is central to this story is an important one for children. Spend some time on how hard that is for parents and their children. Connect these milestones to stories in scripture and popular media. Lastly, emphasize the joy that is even present in the required work and inevitable difficulties of nurturing and letting go.
Original Publisher & Date: Chronicle Books, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: In addition to The Fruit of the Spirit verses in Galatians 5:22-23 and stories of biblical parenting such as Jesus' separation from his parents or Hannah's letting go of Samuel… love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18); A new commandment I give you that you love one another (John 13:34); The Love Chapter (1 Corinthians 13); Let all you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14); Above all these, put on love which binds everything together (Colossians 3:14); Above all, keep loving one another earnestly (1 Peter 4:8)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children and talk about how love is the foundation of all sorts of nurturing, risk-taking, longing, and adventure. Tie these to the building of God’s kindom (sic) and a better world for everyone.