Friday, August 31, 2018

Another Todd Parr Book!

Featured below is a quintessential PBT book. It's secular but full of sacred ideas and illustrations your audience will respond to. I've also given you PBT links to several other Todd Parr books which are so easy to use in ministry with young children!
Picture Book: Love the World
Author & Illustrator: Todd Parr
Summary: With simple rhymed verse, Todd Parr explores 2 kinds of love. He reminds us that loving yourself makes loving the world more fun. That's profound! Loving your face is a great way to begin.  
 Then there's loving your space,
  as well as other parts of your body. 
  Don't forget to love your walk 
 and talk. 
And everyone should love the skin they're in!
But then love the world by giving a hand, 
taking a stand, 
or using your mind. 
Every few pages, Parr reminds us that one way of loving leads to the other .... 
There's also a big wide world to love. It has bees 
 and trees,
land 
and seas too. 
 
 There's so much to love out there!
Parr's books usually end with a letter to the kids.
Hanna’s Comments: Here's an easy way to use this book. After reading (the rhymed verse means it's important to read somewhat uninterrupted), show each double page spread again and simply ask questions like... How is this loving the world? OR Does this remind you of a way someone you know loves the world? OR Do we love the world this way in our church? Tie this book to scripture by reading one of the scriptures listed below between these page turnings. Then help your children see Parr's subtle messages of love for diversity and care for nature. Tie these ideas to your theological values as well. Todd Parr has written and illustrated over 40 books. Several are here at PBT already. They are all of a similar style so very easy to teach. Here are the PBT links: 
The Thankful Book
It's Okay to Make Mistakes
The Peace Book
The Feelings Book
Original Publisher & Date: Little Brown, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections:  Love one another (John 13:34); Love is patient and kind… (1st Corinthians 13: 4-8); Let all you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14); God is love. (1 John 4:8); Above all these, put on love (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 young children and talk about what love looks like at your faith family and in their homes. Then discuss how love can change the world for the better!

Monday, August 27, 2018

PBT Redux #25 - Flossie and the Fox


Picture Book: Flossie & the Fox
Author: Patricia McKissack
Illustrator: Rachel Isadora
Summary: In rich dialect, McKissack offers a folktale from her story-telling grandfather. Big Mama asks young Flossie to deliver some eggs to the neighboring farm. Flossie begins her journey wondering what a fox looks like. When Fox introduces himself hoping for the eggs, he is puzzled that the little girl isn't afraid. Flossie insists she'll not be afraid until Fox offers proof that he is indeed a fox. Fox's pride is hurt so he lists all the reasons he is a fox. For each argument, Flossie insists that Fox is instead another animal. Eventually, Flossie lures Fox to the road where a neighbor's hound is waiting. As Fox runs from the hound, Flossie confesses that she recognized Fox all along. She heads toward the neighbor's farm with the eggs, having outfoxed the fox.
Hanna’s Comments: I love a tale with a smart female at the center! Her youth is an additional benefit. Even young children will identify with her. Consider steering your audience’s conversation towards issues of bravery and intelligence in the face of evil. Then take Fox's point of view and talk about how temptation and pride lure us into trouble. Flossie handles her fears cunningly, but the fox’s greed and pride tempt him to wander into a dangerous situation. 
Publisher & Date of Publication: Dial Books, 1986
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Eve’s conversation with the snake (Genesis 3); Be strong and courageous… for the Lord is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)
Idea(s) for Application: Consider using this picture book when teaching the story of Eve’s temptation by the snake in Genesis. Draw connections between the fox’s pride and Eve’s pride. Praise Flossie’s self-determination and cleverness.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Psalms for All Ages #3

So how do you use this board book with adults? I’ll tell you in my comments below.
Picture Book: You Are With Me:                                                                           Prayers for Every Part of the Day
Illustrator: Birgit Antoni 
Summary: In this little board book, milestones of a typical day are given spiritual significance as they are attached to verses from the Psalms. Here is a sampling: As we wake, we view God as a guide throughout the progress of our day, for God is our light and salvation.
A plea for safety for when we leave home comes from a verse about God being our refuge.
Lunch provides an opportunity for giving thanks for all of the Lord's good things.  
Singing, making music, and being creative in other ways, reminds us that we are grounded when we praise God our whole life long.
We hurt on the inside or outside, God heals the brokenhearted and wounded.   
As the day ends with bedtime rituals, a psalm of peace and gratitude helps us settle into the kind of safety in sleep that only God can give.
Hanna’s Comments: This little treasure of a book emphasizes that God is with us throughout our daily routines no matter the setting, circumstances, or our emotions. To use this book with an older audience, including teens and adults, simply access the text. The collection of Psalm verses are applicable to situations throughout the human condition. Encourage your audience to consider at what time in the day they are most in need of these verses. OR Have them share when these verses have been particularly meaningful to them. OR Offer a prayer practice (such as a breath prayer), to pair with each verse. If the masculine pronouns for God bother you, simply change the text for more inclusive language. If you’re reading the book aloud, use sticky notes to help you do this.
Original Publisher & Date: Sparkhouse, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Nine familiar Psalm verses are in the pages of this book.

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children of God (any age) and talk about how these verses from The Psalms can help us be more resilient, ground us in our faith, and grow spiritually.

Monday, August 20, 2018

You are ...

Picture Book: You are (Not) Small
Author: Anna King
Illustrator: Christopher Weyant
Summary: All sizes of creatures inhabit this fun but profound book. A label begins this story as one orange creature declares to a blue creature, "You are small.” 
The accused denies it and says the accuser is big. 
Orange guy responds, saying no way he's big. There's all these friends in his group "just like me." 
Blue guy has a comparison group too. 
Back and forth they go. Soon whole groups are judged. The conversation heats up... 
 until an interruption... 
 by several creatures. They offer even more conflicting comparisons. 
 Suddenly, all seem to agree and understand, sort of. 
 This story ends comically with another declaration... 
Hanna’s Comments: You might see this silly book as a philosophical debate of words and categories. Take it deeper. Is it a response to our prejudicial, accusatory ways? We do love to put people in boxes. I found myself deciding these creatures were male with no evidence. We are less likely to make unsympathetic judgments of people who are in our group. There is a fascinating  phenomena in social psychology called In-Group-Out-Group Bias. It comes up in church now and then. In a nutshell, research consistently shows we more harshly judge those not in "our group," whatever that group is. I encourage you to learn more. The specifics are fascinating, and it's directly related to implicit bias. Barbara Brown Taylor put it more eloquently, saying we want grace for ourselves and judgement for everyone else. I believe this was in a sermon about Jonah in her book Gospel Medicine. Do you see her wisdom and the connections to this little picture book? Interestingly, color doesn’t come up in King and Weyant's book, but it's there nonetheless. Just like it's ever-present in the culture and history of my American South. Too often we are afraid (and ashamed) to talk about race. Shouldn't church, where we are called to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, be where we talk about (dare I say confess) our inclinations to judge wrongly? Treat categories of people differently? Make assumptions about those who are different from us? Lord have mercy. May we do better. May we teach our children better.
Original Publisher & Date: Scholastic 2014
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God? (Micah 6:8); Judge not and you will not be judged… (Luke 6:37); You’re your neighbor (Mark 12:31); Do not judge by appearances (John 7:24) 
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of any age before talking about our human inclinations to judge and the scriptures warnings about judgement. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

One Song Picture Book (and more)

Below I feature a song picture book. The words of this book are Raffi’s lyrics. At the end of this post, I give you several links to other song picture books at PBT. Many, like this book, have the song scores in the back. The benefit of such a book is that after you’ve read the book, you have the option of singing it together (with or without recorded or played music).  

Picture Book: One Light, One Sun
Lyrics: Raffi
Illustrator: Eugenie Fernandes
Summary: Three families live side by side as one sun beams down on all of them.     
The beautiful moments of life are celebrated and shared 
 
as well as the ordinary and mundane. 
One moon and many stars take their turns too.
There's a nice bit of diversity 
and gender role swapping 
as each family member does their part to contribute to the one family, 
 one neighborhood,
 and one world. 
Here are the lyrics, simple but profound and read easily on the pages. 
One light, one sun,
One sun lighting everyone.
One world turning,
One world turning everyone.
One world, one home,
One world home for everyone.
One dream, one song.
One song heard by everyone.
One love, one heart,
One heart warming everyone.
One hope, one joy,
One love filling everyone.
Hanna’s Comments: The lyrics to this song are from the title song of this Raffi album. You'll likely find other songs in this collection that you'll want to teach your children.


So many aspects of our world are meant to be shared. These "real-life" moments connect all of humanity and encourage us to live better together. I can't hear this song without thinking of God as the One who connects us all, present in every ordinary moment! This is the kind of theological grounding children need so they may feel less alone and less anxious. You can explore the benefits and complexities of "oneness" in theological concepts such as The Trinity, The Body of Christ, Ecological Justice, and The Great Commandment "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."
Original Publisher & Date: Crown, 1988
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and Up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Where there are 2 or 3 gathered in my name, I am with them (Matthew 18:20); I am with you always (Matthew 28:20); The great commandment as written above is in Mark 12:28-34. The Body of Christ is in 1 Corinthians 12. 
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of young children and teach them the song. Then sing together! After singing, talk about how God is the One who connects all of humanity.

Here are some links to other PBT song books:
This Little Light of Mine
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
One Love
What a Wonderful World
Let There Be Peace
My Favorite Things
If You're Happy and You Know It
Let it Shine
You Are My Sunshine

Monday, August 13, 2018

Sacred Places x 2

The picture books below are unusual for PBT. Typically, I connect secular books to scriptures or spiritual ideas derived from texts in the Old or New Testaments. The books below are about sacred places in a variety of religious contexts. They are both beautiful and informative and therefore worth exploring for possible applications in ministry settings and classrooms where various religions can be freely discussed.
Picture Book: Sacred Places
Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: David Shannon
Summary: Fortunately, this book begins with a simple map of the world for locating each of the 12 religious sites (some ancient, some both ancient and still in use). 
Additionally, you'll find an introductory painting and poem that introduces the idea of a sacred place. A similar poem ends the book. 
What follows is a series of groups of 3: a painting of a sacred site/practice, a poem, and a symbol specific to that religion. Here are some of my favorite paintings: The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, 
Stonehenge,  
Ganga (Ganges River) in India, 
a representative image for all cathedrals, 
and Four Corners in the United States
Hanna’s Comments: If you’re not interested in the poetry aligned with each illustration, that’s fine. Here the images are what’s provocative. Make sure your audience can see the illustrations easily. For a richer learning experience, consider pairing some images with photographs that may be easily accessed on the internet. An appendix gives a nice summary for each sacred place. 
Original Publisher & Date: Harcourt, 1996
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 8 and up, 3rd and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: You’ll find 1 image of The Wailing Wall and 1 image for Christian cathedrals (both above).
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of adults in a small group and explore their understanding of what defines a sacred versus a secular place. Be sure to encourage them to share their own experiences with these and other sacred places.

Picture Book: Sacred Places
Author: Philemon Sturges
Illustrator: Giles Laroche
Summary: A Note to the Reader begins this book. It lists 3 questions people throughout history have asked:
Where did I come from?
How should I live my life?
What happens to me when I die?
You'll find cut-paper illustrations of 28 places inspired by the faith of 5 of the world’s most prevalent religions (3 from the Abrahamic tradition, Hinduism, and Buddhism). There's a caption that gives dates and explains specific religious practices for each site. Additionally, there is larger text for reading aloud. The cover image above is of  Shore Temple in India. The image below is of Chartres Cathedral in France. 
My favorites illustrations? Great Mosque (Niger), 
The Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel (France), 
Sokkuram Grotto Shrine (Korea),
the Kaaba (Saudi Arabia), 
and Concord Baptist Church (United States).
Hanna’s Comments: These images are busier and less ethereal, but the variety of places is nice. Unfortunately, sacred sites on the continents of South America and Australia are not included. I love the ending that says, “some sacred places aren’t made by people at all.” 
It closes with a map and legend to mark all 28 sites.
Original Publisher & Date: Putnam & Sons, 2000
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: You’ll find several sites inspired by the Old or New Testaments.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to explore the spiritual practice of pilgrimage, the Celtic concept of thin places, and/or the questions, “What makes a place sacred?” and “When have you felt a sense of awe because of a place?" Be sure to allow time for personal storytelling.