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.