Friday, April 26, 2019

PBT Series: God Book #13

This is a repeat of a post from the first year of PBT when I offered 1 picture book a day for a year. Spring has sprung here in Alabama so animals and plants are singing God’s praise all about me! Most of the 700 or so books at PBT are secular, but I have over 80 God books! This series has the best of them. I include God Books because they are treasures that would be hard for you to find if you didn’t know about them already. They are generally about the nature of God so applications in ministry are obvious. This one is particularly beautiful and perfect for young children. Enjoy!

Picture Book: Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise
Author & Illustrator: Tomie de Paola
Summary: Here is the text of this beautiful book:
Sun and Moon, Stars and Comets in the Heavens.
Praise God.
Light and Darkness, Day and Night, 
Showers and Frost, Ice and snow.
Bless God.
Fire, Heat, Lightning and Clouds, 
Mountains, Hills, Seas, Rivers, and Fountains,
Praise God.
Fruitful Trees, Cedars, and all that Sprout upon the Earth,
Whales, Fish, and all Creatures that Move in the Waters,
Bless God.
Birds, Everything that Flies in the Air,
Dogs, Cats, All Animals and Creeping Things on Earth,
Praise God.
All People, Young and Old, Let Everything in Heaven and on Earth
Bless and Praise God.
Hanna’s Comments: In the Authors Note, de Paola explains that his book was inspired by two pieces of Old Testament scripture: The Canticle of the Three Young Men from the Book of Daniel and Psalm 148. He has purposefully made it like a children’s song. The illustrations are inspired by folk art designs of the Otomi people of Puebla, Mexico. When presenting this book, consider the question of non-human entities being able to praise God. Have fun with the movement and sounds in nature. Delight in all the diversity God displays on our great Earth. Most importantly, have your kiddos engage in lots of praising of God during your lesson. 
Original Publisher & Date: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Praise the Lord…Praise him, sun and moon… (Psalm 148); let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name (Hebrews 13:15)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to children when teaching them about worship and praise to God. Consider presenting the ideas of this book to older children to consider in a lesson on praise in nature.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Sadness as a Companion

Today is Good Friday, the day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. I've never understood why we call it good. It seems like a very sad day to me. This newly published book could be used throughout the year in your ministry or at your home or school, particularly when a sad event occurs and affects many. In American culture, we run from sadness. Today I want to feature this intriguing book that teaches us to acknowledge and befriend sadness. We might even need to invite sadness to stay for a while.
Picture Book: When Sadness is at Your Door
Authors  & Illustrator: Eva Eland
Summary: Striking illustrations of sadness personified are found immediately in the inside covers to begin and end Eland's book.

Sadness enters a child's home unexpectedly. At first the child is unsure and puzzled.
Sadness follows and seems to need comfort in a way that is uncomfortable and even scary.
Hiding it doesn't work,
because in some sense you've become sadness yourself.
Perhaps it is best to face it, name it, and listen. Ask it what it needs. It's okay if you don't understand or can't help it just now.
You might have to simply be a companion 
or sadness might just need time and beauty
and welcoming attention.

Someday it will be gone and you will have a new day.
Hanna’s Comments: During my 2 year Academy for Spiritual Formation, a book was assigned in which personification of personal issues - everything from emotions to addictions - was explained as a powerful tool for spiritual growth and healing. The question, "What does it need?" was crucial. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love speaks of such personification in a delightful TED talk and writes about it in her book on creativity Big Magic. I have experienced such healing myself. Social science has long said that emotional literacy is crucial for emotional development. Our places of worship and families of faith are important environments for this kind of learning and healing to occur, but they must be safe, trustworthy places. 
When might this book be appropriate? 
When a much-loved member or teacher dies
When a national tragedy occurs as in Paris this week
When a pastor struggles with clinical depression or terminal illness
When many in your church are near the end of their lives
When a global church makes a decision that shuts-out many
When much has been lost across a congregation as in a major change or disaster
When your client or spiritual directee is stuck and needing a creative invitation
When Good Friday is not really so good
Demystifying sadness can be a gift to your children and all members of your classroom or congregation if handled delicately and respectfully, with no judgement or impatience. Don't view this as a way to get over sadness but as a way to companion it and be mindful of it. Find personal connections in the loss, fear, and confusion. Offer hints of hope. For this book, I would simply read it and then listen. Some gentle questions and art supplies might be good to have handy too.
Original Publisher & Date: Random House, 2019
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: There are many Bible stories that have elements of sadness besides those we hear in anticipation of Good Friday. Consider the sadness that must have been felt by Ruth, the friends of Tabitha/Dorcas, David at the death of Jonathan, and Martha, Mary, and Jesus upon Lazarus' death. Sparingly use scriptures about hope such as I am making all things new (Revelation 21:5) since this is a book about sadness being acknowledged and respected in the present.
Idea(s) for Application: Besides the ideas mentioned above, read this book to a group of children when learning about God's presence when we are sad. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Is Prayer Saying Something?

Here's another brand new book that can lead to a rich discussion of prayer as well as many other theological ideas. I'm sure it will show up in my PBT Grab & Go series someday. There's lots of treasure here!
Picture Book: Say Something
Author & Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
Summary: This author is known for encouraging readers to creatively dream, hope, and do to bring about a better world. 
He empowers us to speak up in all sorts of verbal
 and nonverbal ways. 
Say something with your presence
or your courage.
Sometimes actions speak louder and are more lasting (and beautiful) than words. 
 Literary and 

science types are represented.
 Even a sense of fashion gets a nod.
Creative justice is a hallmark here, individual and corporate. 
And there's a warning that doubt and much patience may follow.
Every double page spread offers fertilizer for activists, prophets, futurists, and peacemakers, in other words people doing God's work for the sake of the world.
Hanna’s Comments: I see all sorts of possibilities with this gem! One of the best aspects of faith is believing that you can make a difference in the world. Hope and creativity are on every double page spread and image. Want a creative lesson on prayer? Ask before each page turn, "How can prayer be a part of this? Don't forget to talk about how The Holy Spirit empowers our messages and manner and how scripture gives us guidance and many excellent (and a few not so excellent) role models. Give your audience permission to step out in courage and say something! With God's help it just might bless the world!    
Original Publisher & Date: Orchard, 2019
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: This book can easily be connected to an individual or group of prophets in the Hebrew scriptures or the individuals who began the early church. Scriptures about hope are easily connected as are the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Also, What does the Lord require of you... (Micah 6:8)
Idea(s) for Application: Let this book guide a conversation that broadens the concept of prayer during a lesson or sermon for children, youth, and/or adults.

Friday, April 5, 2019

World Pray-ers

Today I continue my focus during Lent on picture books about prayer. This is a fabulous first book about prayer practices all over the world. Use in church or school settings for some great learning about faith all over the world! Such knowledge will help your young ones be more respectful and compassionate when they are teens and adults.
Picture Book: Everyone Prays:                                                                          Celebrating Faith Around the World
Author: Alexis York Lumbard 
Illustrator: Alireza Sadeghian
Summary: This book begins with "It's a wide world of faith." What wise words to enhance a child's journey into the meaning and value of prayer! Those who are young will find a rich vision of what prayer looks like beyond their own faith tradition. 
In the illustrations, they'll find a gorgeous array of prayer rituals across the globe. Christians, Jews, and Muslims get a first mention; 
 Hindus and Buddhists do too.
Prayer practices of other less common religions are mentioned as well. The images are beautifully rendered.  
Places of worship get a good deal of attention, particularly in the images. 
 These include praying outside in nature. 
A few prayer objects are listed such as books, beads, and candles. Look for others.  
The contrast is drawn between those who pray while still and those who pray via singing and dancing.
Water gets special attention here. It's used prayerfully in varying ways. 
Also, head coverings are mentioned. Some cover their heads when praying and some do not.
When a community or individual is likely to pray is also explored briefly. Baptism, perhaps the most joyful ritual for very young Christians, is depicted, 
but prayers for comfort and peace are mentioned as well. 
This last illustration is worth a conversation all on its own. Invite your children to talk about hypothetical whos, whys, whens, and wheres of this illustration and help them relate it to their own lives. 
Hanna’s Comments: I really like the simplicity of this book. You can tell this author understands the conceptual limits of young children. The illustrations are vibrant and will draw interest. Be sure all audience members can see the details. Bring with you to the lesson materials for some sensory experiences (incense, prayer rug, menorahs, crosses, etc.) and pass these around. Even better, invite a few people from other religions to talk personally about their own prayer practices and invite them to bring an object. Be sure to have a few people from your own tradition who will offer varying experiences. You don’t want the children thinking that everyone within a tradition prays in the same manner. Be sure to spend time beforehand with the information in the back of this book about the world's religions and these illustrations specifically. Then you'll be able to answer questions that might arise.
Original Publisher & Date: Wisdom Tales, 2014
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Depending on the direction of your conversation, any scripture on prayer could be connected. Consider using these 3 from the Old Testament: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently… (Psalm 37:7); Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10); Create in me a clean heart O God… (Psalm 51:10) OR The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of young elementary-aged children to begin a rich conversation on general concepts and experiences of prayer. Later explore your church or church school’s specific theology and practices.