Friday, September 24, 2021

Navigating the Best PBT Series

 

Here are some tips for getting to the best info. regarding the 800 or so books here at PBT. The book above is part of the Grab & Go series. These are books in which there is little need for prep before teaching a lesson. Here's another Grab & Go.

Using the search mechanisms to find these series is key. There are 2:

1.      The search box at the upper right of each post.

Nearby you’ll see my PayPal link. Just a 1-time gift of a few dollars shows me you are appreciative and this work is worth my time and effort.

2.    The search labels at the bottom of a screen page (not each post). BUT If you are on your phone, you likely have to click "view the web version.” These labels are listed alphabetically, but the list can be overwhelming. That's why I’m going to give you some specifics here.

Sometimes either mechanism works; sometimes only one. 

Here are those 3 PBT series that help you navigate some of my best work:


Grab & Go series 

    at the Search Box: type in "Grab."

    at the Search Labels: Look in the Gs for "Grab & Go."

The book above and below are other examples of a Grab & Go. The book below is also a God Book. That's a book that directly explores the nature of God. (more on God Books in a future post)

PBT Questions Want to know an easy way to consider a favorite secular picture book for a sacred lesson? This is your series! 


I use the word "questions" too often for you to use that word in the Search Box so these are accessible only at the Search Labels. Look in the Ps for "PBT Questions." The easiest question is first so scroll down for the first post in this series (Question 1). 

Click here to see that series which teaches my approach to considering secular picture book in 5 questions. For example, question #1: "Is God, Jesus, or The Holy Spirit in the book? (symbolically) The book above and below are PBT books with characters reminiscent of 1 or all of The Trinity.


PBT Redux 

    at the Search Box: Type in "Redux."

    at the Search Labels: Look in the Ps for "PBT Redux."

Here's an example of a PBT Redux. These are simply really good books that are worth mentioning again.


Have fun exploring these 3 series! Later I'll post about navigating more PBT series.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Godly Silence for Everyone

 


Picture Book: Shhh… God is in the Silence:                                                                     A Story for All Ages

Author: Fiona Basile

Illustrator: Alice Mount

Summary: This is a book of shushes and questions. Every page begins "Shhh... God is in the silence. Can you here him?" 


What follows is a series of statements declaring this ideas repeatedly:
God speaks to your heart, saying...
I love you.
You are precious.
There is no one else like you.
I created you.
You are mine.
I am with you always.
Next, it declares that God lives in your heart, and adds to the reassurances above: You are safe so rest little one.
Hanna’s Comments: This beautiful book gets to the heart of what children and families need today: silence and a sense of God's presence. The subtitle declares this is a story (book) for all ages, and surely it is! 

If you prefer to avoid masculine language for God, simply change the text. Sticky notes are helpful for this. 

This book has its own website. Click: here to check it out. You can order the book, while finding activities and instructions on teaching children how to pray. These methods could easily be adapted for adults or teens. I especially liked this: Personal Noise Survey

Original Publisher & Date: Loyola  Press, 2016

Age Appropriateness: 3 and up

Formats other than Book: None at present, but there is a bilingual (Spanish & English) edition of the book.

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about silence, such as Psalm 46:10 (mentioned below) and Elijah's experience of God in the silence (1 Kings 19), connects strongly to this book.

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I listed this book in my Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum for a summer lesson in Year C (theme: Be Still) based on Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.

PBT Applications: This book would be perfect to read to a group of parents of young children. You might want to leave out the "little one" endearment. Then have them brainstorm ways to be in relative silence with their children while modeling mindful experiences of God's presence. For young children, you may want to read only a few pages and show all the images. With each illustration, encourage their responses about God in those images. For teens, you may want to simply read the text since the images are of young children, but the questions are intriguing for any age.

If you are interested in learning about Trinity Treasures, a scripture-based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at hannaschock@bellsouth.net. Right now, free lessons are emailed if you fill out the monthly feedback form.


Friday, September 10, 2021

A Treasure from a Tender Warrior

Picture Book: When I Hold You

Author: Ashley Huffstutler

Illustrator: Airin O’Callaghan

Summary: This treasure of a book is authored by a young mother who, with tenderness and faith, is battling cancer. She has written it for her young children. It would be a wonderful resource for someone ministering to young children or their families. Here is the article which inspired my purchase: on-line article

This book’s structure is quite unique. Each double page spread has a beautiful image of a mother and young child. There are 2 pieces of text: 

One is the author’s description of a moment of faithful mothering. The other is a scripture in a different font floating above or below.

Unfortunately, the scriptures are hard to see. I especially appreciate the illustrator's use of diverse images of mothers and children and how natural settings give rich context.

Hanna’s Comments: I once heard in an interview, beloved priest Richard Rohr  list 3 crucial ideas to explain Jesus to children.

    1. You are not alone.

    2. There is someone protecting you.

    3. There is someone you can call upon.


I believe these same 3 ideas would apply to the other 2 members of The Trinity.

Upon reading this book, I decided to give it to a much-beloved young mother. She and her husband are progressive Christians who will appreciate the absence of limited interpretations of the scriptures. But this book would be a treasure for any Christian family. 


If your church gives gifts to young parents when a child is born or welcomed into a congregation, this book would be an excellent choice. Another excellent choice, if your church practices infant baptism, is this other PBT book: Welcome, Child of God

Original Publisher & Date: B & H Kids, 2021

Age Appropriateness: Infant & up

Formats other than Book: None at present

Scripture Connections: Look for these 12 scriptures:

Job 33:4        Philippians 4:5    Psalm 73:28    Psalm 63:3

John 1:16        Psalm 4:8            Psalm 56:8        Psalm 95:1

Psalm 147:4    Psalm 91:4        John 8:12        Isaiah 41:13

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I listed this book in my Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum for a summer lesson during Year B (Psalm 34:1-8.) The theme for that lesson is God Hears Cries. It could be read in a nursery or preschool to convey God's comfort and unconditional love, like the love shown by these mothers.

PBT Applications: I would not read this book to children beyond age 3. However, the images and scriptures can be very inspiring for ministry to older groups. Pick a scripture, consider how it applies to your audience, and plan from there. God’s presence offers motherly comfort to all of us, no matter our age!

If you are interested in learning about Trinity Treasures, a scripture-based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at hannaschock@bellsouth.net. Right now, free lessons are emailed if you fill out the monthly feedback form.

Monday, September 6, 2021

from the late Rachel Held Evans

 


Want more about this beloved writer? See the previous PBT post, including website link.

Picture Book: What is God Like?

Author: Rachel Held Evans & Matthew Paul Turner

Illustrator: Ying Hui Tan

Forward: Daniel Jonce Evans (Evan’s husband who gives context to her beginning this book & explains the couple’s relationship to Turner.)

Summary: This daring book begins with an acknowledgement that the title is a very big question. It explains that no one has seen “all of God,” but “we can know what God is like.” At the book’s end, it says all people have been asking the title question throughout time. The reader is encouraged to keep wondering and learning. It ends profoundly and assuredly: 

But whenever you aren’t sure what God is like, think about what makes you feel safe, what makes you feel brave, and what makes you feel loved. That’s what God is like.

Hanna’s Comments:  The bulk of these pages are similes (what God is like) and metaphors (“God is…” statements). The illustrations of young children shouldn't limit the age of your audience. For an older or mixed-age audience, such as a whole congregation, simply read the text without showing the book. Besides the compelling and rich text, I especially appreciate the beauty & diversity of Tan's images.

Original Publisher & Date: Convergent, 2021

Age Appropriateness: Preschool & up

Formats other than Book: None at present

Scripture Connections: Scripture ties will be driven by the specific images for God you choose to explore. Many tie directly to familiar scriptures. Here are just a few of the 14 images I found: God is like… an eagle, a fort, a rainbow, the stars, a mother, a father, a candle flame, an artist, a shepherd...


PBT Applications: There is a lot of text here. Read it entirely if to a group older than preschool age. This will easily start a faith conversation. For preschoolers, a few select pages will do. If you want to dig into some specifics, pass out several books and have small groups choose which images and words they respond to most.


Monday, August 30, 2021

3 More God Books about Creation!

 


Picture Book: When God Made the World

Author: Matthew Paul Turner

Illustrator: Gillian Gamble

Summary: In rhyming verse and beautiful images, God’s creativity is celebrated here! Unlike typical books about creation featuring the sequence of events in  Genesis 1 or 2, this is an exploration of all that God created in our universe. Turner emphasizes the cosmic, the geographic, and especially the human with these words: “God made a place for the story of us.” After initially focusing on astronomical features, Turner shows a boy in his bedroom. The boy dreams a journey via a flying boat with some animal and human friends. The children are encouraged to experience creation first hand: "'Cause when God made the world, God... created every detail for our joy and our good." The diversity of birds, water animals, and land animals is celebrated as part of "life's circle." With a last focus on diversity in human bodies, abilities, and purposes, the book declares that all of creation reveals the Divine. Creation "whispers God's story."

Hanna’s Comments: This book was written in memory of Turner's friend, the popular and greatly missed Rachel Held Evans, a remarkable young writer who died in 2019 at the height of her influence. Click on her name above for her website. Turner was later asked to finish What is God Like? a picture book that Evans had started not long before she died. I will devote the next PBT post to it.


I have a couple of Turner’s other books already on PBT. Here are those 2 links:

When God Made Light      When God Made You


Original Publisher & Date: Convergent, 2020

Age Appropriateness: 5 & up

Formats other than Book: Audio & Tablet

Scripture Connections: This book connects to the creation stories in Genesis 1 & 2. 

PBT Applications: Because there is a lot of complex text here, read this book to a group of teens. Don't show the images since they are of very young children. Lead a discussion about the most intriguing aspect of this view of creation. Spend some time on the idea of "life's circle" or the Divine being in creation. You might have them contrast it with Genesis 1-3.If you want to read it to younger groups, show the images and consider reducing the amount of text. Check out the Reminder at end of this post for some tips

  


Picture Book: God Made the World

Author & Illustrator: Sarah Jean Collins

Summary: In contrast to the book above, this book follows the Genesis sequence of events with images that are interestingly geometric and bright (easy to see in a group) but limited in beauty. The actions and words of God are more modern than traditional. For instance, on day 4 God says, "Lights on! Come shine in my new sky." Adam and Eve are not named, but they are made the same day and called God's daughter and son. God loved all that was made!

Hanna’s Comments: This book is 1 of 3 in the God Made series. The others are God Made the Ocean and God Made the Sea. Soon they will be available in a 3-book pack. I like these books because they are large board books which means they are sturdy but big enough to read aloud to a group. 

Original Publisher & Date: Tyndale, 2017

Age Appropriateness: 2 and up

Formats other than Book: none at present

Scripture Connections: This book connects to the creation stories in Genesis 1 & 2.

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of preschoolers who are learning the creation story. Have them use some geometric stamps to make their own nature creations. Have each child declare their creation good, just as God did! 


Picture Book: The World God Made

Author: Donna D. Cooner

Illustrator: Kim Simons

Summary: Like the structure of the classic The House That Jack Built, this book builds on repeating text that always ends with: that shines on the world that God made. This pattern is broken at the end where the author does a nice job of emphasizing gratitude. Here you’ll find simple prayers of gratitude that you might have children repeat with you.

Hanna’s Comments: Like the book just above, I love the bright, simple images which make it perfect for reading to a large group. 

Original Publisher & Date: Word, 1994

Age Appropriateness: 3 and up

Formats other than Book: None at present

Scripture Connections: Unlike the books above, this book does not follow the sequence of events in Genesis. Instead, it celebrates those aspects of God’s creation that have the most meaning for very young children, such as dogs and cats. That means any scripture will connect to this book if it mentions a part of creation that is meaningful to young children.

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of young children to explore the importance of prayers of gratitude when experiencing God's very good creation. Have each child list 5 favorite aspects of God's creation. Then together create a litany or collage that incorporates some of these. You might end with a imagined (or real) nature walk full of phrases saying thank you to God. 

Reminder: Picture books are flexible tools! If the text is too long for your audience members’ attention spans, shorten it with sticky notes. These can cover text, and you can write on them to replace sections of text. You can also use sticky notes to write questions or transition sentences that may be needed if you've skipped text. Use paperclips to skip whole pages

Monday, August 23, 2021

Be Still... & Other Favorite Scriptures

 

Picture Book: Be Still

Author: Kathryn O’Brien

Illustrator: Gillian Flint

Summary: Designed to help a child memorize Psalm 46:10, this book reveals the words of this beloved scripture 1 word per double page spread. 

After each word is revealed, the concept is built like this:

Be kind. Be silly! Be a friend. Be yourself.

In the images, young children are enjoying being mindful of God’s presence and the beauty of God’s creation. Here are the next 2 images so you can see how the pages reveal the scripture and build the meaning:

Shhhh. Slow down. 

Take a breath. 

No hurrying or scurrying or worrying. 

No wanting or whining. 

No fussing. No rushing.

Safe and still.

Don’t let this limited purpose distract you from seeing other obvious applications beyond memorization! Because each word is explored in the pages, each page can be discussed. There is a note at the beginning of the book urging parents to teach scripture to their children. This can be a very meaningful practice, but exploring what memorized scripture means is crucial so that it grows in meaning with age and experience. This book and others in the series (see my comments below) offer opportunities for meaningful prayer which is what the children are doing on these pages! They are oriented to and communicating with God. 


Hanna’s Comments: This PBT post is really about 3 books in a series. They are all structured as described above. Confusingly, the books seem to be in 2 named series: Sit for a Bit or My First Bible Memory Book.

The other 2 books in the series are…

    I Canhighlighting Philippians 4:13

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

    


    Give Thanks – highlighting Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Hopefully, other books based on other important and easy to memorize scriptures will be added.

Original Publisher: Tyndale, 2016

Age Appropriateness: Preschool & up

Formats other than Book: None at present

Scripture Connections: See above. Each of the 3 books mentioned are focused on a particular scripture. More may be published!

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I have recommended each of these 3 books in my Trinity Treasures curriculum for preschoolers based on the the RCL. 

PBT Applications: Read these books to preschoolers or elementary-aged children.

For Be Still, have them experience a Christian-based mindfulness practice, while focusing on their breath and God's presence.

For I Can, have them watch a superhero movie together. Talk about how God is the source of your strength and give examples of when you relied on God’s strength to be resilient. Invite your children to do the same. End with talking about the importance of learning scripture as a way to gain strength and perseverance.

For Give Thanks, have them go outside and secretly draw 1 aspect of creation that they are thankful for. Then have them come inside to play a game of charades so others can guess what they have drawn. To end, together create a litany of thanks or a collage of gratitude

If you are interested in learning about Trinity Treasures, a scripture-based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at hannaschock@bellsouth.net. Right now, free lessons are emailed if you fill out the monthly feedback form.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Hope for the Future via a Media Star

 


Picture Book: The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be

Author: Joanna Gaines

Illustrator: Julianna Swaney

Summary: In this beautiful book, life is explored as a metaphor, a hot balloon festival. A dozen or so children prepare to design, build, and launch their distinctive balloons into the great unknown of their future. First, Gaines emphasizes how the children do work differently. I especially like her point that some are teachers and all are learners. As the various balloons are launched into a crowded sky, Gaines points out it is their differences that make the sky (life) beautiful and interesting! The focus changes to what all the balloonists should do. She urges kindness, compassion, and courage, just to name a few. She urges each child to not hold back nor forget each is unique, needed, and gifted.

Hanna’s Comments: Like many of you, I met Joanna Gaines via the Fixer Upper TV show. Since then, she and her husband have built the influential Magnolia media empire. This book is a nice addition to her work. There are many connections to scripture since it is about the great hopes and possibilities of one person and a group of individuals. This would be a great book for a Sunday school teacher to read on the last day of teaching a group of children. Use it as a sort of exhortation and prayer that they each have agency in a better future for themselves and for the whole world. Call it their work for God's Kingdom/Kindom or the Reign of God, whichever language you prefer. Point out that it is this work that Jesus talked about most. For an OT reference, point out that it was for being this kind of blessing to the world that Abraham & Sarah were launched into their unknowns.

Original Publisher & Date: Thomas Nelson, 2020

Age Appropriateness: preschool and up

Scripture Connections: any scripture about being uniquely blessed for contribution (the boy who shared loaves & fishes, the Body of Christ) or trial (OT Joseph), being part of a beloved community (descriptions of the early church), and being oriented to love, commitment, and compassion (Jesus’ orientation)

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of tweens who are about to start middle school. Connect it to Biblical heroes who face the unknown and are afraid and uncertain such as Ruth & Naomi, Jacob, and those walking to Emmaus.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

God's Nature

     

Picture Book: One Earth

Author: Eileen Spinelli

Illustrator: Rogerio Coelho

Summary: This is a counting book that celebrates the beauty of our Earth. Sure the illustrations are fabulous. That would be expected. But the book is smart too! The 1st half counts 1-10 by focusing on various aspects of nature. For instance, “One wide, sweeping sky. Two honeybees.” The 2nd half counts down from 10 to 1, focusing on Earth-friendly & environmentally conscious tasks. “Four pairs of socks with holes? You can learn to sew.” The last pages emphasize that we have only “one moon, one sun, and one Earth.” Alas, this is so very true.

Hanna’s Comments: Connecting this book to the creation story in Genesis 1 is easy. God declared creation all good in Genesis 1:31. But there are other scriptures, especially in the Psalms, that evoke beautiful earthly and skyward images. Many faith-based communities are now emphasizing human roles as Earthkeepers, stewards of the great gifts God has given us. Nature appreciation, inspiration, and preservation are all parts of rich spiritual journeys. Spiritual discernment and insight are often found in nature. A tiny seed, a glacier, or a swift brook can serve as powerful metaphors for us humans.  

Original Publisher & Date: Worthy Kids, 2020

Age Appropriateness: 4 and up

Scripture Connections: any scripture which refers to a geographic aspect of Earth such as I lift up my eyes to the hills... (Psalm 121:1) OR As the deer pants for streams of water... (Psalm 42:1) OR or more generally, God has made everything beautiful in its time... (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I list this book for a lesson in my Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum (theme: Land and Skies) based on Psalm 19:1 - The heavens are telling the glory of God...

PBT Applications: This book is a great way to begin discussions about spirituality in nature. For young children, read it and simply ask: "What does this book (or this page) tell you about God?" Before reading to older participants, ask about  favorite natural places. After the reading, encourage reflection through art, spoken word, drama, or writing. How might they help preserve their favorite spaces? End with a simple litany of praise that you say together. 

If you are interested in learning about Trinity Treasures, a scripture-based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at hannaschock@bellsouth.net. Right now, free lessons are emailed if you fill out the monthly feedback form. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Gobs of Great Books from Flyaway Publishers

Get ready for a bunch of PBT books! Flyaway is a collection of books being published now in Louisville, KY. They have many titles full of potential for all ages. This company is dedicated to publishing books that encourage conversations about diversity, inclusion, self-esteem, kindness, compassion, and care for our world. Some of these stories come straight from the Bible, like this one. So beautiful! After these new books are described, find below links to 4 Flyaway Books featured earlier here at PBT! 

Below I feature 10 or so Flyaway books! Go to www.flyawaybooks.com for more information & listings. Go to their excellent resources page for lots of goodies to encourage appropriate conversations. One of the things they insert in many books is supplementary content, including discussion guides, background info., & further resources.

I have already posted about 3 “Flyaways” and will continue to do so. In the future, search “Flyaway” in the upper right corner to access this and other posts featuring Flyaway books. Here's the 1st for today, a big beautiful book!


Picture Book: For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World

Author: Michael W. Waters

Illustrator: Keisha Morris

Summary: Jeremiah is a teen thrilled about his new locs, but soon after he learns of Trevon Martin’s murder. This discovery begins complicated & difficult conversations between Jeremiah and his parents as he learns more about similar deaths from gun violence and his own family is threatened by gun violence in their neighborhood.   

Hanna’s Comments: This book focuses on a family's direct experiences with racism and gun violence in America. As Jeremiah and his parents struggle with events in the news, their points of view are poignant and heartbreaking. Spend time talking about how Jeremiah is struggling not only with his very real fears but his identity and difficulties understanding how such events make sense in modern America. The book includes an excellent discussion guide by the Muhammad Ali Center.

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books

Age Appropriateness: mature tweens and teens and up

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about justice connects to this book!

PBT Applications: I can see this book being read to a group of teens in a diverse youth group or a small group of parents who are wanting to breach these subjects with sensitivity and faith. In either case, be prepared to balance the negatives of this difficult issue with hope for a better world and affirmation of beautiful black boys.   

Picture Book: God’s Big Plan

Author: Elizabeth F. Caldwell & Theodore Hiebert

Illustrator: Katie Yamasaki

Summary: This is a clever retelling of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. It celebrates diversity as God’s intention for our world.  There is a note for parents and educators that gives some excellent context to that story. This book also comes in board book form for your youngest children.

Hanna’s Comments: I try not to post about books that are based on Bible stories because those are typically easy to find. This title doesn’t imply that scripture connection, so I wanted you to know about it!

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books

Age Appropriateness: preschoolers and up

Scripture Connections: Genesis 11:1-9, I used this book in my Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum. See how below.

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I connected this book to Psalm 148 (Year C, Easter 5) which encourages all sorts of diversity (mountains & sea monsters even) to praise God.  

PBT Applications: I’ve always found this Bible story to be confusing. This book offers some clarity to any age group. I could see a great conversation coming from an adult Bible study group. Depending on your toddlers, they might be attentive during a reading of the board book. 

Picture Book: The Story of And: The Little Word                 that Changed the World

Author: Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Illustrator: Joani Keller Rothenberg

Lyricist: Carrie Newcomer

Summary: Here a personified word “And” comes to the rescue of some of some opinionated shapes. Thanks to And, the shapes overcome their prejudices and assumptions and team up to create new possibilities. For instance, a circle and a squiggly line are encouraged by And to join and become a balloon! Inside are instructions for downloading an original song written for this book by Carrie Newcomer. If you don't know Carrie's music, which is not ordinarily for children, I highly recommend her thoughtful spiritual songs.

Hanna’s Comments: A fun activity would be to have children play with some shapes by way of various media so they can make some original creations of their own. See if you can recruit a singer to learn the song that can be downloaded for free from Flyaway's resources page. 

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books

Age Appropriateness: preschoolers and up

Scripture Connections: There are many Bible stories where people of different backgrounds overcome their prejudices and work together for good. Think Rahab and the Israelites, Ruth & Naomi, Jesus’ disciples, and the early church.

PBT Applications: The heart of this story is God’s desire for us to be hospitable and even inclusive to what/who is new and different. These issues deserve attention in all sorts of sacred and secular contexts.  

Picture Book: Brian the Brave

Author: Paul Stewart

Illustrator: Jane Porter

Summary: Poor Brian! He learns that some sheep will only play with sheep that look like themselves. Sometimes Brian is left out and sad. Sometimes others are not allowed to play. When a wolf comes, Brian’s courage and instruction helps the sheep overcome their divisions and work together to defeat the wolf.  

Hanna’s Comments: I wish this story for young children didn’t have so much application in the adult world!

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books

Age Appropriateness: preschoolers through early elementary

Scripture Connections: scriptures about overcoming division such as when Jesus crossed cultural & religious boundaries to heal the bent over woman; other scriptures about courage and God’s presence in adversity such as Joshua 1:9: Be strong & courageous....

PBT Applications: Little kiddos need to be reminded of God’s presence when struggling with fear and new possibilities. Read this book to children about to go to “big school” and remind them God goes with them and God is with every child in their classroom, no matter what that child looks like.

Picture Book: Walking Toward Peace: The True Story of Peace Pilgrim

Author: Kathleen Krull

Illustrator: Annie Bowler

Summary: Peace Pilgrim is an actual person (1908-1981) who gave up her name and all her possessions to make the world better, more peaceful. Being weary of war after WWII, she had a dramatic idea for a more meaningful life. She would walk the United States from coast to coast, as a pilgrim for peace. This book is about her preparation, her first walk in 1958, and her many experiences as an ambassador praying with her whole body for peace. For 28 years she crisscrossed the USA!

Hanna’s Comments: I knew nothing about this American hero! Throughout her many journeys, Peace Pilgrim thought of walking as a prayer. This book has more about her in the back pages and some resources, including references to a biography and a website: www.peacepilgrim.org.

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books

Age Appropriateness: Tweens and up

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about peace and refraining from violence or hatred

PBT Applications: Do your children need to learn about the kind of heroes who creatively use mind & body to faithfully demonstrate their convictions? Read this book to them. Check out the resources for ideas to supplement the reading. 

Picture Book: Where is Home, Daddy Bear?

Author & Illustrator: Nicola O’Byrne

Summary: Evie is a young bear moving with her father to a new house. She wonders if that place will be home. Daddy Bear explains that home is more than a place. It’s a feeling, a cuddle, or space to be yourself. Possessions are packed up, and they say goodbye to their former home. Good conversation, games, singing, and comfort food along the car trip helps alleviate Evie’s anxiety. Evie's dad gets a bit lost on the way, but he explains he is never lost when he is with Evie. When they arrive, Evie is less anxious and mostly excited. She declares to Dad: Home is me and you!

Hanna’s Comments: This is such a relevant subject for many children in your churches! Even children who don’t move from childhood homes move to new schools. Help your kiddos apply these ideas broadly. You and your children will likely wonder about Evie’s mom. Her framed image is in the last illustration, but there is no explanation for her absence. See this as an invitation for your children to think of many possibilities. Be sensitive to any children who have no mothers at home. Parental conversations and verbal permission may be necessary before reading to your children.

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books

Age Appropriateness: Preschool through early elementary

Scripture Connections: There are many scriptures about a longing for home. The Israelites wandered for 40 years, anticipating a land of milk and honey. Ruth & Naomi had to leave and establish a new home. Those sent away during the Babylonian exile longed for their Jerusalem home. 

PBT Applications: Consider connecting Matthew 7, where Jesus contrasts a home build on sand to a home built on rock. Decide together what makes for a home’s rock foundation. 

Picture Book: Crocodile’s Crossing: A Search for Home

Author & Illustrator: Yoeri Slegers 

Summary: Like Evie Bear above, Crocodile needs a new home, but he is an adult driven by hope for a better life. When “the trouble started" home was no longer safe. He goes from place to place, surprised by the differences in houses, food, clothes, and words. He plans to search until a place "feels like home." But the people he meets are not welcoming.  They tell him to go away. Crocodile gets hungry and thirsty, but mostly he is confused and tired. Then, like Gulliver for you literary folks, Crocodile makes friends with a community of mice who share resources and accept his differences. With time he becomes an important member of the community. Eventually, Crocodile’s family arrives so that his new community certainly feels like home!

Hanna’s Comments: This is an immigrant story designed with young children in mind. I love the maps in this book! Some map activities might be fun to supplement your reading. Perhaps some of your children are immigrants or have had immigrant-like experiences. If so, this book would be very meaningful! Build empathy for these stories and affirm resilience in children who adapt to new cultures, places, and homes.

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books

Age Appropriateness: Preschool and up

Scripture Connections: Calls for hospitality to strangers and immigrants abound in the scriptures.

PBT Applications: This book offers a story that preschoolers can enjoy and consider with new insights into God’s call for hospitality and community building. But it can also, in a non-threatening way, offer an entry into a meaningful conversation about current immigration issues with older children.

Here are a couple of books about how words can hurt and then heal. Your kids know all about that!

Picture Book: Bruno’s Hat

Author & Illustrator: Canizales 

Summary: Peter and Bruno were best friends but Peter almost damaged their relationship forever when a bully inserted mean words about Bruno’s hat and Peter doesn’t defend Bruno. Peter learns to speak up to the bully and even includes him in their play.

Hanna’s Comments: In a note in the back of this book, it explains that the publishers of all Flyaway Books hope to “help readers see the world from a new perspective” including (with this book in mind) those who witness bullying. There is a downloadable guide to this book here: https://www.flyawaybooks.com/resources 

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books

Age Appropriateness: Preschool and early elementary

Scripture Connections: Scriptures about the power of words apply, such as many in Proverbs, some are about hurtful words (11:9) and some are about healing words (16:24).

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of early elementary children who are struggling with including everyone in church play. The practice of hospitality can begin at church!


Picture Book: What in the World is Wrong with Gisbert?

Author: Jochen Weeber

Illustrator: Fariba Gholizadeh

Summary: Gisbert, a giraffe, has confidence until he is teased as he enters kindergarten. He begins to shrink! No one can see him shrinking, but Gisbert can feel it. What his friends and family do notice, as Gisbert shrinks from mistakes and criticisms, is that he seems upset. They ask how to help, but Gisbert says he’s fine. This pattern continues until Gisbert stays home from school a whole week. When he receives a note from friends who are clearly missing him, Gisbert confides in his parents. They counsel him to speak up when his feelings are hurt and talk to him when he is hurting. You can likely guess the result of Gisbert’s fond and affirming reunion with his school friends. He grows and grows!

Hanna’s Comments: This book has more text so is more appropriate for older children than the one above, unless you have some attentive and mature preschoolers. I believe the strength of this text is that its subject is a child of quiet. These are the children most likely overlooked at school and at church. Talk with all your children about how hard it is for some to speak up and ask for help. Talk about how prayer can help in these situations. Encourage sensitivity for those who are often overlooked or shy.

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books

Age Appropriateness: Elementary

Scripture Connections: This character reminds me indirectly of Zacchaeus and the woman who touched Jesus' garment for healing. Another connection is with scriptures like Psalm 139 that affirm that everyone is a precious child of God, born to be loved and loving. Also, consider scriptures about words that hurt and heal (see examples in the above book). 

PBT Applications:  Consider which children in your church program might be shy and unwilling to seek help from you should problems arise. This book might empower them.

Picture Book: God’s Coming to Visit

Author: Franz Huber

Illustrator: Angela Glokler and Rea Grit Zielinski

Summary: There’s a rumor running rampant among the animals: God’s coming to visit. Exciting! But scary too. They suspect lots of prep is needed so they can impress God. What is special enough? They primp and practice amazing tricks until they become impatient. It’s dark and God has not come! A voice in the darkness explains. “God is already here.” Then owl explains God's constant presence and unconditional love. There’s no need to do anything to impress God. What’s to be done? Be still. Feel God’s love. Share your worries. Ask for help. Love God and each another. They do just that. God is with them to stay.

Hanna’s Comments: Here’s another great PBT God Book, but it’s not published yet. I was able to get my hands on a proof and loved it! Look for it in October!  

Original Publisher: Flyaway Books, will be published in October 2021

Age Appropriateness: Elementary and up

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about the presence of God or a scripture about Owl’s instructions, such as Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

PBT Applications: This book speaks to all of us so it would be appropriate for any age above elementary age. Read it to a group about to study new mediation practices. We humans have a tendency to think a prayer practice must be perfect to be acceptable to God. This book counteracts that human tendency.  

Here are other PBT posts featuring Flyaway Books:

Who is My Neighbor?

When God Gave Us Words

Home by Another Way

The Marvelous Mustard Seed