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 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.