Thursday, September 29, 2022

Updates to PBT Questions

For today’s PBT post and my next, I have gone back to 6 of my best posts and added new books! A sampling of some of those books I've added are in the photos here. I’ve given you links to the first 3 posts today. 

Next week look for links to those last 3 questions. This series is at the heart of what I do here at PBT. There are many God Books here at PBT, but all the books in this series are secular. That's the point of the series. These 5 questions help you find the sacred in a secular book. Let me teach you my short cuts for finding the theological potential of secular books.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Our Home: Our Earth

Below I describe a brand-new book by one of my favorite picture book authors! This book will have your audience thinking seriously and expansively about Earth, our Dot - the home we all share.

Picture Book: Here: The Dot We Call Home

Author: Laura Alary

Illustrator: Cathrin Peterslund

Summary: This beautiful book offers a wise young girl's wide view of home, time, and space. Beginning in her bedroom and moving outwardly, she draws a line between her house now and before she lived there. She explains that others who lived there left behind things: good things (a tree swing, a secret hedge) and some unwanted things (junk). Wisely she offers the same thought exercise to her city and then our Earth. She invites the reader to go back (turn the page) and see how her city has changed. Historical elements are shown.

Then the illustrator shows the ugliness in some places because other things were left behind.
Our intelligent tour guide ends this thought exercise with a far view of our globe; Dot can look very small from space. She lovingly wishes she could care for all of Earth for the people who are to come after her. "But it is too big. And I am so small." So she engages in a beautiful practice! When feeling overwhelmed by the issues of our globe, she says to herself, “But I can love this... and this."
Mindful moments and small acts of creation care serve to boost her hope about the resilience of our home and its inhabitants. 

Hanna’s Comments: Alary & Peterslund offer a remarkable construction of the breadth of the subject of home and the details that give it beauty and meaning. Through a thoughtful imaginary journey to the past and consideration for the future, the narrator models how to sense a calling for the present! The clarity & detail of the illustrations tell stories beyond the words so be sure to spend some time exploring those images. This keen-eyed girl invites all to gaze gratefully. She may be small and the subject of her worries big, but her vision and agency are expansive. Let her encourage your own children to care for our Dot so that we don't leave so much ugliness behind.


Below I have links to other Alary books featured here at PBT, including a Guest Author post - my first! Why do I like her books so much? Like in this book, Alary offers a clever slant on Truth, Faith, and Holy Love. For those of you doing family ministry, you'll want to explore her Bible for tweens & teens and her liturgical resource books which are full of clever ideas for making church seasons meaningful! All her creations can be found HERE

Original Publisher: Paraclete Press, 2022

Age Appropriateness: Age 3 and up

Formats other than Book: Tablet & Audiobook

Scripture Connections: There are so many scriptures about home and our Earth, particularly land! Here are a few: 

The creation narratives (Genesis 1 & 2)

The Israelites longing for home while exiled in Babylon (Psalm 137)

For you shall not pollute the land... (Numbers 35:33)

I lift my eyes to the hills... (Psalm 121:1)

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish woman tears hers down. (Proverbs 14:1)

The Earth is polluted by its inhabitant... (Isaiah 24:5)

 if anything is excellent and praiseworthy, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of children in your church who are about to engage in some creation care or environmental justice activities. It will motivate them and give them a wider sense of purpose and "grounded" joy! Have them offer contrasting gratitudes to God
    something small then something big
    something personal then something shared by all
    something natural then something human-made
    something microscopic then something in outerspace

Links to Laura Alary here at PBT: 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

3 Books from an Author You Should Know

Dorena Williamson is on a mission to write picture books for children that celebrate differences. Her books are God Books. Here are PBT that means they are not secular. In this case, they mention God. Note the extra L in the key word in the titles and her use of masculine language for God in some of her books. You can make adaptations to her words if you choose. Sticky notes are helpful for this!

Dorena Williamson has written other wonderful books! Here’s another treasure about diversity. This one describes her diverse and open church.

The books below are my favorites! They embrace diversity in church and school settings, including differences in race, culture, socioeconomic status, abilities, and gifts. The situations will be relatable and the illustrations will appeal to your children!

Picture Book: ColorFull: 

                      Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us

Author: Dorena Williamson

Illustrator: Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu

Summary: One summer, Granny Mac encourages the elementary-aged children playing in her yard to celebrate the rainbow of colors they see in bubbles, flowers, butterflies, and animals. 

Granny Mac gives credit to God for “His” multi-colored creation in the yard and on their skin & hair, even the shapes of their eyes. 

Granny Mac pushes against the idea of being “color-blind,” instead we should be colorFULL. Being colorFULL means our eyes and hearts are Full of the colors God made. While eating colorful ice cream, Granny Mac ends the story by declaring, “Being colorFULL is one of God’s sweetest gifts.

Hanna’s Comments:  An art activity would be an easy addition to this lesson. Also, you may want to end with some ice cream cones with many colorful choices! In the back, you’ll find a Parent Connection page that has a verse to remember, a summary paragraph to read about other scriptures, and several thoughtful questions.

Original Publisher: B & H, 2018

Age Appropriateness: 5 and Up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: I will praise you because I have been remarkably & wondrously made… (Psalm 139:14) is listed on the Parent Connection page. Also, detailed there is Peter’s growing faith via these verses: The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Pentecost (Acts 2), Peter’s inclination to divide (Acts 10), and at Cornelius’ home where Peter receives an inclusive view of God (Acts 10:24-28).

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of kindergarteners who are learning to notice God’s diverse creation.

Picture Book: ThoughtFull: 

                        Discovering the Unique Gifts in Each of Us

Author: Dorena Williamson

Illustrator: Robert Dunn

Summary: At an elementary school, it is time for the HEART Awards. These 5 awards celebrate children who are - Hard working, engaged in Excellence, Adventurous, Respectful, and Thoughtful. Ahanu is a 2nd grader who receives the Thoughtful award. 

Joshua congratulates his friend Ahanu on the way to the bus, but then Joshua overhears other boys talk mean about Ahanu’s “weird” name and behavior. Joshua’s heart sinks. His sadness is apparent to his father that afternoon. After Joshua explains, his father wisely says:

If we only spend time around people who are like us, we miss out on discovering the unique things about people who are different from us. The truth is, we’re all gifted by God’s design. 

Joshua’s dad asks to hear about the ways Ahanu is thoughtful. Joshua offers many examples, and his father affirms how Joshua too is thoughtful. The next day at school, Joshua makes a point of telling the “mean” boys about some of Ahanu’s positive attributes. He ends by saying, “We could all learn a lot from him.”

Hanna’s Comments: Late in the story it is explained that Ahanu has Down’s syndrome so you may want to be prepared to talk about children with genetic differences and Down Syndrome in particular. In the back, you’ll find a Parent Connection page that has a verse to remember, a summary paragraph to read about another scripture, and several thoughtful questions.

Original Publisher: B & H, 2018

Age Appropriateness: 5 and Up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about being thoughtful such as Paul’s listing of the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). Now, there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:4) is listed on the Parent Connection page. Also, detailed there are the verses about body parts being metaphors for various parts of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of elementary children who are learning to appreciate the differences in the people who are their faith family.

Picture Book: GraceFull:

                      Growing a Heart that Cares for Our Neighbors

Author: Dorena Williamson

Illustrator: Geneva B

Summary: On a Sunday morning at church, Hope and her family are in worship. The pastor welcomes all and prompts the monthly grace offering. 

He explains that it will help the Habib family who are staying at the Chen House where church members are volunteering. Hope tells her parents about Anna Habib who she met at church. They are from Syria. Her parents explain that the Habib family are homeless but are living at the Chen House – a shelter. Hope goes with her family to work at Chen House and sees her new friend Anna and her school friend Ahanu (see previous bk). 
The children go to the garden on the roof. The benefits of the garden are explained to the children while they work. Later Hope talks with her mother about the unfairness of being homeless. Her mother agrees and explains her gratitude that their church can help show God’s grace. Hope asks what grace looks like. Her mother compares it to rain, showering on us all and helping us grow. The book ends with the Habib family moving into their own home. Hope’s family brings them a rosebush. Anna tells Hope that her Mama says God’s grace just keeps falling on us. Then the girls go out to play in the rain.

Hanna’s Comments: This book is inspired by the author’s home church, Strong Tower Bible Church, a multicultural faith community in Nashville, TN. You might want to invite a gardener to come talk to your children about how to tend a garden (esp. roses) and the importance of rain. In the back, you’ll find a Parent Connection page that has a verse to remember, a summary paragraph to read about another scripture, and several thoughtful questions.

Original Publisher: B & H, 2019

Age Appropriateness: 5 and Up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about God’s grace and being full of grace. May the Lord bless you and protect you… (Numbers 6:24-26) is listed on the Parent Connection page. Also, detailed is 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 about the Corinthian church’s struggles and generosity to others.

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of elementary-aged children who are exploring about God’s grace.