Saturday, December 10, 2022

3 Ellie Holcomb Books (1 for December)

You may know Ellie Holcomb as an award-winning Christian singer/songwriter, a solo artist and a member of her husband Drew Holcomb's band. Her books share several attributes: 

  • They are large board books. I’ve written that too many abstract or lengthy books are being made in board book form, which will turn off a child beyond the need for those kinds of books. All are available in tablet form.
  • They begin broadly with abstract possibilities that explore questions. Midway they become theological. I recommend them for age 4 and older, despite them being board books.
  • The 2 non-Christmas books align with an album which must be purchased separately. There may be a Christmas album eventually.
  • All are written in verse so practice before reading aloud.
  • She uses masculine pronouns for God. If you choose, adapt easily with sticky notes that cue you to use the words you prefer.
  • The images are of diverse children interacting with wild animals in extraordinary ways. 

These images are similar to Nancy Tillman's beautiful books. Find a few of those at PBT HERE  AND HERE.

Picture Book: Sounding Joy

Author: Ellie Holcomb

Illustrator: Laura Ramos

Summary: This book begins with the question: What does joy sound like? It answers with possibilities of child characters experiencing joy in winter. Snow sounds like the laughter of friends, deep breaths when playing games are joy sounds, and hooraying while sledding is a glorious joy noise. Next it says glorious joy long ago sounded like angels’ wings. Suddenly, the modern setting reverts to shepherd children in Bethlehem witnessing a sky full of singing angels! With reverence, the little shepherds visit Jesus at the manger where “God bent down low and sent us His son to make heaven our home.”

Hanna’s Comments: The sentence above doesn't express my theology regarding the purpose of Jesus’ birth, but I try at PBT to not limit your access to good books when they don’t line up with my personal theological ideas. What this book does offer in abundance is joy grounded in a loving God whose creation and incarnation via a human child are very much worth celebrating.

I also like how she ties the lights we see at Christmas to the glory of the angels and encourages her audience to respond to Christmas by sounding joy and being loving.

Original Publisher: B&H, 2022

Age Appropriateness: 4 & up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: There are many joyful sounds in the Christmas story. Those animals couldn’t have been quiet! And the choir of angels were the ultimate joyful noise! Also, Make a joyful noise… works well here (Psalm 100:1-5)

PBT Applications: Read this book at a Christmas day children’s church gathering. Remind all that the joy and rituals we experience this season are about God’s loving generosity. Talk about your audience's most joyful moments this season and help each find the gift God has given in each circumstance.


Picture Book: Who Sang the First Song?

Author: Ellie Holcomb

Illustrator: Kayla Harren

Summary: This book’s title question is directed at a group of children. In verse, it describes possibilities. Was the first song sung by the sun? Whales? Flowers? etc. Then it explains that God wrote the first song into everything and everyone. We and all creation are wonderfully made so let's sing our unique songs, while being who and what we were created to be. Good. Beautiful. A reflection of our Creator.

Hanna’s Comments: I like the possibilities that the first pages offer. These can lead to some imagination-fueled conversations. Ask what might the songs of birds say about God? When Holcomb dismisses ideas of earthly creations having  sung the first song, it's a bit jarring, but she quickly explains the goodness of creation and urges all to sing songs they were created to sing. If God sang the first song during creation, then God wrote God's own song into everything  and everyone. God's singing and our extraordinary songs continue. Psalm 150:6 exhorts all breathing creatures to praise God.
Original Publisher: B&H, 2018

Age Appropriateness: 4 & up

Formats other than Book: Tablet & and an album - Sing: Creation Songs

Scripture Connections: We are wonderfully made with an ever-present God to stir us into song (Psalm 139); Make a joyful noise… works well here too (Psalm 100:1-5); Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:6)

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of children who are learning that worship can be noisy. And quiet. And even sad or angry as in a lament.


Picture Book: Don’t Forget to Remember

Author: Ellie Holcomb

Illustrator: Kayla Harren

Summary: The question that begins this book is Did you know creation is talking to you? What follows is encouragement to all to listen and remember what God teaches through creation. Creation might be heard anywhere. In the photo below, the ocean sings a reminder that God's love never ends. A sail is a metaphor for being filled with God. 

We can hear God's voice at anytime. Snowflakes whisper we too are unique. 

Each sunrise silently sings of God's loving presence. 
Hanna’s Comments: One of my favorite prayers begins, "New every morning is Your love, oh God of light. And all day long You are working for good in the world." This book reminds me of that assurance. Throughout this book implores us to be open to God's presence, listening to what God is singing and showing. 

Original Publisher: B&H, 2020

Age Appropriateness: 4 & up

Formats other than Book: Tablet & an album - Sing: Remembering Songs

Scripture Connections: The image above is a reminder of many scriptures in which God is said to be light (Isaiah 9:1, 1 John 1:5 are 2 examples). Other scriptures that would connect with this book are those about God's constant presence (i.e., Psalm 139:7-10) and instructions to listen (i.e., James 1:19) and remember (i.e., Psalm 103:2).

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of young parents. Then spend time talking about what reminders of God they want their children to have and how they can encourage these while outside.

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