Thanks for joining me!
Stories capture our attention and open our hearts as much today as they did for our ancestors. Children and adults alike enjoy listening to stories. They help us understand who we are and connect us to the wider world. A good storybook Elementary school teachers know that a well-chosen book can draw even reluctant learners into a new lesson. Luckily, there are thousands of quality picture books available to supplement lessons from friendship to photosynthesis. As a teacher with 15 years of experience, I have read (and collected) a lot of books!
When my husband began occasionally leading worship services in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, he frequently asked me if I had a book that might tie into the message that Sunday. As a retired teacher, he knew the trick of drawing listeners in with a good story worked for little kids and adults too! More often than not, I found something, and after the service, someone (usually an adult) would inevitably tell me how much they enjoyed the story.
The more I looked at my collection of storybooks, the more I wondered if it was possible to connect a quality storybook with every week of the Revised Common Lectionary. Maybe not from my personal collection, but could this be the excuse I needed to purchase even more? In the interest of marital peace, the library helped out and put holds on about 50 books that piqued my interest, and I’ll be browsing libraries and bookstores regularly, looking for new additions for my lectionary of children’s literature.
While working toward my MEd in Early Years Education, I leaned to pay close attention not just to the story, but how it is told. Does it feature a diverse cast of characters, both male and female? Does it rely on gender, ethnic, or classist stereotypes? Will this book be a window out into the wider world? Will readers see themselves represented in the pages, as if in a mirror? While the books reviewed on this blog are meant to supplement Biblical scripture, they are chosen with a modern lens. I will do my best to select materials that add a spark to your sermon or Sunday School lesson while staying true to the inclusive values of the United Church of Canada.
From time to time I will also be posting resources that, while not tied to a specific week of the lectionary, may prove helpful during the church year; books that tackle racism, gender inequality, reconciliation between Indigenous people and settler descendants, family diversity, tragedy, disaster, and death. We could all use a little help to make sense of the complicated, intersectional world in which we live, and settling in with a storybook is a great way to do just that.
Until next time, here’s a TEDx talk by Grace Lin who does a great job explaining how books need to be both windows and mirrors for our children.