Every time I sat on the couch for a breather when I was visiting my niece and nephew, one of them brought me “Bye-Bye Time” or “Diapers Are Not Forever” by Elizabeth Verdick. They snuggled up next to me and sweetly demanded I read each one several times. Both were still adjusting to pre-school drop-offs, and my nephew was deciding whether he bought into the idea of potty training (which every adult in his life seemed to be pushing). These books provided both of us with common words to explore important ideas in their young world. I could recite both books by memory before I left.
Faith Can Be Explored Through Picture Books, Too
I think about these small, holy moments of my life when parents ask:
How do I talk to my child about faith? Baptism? Holy Eucharist? Death? Our Bible stories?
Like all of the other topics we explore through picture books, faith can be explored during storytime at home. Picture books provide all ages with vocabulary and images to use when exploring a topic together. Picture books are easy to use, encourage imagination, and are often already a part of family life.
Reading at Home
Picture books with faith stories can be easily integrated into your family reading rituals. Or, they can inspire a new ritual of faith by previewing them before an actual event, like reading a baptism book before or after attending a baptism.
Children often repeat what they are processing and want to read what they are connecting with many times. They may not share what they are feeling or ask questions right away. If children are quiet after reading, that’s okay. Allow space for quiet. Questions and ideas can show up at times you might not expect. Answer their questions and respond to their feelings when they express them.
Children’s ages and personalities will impact the experience too. Right now, my toddler delights in flipping the book’s pages. As a result, we sometimes read one or two pages over and over again, especially dwelling on pages where he most likes the illustrations. Whereas my older niece has big questions for me, which we wonder about together, and she likes to talk about what we’ve read. When she doesn’t have questions, I often offer a wondering statement. We wonder about our favorite parts of the book, where we are in the story, and what part we think we could leave out. (If you’d like more ideas about how to invite wondering into storytime, read this brief Storypath article.)
Finding books about our faith to read can be challenging. As a response to this, I have started a virtual picture book club for parents, caregivers, faith formers, and other fellow picture book lovers. Once a month, I recommend a picture book via my blog and email that fits with the themes of the Bible passages we read on Sunday morning or in the liturgical season. I look for books that reflect Episcopal theology and the diversity of God’s kingdom in author, illustrator, word, and image. I choose books that are often available at local libraries or easily purchased online. For those working within a faith community, these are wonderful books to have on display or offer to lend to families. My hope is that these books will provide opportunities to learn and explore our sacred stories, faith, and God at home.
A few favorites from the past years are:
- “Mother God” by Teresa Kim Pecinvosky and Khoa Le
- “The Night of His Birth” by Katherine Paterson and Lisa Aisato
- “Maybe God Is Like That Too” by Jennifer Grant and Benjamin Schipper
If you want to join in, sign up for Anna’s picture book blog here!
Photo Credit: Anna V. Ostenso Moore