Over the course of the fall, I’m going to be tidying and organizing my blog (just as I’m also striving to tidy and organize my house.) One task long overdue is to create a better system of organizing certain post types so my readers can find specific types of posts easily. Stay tuned for a page that will index every single author and illustrator who I have either interviewed on my blog or who has been a guest blogger. I’m working on that – but it turns out it’s a long, long list which is taking me a long, long while to compile.
So, for today, while I still work on that, I thought I’d share with you a new page which indexes every single Picture Book Sundays post I have created plus other posts that focus on using picture books to plant seeds of faith in our little ones. I hope you find it a helpful and easy way to quickly locate these types of posts.
Today I am delighted to feature DIFFERENT LIKE ME, written by Xochitl Dixon and illustrated by Bonnie Lui. Published by Our Daily Bread Publishing in 2020, DIFFERENT LIKE ME is a joyous celebration of what makes us, God’s children, special. Through a delightful pairing of rhyming text and illustration, Xochitl Dixon and Bonnie Lui demonstrate through the example of a group of children, that though we are different, deep inside we feel things the same, have shared interests etc. and, thus, have much in common. The book’s takeaway is captured succinctly in the closing line:
“I look all around me and what do I see?
God made every kid different…
and special like me!”
DIFFERENT LIKE ME would make wonderful addition to your church, school or home library. I can’t wait to share it with my Sunday School kids.
Now, in the hope of using the book as the spark for meaningful conversations with your little ones, here are SIX extension activities for DIFFERENT LIKE ME:
Play “God’s Heart” using chalk. Read the story together, then head outside or to a large room for a game of “God’s Heart”. Using chalk or tape, draw a heart on the ground big enough for all the children to fit in. Ask what the heart reminds them of: God’s love! Explain that you will be calling out directions and if the answer to the direction is YES, they should run into the heart. Examples: “Step in to the circle if you have freckles(long hair, short hair etc.).” “Skip into the circle if you like pizza..” “March into the circle if you feel happy when others share.” etc. Continue until everyone is in the heart. Then, marvel at how wonderful it is that we are each unique creations, yet we all share much in common. And the best part is we are ALL in the heart. And what does that heart stand for? God’s love! And what does that remind us of? That we should love each other as God loves us! Play as many rounds as time and interest permit.
After reading, think and talk. This story can be used as a vivid spark for conversations with your little ones about embracing our diversity, noticing the wonderful ways we are alike and celebrating that we are created and loved by God. Use Xochitl’s question guide at the end of the book to get you started.
Do a picture read through. After reading DIFFERENT LIKE ME, flip things around by having your child re-read it to you using the pictures as clues! Reading the pictures is a great pre-reading skill because it encourages interacting with the page. It’s also a wonderful way to notice all the diverse and delightful details illustrator Bonnie Lui has added to the story. So, snuggle up and enjoy being “read” to. Reading the story again and again is also a good way to take to heart the message of the story (to quote Xochitl) – “that God intentionally created each person to be unique and to work together”.
Paint a rock that looks like YOU (or a friend… or both)! After reading the story, head outside to find some good painting rocks. Then let your children celebrate their special traits and qualities and those of others by painting portraits on rock – like this one, painted to celebrate love and acceptance! For extra fun, gather your rocks and place them in a garden or in a special spot as a reminder of God’s love for us which then can overflow from our hearts to others.
Find verses that show God’s loving care. Xochitl prefaces and concludes her story with two beautiful reminders from Scripture of God’s loving care in creating each person. As you read, point those references out to your children. They are listed simply as Genesis 1:27 and Psalm 139: 13 – 14. After reading the story, have your children grab their bibles, or the class or family bible, and look up the verses. Then marvel at God’s love and handiwork in creating each one of us.
Wrap the reading up in prayer. Wrap up your DIFFERENT LIKE ME story and activity time in prayer, thanking God for stories like this that remind us about God’s love for us and that we are each unique and special creations. This is a sweet opportunity both to model prayer with your child and also to let them add to the prayer in their words.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Xochitl (So-Cheel) Dixon, author of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace and the2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist, Different Like Me, advocates for inclusion and equity based on the strong biblical teaching of God’s intentional diversity. With her service dog, Callie, Xochitl crosses generational and cultural boundaries, reaching international readers with love through her contributions to Our Daily Bread at www.odb.org and on her blog at www.xedixon.com. She inspires others to share God’s love with Spirit-empowered courage, confidence, and joyful praises through the Christian apparel and accessories she designs for Worship Expressed at www.worshipexpressed.com.
When I was Children’s Ministry Director at a small satellite church, I planned a Sunday morning children’s program called “PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: Sparking Faith Conversations using Picture Books and Scripture”. Each week, using an engaging picture book as the spark along with games and a craft, children ages 3 – 10 delved into Scripture as we investigated what it means to be a beloved child of God. The kids enjoyed the lessons so much, that I have decided to continue with a regular blog series focusing on picture books that can be used as the spark for conversations about faith with your children.
Today’s lesson uses PICTURING GOD (Beaming Books, 2019), written and illustrated by poet and visual artist Ruth Goring as the picture book hook. I hope it sparks thoughtful conversations with your kids.
PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: A Faith-Sparking Lesson
by Ruth Goring
PURPOSE: To be filled with wonder and gratitude as we explore a beautiful sampling of the many “pictures” (i,e. metaphors) for God found in the Bible using Ruth Goring’s PICTURING GOD (Beaming Books, 2019) as the spark.
OPENING PRAYER AND GATHERING GAME: What Am I? (a metaphor guessing game!)
Ahead of time write down on little cards a rich sampling of the biblical metaphors for God found in the Bible. You can use Goring’s book to get you started, but also feel free to explore the Bible on your own and add concrete examples can easily act out. Examples: shepherd, eagle, rock, gate, hen, light. The morning of the lesson, open in prayer, then explain that in today’s story, we will be exploring what God is like, but first we’ll be playing a guessing game. (Don’t say yet that each is a metaphor for God.). Put the cards in a basket, then have each child pick a card and then use pantomime to act out what it is. No speaking or sounds aloud. The children will have fun guessing and can cheer each other on.
INTRODUCE THE STORY:
Hold up the book and have someone read the title. Explain that Ruth Goring is both the illustrator and author of the book. Ask them to take a close look and see what kinds of materials she uses to create her art. Do they know what this is called? (Collage.) Based on the title what do they think the book will be about? Then say there’s a special connection between our game today and the book. Do they know what it is? They are all pictures/ images that have been used in the Bible to describe God! Then read the story, pausing and marveling together at just how God is like the various metaphors ascribed to Him.
FAITH-SPARKING CHAT TIME:
After reading the story, have a round of “popcorn-style” responses (no hand raising needed) to see how many pictures of God they can remember from the book.
Then for each, see if they describe in their own words how God is like a rock, eagle etc.
Finally, ask again where Ruth Goring found these wonderful metaphors? Did she make them up? No, then where did she find them? In the Bible!
DIG INTO SCRIPTURE TIME:
Special note: For first grade and up, I recommend having several children’s bibles on hand so children can work in pairs to find the verses. They LOVE this and in the process learn how to locate biblical passages by book, chapter, and verse – a rewarding and important foundational skill for future bible study.
Wrap up the discussion by going a little treasure hunt into God’s Word to find a few of the images of God we marveled at in Goring’s beautiful book. Use the verses listed at the end of the book, but prep ahead by putting a sampling on cards to hand out to each pair of children or, depending on ages, to look up together.
STORY-BASED ACTIVITY TIME: Create Your Picturing God Collages!
Ahead of time, gather an assortment of collage materials as well as glue and one plain white paper plate (with two holes punched at top) for each child. Then, opening up Goring’s book one once more, take a moment to marvel at how she uses bits of this and that to create beautiful images. Thus inspired, let each child pick their favorite metaphor from the book. Neatly print it across the top. Then, dig in and start creating! Our bits of this and that included shiny gold ribbon, sequins, pom poms and tissue paper squares, but use whatever you have on hand. As each child finishes, loop yarn for hanging, but instruct them (or their parents) to carry their masterpieces home flat until they have dried.
WRAP UP: As children are finishing the activity, give thanks together that God loves us like a rock, shepherd, door, mother, father etc.
TEACHERS! CAREGIVERS! LIBRARIANS! I’ve rounded up TEN activities created just for DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE, perfect for kicking off the new school year, which is just around the corner, or any time of year. Enjoy!
ONE: Make a pair of fancy glasses, then pretend you are at the opera while reading DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE at Celebrate Picture Books.
TWO: Do a book-themed Read, Discuss, DO!
THREE: Discuss what it means to be a diva, then make a feathered fan like Delores uses in the book with this project created by Rebecca Gomez.
Are you a parent, teacher, or librarian, looking for a fun way to extend bilingual story time using LOVE IS KIND and its adorable Spanish version EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO? Then this easy craft/game is just for you! It’s primary purpose is to be a matching game, but you can also use the cards as stand-ins for puppets so your little ones can retell the story in Spanish or English, or both, in their own sweet words.
LOVE IS KIND and EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO Matching Game
Print out the English and Spanish versions of the cards.
Color in the picture squares. Then cut out.
Glue the picture squares onto construction paper squares.
Place the cards face down. Take turns turning over two at a time.
Name the pictures in Spanish and English. If they are a match keep them. If not, place back face down.
Take turns until all the cards have been matched. Player with most cards wins.
Did you know that in addition to being Flag Day, June 14th is also National Skunk Day?! And since a pair of the little stinkers play an important role in GOODNIGHT, ARK, I’ve grown especially fond of the species.
So now, in celebration of skunks, not just once a year, but every day, here’s a fun quiz to test your skunk expertise.
1. TRUE or FALSE: All skunks have black and white stripes.
2.TRUE or FALSE: A batch of baby skunks is called a litter.
3. TRUE or FALSE: Spraying that stinky mist is a skunk’s first defense mechanism.
4. Which of the following predators are IMMUNE to the skunk’s stinky spray?
A. foxes B. coyotes C. great horned owls D.badgers
5. TRUE or FALSE: Bathing in tomato juice is the best remedy for “de-skunking”.
ANSWERS: (Skunk’s honor: no peeking until after the quiz.)
1. FALSE: All skunks are black and white which acts as a warning for predators to keep away. The specific fur patterning, however, varies. Different types of skunks have different black and white patterns including stripes, spots, and swirls.
2. TRUE: Skunk babies are born in the spring. Mother skunks typically give birth to between two and ten babies per year. The babies follow their mother around until late summer when they are ready to be on their own.
3. FALSE: Lifting the tail and spraying is a skunk’s LAST line of defense. Before resorting to spraying, skunks give several warning signs including growling, stomping feet and, finally, raising tails and hind legs while stomping. These advanced warning signals give predators time to back-off without getting sprayed.
4. C. Great Horned Owls, and most larger birds of prey, are immune to the skunk’s stinky spray.
5. FALSE:Actually, according the Humane Society plain old tomato juice isn’t all that effective because it lacks the acidity necessary to neutralize the chemicals in the stinky spray. Adding vinegar helps somewhat, but the best way to “de-skunk”, according the Humane Society, is to make your own odor neutralizing home remedy. For more on that, visit this helpful post from Humane Society.
Did you know that in addition to all sorts of extra pairs of animals (including two mice hidden on every spread) illustrator Jane Chapman has also added a yummy assortment of fruits and veggies to several of the illustrations in GOODNIGHT, ARK? What a lovely opportunity to explore this delicious food group with your child! With that in mind, here a are FOUR fun food-themed activities to pair with GOODNIGHT, ARK.
Play “I Spy a Fruit (or Veggie)”. As you read the story with your child, be on the lookout for fruits and veggies. On the pages where you spot them, pause to play mini-rounds of “I Spy”. Ex: “I spy a carrot.” Take turns, seeing if the other person can find it. For an extra challenge, instead of naming the fruit or veggie, describe it. Ex: “I spy a food that begins with B.”
Go on a fruit and veggie hunt. After reading the story, go on hunt in your kitchen (or better yet the produce section of the super market or a farmers’ market) and see if your child can spot any of the fruits and veggies they saw on the ark.
For even foodier fun, ask them what other fruits or veggies they think the animals on the ark might have liked and why? Then see if you can find them. (Make a mental note of these for reference in the next activity.)
Eat some fruits and veggies! After reading the story (and perhaps taking a trip down the produce aisle with your child), have fun brainstorming yummy snacks you could make together using the fruit and veggies depicted in the story (or the extra ones your child thought might also be enjoyed on the ark). Then prepare a fruit or veggie snack using those foods! Ex: Serve up sliced apples or bananas or carrot sticks.
For even more fun, use one of the fruits or veggies as inspiration for a simple cooking activity. Ex: Make apple pie with the apples or simmer up some carrot soup. Oven-roasted potatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper might also be fun and tasty treat. Or something better that you and your child decide upon… together!
When I was Children’s Ministry Director at a small church, I planned a Sunday morning children’s program called PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: Sparking Faith Conversations using Picture Books and Scripture. Each week, using an engaging picture book as the spark along with games and a craft, children ages 3 – 10 delved into Scripture as we investigated what it means to be a beloved child of God. The kids enjoyed the lessons so much, that I have decided to continue with a monthly series focusing on picture books that can be used as the spark for conversations about faith with your children.
Today’s lesson uses THE LORD’S PRAYER (Zonderkidz, 2011) illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson with commentary by Rick Warrenas the picture book hook. I hope it sparks thoughtful conversations with your kids.
PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: A Faith-Sparking Lesson
THE LORD’S PRAYER
illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson with commentary by Rick Warren
PURPOSE: To understand that God wants to be in conversation with us. This conversation is called prayer. Jesus thought it was so important that He showed his disciples (and us) how to pray. This prayer is called the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s celebrate and give thanks that we can talk to God by… praying!
OPENING PRAYER AND GATHERING GAME: Telephone (… a communication challenge!)
Open in prayer, then explain that in today’s book, we will be learning about how we communicate with God. But first, a game to see how effective it is (or isn’t) to communicate to another through a whole line of people! To demonstrate play a few rounds of the old-fashioned classic “telephone” in which all the children sit in a circle and one child is selected to whisper something to the child beside him/her. The whispered message is repeated around the circle and when it comes back to the originator, the group can see if the message is correct or if it got jarbled along the way. Use this as a tie-in today’s story, where we’ll be learning about how we can communicate directly with God from his very Son, Jesus!
INTRODUCE THE STORY: Begin by saying one of our greatest privileges as teachers and parents is passing along our love for the Lord with our children. And one of the ways we do this is by learning to pray together. Ask if they know what prayer is? When do they pray? What do they pray? Do they know that prayer is actually talking to God – directly!?! (As opposed to the way we shared our message in the game we just played.) Do they know that God LOVES it when we pray and wants us to pray to Him? Yes, He does! Prayer is so important to God that He had His Son Jesus teach us how to do it while he was here on earth. That prayer is called the Lord’s Prayer and it is the focus of our book today. Explain that first you will just be reading the prayer through, and then you’ll go back and think about the meaning of each part of the prayer.
FAITH-SPARKING CHAT TIME: After reading through the whole prayer, return to each spread. Have a child read that portion and then ponder together how the illustrations help us to understand what each part of the prayer means, using Rick Warren’s wonderful guide at the end of the book as an aid.
Close the time by challenging the children to memorize this prayer as Jesus’ example of good praying. Then pray it together.
STORY-BASED ACTIVITY TIME: The Lord’s Prayer Bookmarks
Ahead of time, type up the Lord’s Prayer using the columns feature on your computer to create long narrow text that can be cut into book mark shaped strips. Print on card stock and cut. Let the children decorate their book marks using markers and stickers. For an extra special finishing touch, punch a hole at the top and add colorful ribbon or yarn, as shown.
WRAP UP: As children are finishing up their bookmarks – challenge them to begin memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, phrase by phrase. Then, give thanks that God loves us so very much that He even created a way for us to communicate directly with Him – through prayer.