by Leah Wall
Lead Catechist for Children
This past Sunday we, as a church, spent time praying for the isolated and the lonely. I have found that, more often than we notice, the heavy things on our hearts are also on the hearts of our children. Story reaches out in a way that direct teaching often can’t. If you would like to discuss this week’s topic with your children and are looking for a way to open that conversation, here are some books that I have read and believe would be a help. These are also just great books with themes that resonate with the heart of God. Because of some of the themes presented, I recommend pre-reading, using your own discretion on the age-appropriateness of each book.
The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle. This book for very young children shows a lonely firefly looking for a place to belong. A wonderful surprise ending. (Ages birth+)
SOMETIMES I GET LONELY (Psalm 42 for children) and SOMETIMES I HAVE TO CRY by Elspeth Campbell Murphy. These books are older and harder to find but they are worth the hunt if you want some good books to begin significant conversations with your children! Elspeth Murphy takes the Psalms and contextualizes them for children. In SOMETIMES I GET LONELY, she takes Psalm 42 and walks through various situations in which a child faces those feelings of isolation: when grown-ups are talking, when you’re in a fight with a friend, etc… Then she remembers that God is with her “like a stream of water for a thirsty deer.”
In SOMETIMES I HAVE TO CRY, the author uses various verses from the Psalms and the imagery of the loss of a pet and other things to communicate how to deal with sadness and feelings of isolation. “My feelings are spread out in front of you the way we spread out papers at school. My sadness isn’t hidden from you.” Both of these books are wonderful for. (Ages 5+)
MAGGIE AND THE PIRATE by Ezra Jack Keats. Mr. Keats really believed that all children should be able to see themselves in books. He did this through illustration (the way he broke the color barrier in A SNOWY DAY) and also in the text as in this book. This one can be read online here. Maggie, a little girl in a remote rural community, has her pet cricket stolen by a strange boy and she and her friends track him down. She overcomes her fear and confronts the boy, and in their tussle, the cricket drowns. What happens next shows us, with the directness of a child’s gaze, how our humanity connects us to one another and the world. (Ages 6+)