Episode 115: Introducing the “Books that Spark” Book Club

In this episode of “Books that Spark,” we introduce our new Book Club! To be a part, you can sign up for our mailing list at terriehellardbrown.com.

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids.

Today, we’re going to talk about the new book club that we’ve introduced in our newsletter that started in August. And I wanted to just kind of go over the different books that I listed in the newsletter for August to kind of give you an idea of what our book club is like. We don’t have any meetings or anything like that, although that’s not something I would be opposed to in the future, but what we offer are books for each age level that either are around a theme or that will just bless your family in some way, and that go along with each month. So for August, we had the theme of Summer and fireflies.

So for the board book for young children, we have Ten Little Fireflies by Deb Gruelle. This is a wonderful little book where you’re counting from ten to one. It helps a child to learn how to count from ten to one, and it has all the little pictures in the book of family and neighbors and being outdoors in the summertime. And with this, I have the question or the suggestion that we ask children to tell us what is happening in each picture, who are the characters? What are the children doing? What do you like to do on a Summer evening? And so this would be with your little bit older toddler who can talk and answer questions. With your babies, I think they would enjoy the beautiful colors and pictures in this book. And it’s just a very fun book to read with your kids.

For the little bit older child for picture book level, I actually chose two for August, and one is called, Come On, Rain, and this book, I’ve mentioned it on a previous episode. It is by Karen Hesse and is just a great book about the Summer heat and the refreshing rain and the way she writes you can feel the stickiness of the heat and the coolness and relief that everyone experiences in the rain and it’s set in a city and it’s a hot Summer day and they’re just sweltering, but they can smell the rain in the air and they know that rain is coming. So they’re like, come on, rain. And so then some of the questions I have for this book are, what do you like to do in the Summer? How do you handle the heat? What can we do when it won’t rain? What does the Bible teach us? Where does the girl live? How is it different from where you live? And so that helps our children to start noticing settings and stories and describing those settings and to describe the setting where they live. And what is your favorite part of the story? And this will probably be a question every time, because I think it’s an important one. What is your favorite part of the story? And then it says the girl fixes some tea for her mama in the story. What can you do today to bless someone?

And then the second picture book is called Fireflies, and it is by Julie Brinckloe. It is an older book, but it’s really cute. And it says, what do you like to do on Summer nights? What do you think of fireflies? Have you caught one before? Have you ever done something fun that turned out to be a bad choice and you had to change your plans? What makes the boy realize he needs to let the fireflies go free? And would you have let the fireflies go free? To kind of let them look at the same dilemma and how would they respond to it? And of course, what is your favorite part of the story?

Now for our chapter book, for our middle grade to middle school, age children, this is called The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. Barbara O’Connor is the author, and this is a very cute chapter book. It deals a lot with conflicts. So I also have a link to discuss the different types of conflicts we find in stories. Since these are older children, they need to start learning these different literary devices and understanding literature a little more deeply. So, in case you needed a review on the different conflicts, or it’s always just good to have them listed out in someone else explaining them than for us to try to always think of how to explain them. So I did include that link in the newsletter, but how would you describe each of the main characters in this story? So this helps your child to start critically looking at what they’re reading and the different characters in the story. Why do you think Earlene was so unhappy? This is a character in the story who is never happy. She’s always grumpy. So it helps them to think critically about what might be causing her to feel that way. And when did Owen make good choices and when did he make bad choices? So throughout the story, he makes a lot of decisions. This would open up quite a good discussion, I think. And if you could talk to Owen, what would you tell him? How did Owen and his friends solve their problems of finding the submarine, helping Tooley and getting the submarine to the pond? Now, this is more of dealing with plot points. As we go through the story, it also helps them to think about what they’ve read, to really digest the story and think about it. And would you have done things differently? How would you have solved these problems? The children are problem solvers, but maybe we could think of another way to solve the problem, or maybe we would decide they did a great job. Do you think that Owen and Viola became friends after this story? And this is drawing conclusions, thinking beyond just the concrete. And then, who is your favorite character? What was your favorite part of the story? I think also with this one, you can talk about symbolism. You can talk about a subtext because Owen relates to Tooley, which is a frog because he’s captive. And I think Owen feels like he’s trapped too, so you can kind of help your children to start thinking critically using literary devices, using critical thinking to go a little deeper in the story.

And then I included a craft, firefly jars, which is a really cute little craft. And I didn’t make up the craft. I have the link to the craft so that you can go to the person’s website where this craft comes from and it’s just adorable. So those are the children’s books that I recommended.

And then for your older children, ninth through young adult, I included a romance. I’m not a big romance story person, but this one was really cute. And it’s called A Summer in Sweet Grove by Melissa Storm.

And then for the parents, I’ve included a wonderful devotional book by my friend, Marci Seither and it’s called Lakeside Retreat. This book will definitely bless you as you read these devotions. It’s got cute stories in there, very quaint. It’s like taking a little retreat as you read each devotional.

And so those are the books that are in this month’s book club that I wanted to share with you, to kind of show you what I’m providing in my newsletter for you.

Then I have a devotional that I wrote to go along with a picture book, Fly! by Mark Teague. And this is a wordless picture book. And then I have a devotional that you can share together with your family to go along with this book. You’ll also see in the newsletter, if you received it, that I have a giveaway, we are giving away the book Fly!. All you have to do to enter the giveaway is sign up for the texts that I’m doing right now. And these are daily texts just for the month of September that are helping you as your children are getting ready for school. Getting settled down into their routine of the beginning of school. And I try to do these texts when we are in our busiest times of life, so that it helps us to start the day with praying with our children and in the day with conversations. So I send in the first text in the morning, a prayer prompt, and hopefully it will prompt some other prayer requests with your kids and some good discussion as well, maybe in your commute on your way to school. And then in the afternoon, you’ll receive a second text that gives you a question, a prompt to create a discussion. And most of these are fun. Some are serious, but they all are meant to just open up dialogue with your kids. I don’t know about your kids, but when my kids would come home from school and I would say, how was your day? It was just like, “fine.” What did you do? “I don’t know” and it’s like, okay, not a very compelling conversation. And so these prompts are hopefully going to spark some good conversation. And then on the weekend, I have a prompt for you to pray for your pastor, pray for your Sunday school teachers, or for your church. And then I also have the Bible verses on Sunday that will come out for each week so that we can memorize verses each week. And that’s the two and seven, two verses in seven days throughout the school year. And so that is what’s involved in the texts. And if at any time with the emails or the texts, you can always unsubscribe, you can always stop the texts, but if you sign up for those, you’re automatically entered into the giveaway. And that will be at the end of August. And then we have another giveaway of course, every month. And so if you’re on my mailing list, you will find out about the giveaway in each newsletter. You will also, if you’re in my Facebook group, find out about the giveaway there, and I try to post it on social media as well, but it’s mostly for my mailing list. And those in my Facebook group, they get the most reminders about the giveaways. And my heart is that I can bless you and serve you and help you as you try to help your children grow in their faith.

That’s what this is all about. We want our children to grow in their faith, to follow Christ with their whole hearts, to ask questions and that we can have these conversations that can be life-changing, that can be eternally important. And so that’s at the core and the root, the foundation of all that we do at “Books That Spark,” at TerrieHellardBrown.com and even the stories I write, the devotions I write, that’s really at the heart of it all is discipleship and helping our children grow closer to God while we are growing closer to God. But I also understand that we are busy and we are overwhelmed at times, and that we are sometimes even wrestling with our own faith. And so we address these things as we’re going through the different blog posts and episodes of the podcast and all of these things, the books that I recommend understand that we are not perfect parents and we never will be. And our children are definitely not perfect children and never will be, but they are wonderful people and God has entrusted us with them. And we want to do the best we can with His help, with His wisdom and relying on Him every step of the way. So that’s really, what’s at the core of what we do here.

Now, before we end today, I wanted to talk about one more thing. I don’t know if you have seen in the news, but there is a rampage of censorship apparently going on in our American world today, which I’ve just never seen this. I’ve, you know, there have been times that they have censored a book or banned a book from schools from the regular curriculum, such as Huckleberry Finn, it’s been on and off a banned book list for years. But now that list is growing and growing and growing. Now I’m not saying the books that are being banned, that are being censored are good books that we all should read. Some of them I would never read, but I don’t think banning books and censoring books is the answer. It really concerns me that our culture is doing this because, what’s next? You know, if you’re banning a book, if you’re censoring a book, then you are opening the door for all censorship or the government to decide what we can teach, what we can read. And I believe parents should be the ones who decide what our children read. Parents should be the ones who make the choices. If a school is wanting children to read a controversial book, then teachers can offer an alternative. Teachers can offer, you know, if Huckleberry Finn is offensive, then what if you can, you know, read? And we could offer a second book and let the children choose a different book. Most of my teachers would give us a whole list of books and we would choose two books from that list. One for first semester, one for second semester to do an individual book report on. If the school is wanting to have your child read a book in the whole class, the whole class is reading the same book and you disagree with that book and don’t want your child to read it. Then I think you can take your concerns to the teacher, to the principal and see if they can make an alternative plan for your child. That is not unheard of, it is not impossible, but to try to force the school, to not choose to do that book, if it’s part of the general curriculum and is an acceptable book that is used in curriculum, then I think we have turned a corner and we’re going into a dark place that I don’t think we should go personally. And I’m very concerned about this. It, it really breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to see some of the books that are being published that are really bad in my opinion for our children, that are misleading in faith, and in reality, and in truth. But as a parent, I choose to protect my child to guide my child, to help my child. And if my child reads a book that I think is inappropriate, we need to talk about it and not censor the book, not try to pull books from the library and from the bookstores because you’re opening up a really bad precedent that way. So I hope that you will pay attention to what’s going on with all of this and maybe be a voice in all of this to see things change. I’m not sure what has triggered such an avalanche of banning and censoring books this year, this season, but it really is concerning. So check out what’s happening in your libraries and in your neighborhood and let your voice be heard, you know, speak up if they’re doing things you disagree with. I think it’s okay to express your concern in a loving and kind way, and in an educated and smart way. If they’re banning books that you think is troubling, then speak up to those who are forcing these bans. Some people have lost their jobs, librarians and teachers apparently have lost their jobs because of what’s happening, and I really am concerned about this. So in case you weren’t aware of it, I wanted to mention that today. Please check out in your area what’s happening, and be aware and let’s protect our right to have freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” a podcast celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions, as we disciple our children and help them follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you would like to connect with me, you can reach me at TerrieHellardBrown.com. I’d love for you to sign up for my mailing list. When you do, you receive several free items, as well as getting notifications when I post a blog post or an episode of this podcast. You also get my monthly newsletter, which now includes the book club. You also receive the new devotional that is a part of each of those newsletters. If you enjoyed this episode, please like, or share and let your friends know that we’re here and we appreciate you being here.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

Only two more days to enter the drawing! To enter, go to my writer page on Facebook and simply write “text” in the comments. That will enter you in the drawing as well as send you a prompt to confirm you want to sign up for daily texts during September. We would love to have you join us in these daily texts.

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