Episode 157: Reading at Home and Building a Spirit of Hospitality

This week we talk about books to help our children appreciate home and learn hospitality. We look at the silly, serious, and the inspirational. 

Show Notes:

(00:00): Welcome and Introduction
(01:00): Our Table
Building Character through Picture Books
(02:25): Mama Panya’s Pancakes
(03:31): Goldie and the Three Hares
(04:45): Love Connects Us All
(05:40): The importance of reading aloud
(08:39): Cora Cooks Pancit
(09:25): The Sour Grape
(10:14): The Story of Home
(11:58): Closing

Books Discussed in This Episode:


Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. Last week we talked about reading books along the way, and mostly I focused on nature and when we’re out taking nature walks or just outdoors with our children, some fun books that we can read that would really enhance the experience and help us focus on God. So today I wanted to focus on the part of the scripture that says, talk about them when you are at home, when you’re going to bed, or when you are getting up. Now, I could spend 300 hours talking about these because there’s so many books we read at bedtime, or read at breakfast, enjoying a devotional together, there’s some great devotional books for children and for families, but instead, what I’m going to do is just focus on a couple books that talk about family and home and hospitality. I have to narrow it down to one topic so that we can talk about it in this episode.

So of course, I have to start with one of my favorite picture books about home and family, and that is Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds, and it’s one of the books I included in my devotional book for families, Building Character Through Picture Books that just launched last month, and of course I’ve talked about that book, but the devotional is in there that goes along with this book. Our Table is a great book that reminds us of the importance of gathering around the dinner table together, the breakfast table together. That’s a time when we have a captive audience where we can talk about our day and talk about what’s going on with each of us and just enjoy time together with our family. It’s one of those things that over the years, we lost for a while, and I miss it, and wish I could have it back. I regret the times that we have just not pushed to continue that process. Even today. We often are so busy, our kids are grown, and even when they’re home, we all eat at different times, and sometimes I just say, no, tomorrow we’re going to have breakfast together. We all sit at the table and have great time when we can do it together, so this book really emphasizes that. It’s really cute. This little girl is very proactive in helping her family realize the importance of that time around the table, so I really highly recommend this book.

Another one that I really love is called Mama Panya’s Pancakes, and it’s a story from I believe Kenya, and it’s written by Mary and Rich Chamberlin, illustrated by Julia Cairns, and this is great because first of all, it’s a cultural story, but it’s about a mom who wants to make pancakes and the son keeps inviting people to their home for pancakes and they don’t have much, and the mom is very worried about how she’s going to be able to feed everyone, and so it shows hospitality, it shows friendship, it shows the welcoming of people into our home and inviting them to our home, but it also shows that people pull together when there’s kindness. So people bring different foods to the family as they come to enjoy the pancakes, and pretty soon, of course, they’ve all got enough food, even though the mother was very concerned that she wouldn’t have enough because of everyone’s generosity, they all have enough food to eat and enjoy the fellowship together. It’s just a really cute book and it has a little bit of the Swahili language in it, it’s just so cute on so many levels.

Now, this other one, I like this one, it’s called Goldie and the Three Hares, and this is written by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Jack E. Davis. There’s a lot to talk about when you read this one with your children. Goldilocks is running away from the three bears and she trips and falls into the hares home. She is a high maintenance young woman. When she falls, she hurts her foot and she’s just a horrible house guest and is very selfish. The rabbits are trying to figure out how to get rid of her, how to get her to leave because she’s so awful, so it’s definitely not about hospitality, but you could certainly talk about hospitality, but you can also talk about how to be a good house guest, and what’s funny to me is it’s very cleverly done, the ending of the story is very cute and it’s kind of a surprise ending, but there’s a lot to talk about. It’s funny, I think it’s a really good book, I think it’s good to read. Even though some of it is a little irreverent, it’s pretty good, and like I said, from this one, there’s a lot of conversation starters, a lot of opportunity to talk about being a good house guest and being kind and not being selfish.

Another one I want to share, it’s not really about hospitality, it’s more about family, it’s called Love Connects Us All written by Michelle Medlock Adams and Illustrated by Sandra Eide. It’s a really pretty book about family and how we also can be a part of God’s family. It celebrates family and ends with a prayer that we can thank God for our family, and it has a place in the back of the book where you can put a picture of your family in there to add to the story as you read it together. So I want to read you the prayer at the end because I think it’s so pretty, it says, “Thank you God for my family. It’s not like any other family, that’s what makes it so special. I am so grateful for the love we share, and I’m so thankful because I’m in your family, God. Amen.” And I thought that’s really nice, and that’s really the message of the book, that we are all part of God’s family when we follow Him, so this is a very nice book.

There are wonderful, wonderful books to read at home, to read at bedtime with your children. It is so, so important, and we’ve emphasized that again and again on this show that it is important that we read aloud with our children to our children, let them read aloud to us. It builds a life of reading, a life that then helps them as students when they go to school, and it just allows for times to gather, just like meeting around the table when we read before bedtime, we have a time of intimacy, of specialness where we connect with our children and with each other. So I haven’t talked about this in a while, I hope that we remember how important it is to read together, and even if you don’t read well, even if you don’t use voices and all the creative things, it’s still important to read together and to enjoy that time together. So reading at bedtime, I like to read when we’re on the road or anywhere that we can to read together, to share together what we’ve read and to talk about the books we’ve read. It’s so important and it really blesses our children and helps them when we’re talking about reading at bedtime. The other thing is we want to choose books that will help our children go to sleep well and to feel safe, and when we read with them before bedtime, that’s what it does, it creates a sense of safety, comfort, and security, and there’s just nothing like that, especially if we pray together. That’s why I wrote the book I wrote, and I’m working on the second one, Building Character Through Picture Books because we do have that time at bedtime to read together and then to go into a short devotional, ask a few questions, pray together, and in my book I also included questions for your older children so everyone can gather and have a devotional together before bedtime, and then in my book, I include more information if you want to continue the discussion at breakfast the next day around your table, so I’m hoping that what I’ve done in my book will encourage us all to spend that important time with our families before bedtime at the kitchen table, and as we go off into our day, the scripture that we talk about in Deuteronomy 6 talks about to repeat them again and again to your children, and that’s another thing with reading with our young children. We read the same books over and over again because that’s what they enjoy. They enjoy that repetitiveness and God knew what He was talking about when He told us to do this, so we want to do that and not get tired of it, but recognize the wonderful gift we are giving our children as we share books together, and as we open up those important conversations where we can talk about the things of God and the character traits we want our children to gain and to help grow in their lives, and just as we teach our children what is important in our lives, our faith, and how important that is, so all of these things come into play when we read together.

Another one I’ve mentioned before, and again, this is another book about another culture, Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and Kristi Valiant. I just love this one because it shows the family dynamic. It shows them working together, cooking together, and kind of the hierarchy that the youngest finally gets to cook, so I think that’s why I like this so much besides I love pancit, but it’s a cute book, I love the sibling interactions and all of that, but books about eating together and books about sharing our family holidays, and family lunches, and dinners together, and how important that is to come together, I think are such a blessing to our children, to remind them that sharing together is important.

Another book I want to share is called The Sour Grape by Jory John and the illustrator, Pete Oswald. I like several books in this series. There’s one I don’t care for, but this one is really cute and teaches a lot of character qualities that we want to teach our children, forgiveness and kindness, and patience, they’re all in there, and this one is great then to jump into some scripture from that one. I’ll probably include it in my next devotional book actually. But it’s really well done, and I think it really talks a lot about relationships and it just reminded me of one that we would talk about when we’re at home with our kids and would be a great one to add to this episode about reading to our children at home and the importance of spending time teaching our children again and again the things of God.

One last book I want to share with you is called The Story of Home: God at Work in the Bible’s Tales of Home by Caroline Saunders and illustrated by Jade Van Der Zalm. This is a really special book, it talks a lot about heaven, it’s really about heaven, and it talks about being homesick for heaven, which I love because that’s the only way we can describe how we feel about our longing for heaven and longing for the presence of God. It’s just really well done and it’s really cute. In the pictures, the illustrator has put the scripture references in the picture. You have to really look to find the scripture references if you want to read the part of the Bible they’re talking about, but in this story, they go through talking about the history of the church. They start with the garden, the fall of man, and that God created a perfect home for people, and we sinned, and then it goes on and talks about the temple, it talks about God’s plan throughout history and how He provided homes for His people, how He rescued the Israelites from Egypt because that home was not safe, and the stories throughout the entire Bible and even into talking about Jesus’ life and how He didn’t let sin into His heart, and how He provided a home for us, He provided the way for us. It’s a beautiful gospel story, but it also emphasizes how God wants to have a home with us and He’s preparing a place for us. It’s just a really nice story and really cute, and the illustrations are beautiful, but I think it’s very plain. The language that is used explains God’s plan for salvation very clearly for young children, so I really like this picture book. It’s really well done. I think it’s great for talking about what we’re trying to teach our children most when we talk about teaching them God’s word at home.

Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share on social media so people know we’re here, and if you can leave a review on one of the hosting sites where you listen to this podcast, that really helps as well. We truly appreciate you. If you would like to connect with me, join my mailing list or just check things out on my website, you can find me on TerrieHellardBrown.com. We’d love to hear from you, we respond to every comment and question, and you can post those in the comment section on the show notes. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

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.

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