Episode 163: Terrie Hellard-Brown Interview & Building Character through Picture Books

This week we “flip the script” a bit as my daughter interviews me about my new book Building Character through Picture Books. We also try something new by offering a video version of the interview. Check it out on YouTube.

Our Guest Interviewer: Annalyssa Brown

Annalyssa “Annie” Brown is a world traveler, marketing major, and lover of people, plants, and puppies. She was born in California, was raised in Taiwan, and has lived in Myanmar and traveled extensively mostly throughout Asia. This is her first official interview, but with a desire to blog about traveling, it won’t be her last. Her heart is to see the world, meeting friends wherever she goes, and telling the world about Christ. Follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/annalyssamariaaa/

Show Notes:

00:10 – Introduction
00:61 – About the book: Building Character through Picture Books
01:39 – Grumpy Monkey
01:55 – The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes
02:26 – Because
02:50 – Corduroy
Caps for Sale
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Runaway Bunny
Olivia

03:20 – The Little House
Ruby’s Wish
Miss Rumphius
03:40 – Fly
Flashlight
03:50 – Enemy Pie
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
05:15 – Why general market books?
08:21 – How to build our children’s faith
10:20 – Shh! We Have a Plan
13:45 – Closing

Books Discussed in this Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Terrie:

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 the children in our lives. Today we’re doing a special episode and we’re flipping the script a little bit. My daughter is going to interview me about my new book, Building Character through Picture Books. So I’d like to welcome my daughter, Annalyssa Brown.

Annalyssa:

Hello

Terrie:

Hello. So now you are in charge; you’re the interviewer. So go ahead.

Annalyssa:

Alright. Well, I’ve helped you sell this book a lot, and I realized I don’t really know very much about it, so I thought I would ask you a couple questions, because every time I would describe it, dad would always be like, “No, no, no, that’s not what it is.” So I figured I should probably ask the number one question of: what is the purpose of this book?

Terrie:

Okay. Well it’s a devotional book. It has 25 devotions in it for families to do together so the whole family can come together and do a devotion in the evening or in the morning, so it’s not just for children, it’s not just for parents, it’s for the whole family to come together with the word of God and with picture books.

Annalyssa:

Cool, that’s awesome. It sounds like a great thing for me to have when I eventually give you real children rather than these guys.

Terrie:

Yes. Instead of plants, and cats and dogs, yes.

Annalyssa:

Alright, and I looked at all the picture books in the book and there’s 25 of them. What books are mentioned?

Terrie:

Well, I don’t want to list all 25, but I will list a few because there’s some of my favorite picture books. So number one has to be Grumpy Monkey. I just love that picture book, I’ve loved it since the day I read it. So I did a devotional that matches up with Grumpy Monkey. One of the newest books I’ve read that’s on this list is The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein. This one is such a great book. If you have a child who’s a perfectionist or pushes themselves too hard, this is a great book. It deals with mercy, it deals with understanding we’re not perfect and looking to God for our perfection because he’s the only one who can make things right, so it’s a really great book, even if you didn’t have the devotional, but I have a devotional that goes with it.

Terrie:

I love the book Because by Mo Willems, because it deals with how we each have a plan and a purpose from God, but even the person who we think, “I don’t have an important job, I don’t matter.” You do, your job is just as important because without you and without you doing your part in the body of Christ, there would be something missing. That book really leads into that kind of a discussion.

Terrie:

And I have some classic picture books in there as well, like Corduroy and Caps for Sale, if you remember that one, and then one of my favorites is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, that’s an old classic that’s really good. We have The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown… Olivia’s kind of becoming a classic, it’s a little bit older.

Terrie:

Oh, and The Little House that was one of y’all’s favorite when you were kids. I remember The Little House in the city grows up around the house, some that are not as well-known probably, but are just really wonderful picture books. Ruby’s Wish, it’s a fairly new one that’s been out in the last few years. Everyone probably knows Miss Rumphius. It’s a favorite among most people by Barbara Cooney.

Terrie:

And then I have actually a couple wordless books in here, Fly, and Flashlight, they’re wordless books, but then we have the devotional to go with the picture book. Another one of my favorites, because I’ve mentioned it like a zillion times on this podcast, is Enemy Pie, and that one by Derek Munson is just one of my favorites, it’s so brilliant and such a great story. So those are quite a few of the ones that are in there, and you can go to Amazon and look and it lists all the ones that are in the book, so you can see all of the picture books that we cover, like We Don’t Eat Our Classmates and stuff like that. So those are in there, and you can get all of these books from the library. I don’t think any of them would not be available in the library, and like I said, they’re available at your favorite bookstore website. Even the used bookstores, I got a lot of my copies from a local used bookstore that I just love. You can get ’em there for a decent price, so that’s pretty good. Save some money, yeah.

Annalyssa:

Yeah, I remember every single time, cause we had the children’s book giveaway featuring some of the books that were in your new devotional, like every time somebody would walk by, they would just like rave over, “Oh, Grumpy Monkey! That’s my favorite book!” every single time. So that’s awesome, yeah. They would go through the list even when you weren’t there and just like go over it. They all seem like really popular children’s books, but I did notice that some of them aren’t Christian children’s books, so how are you planning on incorporating a devotional into regular children’s books as well?

Terrie:

Okay, yes. Every single one of these is General Market. The reason I chose general market books is because if it’s a Christian book, the devotion is kind of woven in there already. They have the scripture attached to most of the pages, or at least in the back matter they’ll have a devotion for the parents to talk over with the children, so you didn’t need me to do that book. I didn’t need to bring in Christian books, but we every day read books to our children and we want to make that connection to those important lessons we want our kids to learn, so I took general market books and I understand some of these authors, you may have a problem with their beliefs, with their lifestyles, with all kinds of things connected with the actual author; we’re not necessarily endorsing the author’s lifestyle, and the authors may not even be happy that they’re in this book, I don’t know, but I love their books. They’re great storytellers, they’re brilliant, and I love their writing, and some of these people are not even around anymore, so I purposely chose books that made me happy that I can see children just laughing and loving when they’re read to them. I knew they were stories that children would want to hear again and again and again. That’s what I chose. As I’m reading those stories, scripture’s just coming into my mind, this connects with this idea, and it was so funny, at one of our events where we were talking with someone, I mentioned one of the books and this person had a different scripture come into her mind that connected with the book, and I thought, “That’s awesome!” because then once you get to thinking that way, then they could even read the book again, cause you know kids, they want to read it over and over and they could bring in another scripture that really fits with the story.

Terrie:

What I have done is chosen the scriptures that really came to my mind as I was reading the story, and then I wrote a devotional for the whole family. So the devotional goes into the scripture, we have prayer prompts, and we also have discussion questions. The parents can decide if it’s a bedtime story. Maybe they only want to discuss one or two questions and not get into a big discussion right before bedtime, but they can continue the discussion the next morning at breakfast or even the next afternoon after school or whatever, but I included questions for the younger children as well as the older children because if we’re doing the devotional together as a family and we have children— our kids in our family are 10 years apart from each end of the spectrum here, so if we had us all doing a devotional when y’all were children, then Rachelle would’ve been much older than Ryan and he would’ve been right in the age for picture books, and Rachelle would’ve been interested in discussing something a little deeper or a little more thought provoking, so that’s what I included.

Annalyssa:

That’s awesome, and also the fact like, these are probably books that these kids are going to see at school or see in the library with their other friends, so I think that’s really cool because then after the parents go over these books with the kids, then the kids might be able to spark conversations with their friends and I think that’s really cool.

Terrie:

That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s a great point.

Annalyssa:

Alright, and how do you think this book can help children grow in their faith? Like what are some main themes that you have?

Terrie:

Well, the title is Building Character, so we focus a lot on the different character qualities we’re looking for as we grow in our faith: being able to forgive, being able to minister to someone like in Grumpy Monkey. What I love about Grumpy Monkey is everybody’s telling him to feel better and what he can do to feel better, but his friend just sits with him and lets him be a little bit miserable, and I think that we as Christians need to understand that we can’t always fix the situation for people. We can certainly sit with them and let them grieve or let them go through whatever they’re experiencing and be there for them, and support them, and love them, and pray for them. We forget that sometimes, and I know for me personally, when I’ve gone through some of the most difficult times in my life, I didn’t need someone to quote scripture at me or tell me how to make things better, I needed them just to let me grieve and to go through that experience, and that’s the main lesson of Grumpy Monkey. Then when we go into the scripture. That’s what we talk about, how to really bless people, how to really minister to them. In Corduroy we talk about how Christ has really changed our life when we become believers, that we are new creations, we talk about family time and how important it is to spend time together as family. Most of them we focus on the different aspects of God’s spirit, like the fruit of the spirit. We’re talking about love, patience, kindness, goodness, and like I said, forgiveness, so those kinds of things; the lessons that we need to learn in our walk with God that we want our children to also learn. That’s the key behind each of these, is that we’re learning truth and facts about living the Christian life. Another example I have, this is one of my favorite little books, Shh! We Have a Plan, just the title makes me happy.

Annalyssa:

I love that.

Terrie:

Yeah. But “we have our plans,” the Bible says, but God’s plans prevail, and learning that, learning that God does have a plan, even when life seems chaotic and crazy or we’ve had a horrible, rotten, very bad day, that God still is there and God still has a plan and that we need to trust His plan and we need to do the right thing within what we’re trying to do. The one little guy in the book is the only one who really tried to connect with the animals and the story and the others are just making their little plans and failing and failing and failing, and it’s just an interesting little story. It’s kind of a quirky story, but it makes me smile, and I just loved it when I saw it; from the first time I read it, I fell in love with this book. So all of the books I chose have a message that helps us to improve our walk with God or draw closer to God or understand the word of God, and then of course, the devotional really drives that home using scripture and prayer.

Annalyssa:

That’s awesome. Yeah, I think it’s really great, especially being as these are picture books, like, these kids can start extremely young. I mean, they just need to look at the picture and be able to think for themselves, and I think by implementing these thought processes and topics to be able to let the kids think when they’re really young, like, that can really help them as they’re growing up, to have these really strong core values and to be able to think for themselves. I don’t know, it’s really exciting. I think it’s great.

Terrie:

Yeah, I love it. A friend of mine gave me the idea because I love picture books and I love writing devotionals, and she said, you need to put those together, and it has been the most fun I’ve ever had writing and I love writing. It’s just been a blast. So it took a couple years to get this book published, but I’m just really happy that it’s out there now.

Annalyssa:

That’s so exciting. You were talking and it brought me back to whenever I did the family table thing in Taiwan, really bringing the family together no matter what the age range is, that’s something that’s so difficult to do nowadays. Most families might watch a movie together, but you’re not really talking to each other, growing with each other, but with this book, I feel like it really can touch on all of the age ranges in the family. A lot of the things that you mentioned are things that I’m still working on. Like, even in adulthood, we’re still going through these things and trying to grow in our faith and also just be a better person, so yeah, I think it’s great cause literally every single person in the family can be learning from this book that’s geared towards kids and everyone. So that’s really exciting.

Terrie:

Yes, that’s one of the main things is I wanted it to be useful for all of us and I just was really blessed in writing it and I hope that families will be really blessed as they read it together.

Annalyssa:

Yeah, that’s exciting.

Terrie:

I also forgot to mention that each devotional also has a parent section, and I thought about if I were sharing that devotional at night and then we’re at breakfast the next morning, how would I want to continue the conversation? Or if I were homeschooling my kids again like we did when you were younger, what lesson could I do the next day and homeschool to really dig a little deeper into the topic. These are just there as suggestions and ideas for parents to choose if they want to do it, if they want to use it, or if they do homeschool and they’d like to add a lesson. These are just for them to bless them and help them if they want to have some ideas to spark more conversations with their kids.

Annalyssa:

Yeah, that’s awesome. And also like if they’re reading the book to their kids when they’re young, they can even read it over again when they’re a little older and challenge them on these new topics or going deeper into the topic.

Terrie:

That’s true. Well, that’s good. So, well, I just want to say thank you for doing this interview. I know this is not what you normally do and we don’t normally do videos, so I’m very uncomfortable about that, but I’ve had a good time and I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me about my new book. So thank you.

Annalyssa:

Of course, anytime. It was fun and I feel like I’ve learned so much about this book just from selling it at the event, not really knowing very much about it, and it’s kind of neat to just see what exactly it is and it makes me really excited for the future, like if I ever work with kids again or wherever life takes me, I hope I can use it.

Terrie:

Yeah, I hope so too, that would be fantastic. So yeah, I definitely plan to send them with you on your next mission trip.

Annalyssa:

Absolutely.

Terrie:

Okay, well I’m going to say thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” in this special edition with the video, and this is 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, of course we always ask you to like and share, leave reviews on the podcast platforms, leave a review for my book on Amazon, that would mean the world to me, that would be like Christmas. You can connect with me as always on my website, TerrieHellardBrown.com, and we just thank you for being here and being a part of this ministry, and most of all at “Books that spark,” 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 (usually): Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to empower children and adults to embrace everyday discipleship every day. 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 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 everyday.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 35+ years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 35 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.

Video of Podcast:

https://youtu.be/Tgr4wSAIFts?si=palzawrGyJQhlbRE

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *