In this episode of “Books that Spark,” we discuss how to set goals and some books to help inspire us all.
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. We are beginning a new year. As usual, when we start a new year, we often think about resolutions and making plans for what we’re going to do in the new year and how we’re going to change. I got to thinking about that because, even though I say I don’t usually make resolutions, deep inside, I really do. And there are always things that we want to change about our lives. Whether we verbalize it or not, it’s there in our minds. I have really been pleased in 2021 to see how God has worked in my life in a different way and has helped me to actually reach some of the goals I’ve had. What has been really different is that I’ve made bite-sized plans. I’ve set goals that are long-range goals, but then I made bite-sized plans. Some of those plans are 15 minutes a day. On top of that, I have a strong group of friends who hold me accountable. They also give me advice if I have questions. I get a lot of feedback, and I get a lot of accountability from them, and that has helped me stay focused and stay on track. I was thinking about when we look at scripture, what we can learn, especially from the Proverbs. The first verse that comes to mind is Proverbs 19:21. “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” That’s one thing I think of and hold on to. So with our kids, we can let them try things and fail and learn from those failures. First, we need to start with prayer and second to help them break down their big goal into small bite-sized plans. And then, of course, we need that accountability. However, that happens, whether it’s a chart, friends, or us as parents helping our kids to count what they’ve accomplished and to look where they need to continue to grow.
I have some great books to share today that can help our kids along that path, and to maybe help them understand a little more clearly how to plan those goals and how to plan for the future and take the steps they need. I want to start with a very silly board book because I’m going to go from youngest age to older kids. The first one is a board book. It’s also available in hardcover and paperback: Giraffes Can’t Dance written by Giles Andrea and illustrated by Guy Parker Reese. This is a very funny little book, but it also shows some painful truths. Sometimes when we don’t quite fit into the group, people make fun of us. This poor giraffe–they had a party and all the animals had their dances: the tango and the cha-cha, and all he could do was panic and trip over his own feet. But then a cricket who had been watching comes and gives him some advice. And he learns that he just needed to listen to some different music than what they were listening to. And when he heard the other music, he began to dance very gracefully and had his own way of dancing. And I think this is a great book to show children that we each are created differently. We each have a different calling in our lives and a purpose in our lives, and we need to be the person that God created us to be.
One really cute and funny little book is called Someday by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Rosie Winstead. This is such a cute book, especially when we’re talking about goal-setting and plans and resolutions. The little girl in the story has big, big dreams. She says, “Someday I will…” and she names her accomplishment. Like one of them is she’s going to be an Olympic gymnast, and she’s going to win the gold medal. And then it says “Someday. But today I’m practicing cartwheels in the backyard.” And she falls into the mud. And so each goal, each dream that she has that’s so big, so amazing–You turn the page to today, and she’s doing something just every-day, normal practice that helps her to prepare for the big goal that she wants to have. And I love that about this book. It’s so adorable.
And then there’s the book by Mo Willems and illustrated by Amber Ren called Because I’ve shared this book before. I love this book. It shows so much about how, when we make a decision and we make a choice, it has a ripple effect that affects other people’s lives. And in this case, the uncle has a ticket to the symphony, and he gets sick. So his little niece gets to go in his place. She falls in love with the symphony, and she becomes a great conductor. I want to read just a little bit of this book. It says, “Because. This is how it happened… Because a man named Ludwig wrote beautiful music, a man named Franz was inspired to create his own. Because many years later people wanted to hear Franz’s beautiful music, they formed an orchestra. Because a man had practiced since he was a kid, he was asked to join. Because a woman studied night and day, she too was asked to play.” And it goes on, and it shows different musicians who worked and practiced and became part of the orchestra. And then it says, “Because workers checked the lights and the seats and swept the floors, the grand hall was ready. Because the time had come, the ushers opened the doors. Because someone’s uncle caught a cold, someone’s aunt had an extra ticket for someone special. Because the usher helped the aunt and her special guest, they found their seats.” And so it shows how every person plays a part in making things happen. And it says a little further on, as they’re listening to the music, “She heard the beautiful music written by the man named Franz, and it changed her.” And it shows how, because that changed her, she practiced and learned and tried really hard and became really good at what she did. It says toward the end, “Then she was invited to perform her music at the grand concert hall because so many people wanted to hear it. Her composition was dedicated to the uncle in row C, seat 14, because it was his ticket that brought her here. And then it says, ,”And that night someone else was changed.” It shows that the story continues on. Just one of my favorite books. And I love Mo Willems anyway. He’s such an amazing children’s writer. But this book, I just love it.
Then another really cute book, and it’s an odd book, but it’s really cute is What Do You Do with an Idea written by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom. In this one, the little kid has an idea. And the idea is in the shape of like a little egg that follows him around, it’s a little egg with a crown on top, and it follows him around. At first he doesn’t know what to do with an idea. So he walks away from it, but then he misses it. And so he decides he likes really having this idea hanging around. Then all of a sudden one day, right in front of him, the idea just takes wings and takes flight. The answer to the question “What do you do with an idea?” is: you change the world. I love that part of it. It’s an adorable story. And I think children will really enjoy it, but it really shows you how an idea, if you hang around with it, if you keep thinking about it, spending time with that idea, then you can see it grow and become something that can affect the world. That’s really good.
Then Ruby’s Wish by Sharon Yim, Bridges and illustrated by Sophie Blackall–I love this story. It’s based on a true story of the writer’s grandmother. She was in China. Girls did not get to be educated, and she wanted to be educated. She lived in a family where her grandfather allowed the girls to learn to read. She got to learn to read. She got to go to school within the house because they were wealthy and had teachers in the house. So she learned and learned and learned as much as she could. And then when her grandfather saw how sad she was, she shared boldly that she wished she could go to college. And she actually was able to go to college because of her grandfather’s help and was the first woman to graduate from that college. So it’s a really amazing story of perseverance and determination. And yet there’s a humility and acceptance of whatever’s going to happen. She did the best she could with what she had, and then because her grandfather intervened, she was able to do more than she could do on her own, which is such an important principle for us to teach our children.
Now, if you wanted to read a story that is about new year’s resolutions, there’s a really cute one Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller and illustrated by Kathy Ember. And it’s just a cute book. It’s just a fun story book. And so that one would be great to lead into talking about resolutions and making goals and setting goals with the new year. And so that would be fun to read.
Now for your older children, there are a couple books. I’ve mentioned one before, and it’s called Do Hard Things by Alex Harris and Brett Harris. This is a really good book, and then there’s a sequel to it. And it’s called Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are. This also encourages young people how to start and to start where they are and to follow the dreams God has put in their hearts. The key element in both of these books is number one, that we’re following God. We’re finding our purpose in God. And second that we do hard things. We don’t shy away from doing something just because it’s difficult.
And then I have a book for you, and it’s called Redeeming Your Time: Seven Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful, Present, and Wildly Productive by Jordan Raynor. And it’s meant to be a practical guide to help us organize our lives and our schedules in a way that honors God and allows us to be able to serve Him and do the good works that He has ordained for us to do. One of the quotes says, “Part of our response to the gospel is to redeem our time, to manage our time as fully and wisely as possible.” And he says, “Why are we commanded to redeem our time? Not so we will have more time to spend on selfish pursuits. We are called to redeem our time because the days are evil, and we are running out of time to do the will of the Lord. One of my favorite Bible teachers, Jen Wilkin put it in this way, ‘ We are command to be time-redeemers those who reclaim our time from useless pursuits and employ it to the glory of God.'” Isn’t that good? So that’s what this book seeks to help us do. And I think it’s a great book for us to start out the year reading to let 2022 truly be a year dedicated to God and to see what God is going to do. As we help our kids to look at their plans for the year and the goals that God is putting on their hearts, not just to make a resolution and hope that we can do better this year than we did last year, but that we give all of this to God and do these in His strength and under His leadership. Then can see His will be done and His name glorified, and His purposes accomplished. We can see that we aren’t just making plans, but we are being a part of God’s plan because His purposes will prevail.
I want to read a short devotional for you from January 12th in Charles Stanley’s Every Day with Jesus. It says from Proverbs 3:6, “Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will give you success.” “When you have a decision to make, how do you decide what to do? Do you make a quick choice or just do whatever your friends do? Or do you take time to carefully think about which choice would be best? How you make decisions actually says a lot about you. Do you go with what would be the most fun or the easiest or the safest? Are you willing to risk messing up, failing, or just looking silly? Do you do whatever it takes to protect yourself from any kind of pain or sadness? No matter how you choose to make your decisions, there’s one thing you must always include: a talk with God. Ask him about all your decisions. Only He knows the perfect choices for you. Ask God to guide you with His perfect wisdom, because He’ll never lead you to a wrong decision. Lord, in everything, please show me what You want me to do. Amen.”
I hope that we can really help our kids, whether they’re toddlers or becoming young adults. I think that we can really help guide them in making good choices and good decisions if we can help them to understand that they need to start with prayer. They need to start with seeking what God wants them to do and understanding that we may have the best laid plans, but they often go awry [Robert Burns]. And with God, we know that His will, His plan will prevail.
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 join my mailing list or connect with me, you can find me at TerrieHellardBrown.com. I would love to hear from you. I respond to every comment.
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 are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.
For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com
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 “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.