Episode 86-Helping our Children Love Others and Understand Love

In this episode we go through 1 Corinthians 13 and share picture books that talk about love. We share some amazing books for Valentine’s Day!

Books Discussed in this Episode:

Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions, leading to teachable moments with our kids. This week, we are looking at books about love. I decided to take 1 Corinthians 13 and look at the verses from there about love and get a book that would go with each verse. So if you wanted to take that chapter and talk about it with your children for maybe the week or two around Valentine’s Day, you could talk about the different aspects of love and what it means to have God’s love and to love others. So let’s read 1 Corinthians 13 from the New Living Translation. “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it. But if I didn’t love others, I would’ve gained nothing.” Let’s stop there. This very first part, I thought of a few books to share just for even the whole chapter.

There’s a wonderful little book by Laura Sassi called Love Is Kind. And this one literally goes through this chapter of 1 Corinthians. Little Owl goes through this whole adventure; in every situation it’s another part of this chapter that talks about the meaning of love. And he gives a situation that shows how to show that kind of love or have that kind of love. I think it’s a wonderful book. It’s just adorable and would be great for going through this whole chapter with your little ones.

But with these first few verses where it’s talking about if I give up everything and I do all these wonderful things, but I don’t have love, it means nothing, there’s a really great book that I shared a few weeks ago too, but it’s called Sidney and Norman: A Tale of Two Pigs written by Phil Vischer and illustrated by Justin Gerard. This book is so wonderful. It’s about these two neighbor pigs. One of them is very proud and the other is just, he feels like a complete failure, but it shows in this story, it’s like the two men who are praying at the temple in the story that Jesus shares, and the one is very proud and thanks God that he’s not like the other one. And the other one is very humble–can’t even look up toward heaven. So this story’s similar to that, but it is even more clear on how much God loves us in spite of our failings. But then it also sees both of these pigs transformed because of God’s love. And so it’s really wonderful for this first section, because the one pig–he does everything right–he is an amazing pig, and it’s a good example of trying to do everything right, and you still don’t measure up because your heart isn’t right with God. There’s no relationship between you and God. And so this book is just really, really well written for that kind of a topic.

Then we look at verse four, “Love is patient and kind.” And so for patient and kind, I have Grumpy Monkey, which is one of my all-time favorite picture books by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Lang, and in this book, the monkey’s grumpy and he’s having a very bad day. Everybody’s trying to tell him how to feel better, but his friend just sits with him, talks with him, and is patient with him. And so I think it’s a wonderful picture of a friend showing patience for another friend who’s having a bad day. It doesn’t end with everything being all perfect, but it ends with it being okay. And so I really love that book, and I think it’s a beautiful picture of being patient with your friends.

I don’t think there’s a better picture book than Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. The story’s by Eileen Spinelli and the pictures are by Paul Yalowitz. This is such a lovely, lovely book. If you have not read it, please read it. It really is wonderful. And it helps our kids see how they can make a difference in someone’s life just by being encouraging and kind. And so this one is perfect for talking about being kind to others and helping to encourage others.

Okay. The next part of verse four, “Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.” For that one, I kind of have a few books that could go with this and the next verse where it says, “Or rude, it does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” We have to look at The Friend Who Forgives: A True Story about How Peter Failed and Jesus Forgave by Dan Dewitt and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri. There’s a whole group of these books that are from the Tales that Tell the Truth. These books would be wonderful ones to read for Valentine’s Day or Easter because they tell the gospel, and they tell the biblical truth from different biblical stories. And they’re just wonderful books. But this one especially talks about love–you know, when he fails Jesus and denies him three times and then Jesus asks him three times, do you love me?

The next part about not wanting your own way, not being rude. This is such a good book. It is called You Get What You Get by Julie Gassman and illustrated by Sarah Horne. It’s brilliant. It really is. Let me read just a little bit from this book. “Melvin did not deal well with disappointment. If his cookie had half as many chocolate chips as his sisters, look out. If he lost his turn during a game, stand back. And if he didn’t get exactly what he wanted, well, you know. No, Melvin did not deal well with disappointment. And this is why he hated his teacher’s favorite rule. ‘You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.’ Because of this rule, Melvin could not throw a fit if he had to use crayons instead of markers.” I mean he can control his temper, but then when he goes home, he doesn’t because there’s not that rule. But then his sister wants her way and she gets mad because she doesn’t get her way. And he says the rule to her, and he spoils everything because his parents are like, what did you say? And so then he learns that he has to follow that rule at home too. But then he finds out it’s actually a good thing. It’s just such a well-written book.

And then keeps no record of wrong. There’s this cute little book called. I Forgive You: Love We Can Hear, Ask For, and Give written by Nicole Lataif and illustrated by Katie Betz. The reason I love this book so much is because it explains forgiveness in as concrete a way as possible so that children can understand. It talks about how you can ask for forgiveness, how you can give forgiveness. It deals with quite a few really important concepts. In this book, they use several analogies in here to help a child understand what it means to not forgive and how that can feel.

Verse six. “It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.” For that “rejoices in truth,” I wanted to just mention some really great books for teaching our children the truth about God. And so some of those books are Max Lucado books. I think he does a great job helping children understand in a visual way, in a fairy tale way sometimes, storytelling way, the truth of God’s word. And there are several of his books that really share the gospel. Well, ones that come to mind are You Are Special by Max Lucado and illustrated by Sergio Martinez. And this is just a wonderful little story about who we are in God and how He sees us and that we get our identity through Him. He has several books that he’s written about these wooden people, the Wemmicks. You Are Special is one, You Are Mine is another one, and Punchinello and the Most Marvelous Gift. All of these really teach a lot of truths from scripture, and he has several in this whole series, but they really do teach biblical truth. And so that’s what I wanted to do for “rejoices in truth.”

And then the next verse says, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” I chose The Runaway Bunny for that one if you know that classic book by Margaret Wise Brown. In this story, Little Bunny’s going to run away, and his mom says, I’ll find you basically. He says, I’ll jump in the water and become like a fish. And she says, then I will become a fisherman and fish you out. I love the picture of the pursuit of someone who loves someone else. It reminds me of God’s pursuit of us. He draws us to Himself. I really love that.

And then “never loses faith.” It’s another classic. And that one is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, is illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak. And in this book, it’s a story about a little raccoon who’s afraid to go to school. And Mom tells him about the kissing hand. She kisses his hand, and then he can put the hand up to his face and know that she loves him and is always with him. And then he does the same to her when he heads off to school.

And then for hope there’s a book called Hope, and it’s by Kealy Connor Lonning and illustrated by Lora look. Basically this book goes through everything this mom–I’m assuming mom–hopes for this little boy or little girl in the story. And it says, “When days are hard and long, I hope that you are strong. When choices seem so tough. I hope you’re wise enough.” I think it would be a really nice book to read with our children, basically to pray all of these things.

And then “endures every circumstance” is the last description in this section of the scripture. I thought you can’t get a better book than The Velveteen Rabbit for that–the perseverance of the Velveteen Rabbit and the horse and all that. It teaches about the patience of letting God prune us and work on us. And we endure all circumstances because we know ultimately God is in charge. And I love that. This brings us back to our relationship with God. We can’t endure all circumstances. We can’t always be hopeful and hang on to faith if we don’t have a relationship with God. That’s what it boils down to is that relationship. I think The Velveteen Rabbit is really wonderful for that.

I wanted to share I Love You Through Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall by Junia Wonders and Daniela Volpari. And this goes through the four seasons and it’s, you know, parents telling how much they love a child. And it’s like through all circumstances, through everything that happens, through all the seasons of the year. I love you. So it’s perfect for “endures through every circumstance.”

I want to share two really wonderful books with you that are about love in general. The first one is What Love Looks Like: Inspired by the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s by Nikki Rogers. And this describes the five love languages in a way that children can understand. It’s just really a nice book. And so it shows children ways that they can show love to others. So I love that it’s very practical.

And then there’s this wonderful wordless book called Shine, and the stories by Dagny Griffin, and the illustrations are by Laura Bobbiesi. This shows a little girl in a city. Everything’s gray. She reads in her Bible. Then she goes out, and she shares love just by her attitude and her actions and waving to people and helping people. It starts to make the color from her heart, come into the people around her. And she changes the whole city from this gray, drab, sad place to a colorful, lively, wonderful world. This being a wordless book would be so wonderful to share with our kids and to talk about how we can make a difference in our world. The little things we can do to show love and to share God’s love with others. This book is just wonderful. And I just love it because there is so much we can talk about as we go through it.

And the last book I want to share is kind of an odd book, but I think it’s wonderful for discussion. And this especially would be effective with a little bit older elementary student, not your four and five year olds, but more your 8, 9, 10 year olds to really discuss the different things. But it’s called What Is Love by Max Barnett and illustrated by Carson Ellis. This book starts out with a grandchild asking his grandmother, “What is love?” It says, “When I was a boy in the garden out front of the house where we lived, I asked my grandmother, ‘What is love?’ My grandma was old. I thought she would know. She picked me up in her arms and said, ‘I can’t answer that.’ ‘Who can?’ I asked. If you go out into the world, you might find an answer.” And so he goes out into the world and he asks the fisherman, what is love? And the fisherman says, it’s a fish. And he asks the actor and the actor says, it’s applause. And he just doesn’t get it. He’s just like that doesn’t make any sense to me. And he lives and grows and asks everybody he finds, “What is love?” And he finally comes back home and realizes that’s where love was. He picks his grandma up in his arms and tells her that yes, he has found love. So it’s really an interesting little book. Like I said, I think it could spark some really interesting conversations with our kids because we say all the time, I love ice cream. I love this. I love that. And so I think this kind of helps you talk through what we mean by love.

As we finish today, I want to finish with a devotional. I want to talk about God’s perfect love. This is a devotional from Charles F. Stanley’s Every Day with Jesus: 365 Devotions for Kids. And it’s from February 14th, appropriately. It’s called “A Perfect Love.” In 1 John 4:19. “We love because God first loved us.” “It’s easy for your thoughts to get stuck on the relationships that went wrong. The friend who let you down, the big kid who bullied you, the person who lied. And it’s easy to understand why the people who hurt you get so much of your attention because you just want to figure out what went wrong. But you know what? People will never be perfect. There will always be disappointments and hurts–even from those who love you the most. Only God’s love is perfect. The people around you can care for you, encourage you, and accept you, but only God can truly fill you with a love that never ever ends. If your relationship with another person isn’t going the way you want, pray for that person, then turn to God and ask him to fill you with His perfect, never-ending love.” “Father, thank You for loving me with a love that will never end. Amen.” Today with Jesus–“Try to love others the way God loves you.”

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 and get emails when I post new podcasts or new blog posts, or if you’d like to get my newsletter each month, you can find me at TerrieHellardBrown.com, and you can sign up there. And if you enjoyed this podcast, please download it. Please put a review on iTunes or Spotify. Help other people be able to find this podcast. We would love for you to even share on social media and let people know we’re here. We’re fairly new. Even though we’re in our second year, it takes a while for people to know what’s available. I know many parents would like to be able to find books that are safe and good, and that do not contradict the Christian worldview. And they would like to be able to read those to their kids. And we don’t always have time to vet the books that are out there. So I hope this provides a valuable service for you and that you are enjoying these podcasts because I sure am enjoying bringing them to you. And I hope you have a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

Your Host:

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.

2 thoughts on “Episode 86-Helping our Children Love Others and Understand Love”

  1. I Love You Are Special. When I read about Punchinello meeting Eli, it gave me goose bumps. Very well written.

    1. Terrie Hellard Brown

      I know, right? The Gospel and relationship with our Creator is so clear and beautiful in his stories. I love it—it speaks to me just as much as to a child.

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