Hanna Schock is a CEF member and the creator of Picture Book Theology. She is also the writer of Manna & Mercy: An Elementary Curriculum based on Daniel Erlander’s popular book for adults. Because of her training as a teacher and school psychologist, Hanna is passionate about Christian education that is easy to relate to, is rich with meaning, and leads to deep learning.
Recently I was asked to present at a professional conference for those who work in church-based nurseries, preschools, and daycares. The conference theme was Shine a Light On Positive Behavior – a great focus for teachers. We all need reminders to encourage our children’s positive behaviors. My workshop was about Paul’s list in Galatians (5:22-23) of The Fruits of the Spirit. Exploring these themes in a classroom is one way to encourage positive (and godly) behaviors.
Below is a list of 3-4 picture books I connected to each of The Fruits of the Spirit. With most books below, you’ll find a link to its post on my Picture Book Theology blog. As I prepared for the workshop presentation, I discovered several new picture books. Look for those posts on my website soon. Beside each Fruit of the Spirit is a question you might explore with your children. You’ll likely need to simplify my words for your kiddos. For some books you’ll see a way to adapt if a book is too advanced or too long for your audience. Most of these books are also appropriate for elementary-aged children.
Twice below I refer to a PBT series I wrote a few years ago called 12 Theological Statements for Young Children. I also give a link to the post in the series where that particular book was featured. One last note. I’ve changed the order of the Fruits. I end the list with Love, Kindness, Goodness, & Faithfulness because those concepts overlap. The last books might help you explore more than just the Fruit it is listed under. Overlapping concepts is also true for Gentleness and Self-Control.
Surely Paul’s list is not complete (Where is compassion?), but it’s a wonderful collection of positive and godly behaviors we can all aspire to and encourage in our children. I hope you find these fun books enjoyable while making The Fruits of the Spirit more meaningful to children (and their parents) in your faith family.JOY (Ask: How is joy shown in different ways by different characters?)
Yes Day! by Rosenthal & Lichtenheld (This book is also a great secular book for Easter.)
Lola Loves Stories by McQuinn & Beardshaw
Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke & Tobia
#12 Theological Statement for Young Children: God wants to be worshiped
PEACE (Ask: How does peace change you and others in the moment?)
Peace, Baby! By Ashman & Lew-Vriethoff
The Peace Book by Parr
A Little Peace by Kerley
PATIENCE (Ask: What does having no patience look like?)
Albert by Napoli & LaMarche (Too long? Just tell the story while showing the pictures.)
Bear Has a Story to Tell by Stead & Stead
Owl Moon by Yolen & Schoenherr
GENTLENESS (Ask: How does gentleness help others?)
Be Gentle by Miller
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Graham
You Will Be My Friend! By Brown (This example of the opposite of gentleness offers humor and redemption.)
SELF-CONTROL (Ask: How does self-control help these characters and you?)
Katie Loves the Kittens by Himmelman
More by Springman & Lies
Wild Feelings by Milgrim
#5 Theological Statement for Young Children: God gave you feelings. They’re not good or bad. What matters is how you act on your feelings.
LOVE (Ask: What does love look like here? Feel like here?)
The Invisible String by Karst & Stevenson Not yet posted.
I Love You Anyway by Inkpen & Inkpen
Love is… by Adams & Keane
Love by La Pena & Long (There are some dark situations here. If you prefer, use paper clips to skip pages.)
KINDNESS (Ask: What kinds of choices are being made here?)
The Kindness Quilt by Wallace
Miss Maple’s Seeds by Wheeler
Be Kind by Miller Not yet posted.
GOODNESS (Ask: What makes these characters’ behaviors good?)
Bear Feels Sick by Wilson & Chapman (This book is about servanthood.)
What Baby Wants by Root & Bartow (This book is about empathy.)
One Winter’s Day by Butler & Macnaughton (This book is about generosity.)
FAITHFULNESS (Ask: Who do you know that is faithful?)
The Carrot Seed by Krauss & Johnson (This books connects with being faithful to God. The other books are about being faithful to other people.)
I Promise by McPhail
Mama Always Comes Home by Wilson & Dyer
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Stead & Stead