Author: Kim L. Siegelson
Illustrator: Lisa Cohen
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Audience: Written for ages 4-8. Can be used by all ages.
Summary: Dancing the Ring Shout! is Kim Siegelson’s contribution to history—African American history, American history, African spiritual history, and Christian history. This story brings to life a tradition observed by African slaves in America. Often associated with funerals, the Ring Shout involved the whole community in singing and dancing to offer prayers of praise and thanks to God for past relatives. Ring Shout is one family’s story.
Literary Elements at Work: This story is told through the youngest family member, Toby. One of the most effective literary elements at work in the story is Toby’s oft-repeated quest: “Toby wondered what he could bring that would speak from his own heart to God’s ears…Pearl had a gourd; Mam had tin pans; Pap had his hoop drum; Grand had his cane…What could Toby bring?” This is the underlying theme holding together the idea that while each of us has our own unique gifts to offer in praising and thanking God, we share a common longing and call to glorify God and enjoy [her] forever. The illustrations are bright and contrasting, highlighting the different ways we each offer ourselves in music, dance, and song in praising and thanking God. Through all the different offerings, God is praised.
Scripture: “Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy.” (Psalm 47:1; NRSV)
Theology: It matters not where or in what condition we find ourselves. Each of us has and may offer a joyful noise unto the Lord.
Faith Talk Questions:
Sit down in the floor beside your child. Go through the book slowly just looking at the pictures. Talk about all the special ways each family member intends to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Each page is filled with rich and vibrant pictures depicting common everyday utensils and the different types of sound each makes. Gather together the different instruments and test its sound—Pearl’s gourd; Mam’s tin pans; Pap’s hoop drum; Grand’s cane. Think about other everyday items that might make a wonderful sound! Try some out. Ask your child, “If you were going to make a joyful noise unto the Lord what would you choose?” Now read the story slowly, pausing to talk about different instruments. Ask your child, “Would God like to hear this?” “Would God like to hear that?” Gather up your family, your prayers of thanksgiving, your muffin tins, spoons, jars, etc.., go outside and have a Ring Shout!
Review prepared by Kim Lee, Union-PSCE in Charlotte
Dancing the Ring Shout! by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.