On Friday, we shared the approaches that a few of our Lectionary Links writers have used as they have shared their connections between Scripture and books for our Links posts. We began with Scripture and gathering themes or ideas that speak to you and those with whom you’ll share these ideas. Today, we move to the process of finding books and making connections.
Finding the right book takes some time.. Much of your initial searching for books can be done from your own home. Armed with big ideas/themes, there are many places where our writers than went to find books. Most started with Google, using the 1-2 word search terms based on their themes with ‘children’s book’ added in a Google search to see if appropriate book titles were found. A quick summary of the book found in a Google search term can frequently be enough for you to know that you want to read it for confirmation. But there are other places to go in a search for possible stories.
Your public Library may have a print subscription to The Horn Book Guide which offers book reviews based on such things as age, subject matter, or date of publication. Their online site offers free newsletters and some book reviews. However, to get access to their full searchable database, you will need to subscribe. Your local library’s online catalog can be a great place to get ideas (and to check and see if your library owns a copy of a book you have found elsewhere.) Noell would occasionally enter a book title that had previously been used on Storypath for a passage and use the ‘find similar books’ link under that title which would lead her to other possible options. You can expand your local library search by using WorldCat, an online catalog that brings together the collections of nearly 18,000 libraries in one place. Books found here can be obtained through interlibrary loan, but you’ll need to plan ahead to coordinate reading a book to see if it works and using it before you need to return it! (When searching on WorldCat, limit your search to ‘juvenile material’ to avoid being overwhelmed! You can also limit your search to libraries closest to you.) And don’t be afraid to ask for help! All of us at one time or another put out a request for help on social media and friends shared the perfect book!
Reading book reviews can help you target books that you might use with your current passage or to identify books that have themes you might find in later passages. One writer has a digital subscription to the New York Times for access to their excellent children’s book section and several books that have either been reviewed on Storypath or have found their way into a Links post were first identified there.
Here are other places where writers have read book reviews that have helped them locate books they wanted to read:
- On Facebook, Kids Books for a Better World.This site describes itself as “a place to recommend and discuss children’s books, that have a positive, progressive social message, or strong minority and/or female characters.”
- Blogs about children’s literature can often often point you to a newer book that you haven’t yet seen in other searches. A favorite is Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Once there, look on the lower right hand side and head off down the rabbit hole looking at their list of “Impossibly Good Children’s Literature Blogs”. The books you discover here will make your ‘to read’ list impossibly long!
- If you aren’t familiar with Picture Book Theology, take a look. Although owner Hanna Schock is taking some time for discernment about the blog, she shares some similarities with Storypath and has books categorized by faith themes with detailed summaries and connections with Scripture in her reviews. We have occasionally used her book suggestions in Storypath (and always gave her credit when we did!)
Read. Read. Read. And then figure out a way to remember what you’ve read! You may have a title you think from your searches above that you imagine will be just perfect for the connection you’re trying to make. But until you actually read it, you really don’t know if it will work. This is sometimes the hardest part. (All writers had the experience of being very excited about a book only to read it and find out something was just not quite right for the connections we were trying to make.) If you are working week to week, your own library may not have a title in their collection and getting books from interlibrary loan may not be feasible timewise. But you have some other options. We were all amazed at how many titles could be seen on YouTube where you can see illustrations and be exposed to an entire story. Almost all of our writers set aside some time each week to just go sit in a library and pull out books to read that hadn’t turned up in previous searches. Noell would sometimes sit in the children’s section at a local bookstore and read there! Although this approach may not net you the one book you need for a particular passage for the upcoming Sunday, it will help you begin to develop a library of books that you have read that will help you in the future. (Sara Anne noted that one thing she also did after she read a book she wanted to use was to then go read a review of book on Goodreads. She indicated that she needed to check her own privilege and comfort and see if others had noted things that she hadn’t seen that could be problematic. Although it didn’t happen often, on several occasions she saw a book through different eyes in a way that helped her decide not to use that title.)
All of us kept searchable potential book lists – a list organized by author, title, brief summary and general themes. Some included scripture passages that the book made them remember. For one writer, the list was 2 pages long before it produced a book that was the perfect one for a particular passage, but the longer you write Links, the more such a list can be a rich resource for you. And such a list is also a good way to think about book gifts for children, grandchildren, a church library. We read so many good books that we didn’t use. There may be another post in that!
Write. After all of this, you’re ready to write! We don’t know for whom you will be writing. If you’re a pastor, you may be writing a sermon in which your newly found book is a small part. If you’re a teacher, you’ll have a sense of how you want to use something or you may write a lesson plan that others will use in their teaching. If you are a parent, you may not write at all, but think of ways to ponder ways to discuss the big ideas of faith with your children. Your audience will determine how you use your reflections on Scripture and all of your reading. But here are some of the ways that our writers began to write for you:
- I’m one who typically likes to make a connection, but not over explain it. I like leaving space for children to wonder and come up with their own ideas and connections. Also, when I started writing these, each one took forever! The longer you do this, the easier it becomes, in part because of your larger library of possibilities from all your reading. (Noell Rathbun)
- I usually had a four step outline: what does the passage say? What does the book say? How are they connected? How does it apply to us. If I couldn’t make that connection in a couple of sentences, it wasn’t a great fit. (Sara Anne Berger)
- I was usually working with 3-4 Sundays at a time – trying to write about a month ahead. This helped me keep several themes in mind, so if I found a book that was a great companion for a text to be used in 4 weeks, I went ahead and wrote that particular link. I didn’t always follow a linear pattern of writing all three passages in the RCL for one Sunday and going on to the next. (Ann Knox)
Our Storypath Facebook page will continue to stay up after new posts on our website end on June 30. We hope you might consider writing your own Links to share and post them there.
Thanks to our writers Joshua Andrzejewski, Sara Anne Berger, Ann Knox and Noell Rathbun for sharing their experiences writing Lectionary Links.