Name of Book: Courage
Author: Bernard Waber
Illustrator: Bernard Waber
Audience: Preschool-3rd grade
Summary: This little book explores and celebrates many kinds of courage. Kids can get overwhelmed by thinking that they do not have “superhero” courage, but this book shows how children, adults, and one pup show courage in their own ways, such as making new friends, trying new vegetables, breaking bad habits, and holding onto dreams. The book concludes: “Courage is what we give to each other.” I think that one sentence alone gives me much to chew on.
Literary elements at work in the story (Genre/setting/characterization/plot/theme/ point of view/style): Gentle, very expressive, illustrations bring life to this book. The vignettes are set in many different places that kids can relate to, such as school, home, the swimming pool, and the circus. The expressions on the children’s faces, and especially the dog’s face, tell as much about courage as the words do. One example is the gritted teeth and angry eyes on the dog’s face as the grandparents coo over a kitty – the caption says “Courage is trying to cover up your mean, jealous side.”
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Courage is demonstrated through people of different ages, races, and genders – and even species!
Theological Conversation Partners: Courage is portrayed in many stories in the Bible – in big and little ways. We think of courage in stories like David and Goliath, or Jesus’ courage in going to the cross for our sake. Waber’s book helps me look for somewhat smaller acts of courage through the scriptures – acts that I can identify with – such as the courage of Moses’ sister to wait in the reeds to help her brother, or the courage of the boy who brought his lunch to Jesus in the face of 5000 folks who needed to be fed. Courage helps us identify courageous actions we might have overlooked before, and helps us to consider ways that we, too, can be courageous. A look at Psalm 27:11-14 can also provide a jumping-off place for thinking about the ways God teaches us, and the ways our heart can “take courage.”
Faith Talk Questions:
- What courageous acts in the book jumped out at you? Were they BIG or SMALL acts? Why do you think you were drawn to those?
- Can you name a person (real or fictional) who is courageous? What about them seems courageous?
- Do you think of yourself as a courageous person? Why or why not?
- How does God help us to be courageous?
- What is an area of your life where you need or want to be courageous?
- Turn to the last page of the book. How do you think that we give each other courage?
Thanks to Edye Bender, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and Director of Programs at Faith Presbyterian Church, Indian Land, SC, for writing this book review.
Courage by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.