Name of Book: Mama Says- A Book of Love for Mothers and Sons
Author: Rob D. Walker
Illustrator: Leo and Diane Dillon
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press
Audience: All ages, most suitable for boys. It could also be used in a parenting conference, and would be a good resource for mothers.
Summary: This book is a compilation of sayings a mother (“mama”) would say to her son. Focusing on 12 different countries this book highlights all mothers’ desire for their sons to help those in need, work hard, stand for what he believes in, and wonder at the world and nature. This book focuses on what unites humankind: love for one another, compassion for one another, and faith in one another, and does so by highlighting one of the strongest bonds, mother and son. The book concludes with a powerful statement, “I listened to what my mama said, and now I am man.”
Literary elements at work in the story: The book is poetic by nature and has a sing song quality. It also uses repetition. The phrase “Mama says…” starts every page and helps unite the different cultures represented. It would be a fabulous book to use with readers theatre or mini monologues. I imagine how powerful it would be for mothers (and fathers) to see their own sons speaking these words. You could find a similar book for girls (or write the text yourself) and have your Sunday school class put on a readers theatre for the parents (possibly a tribute on mothers day). They could create the costumes and study the culture surrounding their “saying”. This could be a wonderful opportunity to learn about other cultures, and talk about God’s children, as well as, teach the parents about other customs and traditions (while highlighting the importance of parenting).
Perspective on gender/ race/ culture/ economic/ ability: The book is extremely multi-cultural, each page focuses on a different race, religious, and ethnic community. It is a beautiful depiction of God’s community, God’s people. Each page also bares the imprint of that community’s written language, for example, on the page representing a Jewish mother and son the words are written in Hebrew (as well as English). Each page also has a distinct pattern that represents the culture, itself. The pictures provide as much to the reader as the text, for they truly bring the culture alive. The pictures are such vivid images, that if you were to use this as a reader’s theatre you would want the children dressed like the characters.
Scripture:. Proverbs 22: 6
Theology: Different Themes (geared towards 5th graders)
- What it means to grow in life and faith (what does it mean to be a “man”/ “woman” of God)?
- What is the relationship between mother and son? Or more importantly, parent and child (this entire book could be changed to be directed at both parents and include girls, which is necessary if you do not know the children in your Sunday school well or if a child is without a mother)?
Faith Talk Questions for boys and girls:
- What is the most important thing your mother (father, grandparents, or caregiver) has ever taught you?
- What do you think it means to be a man/ woman? Or, what will it take to become a man/ woman?
- What do you think you can learn from your mother (father, grandparents, and caregivers)?
Faith Talk Questions for mothers/ fathers/ caregivers: (I believe this book is more geared to parents/ caregivers than anything else, and would a wonderful teaching tool for them.) For example, at a parenting conference discussing boys starting with this book (acted out by some children) would be a wonderful lead in to the following topics/ questions for discussion.
- How are you shaping your sons understanding of God and the world?
- What are you teaching him that will stay with him forever? What do you want your son to remember about you and your teachings when he is a “man”?
- Are you okay with letting your son become a man? (a question I feel mostly mother must come to grips with and which, I believe, is surprisingly hard for most mothers).
Review prepared by Ashley Cheek, MDiv/MACE, Entering cohort Fall 2007