Books, Babar, and Beauty

Part of our day, includes me reading to the students while they eat lunch. I read the same story all week long. By the time they are finished eating, they are ready to discuss themes, character development, and characterization. This sounds like a lot for kindergarten, but we do it on a five-year-old level. I often ask 3 questions: What did you notice, what did you value, and what do you wonder...

But more than just hitting the beginning middle and end of a story line, I asked the kids to really think about how characters change and how we see the truth about real life even among talking animals.

This means that choosing good books is where it starts. There are all kinds of lists of books that emphasize truth, goodness, and beauty.

And the Babar series is one of my favorites. The books aren't short. The one we read this week, took 20 minutes to read aloud. However, the action is super fast. The story changes with each page.  

The main character, Babar, is King of the Elephants. In his stories, he wrestles with integrity, leadership, bravery, and wisdom.

The story we read this week, has two elements of the Gospel that I don't want my kids to overlook. That! That is what I love about reading. The truth of God is retold through good stories. After all, it is the one real story.

Babar has been away. While he is gone his tribe has gone to war with the rhinoceroses. They are being defeated and are discouraged.  Their Hope Has Gone. But!

When their king comes back, they find New Hope. They take courage by his wise leadership. And their strength is renewed.

I need to hear that. My kindergarten students need to hear that. My guess is, that when you are reading aloud to your children, you need to hear it, too.

There's another little aspect of Grace tucked in to this story. The little elephant who made a poor decision and started this war, is allowed to participate in the battle. He is restored to the tribe. He is given a tough task and has to work hard, but through his work, and the leadership of Babar, victory is won.

Now, there are so many things that make my kids gasp and giggle as we read this. And I don't know that they will grow up connecting their spiritual journey to Babar. I even hope not. What I want them to do, is be aware that while they read, the Grand Story of God is waiting on the next page.

My encouragement is that you look for books that open great discussions. Read the same book again and again. It will build vocabulary, yes. But it will also build the vocabulary of understanding.

Read to your kids while they do their chores. Listen to books in the car... or while they take a bath. Don't underestimate their minds. Ask them questions about their favorite part. Talk about the art in the book. Talk about beautiful lines and word sequences.

While you're reading, ask what they think is going to happen next. They go crazy when they get it right! Laugh with them as they say, "I knew it!"

They will surprise you. Ask them about how the character changes. If they don't know, tell them. Ask how the character is feeling and why he is feeling that way.

They might not catch everything this time. But if you love this book alongside of them, and you listen to it again again...  They will get it.

And I hope, we all will.

Need some inspiration?  Check out Read Aloud Revival. 


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