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A lovely children’s book to teach kids to reach out to the lonely, to encourage the church to be kind, or just to enjoy reading with your favorite little person.
Every once in awhile you stumble upon something remarkably great.
I was just looking for books to use in the literature-based class I teach at a homeschool co-op when I found a book to order that I thought would fit nicely into a theme of reaching out to the elderly, the lonely, especially during this season of separation that we’ve been enduring.
It wasn’t until it arrived and I read it in full, complete with the lovely illustrations that I wept and knew that this was no ordinary children’s book.
This book is not just for those with littles in their lives…trust me.
A lonely old lady, afraid to reach out
The story is called The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant, and it’s about an old lady who gives names to things like her house, her car, and her bed. But she only names things she is certain will outlive her.
You see, the lonely old lady has lost all of her friends, and she can’t bear the thought of losing anyone or anything else that has a name, anything that has a place in her heart.
And then one day a puppy shows up at her gate and changes everything…
The story is sweet, and endearing, and if you don’t tear up at least a little bit…you might just be a robot.
Helping kids reach out to the lonely
When I used the book in my kindergarten/first-grade class of homeschoolers at the co-op, we focused on what we can do to reach out to those who are feeling lonely, specifically the elderly. Our project was to make ‘hugs’ to send to them. (I got the idea here)
Along with their ‘hug’, at our writing station that week we had some copywork of a short poem that simply said,
Here’s a hug
from me to you
I’m sending along
a smile too!
There was space at the bottom of the page for students to draw a picture of themself smiling at the person who would receive their gift.
I delivered the ‘hugs’ to a local nursing home, asking that they be given to any folks who may not receive any/many visits.
Extentions for this delightful children’s book
If you’re looking for other teaching or just plain fun extentions to do with this book, ‘puppy’ related activities can be fun!
The vulnerability of connection
I also used this lovely children’s book as part of a devotion I shared at my church recently.
Instead of focusing on reaching out to others, I was struck by the vulerability of the old woman. Fear, loneliness… all of this stuff hidden away up in that beehive of hers. Each of us walks around with hidden burdens like that.
But the thing is, at the same time, we have this view that everyone else has it all together. And, perhaps, at times that may cause us to not be as kind as we might if we knew what they were carrying.
I found this sign with one of my favorite sayings on it last summer. It wasn’t until I got it home and up in my kitchen window that I noticed the typo.
I still have it up, btw. I think I love it even more this way. It’s flawed, like me.
Paul, in Colossians, takes it even beyond kindness…
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Check this one out–it’ll be a favorite!
Some of the other books I’ve used with this class that you might enjoy:
What are some of your favorite children’s books?