Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: The Suitcase by Jane G. Meyer

I am always on the lookout for beautiful picture books that will present meaningful ideas from a new perspective for my students. Last week my husband, our teenage son, and I watched this Ted Talk about how a slight change in perspective can reveal ... the gateways to empathy and understanding.  Totally cool video, I highly recommend it, especially if your student is getting bored with math - but I digress. Let's talk about children and empathy and understanding. Let's talk about travelling to the Kingdom of God!
I teach pre-K- 2nd grade Sunday School and 3rd-5th grade Writing/History/Faith.  After I read this book, which I was grateful to receive free in return for a fair and honest review, I thought to myself, “that is the book I wanted last October, when we were doing our HUGS
-based lessons. The goal was to teach the children Christ’s words, "Do it to the least of these my brethren and you do it to Me" (Matthew 25:40).

This book is a good living book for that Gospel passage. The young boy in the story takes Christ literally and is ready to put His commands into practice – after packing his suitcase with all of the bits of Biblical commands and images he has learned over the years.  Although the text of the book does not overtly state it, the young boy has some common characteristics of a child with autism. I was delighted with this young character and - revealing my ignorance - I wouldn't have realized the autism connection without being told so. In any case, the reader can gain understanding and empathy with both children with autism and the Gospel passages this young man is so willing to accept without question.

The surprising part of the book, for me, was that his parents get on board right then, at that very moment. As I read the ending, I was irritated, thinking, “right, that mom can’t just turn the stove off, leave all those dirty supper dishes, and go out the door!” So I was thankful for author Jane G. Meyer’s page of suggestions at the end of the book. After a gentle reminder that parents should take care not to put off their child’s heart-felt desire to serve others, (entertaining angels is one thing the young lad had in mind when he packed his suitcase!), she offers a list of ways to make that practical in daily life. In the end, even though I think this will be a nice book to read to my students, I think it holds an even more important reminder for the parents.

From the Archives:

Book Review: The Life of St. Brigid by Jane G. Meyer - really, one of my all-time favorites by this author!

Book Review and Lesson Ideas: The Woman and the Wheat by Jane G. Meyer


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