In this issue of the The Tote Bag: PYM Religious Education and Family Resources newsletter we’re preparing for winter and seasonal holidays and focusing on our testimony of peace.
Books and Ideas for Christmas Celebrations
If you have enjoyed the Advent book, All Creation Waits, The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings by Gayle Boss, you’ll be happy to know a new picture book version is now available! The Children’s Edition by the same title is beautifully illustrated with woodland creations and each page has the refrain, “The dark is not an end. It’s a door. It’s the way a new beginning comes.”
Nativity by Cynthia Rylant brings together the Nativity story and the Beatitudes. Have you ever thought, “gosh, I wish there was a book that we could share with children that gets the baby born for Christmas and also says something about who he grew to be?” Well, here you go.
Winter’s Gifts: An Indigenous Celebration Of Nature by Kaitlin Curticea — “A vibrantly illustrated children’s book about an Indigenous girl who finds awe in the resting and waiting that winter teaches us and shares with her friends how Creator’s gift of gratitude can transform the way we see the world.”
Winter Events for Friends Who Support Children & Youth Programs
Quaker RE Collaborative Online Conversation Circles
“Radical Acceptance of Children & Youth in Quaker Meetings”
Thursday, November 30 at 8:00pm ET
Child Safety in Meetings: A Conversation About Best Practices
Sunday, December 3 from 3-4:30pm, Online registration here
Please join a conversation about creating safe Meeting communities. We will consider what a safe community looks like, discuss best practices for designing a safety policy for a Monthly Meeting, and share thoughts and ideas. In order to grow in God’s Light — physically, spiritually, and emotionally — our children and youth must both feel safe and be safe.
Coming this Spring! Save the Date! Godly Play/Faith & Play training for Friends, the “Playing in the Light” workshop, will be held in the Philadelphia region for PYM meetings and others interested during the weekend of May 17-19, 2024. Watch for details and registration on the Faith & Play Stories website.
Adult Religious Education
Addressing Peace and Conflict with Young Friends
A book that was on my mind early in the conflict in Israel and Gaza was Old Turtle and the Broken Truth. The story opens a way to explore with children why we are called to Love One Another and end war. We read it aloud at intergenerational worship at my meeting. The broken truth (“You are loved. And so are they.”) speaks to the complexity of the situation between people who believe their truth is the only one. Another picture book I really like for its approach to war and peace is The War by Anaïs Vaugelade. The PYM curriculum, “The Peaceable Kingdom” (2003) has helpful ideas and activities to explore peacemaking. (Friends are encouraged to examine older curricula with care for assumption/bias.) For older youth, Britain Yearly Meeting has an excellent website page with information about the conflict: Responding to the current situation in Israel and Palestine. It includes statements of witness by Quaker organizations. The PYM website also has a section with Minutes of Witness from meetings.
- Multicultural Children’s Books About Peace, from Colours of Us
- “What I Read to My Son When the World Is on Fire” is a guest essay from the NYTimes with a wonderful perspective on learning about the everyday humanity of people in conflict, with book suggestions.
- Discussing War and Conflict: Resources for Educators, Parents, and Caregivers from Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance)
- Six tips for explaining war to childrenBy Marsha Richardson, The Educator’s Playbook (UPenn)
- How to talk to your children about conflict and war, UNICEF
The Tote Bag
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The Tote Bag is for everyone in our Quaker community who holds space for the spiritual growth of children and youth, including parents, caregivers and guardians, religious education committees and youth workers, and Friends interested in supporting children and families. Submit ideas for topics of interest, lift up resources to include, or send a question they would like addressed!
Featured images from Pixabay.com and iStock