I bought Beatitales on impulse a few months ago; I wanted to do more read-aloud time this school year and was frantically adding books to my Amazon cart that looked fun to read. When it arrived and I read the first page, I was sold. Jared Dees begins with a scene from his family’s breakfast table: one daughter is eating her breakfast with her fingers in her ears, trying to ignore an older sister who is lecturing her, meanwhile dad jumps in to lecture the first about her lecturing … and no one is hearing anything. (Does that happen in your family, too?)
Dees writes, “I realized that this moment was the perfect example of why stories teach us much better than what we traditionally think of as ‘teaching.’” He continues, “When Jesus shared the Beatitudes with his disciples, he was not lecturing them. The Beatitudes were an invitation to his disciples to become a new kind of people. He was inviting them to understand what people are like in the Kingdom of God.”
Beatitales: 80 Fables about the Beatitudes for Children is a collection of short stories that help bring the Beatitudes to life. Like any good fables, these feature a wide cast of characters from animals to knights to natural wonders, and while the stories aren’t overtly “religious,” they really do illustrate the Beatitudes well. I think this is why my kids are so attracted to the stories in this book; they really are good stories with good lessons, but presented in a different form than when they are used to.
This book is a great tool for parents to use at home or teachers and catechesists to use in the schoolroom or religious education. In fact, Dees offers suggestions for parents and teachers, and even sample lesson plans, on his website. You can download sample fables there too!
We often pull this book out during morning snack. My kids take turns choosing Beatitude for the day and selecting a fable. Then I read it out loud or pass the book over to my oldest and then we discuss it together. It only takes a few minutes in total, but I’ve been pleased with how engaged they are with the fables and by extension, the Beatitudes. I also appreciate how it’s giving me an opportunity to learn more about my children and their faith, especially when they ask for the same Beatitude or fable over and over.
As we start preparing for the holidays and making our Christmas lists and New Year’s resolutions, remember this book. It would make a great addition to your family’s library.
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Copyright 2019 Megan Swaim