Katie Fitzgerald suggests several children’s books that encourage kids to nurture their God-given talents and abilities.
Each of us has unique abilities given to us by God, many of which begin to reveal themselves during childhood. In my house, especially between my two oldest girls, this sometimes leads to rivalry and jealousy, as each child compares herself to the other and wonders why she doesn’t have her sister’s talents. The books on today’s list have been selected to help kids begin to understand that God gives different gifts to each of us, and that as 1 Corinthians 12:18 says, “God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended.”
In Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann, Officer Buckle is wonderful at collecting safety tips, but he is not a great performer. When he gives presentations at the local school, his audience often falls asleep. When Gloria, a dog who loves to do tricks on stage, becomes his partner, however, his audience suddenly comes alive, clapping and cheering for each safety message and Gloria’s accompanying trick. Officer Buckle is sad that he isn’t the one receiving all the attention until Gloria helps him realize both of their talents are needed for their show to be a success. This book provides a great opportunity for recognizing how people with different gifts can work together toward an important goal, and for reinforcing the idea that there does not need to be competition between people with different abilities.
Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill is a vintage story about a little black cat named Jenny Linsky who can’t join the neighborhood Cat Club until she can prove she has a special ability. Jenny feels scared of sharing her talent with a group of strangers, but once she musters the courage, she reaps the rewards of allowing her gifts to shine. Reading this story can help young readers understand the importance of sharing our God-given gifts with others even if we are initially hesitant.
Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine, a picture book by Allison Wortche available in e-book format, explores yet another difficulty kids sometimes face: feeling envious of the talents of others. Rosie Sprout’s classmate, Violet, seems to be gifted at nearly everything. When it comes time to plant seeds in science, however, Rosie is the star pupil. At first, she allows her pride to dominate her realization of this talent for gardening, and she considers sabotaging Violet’s plant. Instead, though, when Violet is out of school with the chicken pox, Rosie decides to use her talent to make Violet’s plant grow as well as her own. This book really emphasizes the important lesson that God gives different gifts to different people, and we can’t all be gifted in all areas. Rosie’s care of Violet’s plan also emphasizes the importance of using our gifts in the service of others, not just to benefit ourselves.
Finally, Claudia Mills, an author who primarily writes stories set in school, has a wonderful series of chapter books highlighting the special skills of several students in a third grade classroom. The series is known collectively as Franklin School Friends, and the individual titles are: Kelsey Green, Reading Queen; Annika Riz, Math Whiz; Izzy Barr, Running Star; Simon Ellis, Spelling Bee Champ; and Cody Harmon, King of Pets. As the titles suggest, the gifts represented by these characters include academic talent as well as physical skill and the ability to interact well with animals.
The variety of talents of these characters reinforces the idea that everyone has a contribution to make to the Body of Christ, according to the gifts God has given each individual.
As children read about the characters in these books discovering and nurturing the talents God has given them, they realize that, as Fulton Sheen said, “God has given different gifts for different people. There is no basis for feeling inferior to another.”
Copyright 2020 Katie Fitzgerald
Image: Pixabay (2014)
About the Author
Katie Fitzgerald is a former children's librarian turned stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. She and her librarian husband live in Maryland with their five children, the youngest of whom are boy/girl twins. She has published two textbooks for librarians, and she writes about homeschooling, books and the reading life from a Catholic perspective at ReadAtHomeMom.com and on Instagram @read.at.home.mom.