As St. Patrick’s Day approaches I always like to share the true origins of the man whom this day honors. Today’s Perfect Picture Book choice does just that.
Some years ago when I was principal at our Christian school I was dismayed by the children’s lack of knowledge at the true man behind the holiday. Sadly, the group of kids I spoke with all thought it was just a day to ‘drink green beer and party.’ You can read more about that sometimes humorous discussion here.
So in the spirit of seeking the truth and sharing it here is my PPB choice this week. You may learn a wee bit more–then you can share it too.
Author: Dorothy Rhodes Freeman
Publisher: Enslow Elementary Publishers 2008
Audience Age: 6 & Up
Themes/Topics: Holidays, St. Patrick
Sentences from the book: “When Patrick was 16 his life changed. He was kidnapped. . . the ship sailed to Ireland. He prayed through snow, through frost, through rain.
Synopsis: The true life of St. Patrick is described accompanied by gorgeous photographs of Ireland, its landmarks and its people. Also included are chapters on some of Ireland’s traditions and legends, foods, dancing and even native dogs.
Why I like it: It tells the truth about who St. Patrick is and why the day is celebrated. We see a young man who could have been bitter about his capture and toward the people who took him. Instead, we find Patrick returning years later to teach the same people about the love of God. A photograph of Patrick’s actual writing is shown. In it Patrick says he did not hate the raiders who snatched him from his family, “I have mercy on the people who once took me captive.”
Patrick’s true life was about hardship, accepting God in his life, following God’s will and forgiving the people who hurt him. The book tells this story. The book explains how he returned to Ireland even though, ‘daily [he] expected murder, fraud or captivity,’ and started over 300 churches and converted thousands to Christianity. There were many miracles attributed to him. The Catholic church made him a saint and established his date of death as a ‘holy day’ [holiday]. The book explains the true nature of March 17th not being about partying, parades and leprechauns, but about the life of a godly man.
However, the book does include chapters on fun things like leprechauns, shamrocks, fun Irish traditions and a glossary of Irish words at the end.
The photographs are rich and varied, showing ancient castle ruins, Saul church, one of the first churches founded by St. Patrick, Irish dancers, and traditional foods.
Activities/Resources: Ask questions about how it must have felt to be taken away from family. Talk about how Patrick could have been angry, but chose to forgive the ones who took him. Discuss why Patrick wanted to go back to Ireland. Also, what would it be like to be a missionary in a different country where people did not want him.
There are numerous internet resources for St. Pat’s word searches & games, but my favorite link includes a list of discussion questions (for Younger and older children). They follow after the videos of Irish music. This link also gives info on not only St. Patrick, but the various symbols and heritage of Ireland.
The book itself has a list of resources and links at the end.
Availability: Major bookstores.
St. Patrick was a man who loved God and showed God’s love to others. It is a good thing to recognize the life of a devout, Christian man and not just associate the day with parties and parades. Each year since I’ve been enlightened, I try to share the real story so others will know.
Blessings on your day and enjoy the book!