Highland Reads: Engaging Both the Mind and Heart Through a Shared Library

We can’t always gather in the same room to explore ideas, but we can grow by exploring books in common this year. During each season of our Year of Freedom, we are recommending a book for adults and for children that can help spark conversation and ignite curiosity.

October and November 2019: Freedom in Generosity

Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass
If gratitude is good, why is it so hard to do? In Grateful, Diana Butler Bass untangles our conflicting understandings of gratitude and sets the table for a renewed practice of giving thanks.  Gratitude is more than a feeling but a radical practice that is needed most in these divisive times. As Diana Butler Bass suggests that freedom comes when we pass on gifts without expecting anything in return. Found on Amazon here.



Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
This beautifully illustrated book models what it is to be generous, sharing even something you enjoy or are really looking forward to. The result is the coming together of community because generosity often begets generosity. As the back book cover notes, “sharing is a lot like giving thanks – they both bring people together.” It also reminds us that both giving and receiving are gifts. Found on Amazon here.



Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems
The first line of the review by Daniel Kraus Booklist says it all as it describes this book as an “ode to the classic conflict between generosity and greed.” Young children hear that they should be generous, and we encourage them to practice being so. However, the learning process is challenging and wrought with wondering and wrestling through what it means to think beyond yourself. It’s a muscle that has to be exercised and Gerald and Piggie play out this sequence of thoughts pictorially right before our children’s eyes. Gerald’s recognition of generosity received in the way he originally intended to give is also a noteworthy aha moment. Found on Amazon here.


August and September 2019: Freedom to Dream

Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words are Vanishing—and How We Can Revive Them by Jonathan Merritt
While we may love the quote, “Preach the gospel always; use words when necessary,” there are times where we’ve got to use words if anything is going to change. There is freedom when we are able to transform words that have been used as weapons into words that can heal. Jonathan Merritt challenges Christians to move beyond the “spiritual lockjaw” we feel. Learning to Speak God from Scratch empowers us to recover the power of words – a power that just might help us restore peace in a world that deeply needs to hear it. “When we lose our spiritual vocabulary, we lose much more than words. We lose the power of speaking grace, forgiveness, love, and justice over others.” Found on Amazon here.


What Do You Do With an Idea Written by Kobi Yamada, Illustrated by Mae Besom
“What Do You Do with an Idea” invites children of all ages to be curious about the ideas that won’t leave us alone—ideas that end up changing the way we see everything. Yamada’s words and Besom’s illustrations remind us all of the persistence of powerful ideas and the way the world changes when we are free to dream. How do we help children explore their ideas? How do we prepare for their ideas to change the world? “I liked being with my idea. It made me feel more alive, like I could do anything. It encouraged me to think big…and then, to think bigger.” Found on Amazon here.