Back to Blog

New Wisdom Tree Collective Offering Invites Adults to Engage with Children's Books

children's books May 22, 2024

When browsing bookshelves, do you ever catch sight of a beloved children’s book and feel that lift of the heart, along with a deep surge of memory? Me too. All the time. Those children’s books—the pictures, the cadences, the feel of them in my hands—are portals to something precious and powerful.

Which is why I’m thrilled that our own Beth Brighton, a spiritual direction student graduating in August, has started Book Ends, an online children’s book group for grownups. The group is Beth’s final project, and it’s off to a great start.

I asked Beth to talk about her enthusiasm for reading children’s books as a spiritual practice.   

“As adults, we overcomplicate things all the time,” she said. “Children’s books can give us a simple, pure perspective on relationships, feelings, nature, and God. Grownups can forget the simplicity of how God speaks.” 

Beth recalled her own spiritual formation as requiring a lot of effort. Structured time for devotions, defined steps for prayer, and reading specific Bible passages each day eventually led to a dulling of her spirituality. When she began reading children’s books to her kids, she realized in them a vitality and imagination that fed her soul. She said that through some special children’s books, “I was able to reconnect with the foundation I was given and rebuild it from the perspective of an adult with the heart of a child. These books have their own kind of magic—they helped me metabolize spiritual ideas in a different way. I could reconcile some of my old beliefs with what I was discovering God to be.”

When Beth meets with her directees, she has shelves full of children’s books at the ready.

“Sometimes a single line is enough,” she said, noting that often a line from a book comes to her in the moment. “It can hit someone at a level I wouldn’t know how to access. Many people need to heal their childhoods and what they were taught to believe about God. A simple, poignant book can bring us back to the child’s perspective and help us feel beloved, help us feel that we are enough, just as we are.”

Readers may be moved to tears by something profound and tender they encounter in the book that they might not encounter any other way. It’s a sacred experience of the Presence.

When I asked Beth how she chooses her children's books, she laughed. “I have so many," she said. "But my criteria is simple: if the book moves you, it’s for you.”

One more point: children’s books can help create a certain resilience in adult readers.

“They help dissolve the cynicism that comes with growing up,” Beth said. If a book is powerful for readers, they experience the tensions and feelings. A good one is genuine and ends with hope. They are incredible resources for us as we struggle to live in a complex world that often involves despair or apathy. 

Beth invites us to come to a special “Encore Evening” Thursday, May 30th at 7:00 pm CST in which she will present her first Book Ends session again, featuring her own book, The Wisdom Tree, which she wrote before she became a student at Wisdom Tree Collective. She approaches the books with simple listening, some discussion, and a version of lectio divina.  Book Ends’ tagline is, “Books that return us to the place where we all began.” You’ll feel that sense of original blessing as you experience these tales with Beth.

Register for free to join us for the following sessions: 

  • May 30, 7:00 p.m. CST (Encore Evening)
  • June 6, 9:00 a.m. CST
  • August 1, 9:00 a.m. CST

In parting, Beth gives us a list of a few favorites, including The Rabbit Listened, which you can enjoy on YouTube. Many good children’s books are available as read alouds. Explore titles at your libraries, bookstores, and online to find those that move you.

—Laura Huff Hileman, Director for Programs in Dreams and Spirituality

Stay Connected!

Updates and News sent directly to your inbox. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.