Author Sherri Shumate’s three boys, Joseph, Riley, and Bradley pictured reading their mother’s books. Photo provided

Children’s Books Inspire Hope

August 1, 2016 | | GNJ News

With so much hate and violence in our world, two books published by a local Christian education director offer hope and love to children and their families making them a great teaching tool for Sunday School or home.

Sherri Shumate says both of her children’s books – “Love Looks Like This” and “REAL Superheroes to the Rescue: Children Can Change the World” are written to help empower kids to know they make a difference, a lesson that Shumate lives out in her day to day life as a mother of three boys, Joseph who is seven, and Riley and Bradley, who are six. “All of us, children as well as adults are responsible for working together to make our world a better place in the choices we make every day about how we live our lives,” she continued.

With a Masters in Education from UVA and an M.Div from Drew Theological School, Shumate has taught several workshops at Drew and currently serves as the Director of Christian Education for the UMC of Summit. Self-described as a preacher’s kid and the oldest of five children, she has been working with and teaching children in her home and church literally all her life as a big sister, Sunday school teacher, and Vacation Bible School leader.

Shumate said her newest children’s book, “Love Looks Like This” celebrates the common humanity and hope that unites us all. “There seem to be many polarizing forces competing in our world, setting people against other people because of differences in what we believe and how we all choose to live our lives,” she continued. “Our world isn’t perfect; everyone makes mistakes sometime. Still, there is so much good in our world and in all of us. There are no good and bad people, and love isn’t one size fits all.” She said “Love Looks Like This” celebrates real people from all over the world, of all different types and varieties, showing love and living their life together. “It celebrates the possibility of peace, kindness, love and life lived together whether we’re single or married, young or old, male or female,” said Shumate. “As it says in the book, ‘Love like you and me. Love looks like living life together’.”

Shumate’s first children’s book “REAL Superheroes to the Rescue” began when she was eating at a restaurant and her children started asking questions while a news story about a recent terrorist attack was shown on the restaurant televisions.  “We don’t have cable in our home, and we don’t intentionally expose our children to the violence happening in our world,” said Shumate. “Still, I believe it’s important to be honest and truthful with children and not shield them from reality either. We started talking openly and honestly about their questions and about how we all have the choice to use our power for good.”
The conversation led Shumate to realize she had much to learn from her children. Together, Shumate and her three sons wrote a simple e-book about the power of love and how to use that power for good in this world. “Just a few hours after sharing it on Facebook, a dear friend Janet Stafford asked to publish a print version of our book,” said Shumate.

Both books are written to be accessible for an elementary age reading level, but Shumate says the messages and images speak to a hope that we all need right now. “People of all ages tell me these books speak to them and have touched them.”

Shumate said the books were not written to make a profit and that everything that’s been earned from their sale has been given away to good causes. “I wrote these books, as I try in everything I do, to share a message of hope,” she continued. “My heart breaks at the continued violence happening in our country and world, and at the fear, pain, and anger so many people carry in response. I strive to be a message of the hope I believe is possible for our world. I choose love, peace and hope, and this is the message I try to share with our children and our world.”

Both Shumate’s children’s books are available on Amazon. There’s also a sequel to the first book, “REAL Superheroes Forgive” that is coming soon. She said it focuses on imagining a world that loves enough to forgive everyone, always. She is also working on a book about strength that challenges the idea that  power is found by dominating others and celebrates power that builds people up.  Shumate has also published an adult devotional called, “Smelling Roses” and a book of Advent and Lent reflections called, “Whistling in the Dark.”