The Old Woman Who Named Things

Friendship may take a while to develop, but it is a lifelong gift when it grows.

61DFbjZFO7LName: The Old Woman Who Named Things

Author: Cynthia Rylant

Illustrator: Kathryn Brown

Publisher: Harcourt Brace, 2000

Written for Ages:  5-10

Summary:  Although her name is never told, the old woman thinks naming things is important. However, she only names items that she will not outlive, as she misses her deceased friends. She names her car, her bed, and her chair, and she takes good care of them. When a stray dog shows up, the old lady is perplexed because she doesn’t want to keep him or name him. After several months, they develop a fondness for each other. When he disappears, she seeks him out and declares her affection for him by naming him.

Scripture Connection: Luke 15 is the Lost and Found chapter. In it, Jesus relates several parables about items that are lost to their owners and rejoiced over when they are found. The chapter begins with the Pharisees harassing Jesus for associating with the strays of society. He tells the tale of a shepherd who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to find the one that has gone missing. Jesus’s story relates God’s unconditional love for any of his children who have gone astray.

Theological Connection: Due to the agricultural lifestyle of the Hebrews, sheep were a valuable commodity. Jesus knew that the Pharisees would grasp the metaphor of the shepherd leaving behind his ninety-nine sheep to rescue the one lost lamb. God’s Son was declaring that nothing was more important to the Father than returning all of His precious children to His side.

Justice Connection: Though bullying has become a common topic in schools and news stories, so have ‘buddy benches’ and mentoring programs in schools. Kindness campaigns teach kids to include, share with, and reach out to ‘lost sheep’. In this book, the old lady took a risk to make a friend, and she was rewarded with a companion for life.

Faith Talk (God Talk):

  1. How did the old lady respond to the puppy when she first met him?
  2. Why did the puppy come back to her house?
  3. Why did the old lady go out looking for the puppy?
  4. Why did she name him Lucky and take him home?
  5. What did God do for us to show that He wants us to be his forever friends?

Parenting Connection: Understanding that the old lady chose not to name things that would live longer than she would isn’t necessary to grasp the compassion in this book. Parents can have a conversation about aging and outliving friends, but it’s not vital to understanding the lady’s love for the puppy. This book can be used to show children that friends can be made in any situation and that friends go to great lengths for each other. Although she was reluctant to adopt the puppy at first, her love for him grew (and vice versa), and ultimately, they both knew that they had found friendship. Kids can learn that friends may not look like friends at first, but after getting to know each other, a tight bond can form.

You can buy a copy at Amazon or check out your local library.

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