Youngsters throughout the archdiocese have been learning “values infusion” lessons this school year with help from a series of K-2 books called Loukoumi. The lessons focus on the importance of healthy values such as compassion; having safe environments; and anti-bullying. And a little lamb is leading them.
It is a program called “Making a Difference with Loukoumi”, based on the Loukoumi book series by Nick Katsoris. Loukoumi is a little white lamb; she is the main character in the values-based stories. In Greek, the word loukoumi means sweet and is a kind of candy. Greek is part of the author’s ancestry. Teachers are easily finding and teaching connections between Catholic faith values and the values focused on in the seven-book series.
“His books are not religion-based, but they are value-based,” said Sister June Clare Tracy, O.P., executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Identity. “And they are meant for early childhood—grades kindergarten, one and two.” Sister June Clare said each of the elementary schools in the archdiocese received 21 books, all donated by the author. The gift was made possible by a contribution to the Loukoumi Foundation from Eileen Gill Franklin and Gary Franklin and their organization George's Angels.
Sister June Clare noted that the author “feels strongly that children can make a difference in our world, and that is what his point was in writing these seven books...The children really like them—the principals are pleased, as are the teachers…The values of our faith permeate all aspects of our schools.”
Each of the seven books focuses on a different life lesson. The lessons include believing in their dreams; doing good deeds; treating others with respect; never giving up; being aware of bullying; realizing that the secret to happiness is found doing things for others; and becoming a better person. The 10 values infusion themes, one for each school month, are faith, courage, friendship, compassion, self-discipline, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, work and loyalty.
This month the values infusion focus is self-discipline—how self-discipline helps you to love and to experience happiness. Teachers are using the Loukoumi and the Schoolyard Bully book to make the faith-based connection, along with Scripture passages.
Sherri Boskey, who teaches kindergarten at Our Lady of Lourdes in Manhattan, is delighted with the book series. “It’s been going very well. They are learning how to apply the lessons to their everyday lives and experiences,” she said.
Ms. Boskey said that some parents have expressed curiosity about the Loukoumi books, and that she gladly explains how the values-based stories are connected with the Church’s teachings.
Teachers note the “lamb” similarities—that Loukoumi is a lamb. “It is reiterated throughout (the class lessons) that Jesus is the Lamb of God, and that Jesus is our Shepherd,” Ms. Boskey said. She noted that the Loukoumi stories include terms such as “blessings” and “the golden rule.”
The seven book titles are Loukoumi; Growing Up With Loukoumi; Loukoumi’s Good Deeds; Loukoumi’s Gift; Loukoumi and the Schoolyard Bully; Loukoumi in the Basket and Loukoumi’s Celebrity Cookbook. Proceeds from sales of the books benefit children’s charities and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.