So happy to welcome Jenn for a guest post today. She's a fellow blogger who just so happens to be a teacher, like me. Today, she's helping spread the word on kindness by recommending some great reads to teach our children (students or otherwise) about the value of being kind to each other. So read on to find some good reads to add to your library. (PS: If you're looking for books for the upper level-grades, Jenn has more recommendations coming in November)
Finding common ground among our children is crucial for our future, and it’s the key theme over at my blog, Meaningful Connections. We live in a world that is more connected than ever—yet record numbers of our children are suffering the pain of bullying and isolation. As the school year gets underway, it’s critical to reinforce the importance of being good to others. It’s also important to help kids avoid the role of victim should they cross paths with bullies. Here is a list of books to get students talking about kindness.
You Are Special, by Max Lucado, illustrated by Sergio Martinez.
Lucado teaches an important lesson to students in Kindergarten through fifth grade about caring for oneself regardless of what other people think. His Wemmicks, special wooden people, spend their days placing colored stickers on each other. Talented, pretty Wemmicks get stars, but the mediocre among them get gray stickers. Poor Punchinello is covered with gray circles. He feels terrible until he notices a young girl Wemmick with no stickers. She directs Punchinello to visit Eli, the woodcarver. Eli teaches him that dots and stars mean nothing when Wemmicks realize that they are special just as they are. The spiritual overtones of this picture book are subtle enough that some school counselors use this story in their classroom lessons on bullying
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud, illustrated by David Messing.
McCloud’s famous picture book has been shared in elementary schools Kindergarten through fifth grade around the country to teach kindness. Through the story, children can imagine that each person has an invisible “bucket” that can be filled with kindness or emptied by hurtful words. Kids often don’t realize the effect their words and actions have on others. This book helps provide a concrete example to help children think about the power in their deeds.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
This picture book does not have a happy ending, which makes it all the more powerful. A young girl named Chloe is unkind to Maya, a new student, and excludes her. By the time Chloe thinks about the consequences of her actions and wishes to make a change, Maya is gone. Chloe never has the chance to make things right with Maya. This book will give elementary students a lesson on kindness, consequences, and regret.
Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Rodney Rat has a speech impediment, and the other rodents in his class make fun of the way he says his R’s. When Camilla Capybara enters the class and declares herself bigger and meaner than all the others, Rodney surprises everyone by putting her in her place. This story reminds children eight and under that everyone is deserving of respect.
My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems
This Elephant and Piggie book by the acclaimed author of Knuffle Bunny and the Pigeon books explores friendship and kindness as Piggie does everything she can to try and cheer up her friend. This book is a great conversation starter with younger elementary students eight and under about what good friends do for each other.