Glad to have Jenn back for her second installment of these kindness books. These 5 sets gear toward the upper level grades and feature one of my favorite YA Lit authors, Jerry Spinelli. Feel free to peruse through and enjoy :)
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis SlobodkinThis short chapter book for third through sixth graders has been in print since 1945. The timeless theme is similar to Each Kindness where students torment a girl for wearing the same blue dress each day. The girl is pulled out of school, and the students are left to regret their behavior. A newer version of this book has a letter from the author’s daughter. This book will help students think about kindness and empathy on a deeper level.
Loser by Jerry Spinelli
Upper elementary and middle school students will rethink the power in the word “loser” as they read this novel. Zinkoff, a student with some special needs who doesn’t quite fit in, proves that anyone can be a hero. This character evokes both compassion and respect from readers. Spinelli makes older students think about kindness without seeming “preachy;” some critics say this novel is the best of this award-winning writer’s works
Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen, illustrated by Daniel Mark Duffy
Even though this short chapter book is perfect for advanced first grade readers, the appeal stretches to upper elementary students. The children in Molly’s third grade class make fun of her accent, but this strong young immigrant girl shows them the true meaning of Thanksgiving and kindness. Cohen’s story is the perfect book to spark discussions about diversity in our country.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Soon to be a major motion picture, Wonder actually inspired “Choose Kind,” a kindness and compassion movement. Auggie, the main character, is a fifth grader with a facial deformity. The story begins from his point of view, but other characters soon chime in. All the characters struggle to accept Auggie and his differences. This novel gives upper elementary and middle school students a powerful forum to examine and discuss their own beliefs about compassion and kindness.
Blood on the River: Jamestown, 1607 by Elisa Carbone
Accurate and well-researched historical fiction may be an unusual genre for teaching the importance of kindness, but this novel demonstrates that kindness and compassion led to the survival of the entire colony. Primary sources document that a boy named Samuel Collier traveled to the New World from England in 1607. Carbone fills in his back story as an orphan and a thief who escapes imprisonment by accompanying John Smith to Virginia as his page. Samuel is a fighter and a bully. John Smith teaches him to channel his anger and learn compassion because his survival depends on it. By the end of the novel, Samuel demonstrates kindness and compassion in a completely selfless and heroic act bound to generate many discussions among tweens and teens alike. While this book describes some graphic, but historically accurate violence, the powerful lessons and fast-moving plot make this a true page- turner!