Earlier this year I was in a class room at story time. They were reading a book called Ruby Finds a Worry (see below). What I noticed was one particular student in the class was mesmerized by the story. As the teacher read the story she was asking thoughtful reflection questions of the students and the moment the teacher asked the question this student’s hand shot up into the air. She was so engaged by the story. What was obvious was that she looked physically similar to the main character and her reflections and comments were insightful and clearly made connections to the themes of the book. What was less obvious at first, but soon became clear, was how similar she felt to the main character.
Afterwards in private, the teacher exclaimed, that she was amazed because the student rarely was engaged in class and was very hesitant to offer her thoughts and feelings on any class activities. What struck me were two things. First, representation, being able to easily see aspects of ourselves represented in media, matters. Second, I was excited by how happy both the teacher and the student appeared to be. It was remarkable to me how this example clearly showed how “reading and discussing children’s books is an excellent way to invite children to identify the characters’ emotions and relate the characters’ experiences to their own (Roberts & Crawford 2008). Kids connect to story.
Daily reading with our children is an incredibly fun, important, and impactful activity. Reading is such a great way to build a bond between parent and child, improve literacy, and as a helpful part of a going to bed routine (see last weeks post). It is also a great way to build social emotional skills when the reading is paired with thoughtful questions and discussions (eg. How does the character feel right now? Have you ever felt like that? When? What did they do to make themselves feel better etc.)
So, today I thought I would share some of my favorite books. Though these are not the only ones, these are the books I find I pull off my shelf most often when I am working with kids.
The Bad Seed
The Bad Seed by Jory John is a picture book that promotes self-management, self-awareness and social awareness. It is a great book that all kids find fun and brings up themes that they can easily connect to.
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg is great for talking about growth mindset. That mistakes are how we grow and learn. It reframes mistakes or accidents not as things to be avoided but as opportunities.
The Invisible Boy
The Invisible Boy by Patrice Barton is great for having conversations about kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. It is beautiful illustrated and kids can really connect to these themes.
Sam’s Pet Temper
Sam’s Pet Temper by Sangeeta Bhadra and Marion Arbona is a great book for anyone who struggles with self-regulation and anger. It highlights that anger does not define who we are and can be managed. It is a great conversation starter for coping strategies for when there their Pet Temper shows up.
The Memory Tree
The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup is a wonderful book on a tough subject, death and grief. It is a wonderful story about fox who has recently died but still lives on in the lives and hearts of those who cared about him. Fox’s friends begin to gather in the clearing. One by one, they tell stories of the special moments that they shared with Fox. And so, as they share their memories, a tree begins to grow, becoming bigger and stronger with each memory, sheltering and protecting all the animals in the forest, just as Fox did when he was alive.
Ruby Finds a Worry
Ruby finds a Worry by Tom Percival is a great story about Ruby who is is an amazing young girl with one problem, she has found something to worry about. This book is the perfect springboard for talking to children about emotional intelligence and sharing hidden anxieties.
The Color Monster
The Color Monster by Anna Llenas is a really fun book that introduces young children to different feelings, how they feel in our bodies, and the topic of self-regulation.
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall is an amazing book that is great for talking about anxieties, people who can support nervous feelings as well as perseverance and resilience.
Ping by Ani Castillo is an interesting book on a really important, if complicated, theme. Using the metaphor of the game of table tennis it introduces readers to the question of how we want to be around others. What do we want to put out into the world (kindness etc.) and what others may, or may not, give back to us.
When you are Brave
When you are Brave by Pat Zietlow Miller is one of my favorite books. It is beautifully illustrated and explores the themes of fear, worry and bravery.
Mr. Flux by Kyo Maclear and Matte Stephens is a really interesting book that introduces the idea of flexible thinking in a unique way. It is great conversation starter for the idea that change can come in all kinds of different sizes and doesn’t have to be scary.
What do you do with a Problem?
What do you do with a Problem? by Kobi Yamada is a beautifully illustrated book to explore problems and the opportunities that they sometimes hide with your child.
Not Quite Narwhal
Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima is a story of a unicorn who is raised by a family of Narwhals. It is a fun and unique way to introduce the topic of diversity and difference.
Guts by Raina Telgemeier is a popular graphic novel with slightly older themes. It is a book that late primary and intermediate students love. The author has written a funny and true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and conquer — her fears.
The Book with no Pictures
The Book with no Pictures by BJ Novak is a silly book. I find it helpful for reluctant readers or just to have fun during your daily reading routine. Don’t let the title fool you, it is a book kids of all ages (and adults) will love.
Happy reading everyone, most all these books are available at your local library or most bookstores. As well, if you are looking for a book on a particular theme that isn’t highlighted here feel free to be in touch. I would be happy to help.