Hooked on Books
We all want to raise kids who will be forces for good in the world. One very simple (and admittedly my favourite) way to teach children empathy and understanding is through the power of books. Picture books are a wonderful way to start talking to kids about the differences between people and laying a foundation for general kindness. I hope these books that feature messages of compassion, acceptance and inclusion will prove helpful as we all try to raise good humans.
Everybody! by Elise Gravel
Despite our differences, we all feel very similar things. This funny and heartwarming picture book reminds us that there are more similarities to every person – or monster! – than meets the eye. As people, we are all allowed to feel sad, afraid, or embarrassed. We are allowed to make mistakes, and we are allowed to make them right. The more we understand about ourselves and other people, the better we can make our community!
I Walk With Vanessa: A Story About A Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët
An unnamed student watches in dismay as her new classmate, Vanessa, is tormented by a bully and leaves her first day at her new school in tears. Though she herself was not the subject of the bullying, the student is dismayed and knows that she cannot continue to watch silently as others are mistreated. The next day, she offers to walk with Vanessa to school. This wordless picture book reminds us that we are capable of standing up for others, and that even small kindnesses can be the start of building a more understanding community.
Noni Speaks Up by Heather Hartt-Sussman
Noni watches as her classmates tease Hector, a boy with giant glasses. Though she wants to do the right thing, Noni is afraid that speaking up will come with consequences. Will she be able to find the courage to stand up for her peers and do the right thing?
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty – and fun – in their routine and the world around them.
Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee
When a little girl is motivated to promote good in the world after hearing over and over on the news of the hatred and negativity within it, she asks her parents what she can do to help. Come with me, they both reply, and take her into different, diverse melting-pot environments in the city, to win tiny battles for peace through kind acts. Her parents’ example influences her to embark on her own journey of kindness.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Meeting a challenging topic with buoyant enthusiasm, this colorful picture book celebrates a school where all the students from a diverse community feel welcome. Children wear yarmulkes, dress in hijabs, and some use wheelchairs to get around. They play together, learn together, and share their different cultural traditions. The rhyming verses create a sense of unity, as if students and staff are speaking in a happy chorus: We’re part of a community/Our strength is our diversity/A shelter from adversity/All are welcome here”
These titles can be reserved at your local County of Lennox and Addington Library branch or online at www.countylibrary.ca.