There’s a spate of books these days that seem to point us toward kindness and making our world a better place. If today’s children take these books to heart, maybe they will change the world. Here’s a few of those books that might be useful to our young friends.
I call this one a young activist’s handbook. In Be A King, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by James E. Ransome, children are introduced to the idea that “everybody can serve”. Based on the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr., this book shows, in very simple statements and colorful illustration, how kids can be the change.
We Are All Dots, by Giancarlo Macri and Carolina Zanotti has the subtitle “A big plan for a better world”. Not subtle in the message, it shows how we can share the world and our resources. Kids will probably get it right away. Useful for talking about differences, diversity, and compassion.
Another lovely choice for discussion of differences is Trampoline Boy by Nan Forler, illustrated by Marion Arbona. A boy who is obsessed with his trampoline gets teased by the neighbourhood kids. But one girl wants to know more about him, and stops to make friends. The book has lovely gouache and pencil illustrations that show us that we should look at the world through different eyes now and then. I love the design of this one– a tall skinny book, shaped for the jumping boy, and text that moves with him.
Small Things, by Mel Tregonning is a wordless picture book in graphic-novel style. A small boy is plagued by anxiety, which manifests in small pieces of him breaking off and turning into black shapes that follow him. This is certainly a book for older readers, but one that kids who have anxiety may really relate to. The boy finds comfort in talking with his sister, and finally his family, and is able to help others once he learns how to conquer his own little monsters. The art is fantastical and will pull you right into the story. There’s an afterword that discusses anxiety and the “tiny demons of worry” that are depicted in the book.
Blue Rider by Geraldo Valerio is a worldess book that speaks volumes about our society. A girl finds a book on the ground– she is the only one who sees it, as everyone else is absorbed by their phones. When she takes it home and reads it, she is transported into a world of vibrant colour and shape, a world of nature that transcends her monotone urban landscape. The art is just beautiful– bold colours and shapes that ride across the page and into the imagination. The book is a reminder to look beyond what is in front of us, to put down the devices, and to enjoy art, books, nature, and life. Go ahead and check this one out and do just that.
For the budding environmentalist, look for April Pulley Sayre’s lovely Thank You Earth: A love letter to our planet. Illustrated with photographs that show the beauty of nature, this love letter is a short yet not simplistic poem. The words are as lovely as the photos. Perfect for Earth Day! There’s even a note from the author which gives kids some ideas on how they can thank the Earth. Superb.
Most kids have heard these words: Be Kind. In Pat Zietlow Miller’s new book, the main character wonders what this really means. When a classmate is laughed at for spilling her juice, our character wants to be kind, but doesn’t know exactly how. This is a good choice for parents and teachers who want to discuss what kindness means, and how we show it to others. After all, we can remind kids to “be kind”, but how do we show that?
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