Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag (Book Review)

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno Pride - The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

The very first picture book about the remarkable and inspiring story of the Gay Pride Flag!

In this deeply moving and empowering true story, young readers will trace the life of the Gay Pride Flag, from its beginnings in 1978 with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to its spanning of the globe and its role in today’s world. Award-winning author Rob Sanders’s stirring text, and acclaimed illustrator Steven Salerno’s evocative images, combine to tell this remarkable – and undertold – story. A story of love, hope, equality, and pride.

Source: Author’s website – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/548742/how-to-make-friends-with-a-ghost-by-rebecca-green/9781101919019

My Reaction:

Pride is a great narrative nonfiction to read aloud not only at home, but also in classrooms. Sanders packs the story with interesting historical details using language that is accessible for young readers. Salerno’s illustrations additional information and feeling to the story giving readers more to infer and explore further. The biographical notes and timeline at the end of the book are a useful bonus. This book will be a great addition to your picture book collection.

 

Curriculum Connections:

Who Should Read This Book?

  • Middle grade teachers
  • History teachers and history buffs
  • Anyone supporting the LGBTQ+ community
  • Parents

Other Books You Might Want to Read:

Gay and Lesbian History for KidsPeaceful Fights for Equal Rights

Red A Crayons Story

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Always Be Yourself

Be YourselfHello, Picture Book Readers!

The “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader” book club met to discuss the idea of  always being yourself and how that builds your leadership and social skills. As we read and discussed the books listed below, we focused on answering the following questions: Which characters are being themselves? How does being yourself help others to do the same? How does being yourself help build your leadership skills?

After reading and discussing the books, together the book club kids concluded that the message we would take away was this: Always be yourself. When you stay true to yourself, you encourage others to do the same.

 

WESLANDIA by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Weslandia

WESLANDIA honors the misfits–and the creators–among us.

School is over and Wesley needs a summer project. Having learned that every civilization has a staple food crop, he decides to plant a garden and start his own–civilization, that is. He turns over a plot of earth in his yard, and plants begin to grow. Soon they tower above him and bear a curious-looking fruit. As Wesley experiments, he discovers that the plant will provide food, clothing, shelter, and even recreation. It isn’t long before neighbors and classmates have developed more than an idle curiostiry about Wesley and exactly how he is spending his summer vacation. Enter the witty, intriguing world of WESLANDIA.

 

Red: A Crayon’s Story written and illustrated by Michael Hall

Red A Crayons Story

Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries!

Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He’s blue! This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!

 

Oliver written and illustrated by Birgitta Sif

Oliver by Birgitta Sif

Oliver is different. He enjoys his solitude. He likes playing with his friends, who are puppets, stuffed animals, and other toys. With his rich imagination, Oliver’s day is never dull. There are bridges to cross, sharks to fight, and treasures to find!

But maybe toys don’t always give a boy everything he needs. Maybe he needs another kind of companion. Will Oliver discover a way to be, well, different? When his tennis ball rolls across the lawn into the yard of the girl next door, he just might be surprised.

“…gracefully written to celebrate dreamers and readers—and those who need not change to find friends.” –Kirkus Review

A Bad Case of Stripes written and illustrated by David Shannon

A Bad Case of Stripes

The core theme of A Bad Case of Stripes is learning to be yourself, and being comfortable in your own skin… literally.

Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but she never eats them. Why? Because the other kids in her school don’t like them. And Camilla Cream is very, very worried about what other people think of her. In fact, she’s so worried that she’s about to break out in…a bad case of stripes! When the Doctor, Specialists, Experts, and many others cannot figure out what’s causing the stripes, a little old woman appears with what just might be the cure.

 

What makes you YOU? How do you remain true to yourself when there might be pressure to be like others? How does “being yourself” give others the power to do the same? Show your true colors. Be a leader by encouraging those around you to do the same. The world is a better place when we embrace diversity and variety.

Happy reading!

Seeing the Good in All Things

Hello, Picture Book Readers! Look at the Bright Side

The “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader” book club met to discuss having a positive outlook and seeing the good in all situations. As we read and discussed the books listed below, we focused on answering the following questions: What can we see around us that is good, hopeful, and positive? How can we recognize the good fortune we have even if we aren’t in an ideal situation?

After reading and discussing the books, together the book club kids concluded that the message we would take away was this: Always try to look at the bright side. Students also make up their own “Fortunately/Unfortunately” stories in the pattern of one of the books we read.

Life by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel Life

Life begins small, then grows…

There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle. Through the eyes of the world’s animals—including elephants, monkeys, whales, and more—Cynthia Rylant offers a moving meditation on finding beauty around us every day and finding strength in adversity. Brendan Wenzel’s stunning landscapes and engaging creatures make this an inspiring and intriguing book for readers of all ages.

 

Fortunately written and illustrated by Remy Charlip Fortunately

Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.

Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.

Unfortunately, the motor exploded.

Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.

Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.

What else could go wrong as Ned tries to get to the party? Readers will cheer as Ned’s luck turns from good to bad to good again, while clever illustrations tell the story of his wacky adventure, narrow escapes, and the message that we can always see the good in a bad situation.

 

The Three Questions: Based on a Story by Leo Tolstoy written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth The Three Questions

What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Nikolai knows that he wants to be the best person he can be, but often he is unsure if he is doing the right thing. So he goes to ask Leo, the wise turtle. When he arrives, the turtle is struggling to dig in his garden, and Nikolai rushes to help him. As he finishes work, a violent storm rolls in. Nikolai runs for Leo’s cottage, but on his way, he hears cries for help from an injured panda. Nikolai brings her in from the cold, and then rushes back outside to rescue her baby too.

With stunning watercolors and a text that resounds with universal truths, this award-winning artist has based his first original story on one by Leo Tolstoy, transforming it into a timeless fable for young readers.

 

How do you maintain a positive outlook on life? What recommendations do you have for kids who might be “stuck” looking at the downside of a situation? Let’s use picture books to remind us all that there is an upside, life is good, and we can always find the positive in any given situation.

Happy reading!

Be a Champion for Universal Human Rights and Freedom

Universal Declaration of Human Rights PosterHello, Picture Book Readers!

The “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader” book club met to discuss freedom and universal human rights, a topic that sounds perhaps a bit grandiose for elementary children, but was something they seemed to view quite clearly as “the way things should be.” As we read and discussed the books listed below, we focused on answering the following questions: What are human rights and freedoms? What does it mean when someone talks about ALL HUMANS having universal rights?

Each book we read was published in partnership with Amnesty International in support of their work to protect human rights. Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. They campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.

After reading and discussing, together the book club kids concluded that the message we would take away was this: All humans have the right to a life that is peaceful, happy, and free.

Dreams of Freedom in Words and Pictures by Amnesty International  Dreams of Freedom in Words and Pictures

This inspirational book, following We Are All Born Free, contains 17 quotations about many different aspects of freedom, from the freedom to have an education to that not to be hurt or tortured, the freedom to have a home and the freedom to be yourself. All the chosen quotations are in simple words that can be understood by young children.

Authors of the quotations include: Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Anne Frank, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi and Malala Yousafzai. The book is illustrated by internationally acclaimed and award-winning illustrators, including Alexis Deacon, Chris Riddell, Ros Asquith, Jackie Morris and Shirin Adl from the UK, Barroux from France, Roger Mello from Brazil, Birgitta Sif from Iceland, aboriginal artist Sally Morgan from Australia and Mordicai Gerstein from the USA. The cover is illustrated by best-selling author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers.

We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures by Amnesty International We Are All Born Free

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed on 10th December 1948. It was compiled after World War Two to declare and protect the rights of all people from all countries. This beautiful collection, published 60 years on, celebrates each declaration with an illustration by an internationally-renowned artist or illustrator. Contains a foreword by David Tennant and John Boyne. Includes art work contributions from Axel Scheffler, Peter Sis, Satoshi Kitamura, Alan Lee, Polly Dunbar, Jackie Morris, Debi Gliori, Chris Riddell, Catherine and Laurence Anholt and many more!

Imagine by John Lennon and illustrated by Jean Jullien Imagine by John Lennon

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.
Join one little pigeon as she sets out on a journey to spread a message of tolerance around the world. Featuring the lyrics of John Lennon’s iconic song and illustrations by the award-winning artist Jean Jullien, this poignant and timely picture book dares to imagine a world at peace.

 

World Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10, and this year, in 2018, it will be the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I encourage you to visit the website for the United Nations or Amnesty International to find out more about ways to get involved in standing up for other human beings.
70 Years Universal Dec of Human Rights Logo

What freedoms and rights do you feel are most important? What can we do to ensure ALL humans are guaranteed their rights? How will you and your children stand up for human rights?

 

Happy reading!

How to Deal with Bullying Behavior

Hello, Picture Book Readers!Stand Up Against Bullying

The “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader” book club met today to discuss how to deal with bullying behavior especially when you are a witness or bystander. As we read and discussed the books listed below, we focused on answering the following questions: How do the characters in these stories deal with bullying behavior? What do I think I would do in these situations?

In each story, we saw examples of characters who were being excluded, teased, or threatened, and in each story characters had different ways of coping and problem solving. Some examples included

  • stick together with friends
  • invite someone to join you
  • remain calm
  • only say or do nice things
  • talk to an adult for help
  • be silly or find humor in the situation
  • stand tall and be confident in yourself
  • if you feel safe and comfortable, use a clear and calm voice to tell the bully to stop
  • walk away

After reading, together the book club kids concluded that the message we would take away was this: If someone is being bullied, we would stay calm, stick together, and try to make silly situation out of it.

Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig and illustrations by Adam GustavsonJust Kidding

D.J.’s friend Vince has a habit of teasing D.J. and then saying, “Just kidding!” as if it will make everything okay. It doesn’t, but D.J. is afraid that if he protests, his friends will think he can’t take a joke.

With the help of his father, brother, and an understanding teacher, D.J. progresses from feeling helpless to taking positive action, undermining the power of two seemingly harmless words.

A great resource for children and all who work with them, Just Kidding includes useful tips, discussion questions and additional information to help young readers understand that one-sided fun really isn’t much fun after all.

Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose and illustrations by Debbie Tilley Hey Little Ant

What would you do if the ant you were about to step on looked up and started talking? Would you stop and listen? What if your friends saw you hesitate? That’s what happens in this funny, thought-provoking book.

Originally a song by a father-daughter team, this conversation between two creatures, large and small, is bound to inspire important discussions. It might even answer that classic childhood question: To squish or not to squish?

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun YooStrictly No Elephants

When the local Pet Club won’t admit a boy’s tiny pet elephant, he finds a solution—one that involves all kinds of unusual animals in this sweet and adorable picture book.

Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend.

Imaginative and lyrical, this sweet story captures the magic of friendship and inclusion.

 

We can bring an end to bullying behavior, hurtful teasing, and exclusion. How do you encourage your children to deal with bullying behavior?

Happy reading!

Having Perspective and Problem Solving

Hello, Picture Book Readers!Dont Give Up

The “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader” book club met today to discuss having perspective and problem solving when facing life’s challenges big and small. As we read and discussed the books listed below, we focused on answering the following questions:

  1. What should we do when we make a mistake or things don’t work out the way we expected them to?
  2. What do these characters do when they have problems?
  3. How can we help others who are having problems? 
  4. How big are these problems in the big picture of life?

In each story, we saw examples of characters who set out to make something they had envisioned, and in each story, the characters faced problems such as an unintended mistake, a project not working out exactly like planned, or an entire idea that comes crashing down. What do we do when we encounter these types of problems? How do we move forward when, on the inside, we might be feeling frustration, anger, or defeat?

After reading, together the book club kids concluded that the message we would take away was this: When you have a problem, don’t give up. The kids also discussed examples of ways to deal with problems, such as: take a break, go for a walk, keep trying, change your idea, or try something new. And, most importantly, keep perspective of how big this problem is. Life-changing? A frustrating set back? Something that can be dealt with easily? It’s important to always take breath and be reflective of your situation. Take a positive outlook as you face life’s obstacles.

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna LuykenThe Book of Mistakes

Zoom meets Beautiful Oops! in this memorable picture book debut about the creative process, and the way in which “mistakes” can blossom into inspiration.

One eye was bigger than the other.  That was a mistake.
The weird  frog-cat-cow thing? It made an excellent bush.
And the inky smudges… they look as if they were always meant to be leaves floating gently across the sky.

As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.

Fans of Peter Reynolds’s Ish and Patrick McDonnell’s  A Perfectly Messed-Up Story will love the funny, poignant, completely unique storytelling of  The Book of Mistakes.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley SpiresThe Most Magnificent Thing

One day, a little girl has a wonderful idea. With the help of her canine assistant, she is going to make THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING!

She knows just how it will look.

She knows just how it will work.

Easy-peasy! But making the most magnificent thing turns out to be harder than she thinks. She measures, hammers, fastens and adjusts again and again, but the thing just keeps turning out wrong. If only the thing WOULD JUST WORK!

A clever, honest, and funny portrayal of an experience we can all relate to, Ashley Spires’s latest tale will give kids (and their grown-ups) the most magnificent thing: perspective!

The Rabbit Listened by Cori DoerrfeldThe Rabbit Listened

With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender meditation on healing heartaches big and small.

When something sad happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this problem, and one by one they fail.

Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs. When read as a primer for comforting others who are dealing with life’s problems, this is a moving and unforgettable story sure to soothe heartache of all sizes.

It is inevitable that we will face problems in life, things won’t work out the way we had planned, and the people around us will be dealing with struggles as well. How are we helping children maintain perspective and solve problems with a positive attitude? How are we instilling the value of perseverance? How can we encourage them to notice when others are facing problems and be there to listen? Let’s use books like the ones above to open conversations and teach children to never give up, view problems with a positive outlook, and support others who are dealing with problems of their own.

Happy reading!

 

 

Children as Activists

ACT - Action Changes ThingsHello Picture Book Readers!

The “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader” book club met today to discuss youth activism. As we read and discussed the books listed below, we focused on answering the question, “In these stories, who is taking action or speaking up about something that is important to them?

In each story, we saw examples of children taking important issues (such as civil rights, animal safety, and human rights) into their own hands and making a difference, being activists. We analyzed what they children in the stories were passionate about (or fighting for), and we discussed how exactly the children took action and made a difference. After reading, together the book club kids concluded that the message we would take away was this: When you care about something important, you speak up and take action.

Let the Children March written by Monica Clark-Robinson and illustrated by Frank MorrisonLet the Children March

I couldn’t play on the same playground as the white kids.

I couldn’t go to their schools.

I couldn’t drink from their water fountains.

There were so many things I couldn’t do.

In the first week of May 1963, African American families gathered all around Birmingham, Alabama, to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. The people had come to plan, to organize, to mobilize, and to rally against the discriminatory Jim Crow laws that kept black people separate from white people. That week, thousands of children and teens volunteered to march for their civil rights in the place of their parents, who were fearful of losing their jobs.

Facing fear and hate, the courage and resilience of the children who marched in these protests changed the world in ways more monumental than they could have ever imagined.

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Meilo SoFollow the Moon Home

Viv has a new home and a new school by the sea. Follow her as she finds her way in a new place and helps bring together a whole community to save the sea turtles of the South Carolina coast.

Acclaimed activist Philippe Cousteau and acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson team up to offer a story of the powerful difference young people can make in the world.

Free as a Bird: The Story of Malala written and illustrated by Lina MasloFree as a Bird - The Story of Malala

The inspiring true story of Malala Yousafzai, human rights activist and the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, from debut author/illustrator Lina Maslo.

When Malala Yousafzai was born, people shook their heads because girls were considered bad luck. But her father looked into her eyes and knew she could do anything.

In Pakistan, people said girls should not be educated. But Malala and her father were not afraid. She secretly went to school and spoke up for education in her country.

And even though an enemy tried to silence her powerful voice, she would not keep quiet. Malala traveled around the world to speak to girls and boys, to teachers, reporters, presidents, and queens—to anyone who would listen—and advocated for the right to education and equality of opportunity for every person. She would shout so that those without a voice could be heard. So everyone could be as free as a bird.

All around us today, we can find examples in the world of children and teenagers being activists, and it is inspiring. Kids are ready to take an active role in making a difference in the world through their words and actions. Ask the children in your life what it is that they care about passionately. How are you encouraging those children to speak out and take action to make a difference?

Happy reading!

Do Good and Help Others

Hello Picture Book Readers! Doing Good and Helping Others

The “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader” book club met today to discuss doing good and helping others. We read and discussed the books listed below, and with each reading we focused on answering the question, “Who is doing good or helping others in this story?

After reading, together the book club kids concluded that the message we would take away was this: When we do good and help others, we all feel happier. In addition, the kids made an award for someone they consider to be a “Good Person” – anyone who has done the simplest act of kindness to the greatest gesture of good. I saw the kids making awards for moms, dads, siblings, teachers, and friends. They’re eyes are open to seeing the good others are doing all around as well as to find opportunities in which they can do good and help others.

Good People Everywhere written by Lynea Gillen and illustrated by Kristina SwarnerGood People Everywhere

A soothing story to help children become mindful of the beautiful, caring people in their world. Each page delightfully unfolds with vibrant, engaging illustrations and endearing stories that warm hearts, evoke the imagination and inspire young and old alike to create a world of compassion and beauty. A wonderful way to help children develop a sense of gratitude.

“Emphasizing the caring things that people do for others every day, this book will bring a smile to the faces of young and old. It offers a peaceful reminder that the world is filled with people helping others in all kinds of big and little ways.” —Awareness Magazine

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. JonesThose Shoes

All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian RobinsonLast Stop on Market Street

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.

This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Peña’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.

Check back next week when we read and discuss books related to problem solving in situations as everyday as making a simple mistake to bigger issues such as bullying.

Happy reading!

Decide to Be a Friend

The Only Way to Have a Friend Is To Be OneHello Picture Book Readers!

The “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader” book club met today to discuss friendship: what it means to be a friend, what you look for in a friend, and how to act on being a friend even when you might think someone is an “enemy”.

We read and discussed the books listed below, and together the book club kids concluded that the message we would take away was this: To get a friend, you need to be a friend.

 

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems Leo jkt FINAL 1/5

Leonardo is truly a terrible monster—terrible at being a monster, that is. Despite his best efforts, he can’t seem to frighten anyone. But when Leonardo discovers the perfect nervous little boy, will he finally scare the tuna salad out of someone? Or will he think of something even better?

This book reminded us that you get to choose to be a friend no matter what anyone thinks of you, labels you, or says to you. You are the one who get to choose kindness, to give a hug to someone who needs it, to listen, to offer to help, and to share and play with others. So, go ahead, and choose to be a friend.

 

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice BartonThe Invisible Boy

Have you ever felt invisible when you’re around other people? Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party…until, that is, a new kid comes to class.

When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

In The Invisible Boy, we saw how small acts of kindness can help our peers feel included and allow them to shine. The simplest acts, such as giving a compliment and including someone, can make all the difference in the world to someone who is typically quiet and sometimes forgotten or left out.

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and illustrated by Tara Calahan KingEnemy Pie

It was the perfect summer. That is, until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street and became Enemy Number One. Luckily, Dad has a surefire way to get rid of enemies-Enemy Pie. But one of the secret ingredients is spending an entire day with the enemy!

In this funny yet endearing story, one little boy learns an effective recipe for turning a best enemy into a best friend. With charming illustrations that bring to life the difficulties and ultimate rewards of making new friends, Enemy Pie serves up a sweet lesson in friendship.

Check back next week when we read and discuss books related to problem solving in situations as everyday as making a simple mistake to bigger issues such as bullying.

Happy reading!

Kindness … A first step toward leadership and a better world

Hello Picture Book Readers!

Today was the first meeting of a new book club, called “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader at our local elementary school. The goal of our book club is to discuss and enjoy high-quality, thought-provoking picture books, to learn how to be the best version of ourselves while motivating others, and to work together to make the future a great place for all.

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We focus on building leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and social awareness as we read aloud and discuss picture books that explore common contemporary issues faced by kids throughout the world. Some of the topics we will address include concepts such as friendship, problem solving, empathy, adapting to change, inspiring others, perseverance, human rights, building community, facing adversity, immigration, and accepting differences.

What better picture book to launch our first book club meeting than Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness (winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor and the Jane Addams Peace Award)? Each Kindness

Each kindness makes the whole world a little better.

Chloe doesn’t really know why she turns away from the new girl, Maya, when Maya tries to befriend here. And every time Maya asks if she can play with Chloe and the other girls, the answer is always no. So Maya ends up playing alone. And the one day she’s gone.

When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the opportunity that has been lost. How much better could it have been if she’d just shown Maya a little kindness and opened her heart to friendship?

We discussed the idea that acts of kindness (and, unfortunately, acts that are not kind, too) have a ripple effect, and that is why it is important for us to act kindly even in the smallest ways. A smile, a compliment, holding a door, saying thank you.

That lead us to The Nice Bookread a book that is geared toward the very young yet still holds true no matter what your age. David Ezra Stein‘s The Nice Book offers concrete, everyday examples of how to be nice and act towards others kindly. Finally, we read a real-world example of a kid (just like them) who put acts of kindness into action. Alex McKelvey of Lakewood, Washington, was 6-years old when she decided to do 60 acts of kindness in remembrance of her grandmother who had recently died and would have been turning 60 years old. Alex’s day of kindness turned into a yearlong mission of doing over 600 acts of kindness. More stories of kids who demonstrate character can be found in Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Character: Choices That Matter Around the World by Garth Sundem.

“Once you begin to acknowledge random acts of kindness – both the ones you have received and the ones you have given – you can no longer believe that what you do does not matter.”  –Dawna Markova

Together, the book club kids concluded that the message we would take away from today’s reading and discussion was this: Always be kind because it makes the world better. Adopting this idea and making kindness (no matter how simple) a natural habit will put these kids on a path to becoming tomorrow’s leaders; I’m sure of it!

Check back next week when we read and discuss books related to friendship and being a friend even if you might think you have an enemy. We will also make kindness journals to help ourselves notice when we are giving, as well as receiving, acts of kindness.

Happy reading!