This weekend my girls both had birthday parties - fun! The most fun part about my daughters' having birthday parties is going shopping for gifts at Chapters. On the one hand, I love the gift options at Chapters - books, of course, but also innovative and different toys, art supplies and activities. On the other hand, I love having an excuse to wander around the store, browsing books and watching my children browse books (my 3 year old loves to sit on the floor or in the teacup and would probably stay there for hours). Here's what we picked up for ourselves during our little birthday gift shopping trip!
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (William Joyce) - I couldn't resist everything about this book. From the beautiful and intriguing cover, to the fact that it inspired an Academy Award-winning short film, to the wonderful words about libraries, about reading, about writing. And once I brought the book home I realized that it has an augmented reality app (albeit with mediocre reviews) that I am excited to check out. This book just begs to be read aloud, over and over again.
My oldest daughter is just starting to read and she has discovered the Step Into Reading series of books. This series of books proves the adage that not all books are created equal as there are many similar series available but none are nearly as well leveled as these. Earlier in the year, Kristi expressed frustration at these types of series, as the numbers can be very misleading for young readers and their families, particularly if their school uses PM Benchmarks or a similar (much slower progressing, numerically) system. What I like about the Step into Reading series is that the level 1 books really are for very beginning readers, like my daughter. There are short, repetitive sentences, words that are easily figured out from context and picture clues and simple vocabulary. I have yet to decide if I love or hate all of the movie and TV show tie-in books - I know she loves them and I'm sure they support her decoding and comprehension, I just wish they weren't so commercialized. What I do know is that she loves these books and they are encouraging her to read. 'Nuff said.
Ivy & Bean - Book 1 (Annie Barrows) - We picked this one up because we have season's tickets to a children's theatre company (Bumbershoot Children's Theatre - it's fabulous!) and this just happens to be the next play on the bill. For every play we have seen, I have tried to read the girls the book first (something my mother did for me & my brother) and this play is no different. Ivy & Bean is a fun little novel perfect for read-alouds and readers ready to make the leap to short novels. The mischievous Ivy & Bean are fun, adventurous and full of lessons about friendship. I look forward to reading more about the antics that these two friends get up to.
Obviously I could have bought many more books, many many more books. But the point was not to buy books for ourselves but rather for friends (not to mention that I have to ration or we will break the bank buying books!). So we enjoyed celebrating our friends during the day and snuggled down to read some new books at bedtime. A wonderful, wonderful day!
Here at Peter Greer Elementary we are lucky enough to have the Roots of Empathy program (my oldest daughter was actually the first ROE baby here!) which is so wonderful for teaching kids the building blocks of understanding another person's feelings and motivations. After kindergarten, however, I believe we really need to carry on teaching empathy, as it does not necessarily come naturally to all of our students. This week then, I have chosen to focus on books that encourage empathy and understanding. Hopefully there are some new ones here for you!
The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness (Colin Thompson) - This book starts off so sad it makes your heart ache, especially knowing, as teachers do, that there are kids out there feeling this lost and lonely. But the end will leave you with a great big grin and the understanding that things can fill that empty hole in a child's heart, if only you can figure out which thing it is. This book is a great addition to a unit on empathy.
Chrysanthemum (Kevin Henkes) - This classic about a little mouse with a very long name teaches students the power of words, to hurt and to heal. A wonderful story, particularly if, like me, you grew up with a mouthful of a different name!
Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy (Scott Menchin) - I love this book! So many ways to use it to teach empathy, from inferring how the mother knows that Sweet Pea is unhappy, to understanding that everyone has different things that make them happy, to connecting to the list of things that Sweet Pea comes up with. Definitely a fun one for leading in to identifying things that make each student happy (I can see writing these out, illustrating them and posting them around the school for a little mid-winter boost). Just thinking about it makes me smile.
Louise Loves Art (Kelly Light) - This cute little book involves a play on words that just makes the book that much more adorable; Louise loves art, but she also loves Art, her little brother. This love is what leads to the empathy lesson, an exercise in inference that will allow you and your students to explore how we can tell how another person is feeling and what we can do to fix it. A great one to pair with Taking A Bath with the Dog.
Stand in My Shoes - Kids Learning About Empathy (Bob Sornson) - This book is more overt than the other books and would be a great way to open a unit or discussion about empathy. It follows Emily as she goes about her day, noticing how others are feeling and doing things to help them out. The end has a nice lesson about how helping others makes us feel as well. The perfect lead in to a great little activity about noticing how others are feeling.
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!