Ten Books for Teaching Kids the Importance of “Taking Care of Others” by Laura Weakland
Every Thursday, teachers across our building read aloud a picture book to their students with themes of “taking care of ourselves, each other, and our world.” As an educator and parent, I am strongly committed to the idea of teaching the “whole child.” This means not only educating them in how to think and learn, but also teaching them how to be empathetic, kind, compassionate, persistent, and more. The single greatest way to teach these skills to children is through “modeling.” And the more models the better! Picture book characters can also serve to “model” these important life skills. We now have over 160 books in our Taking Care collection of mentor picture books with these themes! Picking just ten books to share on this blog post was incredibly difficult! They are listed in no particular order, except Wonder of course is first, because it is the king of Taking Care read alouds!
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Wonder is the only chapter book in our collection. Wonder was my inspiration for starting our Taking Care collection. This book is so incredibly powerful for leading rich discussions with students about taking care of others. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge a boy by his face!
“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson
If You Plant a Seed combines a simple kindness message with incredibly beautiful illustrations. Children and adults alike will enjoy this beautiful book.
“If you plant a seed of selfishness, in a very short time, it will grow, and grow, and grow into a heap of trouble. But if you plant a seed of kindness, in almost no time at all, the fruits of kindness will grow, and grow, and grow, and they are very, very sweet.”
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Each Kindness deals with a real life problem – things don’t always have happy endings and our actions (positive and negative) have consequences. Students will learn that their actions spread like ripples into the world!
“This is what kindness does. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, in to the world.”
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
What a great message about friendship in Enemy Pie! Kids sometimes are so quick to judge. The dad in this story is very wise and knew if they just gave it a chance, they could be great friends! Students and teachers will just love the ending!
“Enemy pie is the fastest known way to get rid of enemies.” “In order for it to work, you need to spend a day with your enemy. Even worse, you have to nice to him!”
Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna
Teachers in our building use Mr. Peabody’s Apples a lot to teach kids the power of words in taking care of others. The story is inspired by a 300-year-old story about the power of words and how we must choose them carefully to avoid causing harm to others.
“Don’t be so quick to judge a person. And remember the power of your words.”
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy
This book has an incredible message for kids on the importance of taking care of ourselves by having the courage to be who we are and stand up for what we believe in. It also teaches us the importance of taking care of others by treating others with kindness.
“Remember when you treat others with love and kindness, you are doing the right thing.”
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
This book is so incredible for teaching kids to include everyone. So often the “new kid” or the “quiet kid” or the “creative kid” gets left out. There is nothing worse in elementary school than the isolation of being left out. You know that awkward moment when the teacher says to find a partner?
“Maybe, just maybe, Brian’s not so invisible after all.”
Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Bully provides us with a strong “taking care” message. The words are few, but the message is powerful. It’s also important for helping students to develop empathy for the “bully” and possibly understanding the bully’s motivation for why he or she acts as they do.
Sorry….. Wanna play?”
To the Sea by Cale Atkinson
To the Sea is a whale of a tale on friendship! Students will love this unlikely friendship and learn important lessons on how to take care of our friends.
“Friends don’t let friends down.” “He should not, he could not, he would not let his friend down.”
Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler
Mrs. Ruler teaches her students that “kindness is cooler!” The class quickly learns how easy it is to fill up their “kindness board” ‘with acts of kindness. “Okay, hooray!” shouted Mrs. Ruler when they met their goal of 100 acts of kindness. Just maybe you will join us in spreading kindness to your students through reading aloud books that teach students to “take care of ourselves, each other, and our world!”
“A slice of nice makes a mile of smile!”
Laura Weakland is a 4th grade teacher in South Lyon, Michigan. She is a huge advocate for teaching kids how to “take care of themselves, each other, and the world”….one book at a time! She encourages teachers to do the same by reading aloud picture books with strong character education messages EVERY week. If she’s not curled up somewhere reading a good book, she can be found writing about the books she reads at http://journaloflaura.weebly.com/featured-books or tweeting about her reading selections using the hashtag #TakingCareThurs.