TEN BOOKS TO HELP YOUR CHILD BECOME MORE COMPASSIONATE by Susan Dobrodt
This is a difficult time for schools, for our country and our world. No matter what your beliefs, parents and teachers can’t help but be concerned about what is happening and how our kids have been exposed to it. Even if we do our best to protect them from the media, they go to school or to sports or to art classes and they hear or experience things we wish they hadn’t. They ask questions about what happens now? If they are older, they may even be anxious. You may be asking, as I am, how can we help them? Then I remembered one of my favorite quotes from Fred Rogers.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers
After much thought, I realized that the answer for me is to continue helping moms, dads and teachers find books to share with their children. Books about compassion, kindness, acceptance of differences, empathy and caring might answer some of their questions. Hopefully, these books will lead to discussions about how they can become helpers. We don’t know what will happen next, but I have faith in our children, that they will, as R.J. Palacio describes in her middle grade novel, Wonder, “choose kind.”
HELPING BOOKS FOR NOW
Seeds of Freedom, The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
We can work together peacefully to make big changes. “It starts with one person; that could be you.”
Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen and illustrated by Kristina Swarner
“Today millions and millions of people will do very good things. And so will you. I wonder what you will do?”
Courage by Bernard Waber
“Courage is what we give to each other.” Something we all need, to become a helper.
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
This is a story of a little boy and his elephant who show everyone the true meaning of friendship. Friends “help each other, lift each other over cracks, brave the scary things with you, and never leave anyone behind.” May our children find friends, as well as be one.
My Heart Will Not Sit Down by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Ann Tanksley
Kedi, although she and everyone else in her African village have very little, is inspired to help the children of New York City during the depression, because her heart “will not sit down.” Perhaps Kedi’s story will inspire your little ones’ hearts “to not sit down,” so that they will want to help those around them in a way that they can.
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith
In this wordless picture book, a little girl walks through a gray city with her distracted father and picks flowers along the way. The flowers become gifts to those she encounters, and in the process transforms the city and it’s inhabitants. May your children find beauty in their world and share it with others.
Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato
This delightful story celebrates love even though “we’ll change how it’s done”, says worm. It will help your children understand that love is love!
We’re All Wonders written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio
A few years ago I was part of a parent, teacher, child novel study of Wonder, an amazing middle grade book about kindness, empathy and accepting differences. This remarkable book opened up many meaningful conversations among the students, their parents and the staff member participants. Now R.J. Palacio has worked her magic again in this new picture book which will help your little ones gain a better understanding of these concepts. This book will be a great pathway to conversations with all of your kids from toddler through elementary school to help them understand, “We’re all wonders!” and to “look with kindness and you will always find wonder.”
Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang
This is a heartwarming book that will help all children understand families don’t have to be just like their family. In fact, it doesn’t matter who makes up a family, but what actually matters is “if you love each other, then you are a family.” Hopefully this story will lead to some conversations about acceptance, understanding and kindness toward others. I am a strong believer that our little ones can lead us to this end, if we give them the guidance. This book is a great place to begin!
Bee-Wigged by Cece Bell
Jerry Bee is yearning to have friends, but who wants to be friends with a giant bee? That is until he finds a disguise, which makes him look like a real boy. His kindness, his generosity and his helpfulness soon earn him many friends. He couldn’t be happier, until his disguise blows away. As you can imagine, his “new friends” run away as fast as they can. It provides the perfect opener to a conversation with your little ones about friendship and accepting others without judgement.
Susan Dobrodt was an elementary school librarian until she retired after 22 years of working with children, teachers and parents to help them find the perfect book. Shortly after retiring, she began writing a blog about children’s books, Red Canoe Reader with the goal of helping kids find books which will lead them to the joy of being a lifelong reader. When she’s not curled up with a book or searching for the best new books, you can find Susan exploring the country with her husband, who also happens to be her best friend, and spending time with her two sons and family. You can find Susan on Twitter and Instagram where you just might find your next favorite book.