“I’m looking for something for my daughter about character development.” This is the kind of open ended reference request that can lead you all sorts of places. As I learned during the ensuing conversation, this mother wasn’t exactly sure what she was looking for, but wanted to start conversations with her daughter, age 5, about being a good person and feeling good about yourself. Here are the books I sent her home with:
Be who you are, by Todd Parr This picture book, brightly illustrated with pink, purple and orange people in Todd Parr’s signature style, is all about being yourself even when it means not fitting in. Its simple text, two spreads read “Be quiet, be noisy. Just be who you are!” lends itself to discussion when read with older children.
Me I am! by Jack Prelutsky, pictures by Christine Davenier Another picture book driving home the importance of being your unique self. This also broaches the subject of allowing others to be their unique selves as well.
My dog never says please, by Suzanne Williams, pictures by Tedd Arnold As the title suggests, this is a fun and funny read, all about a kid who is figuring out when to say please and thank you. And why doesn’t her dog have to be polite? It doesn’t seem fair.
Manners on the playground, by Terri DeGezelle This non-fiction book is a basic primer on how to behave on the playground. Simple and large text with definitions to harder words in the margins, it works not only to teach children about hte subject matter but also how to engage with a non-fiction book.
How do dinosaurs stay friends, by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague One of many in an extremely popular series, this picture book depicts large dinosaurs having trouble sharing, and then learning how to apologize and make amends.
How to be a friend : a guide to making friends and keeping them, by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown On each page, a social situation such as meeting a new friend, or making up after a fight, is set up and explored through comic-book-like illustration.
Betty Bunny didn’t do it, by Michael B. Kaplan, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch A bunny named Betty breaks a lamp and doesn’t want to claim responsibility, so she claims the tooth fairy did it. But the next time something is broken, she really didn’t do it. Will her family believe her?
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud A favorite of mine, this book introduces the idea that each person has a metaphorical bucket that you can add to by being kind to that person, or dip into by being mean. Magically, whatever you do to another’s bucket will also happen to yours. So being kind to others fills our own buckets, while trying to become happy through cruelty to others will ultimately fail. A great conversation starter about what individuals can do to spread kindness.
Self-respect, by Lucia Raatma Another solid non-fiction piece for young readers. This book discusses ways children can show self-respect, for example by taking care of themselves, and the benefits of believing in oneself. Each of the photographs shows a different person showing self-respect, and importantly, the models are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, ability and gender.