School time is a great time for making friends; however, it is also the time for learning how to control your emotions, judgement, demonstrate manners and behave well in class. The picture books highlighted in this review will help children develop all these behaviors and encourage them to feel good about themselves and have success while at school. They are all appropriate for kindergarten through third grades unless otherwise indicated.
Meesha Makes Friends (Big Bright Feelings Book), by Tom Percival, provides insight with children who are creative and crafty but shy when it comes to making friends. Meesha is an adorable little girl who goes to a party with her parents and instead of playing with the other children, she begins cutting and gluing shapes out of paper. A little boy who also is isolated notices her and asks to join. This begins a domino effect for others come and join. This book is a perfect discussion opener for kids who have difficulty taking the first step with others. The artwork displays Meesha’s emotions and several pictures take up both sides of the open page. Be sure to check out the letter on the last page, by Mr. Percival, to children who are hoping to make a friend.
Let’s Play! A Book About Making Friends, by Amanda McCardie and expressively illustrated with mixed media by Colleen Larmour, demomstrates perfectly how little acts of kindness spread among the students in school. It begins with the main character, Sukie, moving to a new school and knowing no one there. Two different children at different times show kindness to Sukie. One says hi to her and another helps her during P. E. This eases her worried heart and propels her to smile at another shy student. From there, different children become nice and helpful as the kindness spreads. This book needs to be in every class and home!
Every Little Kindness, by Marta Bartolj, is a wordless book depicting how kind deeds can be contagious and spread from child to child. This domino effect makes a tremendous and profound impression on bystanders as they observe the kind action that occurs. They in turn do something nice for someone else. For example, a young woman has lost her dog. Even though she is distressed, she is sympathetic to another and gives him something to lift him and so it continues. The book is powerful and is marvelously illustrated with pencil, ink, acrylic and watercolor. The red that is highlighted in these drawings direct the eye to the important object in each scene. The illustrator lives in Slovenia.
How to Apologize, by David LaRochelle and wonderfully and humorously painted in gouache by Mike Wohnoutka, is a straightforward and very funny guide to recognizing a mistake and saying sorry. Each open page gives a simple scenario of a mistake made and a quick approach to apologizing to the person offended. There is even a page demonstrating how not to make excuses and a page showing how to be sincere in your apology. Here is a book, although simple in its approach, which showcases the importance of a simple admission of a mistake. Through the recognition and execution of saying you’re sorry the book shows how both parties feel much better. This is a book good for all ages! Be sure to open the outside of the book to get the reason for the upset owl.
Imagine a Wolf: What Do You See?, by Lucky Platt, is the perfect book exemplifying how assumptions can be made. This oversized book displays parts of the wolf on the open page asking questions like What do YOU think I use these big teeth for? The size of the wolf’s snout and sharp teeth take up the entire open page. Upon turning the page, you see the wolf actually uses his teeth to hold wool as he turns a spinning wheel. Spoiler alert! Eventually your assumptions are incorrect as this wolf knits sweaters for the unfortunate and recently sheared sheep. The glorious illustrations were done in oil paint, ink, and colored pencil. Here is another book that will surely open much discussion that would be good for all ages.
Doing Your Best (Big Words for Little People), by Helen Mortimer & Cristina Trapanese, is smallish-size book that is part of a series to encourage youngsters achieve their personal best. Every open-page highlights a different power-word . On the Learn open–page, it states: Never be afraid of making mistakes. When something goes wrong, it helps us to learn how to do it better next time. The rest of the books in this outstanding series are: Calmness, Kindness, Bravery, Friendship and Happiness.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Kids: Sophie and the Tiny Dognapping (A Book About Doing the Right Thing), by Jamie Michalak and digitally illustrated by Lorian Tu, teaches how making the wrong decision can bring guilt and sorrow. Sophie loves the tiny toy dog that goes in a dollhouse owned by her friend. Sophie decides to take the dog by putting it in her pocket. However, she soon discovers this theft is wrong and she gives it back and admits her wrongdoing. At the end of the book, there is a great discussion about the importance of telling the truth. The other Chicken Soup for the Soul Kids book is: The Sunshine Squad: Discovering What Makes You Special.
Clovis Keeps His Cool, by Katelyn Aronson and beautifully digitally illustrated by Eve Farb, is an extraordinary story teaching patience, overcoming anger and dealing with bullies. Clovis is a very large bull who played football but has recently taken over his granny’s china shop. When former team players come into the shop and taunt and bully him, he struggles. He exercises self-control until they make fun of his granny, pushing him over the edge. Reading how he practices patience and puts his shop back together is an achievement all can learn from!