Guest post by Jeanette Larson, librarian, writer and children’s literature expert.
Infants and young children are pretty self-centered; the world revolves around their needs and desires. As we begin to interact with others, we hopefully develop compassion, tolerance, sympathy, and kindness. Teaching kindness is so important. And you can use picture books to help.
Research has shown that children who don’t develop these characteristics may, at best, have limited opportunities for social interaction and, at worst, come to believe that they are not responsible for their own actions.
Parents can help children develop these traits by being good role models and by providing opportunities for children to experience compassion and responsibility. Children’s books can be great tools for enhancing the development of these social development skills. Here are some of my favorites.
This parable asks the reader to consider life from an insect’s point of view. Through a rhyming song, we consider the consequences of squishing an ant that is doing no harm to anyone. The open-ended conclusion provides an opportunity to discuss the right of all creatures to live.
This is the true story of a 6-year old boy who saved, did chores, and built community support to help give an African village the life changing gift of clean water. Readers not only build compassion for children who live in less fortunate circumstances, but also discover how to set goals and make them a reality. The book provides great inspiration for participating in local charitable activities.
A young dinosaur does not like to share but quickly learns that selfish behavior is isolating. When his playmates ignore him because he won’t share, the message comes through without heavy-handed preaching.
When Sophie gets angry she really loses her temper, sparks fly, and she goes into a rage. While everyone gets angry sometimes, readers watch as Sophie learns how to deal with her emotions without hurting anyone else.
Everyone says that 96-year-old Miss Nancy has lost her memory. At four years old, Wilfrid isn’t sure what memory is but he demonstrates great compassion and empathy as he helps Miss Nancy find some new memories.
What are some of your favorites books to teach kindness?
BIO: Jeanette Larson is a librarian and children’s literature expert. Her first children’s book, Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore From the Americas, will be published in February 2011.
Melissa’s Note: These are some of my favorites, and a few new ideas, too. Thanks so much, Jeanette and congratulations on your upcoming book!