On Friday, when I went to pick my kids up from school, I observed at least ten kids in the after school program giving one girl a hug. As the kids started to peel away from the group hug, I could tell that the girl in the middle had been crying. As she wiped her tear stained cheeks, I could see a small, but emerging smile appearing on her face.
Later, when I was in the car with Miss M, I asked her why they were all hugging that one girl. She told me that the girl felt like she didn't fit in and that no one liked her. They were all hugging her to let her know she was loved.
Well, I wish I had gone to school with these kids growing up! I cannot remember how many times I felt like I didn't fit in and that no one like me. A big ol' group hug could have helped me though some rough patches as a child.
To reinforce how simply amazing it was that the whole class was on a mission to make this one girl feel like she fit in, we choose three books that related to feelings of acceptance and self-esteem. After all, to be kind to others, we much first learn to be kind to ourselves.
On Friday, we read Giraffes Can't Dance, written by
Giles Andreaeand illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees. In this story, Gerald is a giraffe that believes he will never be able to dance like the other animals. He is awkward and clumsy, and the other animals initially reject him. It takes the kindness of the cricket in the story to provide the encouraging words that help Gerald find his rhythm. Once he finds his rhythm and stops worrying what the other animals think, he becomes an amazing dancer. This story's beautiful illustrations and quick, rhythmical text are perfect for the kindergartener trying to figure out how to fit in with the social circles that emerge in school. This book is a favorite in our house, and I even read it to my daughter's kindergarten class when I was the mystery reader.
On Saturday, we read Little Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby. This is a book we picked up at the Scholastic Book fair last year, and I cannot tell you how many times we have read it. This book is the true story of Pink, a pig who was the runt of the litter and wouldn't have survived had it not been for Tink, the family's dachshund. Tink had just had a little of puppies and welcomed Pink as part of her litter. This book will melt your heart with the photographs of this sweet momma puppy taking the little piglet in as her own. This story was written by the family that raised Tink and Pink, and at the end, there are a couple of paragraphs giving some more background information about the story.
I love how this true animal story can teach us humans so much about acceptance of those who are different. I will also say that this is probably in Miss M's top 5 books of all time.
And finally, tonight we read Three Cheers for Tacky, written by
Helen Lesterand illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Part of my goal of making this list of 30 books that teach, foster, and promote kindness is to pull together books that do this without being preachy or direct with the message. My daughter does not like to be patronized, and telling her, "Be kind to your friends," will get a dramatic eye-roll. However, Three Cheers for Tacky will only get a belly laugh. This book is cheeky and relies on slapstick humor to reel kids in an convey the message. Tacky and the other penguins in his group were invited to represent their school in a cheering competition. The problem is that Tacky is a bit of an odd bird. He can't seem to conform to the rigid way the other penguins in his group do things. With his Hawaiian shirt on, Tacky ends up being the penguin to bring the house down with cheers of delight after the other penguins put the crowd to sleep. A lesson on marching to the beat of your own drum, this book will be the best way to teach a lesson on self-esteem and individuality without ever coming out and telling your kids that is what you want them to learn.