Having a daughter in Kindergarten, I know that most of her learning takes place on the playground with her classmates. Watching my daughter figure out how to fit in, be a good friend, and work beyond feelings of being "left out" is both unnerving and inspiring.
This is why we choose Fancy Nancy- Pajama Day by Jane O'Connor for Day 28. In this book, Fancy Nancy is so excited about pajama day and chooses to wear a beautiful and "unique" night dress to school, even though her friend asked her to wear their pink heart and polka dot pajamas. The next day, when Nancy sees that her friend Bree is wearing the same pajamas as Clara, she begins to feel left out. Bree and Clara spend the whole day together, giggling about how much they love being twins. Nancy feels completely excluded until the end of the day when the girls invite her over to Clara's house. Excited, Nancy goes home to change into matching pajamas and joins the girls- making triplets.
This "scenario" plays out in a thousand variations at the dinner table each night when my daughter describes the daily playground dramas. While this book is not by any means profound or deep, it is probably one of the books a six year old girl can relate to the most. We spent quite a bit of time talking about how the girls Clara and Bree made Nancy feel left out even though they didn't intend to make her feel that way and how kind it was that they invited Nancy to join them after school. That said, I do understand where parents would not like the "message" of the book which sort of suggests that being unique will make you feel left out. However, my response to that would be if your child likes reading the book because of the girly illustrations, why not read it and interject a conversation about being yourself?
On day 29, I decided to pick up Frog and Toad Are Friend by Arnold Lobel since several people had suggested I should add it to my list. I knew I had to add it when Lauren of 365 Great Children's Books had mentioned the book on a Facebook post. When I brought the book home, my oldest said, "Awe Mom! I used to love that book when I was in Pre-K." So apparently at the age of 6 she has grown well beyond such a childlike book. Nevertheless, we read the book together and thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming tale of two friends that show incredible kindness towards one another. Don't believe me? Read the 365 Great Children's Books blog post about the book.
Finally tonight, for day 30, we read First Tomato by Rosemary Wells. First Tomato is the story of Claire, an adorable bunny, who is having a very bad day. While waiting for the bus, she escapes her bad day by daydreaming of traveling to Bunny Planet. While at Bunny Planet, the Queen invites her to experience the day that should have been. The day that should have been was a warm day, where Claire went into the garden and discovered the First Tomato of the summer. She gives this tomato to her mother to cook with, and her mother says, "I've made you First Tomato soup because I love you so."
We are anxiously waiting for the First Tomato of the year as our tomato plants grow. When that tomato comes, we will make a special meal to celebrate as a family. Claire may have been having a bad day, but she was able to escape that bad day by dreaming of the joy of picking that First Tomato of the year and the kindness of her mother making her something special with that tomato. It is a reminder that kindness spreads not only love, but also memories that help us to get through bad times.
And with that, we have completed our 30 Books of Kindness challenge! I can actually say that making a concerted effort to "make a connection" to kindness with the books we were reading has helped improve the mood for both this Grouchy Ladybug mom and my sometimes Judy Moody Miss M.