The Big Box by Toni and Slade Morrison: I get goose bumps every time I read The Big Box. This cautionary tale reminds me, as an adult, that I might sometimes squash the distinctive characteristics of those kids who do not fit inside my idea of an “obedient” or “accommodating” child. This lovely book, written in verse, celebrates children for just being themselves. This is the perfect book to read to an imperfect child, and it’s the perfect reminder for an imperfect parent like myself.
Petunia by Roger Duvoisin: Petunia is a children’s picture book that was originally published in 1950. This has been a favorite book for my 2- and 4-year-old ever since I picked up a copy at Goodwill- so much so that my 4-year-old wouldn’t even let me loan it to his preschool teacher for fear it wouldn’t be returned! Petunia is a delightful story about a silly goose who gets a little too full of herself when she stumbles across a book and thinks that carrying it under her wing everywhere will make her smart. This book may seem a bit outdated at first, but Petunia’s lesson in humility has far-reaching implications. I will share this one with all the children in my world, and I know some adults who could stand to read it as well!
Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill: I love poetry! Jack Prelutsky, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenn Nesbitt, Sara Holbrook, Langston Hughes, Tony Mitton, and Shel Silverstein are all poets worth looking up, but this might be my all-time favorite collection of kids’ poetry. In Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Color, Mary O’Neill captures the essence of color perfectly with each lyrical line. Every time I read this collection, I am awed by O’Neill. She has chosen the perfect item, the perfect smell, the perfect moment, the perfect feeling to exquisitely capture that perfect color. Read this book out loud. You won’t be disappointed.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes: This tenderhearted and simple 78-page novel tells the story of Wanda Petronski who is frequently teased by the other girls in her class. When Wanda stops showing up for school one day, a couple of her classmates begin to feel regretful about their cruel behavior towards her.
This book reminds me so much of Jacqueline Woodson books. It’s strong message of compassion is delivered beautifully and hits the heart hard. I will use this book to teach about empathy at school and definitely want to read it with my daughter when she has trouble with “friends” in school. This book is powerful. I’m surprised it doesn’t get more attention.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson: Speaking of Jacqueline Woodson… my third graders are silent as stones each year when I read this tender story about a girl who is unkind to a new student and eventually comes to regret her behavior. This would be a fabulous book for making inferences about characters while simultaneously teaching students a lesson about kindness. If I were a school counselor, I would totally use this book to start a conversation about welcoming new students and/or how to treat others. This is my current favorite picture book. Love it!