Building a community in your class or school is so critical to learning, to the children’s sense of belonging and security, to their social and emotional development, and let’s face it, to your sanity. Picture books are perfect for getting into some gritty topics in a slightly detached way. Addressing delicate class or school issues through fictional characters enables children to do it in a safe way. A non defensive way. It also helps kids to imagine themselves in various roles or situations, building the capacity for empathy and understanding.
Here are a few books to get you started:
You can be different and alone or you can work together and build something great.
When Roberta moves to a new school, she isn’t sure how she fits in. Can she be herself and still belong?
Don’t be a bystander when bulling is happening. Another great book by Peggy Moss.
A school principal helps the class ‘bully’ shift his thinking and his behaviour. Books where the bully is punished in the end aren’t my favourite, and so I like this one that ends with redemption.
How are you affected by other people and how are they affected by you? Help your kids build more self awareness with the bucket concept. When I was a classroom teacher, I did a version of this called IALAC.
Woodson is well known for her heart wrenching tales and Each Kindness is no different. When a new girl comes to school, the protagonist participates in excluding and bullying her. Although there is no redemption in the end and we are left with feelings of regret, shame and sadness, this book is an excellent launching point for deep discussions with your kids.