Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Learning to Be Kind is Easy

One of the most important duties any parent or caregiver has is to teach children how to treat their peers in a respectful and friendly way.  This can be especially hard when there are other children around them who are setting a bad example by being mean or even bullying.  Luckily there are books out there that can help parents get the message across that being a good friend is always the way to go.

Say Hello by Jack & Michael Foreman is a simply worded and drawn picture book with an equally simple premise.  From the jacket flap --
When someone looks lonely and in need of a friend, one little word can help ...
The book starts by following a lonely dog who finds a group of kids on a playground and joins in to play.  Then it switches to a small boy who feels alone and left out.  Luckily the dog notices him and run over to invite him to the group.  The kids welcome him with a hearty "Hello!"

I'm sure you are aware that kids on their own make easy targets for bullies.  So even if your child isn't bullying, they may be unknowingly contributing to the problem by not being friendly to the kids on the fringes.  Teaching them to keep an eye out for lonely or left-out children may make all the difference.  This is a perfect way to remind your child of how nice it feels to be included.

The star of his own series, Andy Shane has met his match in Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Dolores Starbuckle.  Written by Jennifer Richard Jacobson and illustrated by Abby Carter, this is a book about dealing with a difficult classmate.

Andy Shane (his first and middle name, I think) doesn't want to go to school anymore.  He feels harassed and intimidated by Dolores Starbuckle, the class know-it-all.  Andy's grandma decides to make a surprise visit to the class to show Andy a different way of dealing with a tough situation than just avoiding it and staying home.  He is able to use his own inner strength and smarts to make peace with the difficult Dolores.

Andy Shane's predicament may feel familiar to many kids.  He is rarely able to answer a question in class without being interrupted and he's being told on for every little thing he does that veers from the norm even though there is nothing wrong with his choices.  This can be very hard on children and make them believe that they don't enjoy school.  This book helps show that there are ways to change the situation through one's own actions.

We can all use tools like these books to help navigate the difficult waters of parenthood.  Z and I not only read them together but discussed how he felt about the topics and how he felt he was doing in his peer relationships.  I plan on donating these books to Z's school in hopes that the right kid will pick them up when they are most needed.

Educating and improving,
K and Z

Support our site and buy Say Hello and Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Dolores Starbuckle on Amazon or find them at your local library.  We received copies for review from the publisher, Candlewick Press.


  1. That's so nice. And topical! My mother was always really firm about how we had to defend people if other kids were being mean to them. I marched around school all set to be a hero, but there was almost no opportunity for it. :p

  2. Thanks for these. I have a shy child who can be a bit socially awkward and he is very sensitive so both of these would be a great way to talk about these issues.

  3. Jenny - My mom always told me that it was important to say hi to new kids. It actually came up quite often and I could tell that it made a difference. I wish that I had the courage to do it more as an adult but I've turned shy.

    Jenners - Z is the same (and probably more so). I think it helps him to see solutions in books for things he might be going through.