Summer Read Aloud Beach Themes – Mermaids

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School is out for the summer in most locations, but many teachers and librarians are still working with students in summer programs.  I myself am involved in summer school within my district and have chosen a beach theme for my library.  Hey, if I can’t enjoy the sand and sea for real, at least I can pretend!  This means I’m looking for beach books to use in read-aloud sessions with my elementary students.  In order to bridge the gap between humans and the ocean, I’m introducing the theme with the topic of mermaids!

I guess I myself am somewhat fascinated by the idea of mermaids, and since I loved to swim as a child (and still do!) my parents sometimes teasingly called me a mermaid.  There’s a definite allure to the idea of diving underwater and exploring the wonders of the sea, and who better to serve as a guide than a mermaid?  In my last large school library book order I purchased a few new mermaid books to go along with the ones we already have.  Here’s a look at our Mermaid Collection and how I’m using these books with kids.  Click the book title links to look inside each one.  Click the author and illustrator links to go to their official webpages (or the closest thing I could find).  For each book I’ve included a summary, my favorite things about the story, and some ideas and resources for extension activities.  Note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, so if you use the link and make a purchase I receive a small commission at no cost to you.

Cover Image for Oona  Oona – written by Kelly DiPucchio, Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa

Well this is officially the MOST ADORABLE mermaid I’ve ever seen, and these illustrations just made me want to buy all the books Figueroa has illustrated, as well as order some art from her Etsy shop!  The hair, the stripy tail that is giving me subtle clownfish vibes, the expressions on her tiny face – it’s all just perfection.  In fact, the whole color palette for this book sets the tone for underwater adventure as this determined mermaid and her otter sidekick embark on a quest to retrieve a shining crown resting in the deep, dark rift.  The delightful twist after the recovery makes Oona’s tenacity all the more admirable, and provides a satisfying ending to the tale.

    • Writing Prompt: How Would You Get a Crown? – students will explain (with writing, drawing, or both) their plan to retrieve the crown
    • Wooden Spoon Mermaids – allow students to use simple craft supplies to create their own mermaids
    • Whale Songs – Oona listens to the whale singing when she needs comforting during a frightening event.  Students will listen to whale songs and learn about how these ocean giants communicate.  I found a short video explaining whale communication and put it in a YouTube Whale Playlist with some other videos of actual whale sounds for kids to enjoy.

Cover image for The Mermaid by Jan BrettThe Mermaid – by Jan Brett

I have been a fan of Jan Brett for over 30 years, and I’m always awed by the details she includes in her artwork and her knack for telling two stories at once by using the margins of her illustrations.  This book is a clever retelling of the Goldilocks tale, influenced by a trip Brett took to Okinawa.  Instead of bears, we have Papa (Otosan), Mama (Okasan), and Baby Octopus, and of course the intruder is an adventurous young mermaid named Kiniro who is traveling with her puffer fish friend.  When reading this book to a large group, you really need to be able to show the images on a large screen using a document camera so the audience can appreciate all the small details, including just what type of hat Baby Octopus is wearing on his head and what is happening to the Octopus family while Kiniro explores their home.  This is another book where a crown features prominently, and the ending here – just as it did in Oona – reveals the generous nature of our heroine.

    • Inspiration for The Mermaid – Brett shares the factors that influenced her choices for the book
    • Create a Crown – students will use card stock and craft supplies to design a wearable crown worthy of a mermaid king or queen
    • Under the Sea Research – students will learn about some of the sea animals and seashells found in the illustrations of the story
    • Sy the Giant Pacific Octopus – Brett modeled her octopus artwork on this octopus (in the video below) after having an “arms-on experience” at the aquarium

Cover for Mermaid Dreams Mermaid Dreams – by Kate Pugsley

In this simple story, Maya goes to the beach with her parents but is too shy to join the other children playing in the sand.  She falls asleep on her turtle float and dreams of the creatures below the waves, including a friendly mermaid.  They explore together until Maya wakes up to a real girl inviting her to pretend to be mermaids together.  The illustrations are childlike, and the endpapers totally remind me of an “I Spy” book.

    • I Spy – create a list of items for kids to look for in the illustrations
    • Stamping or Sponge Art – provide rubber stamps and ink, or sponge stamps (kids can even cut out their own) and paint for students to create their own undersea illustrations
    • Greeting Cards – tell students that as an artist, Pugsley designs greeting cards to sell.  Allow them to take their art a step further and design and stamp their own greeting card for someone.

Cover for The Little Mermaid The Little Mermaid – by Jerry Pinkney

In this modern variation on the traditional tale of The Little Mermaid, Pinkney substitutes a friendship for a romance as Melody trades her voice to the Sea Witch for the opportunity to meet a girl who lives on land.  The girls enjoy an adventure-filled day together before Melody is called back to family to save them from the Sea Witch.  The author’s note amusingly explains that “while my research of the natural world was extensive, I used no live models for the mermaids.”  This is a book best shared with a document camera if reading to a large group; otherwise students will miss many of the details of the illustrations, which beautifully change from cool blues below the ocean to vibrant yellows above the water.  I also appreciate that this story includes mer-people of both sexes.

    • Compare and Contrast – have students note similarities between this and the traditional tale (either a printed story or a movie version)
    • Giving Up Your Voice – Zion tells Melody she should never give up her voice for anything.  Discuss the deeper meaning of “your voice” and what it means for individuals today.
    • Seashell Jewelry – the mer-people in this story wear beautiful seashell necklaces and bracelets.  Allow students to create their own shell jewelry to wear.

Cover for Sukey and the Mermaid Sukey and the Mermaid – written by Robert San Souci, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

As a South Carolina resident, I’m partial to this Sea Islands folktale passed down from African American slaves and filled with Gullah dialect.  Sukey toils hard at her chores under the watchful eye of her stepfather, until one day she meets spends a stolen afternoon on the beach and meets a mermaid – Mama Jo – near the shore.  When Sukey worries aloud that she’ll be punished for wasting the afternoon, Mama Jo gives her a gold coin to appease her parents.  Mama Jo continues to watch over Sukey until the young woman chooses to marry a good man, a final gift from her “mermaidy godmother.”  The illustrations are done with Pinkney’s signature scratchboard technique.

    • Gullah Culture – give students a taste of Gullah life with these resources from SCETV
    • Scratchboard Art – allow students to create their own scratch art mermaid illustrations, either from scratch (no pun intended!) or using commercial scratch cards
    • The Pinkneys – explain that Jerry Pinkney and Brian Pinkney are father and son who both create children’s picture books.  Allow students to share interests they have in common with a parent or grandparent.

Cover for Mermaid and Me  Mermaid and Me – by Soosh

In what apparently started out as an Instagram challenge, Soosh created a series of mermaid watercolors that eventually became the illustrations for this book.  In it, a girl who doesn’t fit in well at school is surprised to encounter a real-life mermaid (who looks more than a bit like her) who becomes her friend.  The two take turns enabling one another to enjoy adventures underwater and on land, until the day Mermaid becomes tangled in an abandoned net.  The ending provides an environmental plea as well as a message about friendship and inclusion, and the epilogue is a sweet glimpse into the future.

    • Draw Your Mer-Person Twin – allow students to imagine what they would look like as a mer-person and then draw it on paper
    • Coloring Pages – I usually prefer for kids to create original art rather than use printed coloring pages, but Soosh has provided some mermaid coloring sheets on her site
    • Ghost Nets – provide some background on the dangers of discarded nets, and inspire students with the Ghost Net Exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum which includes the largest collection of ghost net art in the Southern Hemisphere.

Cover for Aqualicious  Aqualicious – by Victoria Kann

I’m always in favor of sharing series books with kids because it helps them with the sometimes difficult decision of what to read next.  I also appreciate that for such a “girly” series, Kann includes the boys by giving Peter a role in the story.  When Pinkalicious discovers a tiny mermaid named Aqua at the beach, she immediately gets excited about showing her new friend the human world, even when Aqua isn’t comfortable with some of the activities.  When the brother and sister finally agree to take Aqua home, she reveals that she doesn’t live in the ocean at all.  This story provides several opportunities to discuss the importance of listening to our friends and respecting their wishes.

    • Aqualicious Curriculum Guide – provided by Victoria Kann
    • Design a Castle for Aqua – using whatever building materials are on hand, students will design and construct a castle for Aqua, just like Pinkalicious and Peter built her a sand castle.  (If no blocks, Legos, etc. are available, students can design a castle on paper.)  Students will build it to scale so that it fits one of our our mini mermaid dolls.
    • Mermaid Show Videos – students might be interested to know that there are mermaid shows in various locations similar to the one Aqua performs in.  Here are clips from the show hosted at Ripley’s Aquarium.

 

Cover for The Mermaid's Gift  The Mermaid’s Gift – written by Claudia McAdam, illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner

I’m sharing this book here because it does include a mermaid, but I believe it would fit better into a unit on Folk Tales and Legends better than it fits a summer beach theme. Watch the trailer and judge for yourself.

I’m working on a page of instructions, resources, and supplies for the Mermaid Extension Activities I’ve listed here if you’d like more information about those suggestions, and I’ll link to it when it’s ready.  I hope you’ll also leave a comment to share your favorite mermaid books, crafts, and activities!

 

 

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Family Reunion Picture Books – Teaching Resources

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Now that travel and gatherings are becoming safer for folks, it’s likely that many families will be planning holiday reunions for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.  If you’d like to tap into the excitement (or trepidation) that students might be feeling about that, you can’t go wrong with these four picture books:

Going Down Home with Daddy – written by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter

In this Caldecott honor book, Lil Alan looks forward to the annual family reunion at the farm where Daddy grew up, but everyone is supposed to share something special and Alan worries about arriving with empty hands.  As he goes on a tractor ride, enjoys family meals, attends church services, and listens to his relatives share memories, he realizes he can use the gifts of their land to pay tribute to his family’s roots and strength.  Lyons use of imagery and metaphor keep the language lively, and Minter’s illustrations are awash with pattern and symbolism that reinforce the idea of family values and traditions.  There is so much to notice and ponder in this beautiful book, you’ll want to allow plenty of time for discussion after you share it.

Teacher’s Guide from Peachtree Publishers – we all know that some teacher’s guides are kind of lame (summary, superficial discussion questions, coloring sheet) but this one is PACKED with thinking questions, cross-curricular activities, and links to additional resources.  And don’t miss the information about the Adinkra symbols used by Minter in the illustrations!

 Enjoy a video read-aloud performed by the author

Author Website for Kelly Starling Lyons (includes a page of activities for kids)

Visit The Brown Bookshelf which was cofounded by Lyons and celebrates black authors and illustrators

Illustrator Website for Daniel Minter – enjoy his beautiful fine art, and see page spreads from his other books

The Relatives Came – written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Stephen Gammell

“Early one morning the relatives pile into their rainbow station wagon and drive down the twisty mountain roads to spend the summer with their relatives. The weeks that follow are filled with hugging and laughing and eating and sleeping and enjoying one another, until it’s time for the trip back home.”  This is one of my all-time favorite books ever, in large part because of the happy marriage between the poignant text and the exuberant illustrations that make me grin every time I look at them.  (The station wagon hitting the mailbox

 

Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner – written by Angela Dalton, illustrated by Jestenia Southerland

“Everyone coming to the reunion is bringing a signature dish, and Ruby wants to contribute something too.  How discouraging that everyone tells her she’s too small to work in the kitchen!  What can she prepare that is special enough to share and simple enough for her to make?”  For the listeners who really look forward to the family feast (and really, who among us doesn’t?) this book is a love letter to down-home cooking, and the emphasizes the importance of food in family traditions.  Dalton’s descriptive language will have your mouth watering as you read: “The crack and sizzle of chicken and catfish frying up…the slow babbling of collard greens simmering…the zing of Aunt Lena’s pickled okra that crunch when you bite them…”  Delicious!

Enjoy a read aloud video performed by the author and illustrator, courtesy of TeachingBooks

Author Website for Angela Dalton

Illustrator website for Jestenia Southerland

Family Reunion – written by Chad and Dad Richardson, illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin

Not all kids get excited about attending family reunions, and this book (written by a father and son) acknowledges that reluctance.  Aaron is sure it will be boring, and he’d rather stay home and play video games, but from the first welcoming hug from PopPop he’s drawn into the spirit of the gathering.  As Aaron participates in the the dance party, the church service, and the family stories, he realizes how enjoyable – and meaningful –  family get-togethers are.  Bonus: The whole book is written in haiku format!


Enjoy the book trailer!

View some page spreads from the book

Hear from the authors about their inspiration for the story, and see photos of them and their family

Illustrator page for Ashleigh Corrin


Do you have other family reunion books you like to share with students?  Can you recommend other resources or activities for these books?  Please leave a comment and tell us about them!

 

 

 

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Spooky – But Not Too Scary- Books to Read Aloud

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October is the month when thoughts turn to pumpkins, ghosts, witches, and spiders.  Oftentimes our younger students want to be swept up in the thrill of a spine-tingling story, but they don’t want it to be so scary that they actually become afraid.  Here are some just-right books for younger listeners:

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara
This book became an instant favorite with me when it debuted.  The simple orange, black, and translucent white color palette won it a spot on the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2008 list as well as starred reviews from Booklist and Horn Book.  (Yes, I still remember that 11 years later.  That’s how big an impression this book made on me!)  The illustrations of the girl and her cat reacting to the ghosts and then catching them are amusing, and the sight of the white cat in his black cat costume is delightful.  This one never fails to please young audiences.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything written by Linda Williams and Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
Our title character is traveling through the dark woods when she realizes she’s being followed by some creepy clothing items.  She bravely tells each “You can’t scare me!” until she’s finally confronted by a huge jack-o-lantern who sends her hurrying home.  She ultimately conquers her fear and puts the pumpkin-headed man in his place — literally!  The audience will enjoy repeating the refrain “Clomp clomp wiggle wiggle shake shake” with you, and adding movement to the chant can give energetic children a chance to move a little as well.

 Bone Soup: a Spooky, Tasty Tale by Alyssa-Joan Capucilli
The tale of Stone Soup gets a seasonal makeover in this version of the folktale favorite.  The witches and monsters are absolutely not scary looking, but the ingredients (slimy sludge, old toenails) used in their bone soup deliver the “ick” factor nicely.  Bonus: The author includes a recipe in the back of the book listing the creature ingredients and their corresponding human ingredients.  For example, you can substitute 3 Tablespoons of olive oil for the juice of a toad and 2 carrots for wrinkled fingers.  A tasty tale, indeed.

Ghost in the House by Ammi-Joan Paquette
The bouncy, repetitive text in this counting book is just begging to be read aloud, and the titular ghost encounters one surprising creature after another as he slip-slides through the house.  The audience is given an opportunity to guess who will appear around each corner before he/she/it is revealed, and can repeat the “monster” noises that signal each encounter, which keeps them engaged in the story.  Note that this is a lift-the-flap book, so you could even have audience members take turns revealing the surprises.

 Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming
Rhyming books – when done well – make great read-alouds, and this one is definitely done well.  The playful rhymes (toothless hags with tattered rags) will appeal to older listeners as well as little ones.  I’m a big fan of Denise Fleming and her handmade paper illustrations, and the technique is quite effective here. The theme of trick-or-treating has become somewhat outdated as more organizations host fall festivals instead, but the thrill of donning a costume and collecting candy is still a popular one.

 The Too-Scary Story by Bathanie Deeney Murguia
This reads well as a bedtime story, but can also be used for a story time session since there is so much to notice and discuss.  Grace wants a SCARY store but Walter doesn’t want it to be too scary, so every time Papa introduces a plot twist (creatures, footsteps, growling) Walter puts a benign interpretation on it while Grace’s imagination runs wild.  Ultimately the darkness in the room makes even Grace nervous, and Walter finds his courage to confront the frightening shadow.  Bonus: Students will enjoy looking for the little owl on each page spread.

What are your favorite read-alouds for younger readers?  Please share in the comments!

 

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Alliteration Anyone? Picture Books to Teach Figurative Language

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Learning Librarian’s the name, figurative language is my game!  I had a request for books from a teacher who wanted to provide examples of alliteration to her students.  Here’s what I recommended:

Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre
This is seasonally appropriate as I’m typing this, and it’s gorgeous in terms of both words and photos.  Sayre is a perennial favorite with me, and this book did not disappoint.

Get the backstory and the page notes for each spread in the book from the author.

 

Wonderfall by Michael Hall
Another seasonal choice, but different in tone from Full of Fall.  The brightly colored illustrations celebrate the joy of cooler weather, colorful leaves, and

Enjoy the book trailer:

 

Some Smug Slug written by Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrated by Henry Cole
In this story, the slug slowly starts up the steep surface of the slope, all the while ignoring the please of the other animals to stop.  Sadly, she doesn’t heed the warning, and is in for a shock at the top!  The phrase “oldie but goodie” applies to all of PDE’s alliteration books, which also include Dinorella, Clara Caterpillar, and Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke.

Listen to Pamela Duncan Edwards talk about her alliteration books:

 

Rosie Raccoon’s Rock and Roll Raft written by Barbara deRubertis and illustrated by R. W. Alley
Rosie is determined to win the Rocky River Raft Race, by building the best raft (STEM connection!) and piloting it down the river and through the rapids to the finish line.  In addition to the alliteration (“Rosie rocked around the rocks and rolled through the rest of the rapids.”) the story features a heavy dose of onomatopoeia (“Rattle! Bang! Rumble! Crash! Rosie was raising a ruckus in her backyard.”).  There are some raccoon facts and follow-up activities at the end of the book.  This is one in a whole series of books from A-Z that celebrate alliteration.

Lerner Books offers a printable activity guide for the book (and for the others in the series).

 

Betty’s Burgled Bakery by Travis Nichols
Graphic novel aficionados will enjoy this detective story told in comic book format, and teachers will appreciate the notes at the end explaining alliteration and providing additional facts about hungry animals.  Nichols cleverly features one letter of the alphabet on each page, from A (“All right Antoine, always anticipate an alarm!” to Z (“We zipped this zany, zigzagging zinger with zeal!”).  Even the dedication is alliterative — now that’s dedication!  (groan!)

Enjoy this book launch celebration video created by the author:

 

If You Were Alliteration written by Trisha Speed Shaskan and illustrated by Sara Gray
And finally, this non-fiction title explaining alliteration and how it’s used is an enjoyable read aloud choice.  The examples given include simple sentences, metaphor and simile, tongue-twisters, and poems.  At the end of the book there’s also a writing prompt, a glossary, an index, and a bibliography,  This is part of a series on figurative language, parts of speech, and math concepts.

This book is included in the Fact Hound website, which offers recommended titles and websites for Capstone books.

Enjoy a preview of the book:

What are your favorite alliteration books?  Please share in the comments!

 

 

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Building Relationships With Books – Community

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Today’s post features books that can help foster an inclusive mindset in the classroom. If, as Rudine Sims Bishop tells us, books are meant to serve as windows as well as mirrors, we must share titles that offer our children a glimpse of people who are unlike themselves.  I’ve already shared the book The Day You Begin in a previous post, and here are some more titles that I particularly like for building community:

Books to Appreciate Our Differences

  Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

What starts off as Goat’s envy of the new kid — aka Unicorn — and all his fancy dance moves, cupcake conjuring, and general showing off, ultimately turns into appreciation once Unicorn shares all his problems along with the things he admires about Goat.  By the end of the book, the two realize that their differences make them an UNSTOPPABLE team.

Here’s the official trailer for the book:

 

  Wild About Us written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by Janet Stevens

“We’re all a little bit different, and that’s the way we like it!” is the message of this cheerful story about a group of animals who have warts, long noses, spots, big behinds, and ears that stick out.  No matter their size, shape, or color each animal is shown smiling and content with who he/she is.  The large colorful illustrations and snappy colorful language make it a great read-aloud, and students can have a lively discussion afterwards about how each animal’s body type is suited to its habitat and lifestyle.

Bridge to Reading offers an activity guide for the book, and Love to Learn offers a printable activity.

 

Books to Build Our Community

  A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham

The abandoned bus provides a gathering place on Stella’s street as everyone contributes to making it a welcoming place for the families in the neighborhood.  And while this book emphasizes the importance of the whole group coming together, it also highlights how just one person can make a difference for the entire community.  Graham does such a wonderful job of conveying empathy in his writing, and children will want one-on-one time with this book so they can fully appreciate all the small details in his illustrations.

Candlewick Press offers a guide of Classroom Ideas for using the book with students.

This window display at The Children’s Bookshop might inspire a makerspace project! 

 

  Stone Soup retold by Heather Forest and illustrated by Susan Gaber

Two tired hungry travelers arrive in a mountain town, only to find themselves turned away from every door and told the household has no food.  It’s not until the clever men offer to make their “magic soup from a stone” that the townspeople come together and share their vegetables and seasonings.  There are many good versions of this folktale available, but I like that in this one the author names the magical ingredient: sharing.  There’s also a nice rhyming rhythm to the text that makes it a success as a read-aloud. There’s a recipe for stone soup on the last page, and the ingredient list includes one large stockpot, one stone the size of an egg, and a group of friends.

August House offers a guide for the book with some vegetable riddles, assessment questions, and follow-up activities.

 

  The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates

The anthropomorphic red umbrella in this story stretches to accommodate all those who seek its shelter.  The lovely message of inclusion and acceptance is presented in simple sentences and allows teachers to sneak in a lesson about personification as well.  Students will be interested to learn that the book is authored by a mother-daughter team, and the daughter was only in 6th grade when it was written.

Simon and Schuster offer a set of printable activity sheets for the book.

Listen to Amy and Juniper discuss how the book came about:

 

Do you have additional resources or ideas for using these books?  Do you have other favorite books about diversity and inclusion that you share with your students?  Please tell us about them in the comments!

 

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Building Relationships with Books – Friendships

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Lately I’ve been working on putting together a collection of books and accompanying resources that can help students strengthen their friendship skills.  A new school year brings new classroom groupings, and I want our students to be prepared for making (and keeping!) new friends.  We also have more new students in our building than normal this year, so it’s important for the “old-timers” to realize how hard it can be for the newcomers to start over in a new situation.  I’m hoping the following titles will inspire them!

Books to Welcome New Students

The Day You Begin written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez

A touching story about students who are starting over in a new country (America), and how hurtful it is when their classmates aren’t accepting.  The illustrations are charming, and the closing lines of the story rejoice over the fact that “every new friend has something a little like you — and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all.”  A standout collaboration between an author who has won the Newbery Honor award and the Coretta Scott King award, and an illustrator who has won the Pura Belpre’ Illustrator award.

The Curriculum Corner offers an extensive book study printable packet for the book.

Here’s the Brightly Storytime read-aloud of the Book:

 

Duck at the Door by Jackie Urbanovic

This title is not new, but I love the exuberant story of Max the Duck, who comes in from the cold and then makes himself completely at home.  At first the other animals in the household aren’t quite sure what to make of his hobbies and messes, but when he leaves to rejoin his flock they realize that he had truly become part of the family.  The ending espouses a “the more the merrier” outlook that can often be needed in the classroom when newcomers join the group after the year has begun, and everyone has to adjust to the change.

Urbanovic offers a Duck at the Door coloring sheet on her website.  And students who fall in love with Duck will be happy to learn there are three sequels: Duck Soup, Sitting Duck, and Duck and Cover.

 

Books for Being a Good Friend

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill

Here we see the main character pondering what it actually means to be kind, both in the classroom and out in the world.  Is it cleaning up after the class pet, choosing to include the new girl in class, making cookies for an elderly neighbor who lives alone, recycling a bottle?  And can one person’s act of kindness inspire others to pay it forward until it reaches all around the world?  The author acknowledges that being kind can be hard — even when you know what to do — and it’s up to each individual to decide to make that choice.  These are important ideas for children to grapple with, and brainstorming additional acts of kindness is a natural follow-up activity.

The official book trailer includes interviews with several kids about their experiences with kindness, which can inspire students engaging in their own discussions::

 

How To Grow A Friend by Sara Gillingham

This book is an extended metaphor that compares nurturing friendships to tending a garden.  The text gives an outline of the steps necessary for building and sustaining relationships, while still leaving room for a class discussion on the meaning of each piece of advice.  For example, Gillingham suggests that friendships need space to bloom, and she warns that sometimes friends bug you.  Students can then offer their own ideas of what that means, and what it might look like in real life.  The illustrations are delightful and almost demand a follow-up art and/or gardening activity.

Here’s a link to a story hour guide for the book. (I love the printable friendship bracelets!)

 

Blue vs Yellow by Tom Sullivan

Blue and Yellow argue about which color is best, until an accidental collision shows what they can do when they join forces.  Then Red comes along, and they have to decide whether or not to include another color.  This book is a humorous reminder that you won’t win friends by constantly bragging about yourself, and that when you share your talents with others you might be surprised at what you can achieve.  The format of the story can also serve as a model for student writing about other colors competing against one another (red vs yellow, blue vs red) and what types of partnerships might result.

Here’s the official trailer for the book:

 

Do you have additional resources or ideas for using these books?  Do you have other favorite books about friendship that you share with your students?  Please tell us about them in the comments!

 

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