Each week, I gather books based on themes for my son’s preschool class. This past week they were revisiting class rules and behaviors. While I firmly believe your child will grow up mimicking the behaviors she sees around her, I also believe books can build a bridge unto empathy and understanding what is appropriate in certain places and situations. Here are a few books on reminding our preschool kids what is proper behavior in school and in life.
How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague
The “How Do Dinosaurs” series has a book for every situation! This one is about how “dinosaurs” should act going to and fro school and while in their classroom. Posed in questions, all the negative behaviors are pinpointed. All the proper behaviors are discussed in affirmative sentences. Since the pages have luscious painting and short sentences, it makes for a great discussion book about why certain behaviors are more appropriate than others.
Kindergators: Hands Off, Harry! by Rosemary Wells
Harry is having a hard time keeping his hands to himself. His time-outs at school aren’t making him think about his wandering poking fingers and violating personal space. Hearing his classmates share their feelings about how he hurt theirs does not make him repent. Only after using a bumper tube does Harry understand personal space and admits he is sorry. He gets to redeem his classmates’ trust by being a dutiful recess monitor. The book includes some tips on how to help little ones learn about personal space and about what hands should do.
The art for this series is done differently from the Wells standard paint and pencil. The alligators are made with what looks like quilted green fabric or bumpy green foam and all the clothing appear to be cut fabric. Mesmerizing!
Richard Scarry‘s Pig Will and Pig Won’t: A Book of Manners by Richard Scarry
The Pig family has two piglets: Pig Will and Pig Won’t. Scarry shows how the two respond to the same situations differently and reap the consequences of their choices. Pig Won’t eventually learns his lesson and becomes Pig Me Too.
Tiger and Badger by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Friendships. They are hard to manage as a young child, and Jenkins gets the preschool mindset so accurate with this one. Tiger and Badger are best friends, but they encroach upon each others’ property and desires, thus hurting each other’s feelings. Each hurt is followed by their making up, but that doesn’t last for too long and ends in a brawl and screams. However, after this last episode, they truly make up.
Doctors do recommend to let kids work out their differences and spats. This is with the aim to help them develop their security in their person and decisions. I only mention that because there are no adults in this book and the two fighters became friends again in the end without help from adults.
Dragon was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Dragons are all terrible, but this particular dragon takes the cake. After going through a litany of the terrible Dragon’s antics, a call is given for knights to subdue him. But, they can’t. Brave people are called to do what the knights failed to do. They fail also! Only a boy is able to calm the beast–all by reading him a story about a dragon who is brave. A good book to discuss bad behaviors and also to remind us that books can help to tame wildness.
David Goes to School by David Shannon
Have your children visit David on a school day. With simple phrases and captivating pictures, they will find his distracting behavior amusing and will also identify with it. This identification can be useful to open a discussion on why drawing on desks or cutting in line are not appropriate.
Equally great is No, David! What I personally love about this one is that it shows the adult who usually gets onto David for his crazy antics giving him a hug. We should always reassure children after they get in trouble that we still care and love them.
In Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry!, Martha can do a lot, but she does not like to admit that she is sorry. After doing mean things to her family for no particular reason, she feels bad but won’t say she is sorry. Her parents and brother won’t give her cookies, a piggy back ride or hugs because their feelings are still hurt. She thinks about it further and eventually says sorry.
In Martha Doesn’t Share!, she has a special word, and it is “MINE!” She doesn’t want to share her things with anyone because they are hers alone. When she is left alone, she realizes it isn’t as fun to play by herself as it is with others. Martha then learns why she should share. I like how her parents didn’t force her into sharing; they let her come to the decision on her own, which is healthy.
These books are somewhat out of print, so you may have to visit your local library to see if it has them.
What books have you used to address being kind with others?