Books to help teach children compassion
Books to Borrow...Books to Buy
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 11:00 AM
Children learn what they are told, hear and observe, first and primarily from their parents, but also from other influential adults in their environment. If, as parents, educators and the like, we demonstrate prejudice and intolerance, that is what our children will learn. The converse is also true.
Reading books together that address this topic in a wide variety of ways can be very instrumental in helping children to acquire broader, more tolerant and compassionate points of view and behaviors. Check out the books reviewed below, and seek out others. By serving as a good example for our kids and educating ourselves, we can break away from the smallness of thought that has kept so many stunted for so long.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge" by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas, Kane/Miller, 32 pages
Read aloud: age 4 and older.
Read yourself: age 7 - 8.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge was a young boy. He lived with his parents in a house next door to an old people's home, and the boy knew every person who lived there. As much as he liked everyone at the old people's home, his favorite person was Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper. He called her Miss Nancy and told her all of his secrets.
One day Wilfrid Gordon heard his parents talking about Miss Nancy and what a pity it was that she had lost her memory. Wilfrid Gordon didn't understand what a memory was, so he asked his parents and all the people at the old people's home (except for Miss Nancy), and each time he got a different answer. Suddenly Wilfrid Gordon had an idea, and he rushed home to look for memories for Miss Nancy because she had lost her own.
Tender, heartwarming and perfectly wrought in every way, it's no wonder librarians have been recommending this wonderful book for over two decades.
Library: Jefferson County Public Library, 420 West Main St., Madison
Library Director: Brent Stokesberry
Children's Librarian: Kara Pettey
Choices this week: "Dog Heaven" by Cynthia Rylant; "All the Places to Love" by Patricia MacLachlan; "Elijah of Buxton" by Christopher Paul Curtis
Books to Buy
The following books are available at favorite bookstores.
"Mysterious Traveler" by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by P.J. Lynch, Candlewick, 2013, 48 pages, $15.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 5 - 6 and older.
Read yourself: age 8 and older.
The five riders and their six camels were desperately trying to outrun the men hunting them. Suddenly a great desert storm with its wall of sand descended upon them and swallowed them all up - all but one camel with its precious cargo: a baby girl who wore a gold necklace.
Desert guide Issa sensed something was wrong. Setting out after the storm had passed, he found the baby and the camel that had protected her. Issa named the girl Mariama and raised her as his own.
Years later, three unmet travelers sought Issa's help as a guide on their journey through the dangerous Bitter Mountains. Two of the men were gruff. The young leader of the group was otherwise; he was mysterious in some ways. Why was he here?
A beautifully wrought story both in words and illustrations, "Mysterious Traveler" excels in every regard.
"Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad" by Monica Edinger, illustrated by Robert Byrd, Candlewick, 2013, 60 pages, $17.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 7 - 8 and older.
Read yourself: age 9 and older.
Sarah (as she came to be known) was only nine years old when she was taken from her home in West Africa. She and many other captives were brought to Cuba, sold, and placed aboard the sailing vessel Amistad. Fearing the worst, the Africans revolted and took command of the ship, demanding the white men sail the ship back to Africa. Instead, the ship was eventually captured off the coast of New England, the Africans were jailed and put on trial. The trial went all the way to the supreme court where, on March 3, 1819, John Quincy Adams ruled that the Africans were to be freed and transported back to Africa.
Based on the true story of the Amistad and the events that surrounded this remarkable slice of history, author Edinger tells this tale in the fictionalized first person voice of one of the real captives, Sarah. Sensitively illustrated and beautifully written, this is a story that readers will long remember.
Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: www.greatestbooksforkids.com.