Early childhood speech/language pathologists have always had storybooks for their “go-to” material. My usual book reviews address specific goals for speech children. However, with all the bad news that our young children see, storybooks are filling another early childhood need. Do we want our children to know what is going on? Will it be too traumatic? Will they have nightmares? How can we explain to our children what is going on and how to help them create a better society? From what I have been reading many parents are discussing how to have the talk without inducing too much trauma. Storybooks is an excellent way to begin the discussion in a natural and calming way.
I ordered several children’s books from a source that donates money to feeding the hungry, www.1millionbooksin100days.com. The books I ordered were timely and apropos for what is going on now. Two of the books deal with bullying and kindness and the other deals with horses as a friend.
The Purple Caterpillar by James Kelly tells the story of the “different” caterpillar and how he was friended by another caterpillar, Mary Kay. This friendship came after others refused to play with the “purple caterpillar”. Then, both of the caterpillars were out for a walk when a boy started to step on them. Luckily, a young girl stopped him from his bully act and suggested that they take the caterpillars to school and watch them grow. The “bully” agreed in hopes of winning the science prize. The class watched as the two caterpillars changed to cocoons then beautiful butterflies. Parents and caregivers can use this story to show how both butterflies were accepted for their beauty although they were different. Children can also see that the bullies can learn empathy as well.
Nyrah’s “Bully” Friend delves into the issue of being the target of a bully AND being the bully. So often, we look at the one side and try to help the child who is being bullied. But, what about the bully? Why does the bully act to hurt others? If the bully can be helped to stop the bullying, then the person who is bullied will also benefit. This is exactly what the author, Annette Bentley Smith, conveys in her colorful book. Yes, the older girl beats up a younger girl. Did the bully get help? Was the younger girl who was bullied able to forgive her so they could become friends? For those children who are bullied they may receive some consolation in knowing that the bullies need help and will, hopefully, receive it so the bullying will stop.
Sam and Mel, A Horse Story is not about bullying. It is about the special relationship between a young girl and a horse. Mel loses the horse and then her dad helps her find the horse. The book is full of information on horses and the importance of horses in helping to ameliorate emotional behaviors. From a speech/language pathology perspective this is an important topic as so many of our students can benefit from equine therapy (autism, Asperger’s, Angelman’s Syndrome, and many others). The author, Annette Bentley Smith, has a good knowledge of the beauty and feelings of horses. The illustrator did an excellent job of expressing the characters’ emotions.
These books were purchased from www.1millionbooksin100days.com. A portion of the proceeds go to Three Square for feeding those who have little food. Many of the books purchased on this sight are signed by the author.