We hear the term *kindness* used quite often, and it is an important word. In between versions of “you should just be nice” and “do what’s right” students still need to be taught what kindness is and how it is a way of living life. Some of the best ways to teach students is through reading (and even reading aloud!) This can be used for any elementary level, not just little kids. Believe it or not, older students love to have stories read to them too – and it’s a soothing technique. Here are four special books I use to teach kindness in my classroom (and home). PLUS, read through to the end for a FREE Kindness Bookmark activity.
By John Kelly
The main character of Can I Join Your Club? is Duck. He really wants to join a club. Every table he passes by he asks, “can I join your club?”, only to be turned away from each one because he doesn’t “fit” the member ideal. He becomes so frustrated that he has a great thought: “surely there’s some club where everyone can feel welcome!”. And thus, he creates his own club, it seems so cool to all others and they ask if they can join. Will Duck let them?
By Yangsook Choi
The Name Jar is filled with excitement, thrill, and kindness. Unhei has moved from Korea to the United States, everything is new and different, including a new school with classmates. She is incredibly anxious and is worried that her new classmates will not be able to pronounce her name. So she thinks it might be a great idea to allow her classmates to come up with names for her and by the end of the week she will choose a new one from a jar. However, it’s becoming complex and there are just too many choices. One classmates ultimately decides to help her in a way she never imagined, and she finally decides on a name. What did she choose?
By Maribeth Boelts
This book is the right kind of feels in so many ways. Rightfully titled, you get the feeling that no one can stop talking about “those shoes” from the beginning all the way to the end. Scattered throughout the book you’ll also see “those shoes“, hiding in plain sight. The main character Jeremy is just like many other young kids his age. He has his eyes set on a beautiful pair of shoes, but they are really out of his price range. Day after day, students are coming to school wearing those shoes and the feel of want wears on Jeremy more. He convinces his grandma to take him shopping, but there just too expensive. However, they are lucky enough to find a pair in a thrift shop. The only problem, they’re just too small on his feet. But he buys them anyway. Unfortunately, they’re too small to wear to school but that doesn’t mean he has to give up on them … or who he decides to gift them to.
By Maria Dismondy
The Potato Chip Champ is a story of the beginning stages of a becoming friendship. Champ (the true lover of all potato chips) is jealous of Walter. He thinks Walter plays better baseball than him, and he is relatively negative about Walter and his accomplishments. He even goes so far to make fun of Walter’s bike and question why he always rides it. When the coach of their baseball team tells everyone there is going to be a fundraiser with the player who sells the most receiving loads of potato chips, Champ KNOWS this is the fundraiser for him. The only problem . . . he winds up breaking his leg and cannot spend time selling. In the end, Walter winds up winning and does the unthinkable. Champ is surprised to learn a valuable lesson and earn a lifelong friend in the end.
How can you encourage kindness in your classroom?
Even after we read one of these books in class, sometimes more than one, we reflect and discuss how it makes us feel. Sometimes I pull a quote from the book and other times I use already planned kindness quotes to encourage student thinking. Each student has their own Kindness Reflection Journal where we record a quote, draw a picture to support what the quote means, and then explain the quote.
Now that you’ve found hopefully one story to motivate kindness in your classroom (or even school) use these bookmarks to save your favorite spots! Just click on the link or picture to go there.
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