If you love picture books about friendship, especially books that showcase empathy and inclusiveness, you will adore Be a Friend by Salina Yoon!
It's been a rough week for me, and I needed to take a break from social media. I needed some time to think about the world in which we live, the reasons I'm devastated about the results of the election, and the way I can convey to others that this has nothing to do with being a sore loser or which candidate had the better economic policy but everything to do with the tenor of hate that the results of the election is inspiring. It scares me. It makes me fearful for the world we will leave to our children. And so I come back more determined than ever to do what I can to stand up to the hate and to convey messages of love and inclusiveness at every opportunity I have. I turn to books.
Be A Friend, by Salina Yoon, is one of my absolute favorite books from 2016. In this sweet story we are introduced to Dennis, a young mime, who never uses words to convey his emotions. He is lonely- going through his days in solitude- until he is befriended by a little girl who catches his make-believe ball. The beauty of this story lies in the fact that Dennis's new friend does not try to make Dennis speak. Instead, the readers see that their newfound friendship transcends words. Even without talking, the children finds ways to communicate and easily establish a special connection with one another.
Be a Friend is poignant, wise and exquisitely crafted. It's message, despite its simplicity, packs a huge powerful punch. These kids are different from each other. And difference, to some, is scary. Or threatening. But it shouldn't be, and Be a Friend reminds us that we can easily find ways to accept each other- for our similarities and especially for our differences. We don't have to try to change others to conform with our personal expectations. Instead, unexpected beauty can be found in embracing the differences we see in our neighborhoods and on our playgrounds. Read this book. Read it a lot. And help your kids understand that they can bridge divides with nothing more than a smile- or engaging the lonely child at the park in a game of make-believe.
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