Are you looking for books about money for kids so you can begin teaching your children and students some critically important concepts that will stay with them as they grow? Look no further! This is the post for you!Read More
We’ve got a phenomenal list of the very best board books for your little one! Here you’ll find the best books for your one year old and best books for your two year old kids, including black and white books for babies, interactive books for toddlers, alphabet books for toddlers, best board books for teaching toddlers colors, concept books and more!Read More
Good digital citizenship? Media literacy skills? What does it all mean? No matter how we look at it, our children are becoming more technologically savvy every day - some even more so than their parents and teachers. But what are your child’s digital rights and responsibilities? And how do we teach these skills? If you have any of these questions, this is the post for you!Read More
We love STEM books! Any book that encourages kids to make, tinker and discover gets two trunks up in our book, and this new STEM book, Be a Maker, by Katey Howes and illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic, is a total winner!Read More
If you have been following us for a while, you know there is nothing I love to read more than a book that celebrates books — and if it also happens to be an amazing book about strong girls, even better! Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre, is one of those books!Read More
If you are looking for books about strong girls to share with your daughters (and your sons!), you’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading to find a huge list of some of our very favorite children’s books about mighty girls including amazing picture book biographies and anthologies about the strongest, smartest, coolest ladies — both from world history and today!Read More
The best books for beginning readers must be short with large text and simple sentence structure. A good pre reader book must also contain words that are easy to decode and, most importantly, keep kids wanting more! This is why we totally love Fox the TigerRead More
The best books for beginning readers have large text, short sentences, lots of repetition and simple structure. Most importantly? They must be fun and engaging! Find out if your kids are ready for easy readers, and check out more than twenty pre reader books we love!Read More
If your kids love books about strong girls who have overcome considerable odds to achieve lasting success, then you must read this fabulous nonfiction picture book biography, How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine!Read More
It was a typical afternoon in the library with my first grade students. They came bursting through the double doors, settled down on the carpet, and turned their attention to where I sat with a picture book face down in my lap.
“Raise your hand if you like pizza!”
Every one of my first grade students thrust a hand up into the air.
“Raise your hand if you like chocolate chip cookies!”
All hands stayed up— some even threw up both hands up.
“Raise your hand if you like frog legs!”
Down. Every single hand dropped into a lap- and a chorus of “ewwwwwwwww” filled the room.
“Really?” I asked. “Do you know frog legs are considered delicacies in Japanese and French cuisines?”
No answer, just a series of horrified looks on my students’ faces.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Raise your hand if you’ve actually eaten a frog leg?”
Nothing. Silence. No hands raised.
I feigned a look of horror. “What?!? How on earth do you know you hate frog legs if you’ve never even tried them?”
One of my boys said “they sound gross.” Another girl said “I think I’d throw up if I ever had to eat them.”
And thus began a conversation about preconceived notions. How we make judgments before we have experience or evidence to back them up. How these judgments can extend not just to food or toys or places, but to people, too. And how, when it comes to people, these biases can be ever so harmful— and even more dangerous.
The conversation sparked curiosity in my students. It sparked adamant statements that they would never judge a person based on anything but their hearts and how kind or thoughtful or compassionate they were. I was proud of them, of course. But then I also spoke about how even when we think we are open minded and inclusive, we can easily succumb to the pressure of those around us who think differently, those who might be scared of “otherness” and are thus quick to speak out against it because of ignorance or fear. And how when that happens, others may quickly follow suit.
It’s easy to slide into apathy, and we can’t let this happen to the next generation. Raising children who are not just open minded, but free thinkers who won’t fall prey to rash judgments must be a priority as a parent and an educator. It is so important that we challenge our kids to recognize when they succumb to preconceived notions, as this is the only way we will ever combat bias and harmful stereotypes.
There is no better way to do this then by reading, and there are a handful of books that have come out recently — together with some classics — that are absolutely fabulous for addressing this critical topic. I hope you enjoy them and find them as tremendously helpful as we do. Here’s to teaching each other, learning from one another, and helping to lift up “others” through books and conversation, today and always.
The Wall in the Middle of the Book, by Jon Agee: Perhaps my favorite story of 2018! In this powerful story, there is literally just what the title says - a wall running along the gutter of the book. On one side of the wall stands a knight who proudly proclaims he is safe right where he is. The dangers, after all, live on the other side of the wall. So what exactly is on that other side? Angry animals and evil ogres, of course. What the knight doesn’t realize, however, is that rising water and a looming crocodile threaten his safety on the safe side of the wall. And when the knight finds himself in need of serious help, the one who comes to his rescue is not at all who the knight anticipated… and the other side of the wall may possess a lot more fun than fright. For our full review of The Wall in the Middle of the book, click here!
The Very Last Castle, by Travis Jonker and illustrated by Mark Pett: An old castle, with no visitors going in and no people coming out? That leaves the castle ripe for rumorville, and the people in town have no problem spinning tales about the horrors that must lie inside. We simply love the way this book challenges the preconceived notions of an entire community – all, that is, but one small, curious girl who constantly tries to catch the eye of the man guarding the mysterious castle. This is a fabulous story in which a child overcomes fear of the unknown by being brave enough to discover for herself what really lies behind the castle’s doors. In the process, she discovers her inner courage, makes a new friend, and creates a big change right within her neighborhood.
The Boy and the Giant, by David Litchfield: Did you hear about the secret giant in Gableview? He’s got legs the size of drain pipes and feet the size of rowboats, and everyone in town is terrified of him. But is the giant really real? And if he is real, is he truly as horrible as everyone makes him out to be? When Billy happens upon the giant, he runs away in fear -- and ends up hurting the poor giants feelings! But maybe the the giant isn’t really as scary as the townspeople think. He might even just be the most loving guy in town. We love the way this book challenges — and then turns on their head — the judgments people make about someone who looks so wholly different from themselves. This beautiful book reminds us all that if we learn to embrace our differences, we may create fulfilling relationships with the people we least expected.
Bear’s Scare, by Jacob Grant: Bear loves a clean house (don’t we all!?) and he will stop at nothing to keep his house tidy and clean. The only thing he loves more than a clean house is his stuffie, Ursa. When Bear happens upon a sticky, icky spiderweb, he will stop at nothing to find the spider. After all, messy guests must be banished from the house, and a spider is surely a messy guest! But when he does discover that messy house guest, Bear and Ursa learn that Spider may be much less messy — and much more friendly, helpful and lovely — than they initially thought. This is a perfect book for young readers to convey the message that we should never be quick to judge others!
The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson: Ferdinand is a peaceful, calm little bull, content to graze in the grass and sniff his favorite flowers. But this isn’t what a bull should really do — it’s not at all how a bull should act. Bulls should be tough! Aggressive! They should snort and leap and butt heads. Why? Because that’s how everyone else has been trained to think they should act. But not Ferdinand. We will forever love this book that teaches children they can go against the grain and buck common stereotypes about how they should — or should not behave. Any book that teaches kids to be true to themselves will forever be a winner in our house!
Leonardo the Terrible Monster, by Mo Willems: Leonardo has a problem: he is one terrible monster. As hard as he tries, he cannot scare anyone! After his first attempt at frightening a little boy named Sam, Leo realizes Sam needs a friend instead of a monster… and in doing so, he goes against the grain and doesn’t act how monsters are “supposed” to act. I love the way this book challenges how we see ourselves — how we think we ought to be instead of who we want to be. Willems brilliantly illustrates that even the scariest creatures have emotions too, and some can even be quite sensitive to the needs of others. Not what any kid first thinks of when they conjure up images of a monster, is it? This one is a hoot — but even as it’s giving kids belly laughs, it’s making them question everything they thought they knew about that things that go bump in the night. For our full review of Leonardo the Terrible Monster, by Mo Willems, click here!
Did you like this post? Yay! We think you will love these as well - make sure to check them out! Picture Books to Help You Raise Kind Kids, 21 Books to Promote Kindness, Inclusiveness and Equality, Favorite Books About Courage, and Favorite Picture Books of 2018
*HEE received review copies of some of these books from publishers. However, all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own. All links are affiliate links.
My poor Pickle. He’s one of the only kids in his kindergarten class who has yet to lose a tooth. Some of his classmates have lost not one, but mouthfuls of teeth! In our house, though, we don’t even have a teeny-tiny wiggle. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Not gonna lie — it totally bums him out sometimes, and he’ll stand in front of the mirror to examine whether any of them are finally wiggly. Thank goodness for Josie’s Lost Tooth, an adorable and oh-so-authentic new book by Jennifer K. Mann! It couldn’t have come into our lives at a more perfect time.
In Josie’s Lost Tooth, Josie was always the kid in her grade to do everything first, but not anymore. Poor Josie is the only one who hasn’t lost a tooth. But, alas! One day, she feels a wiggly one! With every move she makes, she thinks it will be the move to knock that tooth right out. But nothing, absolutely nothing, works, until Josie plays sharks on the playground with Richard, and she trips and falls. And that trip? It does just the trick and knocks Josie’s tooth right out of her mouth. Her stumble does such a good job, in fact, that Josie can’t find her lost tooth anywhere! Whatever will she leave the tooth fairy now? Shark loving Richard comes to the rescue -- but I can’t tell you anymore without spoiling the story!
Having a kiddo in the exact same position as Josie while we read this book made us love Josie’s Lost Tooth and it’s authentic main character so very, very much. Why? Because Josie’s Lost Tooth is one of those special books that speaks directly to kids without being didactic or preachy. It made Pickle feel so understood, so much more OK with the fact that he still hasn’t hit the milestone that so many of his friends have, and because of this he just loved it. He was mesmerized! Even better? The way Richard helps Josie when she can’t find her tooth, coming up with an awesome and incredibly thoughtful alternative to Josie’s plight. Richard’s action is such a touching addition to the story. It is simple yet gracious, setting a powerful example that generosity will always move mountains and kindness will forever be cool. Josie’s Lost Tooth gets two trunks up from our team, both for helping little ones who struggle with feeling left behind, and for simultaneously showing them that kindness rocks!
Did you like this post? We are so glad! Check out these fantastic lists - we think you will love them too! Favorite Books About Friendship, Favorite Books About Love, and Favorite Books for Raising Kind Kids. You will also enjoy this grouping of books about doing good deeds!
Want the book? Get it here! Josie’s Lost Teeth, by Jennifer K. Mann. HEE received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
Looking for children’s books about winter, especially picture books about snow? Look no further!
It doesn’t snow in Miami.
This was a cruel reality when I was a child. When winter break began, I watched holiday movies on television with such longing, wishing I could jump right into the picture on the screen so I could join in an epic snowball fight or sit at the kitchen table with a steaming mug of hot chocolate while snow blanketed the world outside. Instead, I was “stuck” in tropical paradise. While most people couldn’t wait to come to South Florida for a vacation, I just wanted the temperature to drop below seventy degrees. Cousins would send pictures of snowmen while we were more likely sweating than shivering, and retail stores were filled with sweaters, mittens and hats which, if purchased, would rarely be worn.
What to do when it seemed the rest of the world was winter-white and rosy cheeked? I couldn’t just hop on a plane and head to the mountains, so I had to create a winter wonderland right in my own home. The best way to do that? I used books, of course. I was a kid with a big imagination and a voracious appetite for story, so reading became my entryway into a magical, mystical world where silent treks through the snowy plains I saw in books led me to create my own imaginary snow days, right smack in the middle of steamy Miami.
There have forever been beautiful stories about snow, which, of course, makes so much sense. Snow is a natural wonder that, with nothing more than a gentle whisper, creates magic across the miles. It allows the imagination to take flight, inspires play in its purest form, and fosters a great sense of awe in children. So the next day you’re snowed in -- or looking longingly at palm trees and wishing they were white capped mountains - grab a stack of these books from the library, make a cup of cocoa, and cuddle on the couch with these perfect winter reads.
Little Penguins, by Cynthia Rylant and Christian Robinson: The snow is coming! Perfect for your youngest children, five little penguins watch the snow fall and bundle themselves up before heading outside to play. But, oh no! The littlest penguin decides to stay behind to wait for mama. When their snowy fun is finished, the penguins come back inside, warm up in their coziest jammies, and relax with cookies and sippies. Winter is here!
Samson in the Snow, by Philip Stead: Samson, a giant woolly mammoth, shares his dandelions with a red bird who is looking to cheer up a sad friend. When the bird flies away, Samson is left wondering what it would be like to have a real friend of his own. Samson subsequently awakens from a deep sleep, only to find the world covered in snow. He immediately worries about the red bird, so he sets off to find her to ensure she’s warm. As Samson journeys through the snow, he finds that warmth can be found in more ways than one. A testament to compassion, kindness and friendship, we simply love this quiet, beautiful story!
Before Morning, by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes: Written as an invocation, this quiet beauty tells the story of of a young girl who wishes for just a little more time for family togetherness. The child yearns for a snow day so her mother, a pilot, will be grounded and forced to stay home. Through Krommes enchanting scratch board illustrations, readers witness what happens while the child sleeps soundly and her deepest desires are fulfilled: she will wake up to a blanket of snow outside her window.
Bear and Wolf, by Daniel Salmieri: One winter’s night, bear and wolf stumble upon each other while both wander in the snow. What fun it is to have a companion! The two delight in having a friend by their side, until it comes time to say goodbye. After all, bear must hibernate for the winter and wolf must run with his pack. This is a beautiful, timeless story, a calming read that is at once an ode to friendship and a testament to the power of being mindful and staying in the present.
Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr: Late one night in the dead of winter, a young girl and her father set out to go owling. They barely speak on their journey through the snow, for you don’t need words to go owling. Instead, they maintain hopeful hearts and exercise patience as they wait to witness the resolute stare of a wise old owl. A poetic masterpiece and an exquisite mentor text to explore personal narratives, this is a story that has captivated both children and adults for years.
Max and Marla, by Alexandra Boiger: Max and his pet owl, Marla, are the truest of Olympians. They are champions who know preparation is everything. When they take their sled up the mountain only to experience "technical difficulties," the two don't give up-- they simply fix the sled and try again the next day. Max and Marla continue to face challenges but each day they continue to tackle them. Will they succeed? Maybe, but not in the way you may anticipate. That is the beauty of this sweet story!
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats: In this classic, a young boy wakes up to discover snow has fallen during the night. He goes outside to fully experience the first snowfall of winter, and as he plays, his eyes open to the wonder and possibility of the new world at his fingertips, for everything changes when draped in a blanket of soft white.
Brave Irene, by William Steig: Steig's sweet story from the 1980s is a wonderful testament to the power of perseverance and the things we do for love. When Irene's mother, a dressmaker, falls ill, she is unable to deliver a dress she made for the duchess before an important ball. So Irene takes it upon herself to deliver this dress, but she must battle the bitter cold, tons of snow and howling winds to get there. Irene almost gives up. But she braves the elements and her perseverance is rewarded greatly. A classic!
Wolf in the Snow, by Matt Cordell: In this wordless Caldecott award winner, a girl in a red coat braves a harsh snowy day on her way home from school. As she walks, she comes across a lost and scared wolf pup. The girl befriends the pup and what follows is her journey through the sting of winter to return the pup to its family. She travels long and far though. So long and so far, in fact, that she loses her way. How will she ever get home? The emotion conveyed in every one of these stunning illustrations is simply exquisite.
Waiting for Snow, by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Renata Liwska: Badger is a bit impatient - he can’t wait one more second for snow! Hedgehog tries to explain that snow will happen in due time, but Badger just can’t wait! The animals use their most creative tricks to bring on the snow, like tossing pebbles at the sky and sifting powdered sugar off the roof, but alas, the tricks don’t work. Yet one morning after a slumber party, the animals wake up to discover a perfect winter wonderland. Absolutely love these adorable illustrations!
Blizzard, by John Rocco: Blizzard is a fabulous picture book based on the author’s real life experience during the infamous blizzard of 1978 which brought fifty-three inches of snow to Rocco’s Rhode Island town. Beginning with just a few flakes and ending with mounds as high as stop signs that kept him from opening his front door, Blizzard tells the story of a transformative snowfall, including the magic, the anxiety, and the tremendous relief at seeing the first snow plows break through the drifts.
First Snow, by Bomi Park: A modern day version of The Snowy Day, this is the quiet story of a young girl who wakes up to the first snowfall of the year. The child goes outside to play, making snow angels and snowmen, and as she plays, she discovers the wonder and awesome simplicity that snow brings to her world.
The Wish Tree, by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Chris Turnham: Though Charles is desperate to find a wish tree, his brother and sister try to tell him there is no such thing. Yet Charles is determined and sets out through the snow on a journey to find one. With his trusty sled Boggan and a song in his heart, Charles discovers the enchantment of winter and the wonder of wishing.
Toys Meet Snow, by Emily Jenkins and Paul Zelinsky: When their Little Girl goes away for winter vacation, StingRay, Lumphy the buffalo and their friend Plastic, a red ball, head outside to experience their first snow day. The three take part in traditional snow activities, making hilarious hypotheses about the world around them and relishing in the warmth their friendship provides. There’s nothing better for children than reading about toys that come to life!
Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal: Over the snow, the world is white and quiet. But under the snow is a world of magic, with a multitude of animals staying hidden from harm and making homes for the winter. In this beautiful work of nonfiction, children will learn about the subnivean zone -- the area between the snowpack and the ground -- and the way animals adapt during the harshest of winter days.
Did you like this post? Yay! We think you will love these as well - make sure to check them out! Favorite Books to Spark Your Child’s Imagination, Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books of 2018 and Favorite Picture Books of 2018.
Looking for an amazing children’s book about empathy, one that touches on compassion, kind words, giving and gratitude? We’ve got just the book for you — it is all those things rolled into one incredible story!!
One of the Most Perfect Children’s Books About Empathy
So totally in love with this one, you guys. What is Given From the Heart is simply PHENOMENAL. It is powerful and beautiful and the most tender and perfect ode to kindness - one of the best kids’ books I’ve read in a long time, especially if you are looking for fabulous children’s books about empathy. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I love to showcase what I call “books for better” (#booksforbetter) here on Happily Ever Elephants. Well, What is Given from the Heart, the fabulous new book by the late Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by April Harrison, is the epitome of this phrase. This is one of McKissack’s last books -- and it’s such a perfect one to highlight. It is an absolute must for everyone - I’d say kindergarten or first grade on up. It would make an incredible read aloud for upper elementary, middle school and high school aged children. Why? Check it out!
In What is Given from the Heart, James Otis and his Mama don’t have much. His father died, they lost their farm, and when Christmas rolls around, there isn’t much to open. It’s been a rough couple of months for sure, but they have their health and strength, so Mama says they are blessed. On the Sunday before Valentine’s Day, their reverend makes an announcement during services: the Temple family has lost everything in a fire, and everyone will make a Love Box containing whatever they think might be helpful to the family. James Otis wonders hard - what should he give that the family will like? What would a little girl named Sarah want from him, a boy who has so little? James Otis thinks and thinks, and he suddenly comes up with an idea. It certainly comes from the heart - but will it be enough?
Empathy? Check. Kindness? Check. Generosity? Check. Compassion? Check, check, check. My goodness. To say this book is extraordinary doesn’t even do it justice. In my eyes, it’s sheer perfection. It teaches every human being, no matter how old or how young, that even those who have so very little still have so much to offer to others. Sharing from the heart is inherently good, and McKissack’s narrative powerfully conveys how generosity and compassion can change lives. Though the narrative touches on challenging issues - from the death of a parent to poverty - the story never takes a downward spiral. Instead it is uplifting and poignant, celebrating life, ingenuity and the spirit of giving on each and every page. And those illustrations. Breathtaking! Harrison captured the essence of McKissack’s words perfectly with exquisite illustrations that elevate the text and so beautifully dignify the characters. I simply cannot rave about this one enough. It is pitch perfect and a must read for every child, even those of you with tweens and high schoolers. If you are looking for the perfect children’s book about empathy, this is the one for you!
Books like What is Given From the Heart are why I believe words can truly change worlds. Simply put: What is Given from the Heart is a masterpiece by a brilliant writer who will be so very missed. “What is given from the heart reaches the heart.” There are no truer words than those, and there is no more stunning story than this.
Did you like this post? We are so glad! Check out these fantastic lists - we think you will love them too!
And for the books we loved from last couple of years, check out Favorite Picture Books from 2018 and Favorite Picture Books from 2017!