When I was a teacher, one of my favorite social-emotional units we did was “Superflex: A Social Thinking Curriculum.” Superflex helped our students gain an awareness of their behaviors, their impacts on others, and how they can recognize and regulate when they need to change course somehow. Over the summer, I wanted to work with our girls on their awareness of personal space and looked into getting some Superflex materials to use at home… Alas, I just couldn’t justify the cost. But, while looking for things to read with the girls, I found Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader by Christianne Jones, and though I usually try to read a book before I buy it, I bought this one sight-unseen, hoping it would be useful… And it was! Then, a few weeks later, I won a copy of Miles McHale, Tattletale from a giveaway Capstone did on Instagram, and we loved it just as much, if not more. I’ve since collected two other titles in the series. Read on to see why we love each one.
Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader by Christianne Jones, illustrated by Cale Atkinson — Harrison is an enthusiastic hippo who just can’t help but be close to his friends and family at all times. As you can imagine, having such an exuberant hippo so close to you gets old, quickly… Fortunately, Harrison’s dad teaches him the “Space Saver” test to see where his body should be in relation to others. While he his overabundant love of life and others sometimes still causes him to get, well, in their personal space, his friends and family greatly appreciate the change and ensuing breathing room!
Miles McHale, Tattletale by Jones, illustrated by Elina Ellis — Of the four Jones/Capstone SEL books we own, I think this is my favorite, and it definitely has caught on most with my girls. Miles the chicken has a problem tattling, and it takes a class-wide challenge to learn the difference between tattling and telling to help him over his hump. My older daughter will frequently repeat the class motto regarding tattling: “If a friend is sick, hurt, or in harm’s way, then telling someone is okay.” I LOVE that Jones has given her a takeaway that she can repeat to herself while she navigates life as a first grader!
Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Jones, illustrated by Richard Watson — Lacey is an own who talks… a lot. She talks and talks and talks until one unfortunate day, she loses her voice! But, when unable to talk, she realizes how much she likes actually having time to eat her breakfast, listen to her friends, and pay attention in class. As with the rest of Jones’s characters, she still sometimes talks too much, but she is able to take what she’s learned about not talking to show people around her she cares about what they say… and eat her breakfast!
Lucia Lacorte, Poor Sport by Jones, illustrated by Marisa Morea — The newest addition to our collection may end up being a really important one in our house, based on card games and backyard soccer… Lucia the llama founded and leads the local Gaming Club, but one Friday when she arrives, a sign (of which she did NOT approve) hanging outside reads, “Try your best. Have lots of fun! Smile and shake when the game is done.” Lucia is not one bit interested in this advice until her grandfather teaches her a pretty tough lesson. I feel like this is good advice for all children (and for some parents, too!) in youth sports — and family card games.
Each book is aimed at ages 4 to about 7, but I can see extending that range slightly in either direction with the right audience or conversation around the book.
Do you know this series? If you know any children at all, you probably know someone who could use one (or all…) of these books. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that the next one helps children realize when their grumpiness is taking over (like Superflex’s Grump Grumpaniny), I’d be greatly appreciative!
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