April Family Focus: Authentic Apologies and Genuine Forgiveness

If you missed our April booklist, we decided to continue on with our family’s focus on 12 character traits throughout 2020, recognizing that though life has changed quite drastically over the last month, we’ve been given an incredible gift of uninterrupted family time. To that end, we’re spending the month of April focusing as a family on authentic apologies and genuine forgiveness.

Though our apology and forgiveness books have been on our front-facing bookshelf since April 1, we finally had our official kick-off night on Saturday, April 4. Read on to see what book we chose to read together for this kick-off, the chart we made, and discussion ideas we have for the rest of the month.

For those who have only just started following along, we kick off of family focuses each month with a special dinner (to make sure everyone is in a good mood!), a family read-aloud (because I believe in the power of literature both to teach children about the world around them and to give them opportunities to practice who they want to be in the world), and some sort of written chart (to remind us of the focus throughout the month).


For apology and forgiveness month, I chose to read Sorry! by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Maurie Manning. If you’re looking for a book to use that will directly address the importance of truly heartfelt apologies rather than simply rote “I’m sorry,” then Sorry! is the book for you. Though Ludwig’s antagonist is pretty unlikeable and will model some very mean behavior for your children, the lesson learned by the protagonist is powerful and important for children to understand. Ludwig also touches briefly on the concept of genuine, true forgiveness rather than simply saying, “I forgive you” when someone has wronged you. Maybe Ludwig will write a book about that someday, too!

I initially planned to add to our “Authentic Apology / Apology of Action” chart after we finished the book, but as we were reading, some of Ludwig’s phrases resonated strongly with the girls, so we stopped frequently to add to our chart. For this chart, I wanted to simply capture the girls’ words and thoughts about how they’d define an authentic apology and an apology of action. You might consider asking your children “How would you teach someone smaller than you about giving an authentic, impactful apology to a friend?”


From here, we’ll continue to read books from our apology and forgiveness booklist. I also plan to use a family meeting to create an apology of action chart that would give the girls concrete examples of actions they can use to show remorse after hurting someone’s body or heart. For more information about apologies of action, I love Responsive Classroom’s logical consequence and apology of action resources. Ludwig’s Sorry! also includes an extremely helpful afterward by renowned apology expert Dr. Aaron Lazare.

Are you working on apologies and forgiveness with us this month? What ideas do you have for discussion or activities to help children develop a deeper understanding of why it’s important to move beyond simple “I’m sorry” and rote “I forgive you” to more authentic and heartfelt expressions of apology and forgiveness?

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