Giving Thanks: More Than 100 Ways to Say Thank You by Ellen Surrey

Giving Thanks: More Than 100 Ways to Say Thank You by Ellen Surrey

When I posted about our Family Focus: Gratitude and Thankfulness kickoff, I got LOTS of questions about the book we used to kick off this month in our house. So today, I’ve got some information for you about Giving Thanks: More Than 100 Ways to Say Thank You by Ellen Surrey. If you are looking for a way to inspire your children to think of all they are grateful for, who they may want to thank, and unique ways to express gratitude to others, then this is the book for you!

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November Family Focus: Gratitude and Thankfulness

November Family Focus: Gratitude and Thankfulness

I’m sure it was no big surprise to many of you when I posted our November Family Focus booklist last week, and you saw that our Family Focus Traits for November are gratitude and thankfulness. This was one of those months we planned intentionally in advance, knowing that we’d be talking about this right now as a family anyway. We officially kicked off our gratitude and thanksgiving Family Focus month on Sunday, and the girls are already incredibly excited about this!

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20+ Terrific Thankfulness and Gratitude Picture Books

20+ Terrific Thankfulness and Gratitude Picture Books

If you’ve been following along on our Family Focus Traits adventure in 2020, you might have been able to guess that thankfulness and gratitude would be our chosen traits for November… While we assigned some traits to their months randomly (like honesty in May), and some because our girls needed them at that moment (teamwork and cooperation in March), others connected to themes we might already be talking about in a given month (such as growth mindset in January or compassion and empathy in February). While we want our girls to practice and develop attitudes of thankfulness and gratitude year-round (in fact, I wrote a post about this last November!), these traits fit perfectly in with conversations our family would already be having throughout Thanksgiving month. If you want to join us, check out the booklist below of more than 20 terrific picture books to help foster an attitude of gratitude!

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Hunter’s Best Friend at School by Laura Malone Elliott

Hunter’s Best Friend at School by Laura Malone Elliott

Okay, so we all know that it’s important — and hard — to stand up to people we don’t know well, or strangers we don’t know at all, when they are doing something wrong, hurtful, or mean… But let’s be honest for a minute. It’s just as important, and often much harder, to stand up to our friends when they do wrong. And unfortunately, children’s books about standing up to our friends are often much harder to find! For an elementary audience, you all know that I love The Hundred Dresses (you can read my full review of this gem here). Today, I’ve got a delightful picture book aimed at younger readers and listeners about doing the right thing when your best friend is trying hard to pull you off track — Hunter’s Best Friend at School by Laura Malone Elliott, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.

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Say Something by Peggy Moss

Say Something by Peggy Moss

On Sunday night, we had our next Family Focus Trait family meeting about being upstanders. During this meeting, we read the book Say Something by Peggy Moss, illustrated by Lea Lyon, and we went through a few role plays in which we practiced what we might say or do to be upstanders. If you don’t know the book Say Something by Peggy Moss, please read on to learn about it, as I think it’s a valuable book for both home and classroom libraries!

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I’m Sticking With You by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

I’m Sticking With You by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Our school as a delightful birthday book program, through which you can make a monetary donation to the library and the librarian will use that money to buy new books for the library. These books are designated “birthday books,” marked with a special birthday book note in the front, and given to your child first, to keep for as long as he/she wants before they are entered into the regular library rotation. Our new five-year-old received her birthday books on her birthday (our librarian even makes housecalls for students who are learning at home or have birthdays on weekends!!!), and they are delightful! Today, I’m sharing one of her birthday books (a book that was completely new to me, so that was unusual and exciting): I’m Sticking With You by Smriti Prasadam-Halls, illustrated by Steve Small.

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October Family Focus: Being Upstanders

October Family Focus: Being Upstanders

On Sunday night, we officially wrapped up our September Family Focus Trait of including others and kicked off October, which is being upstanders! (You can find our list of books that highlight being upstanders here). As usual, we tacked this family meeting on to a regular Sunday night dinner, and if you’ve followed along our other kickoff nights, you’ll recognize the pattern of reading a wonderful picture book and then doing a family activity together. Read on to see what we did for Upstander month!

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Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka

Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka

Okay, there is just enough time left in September for me to highlight one more book from my list of picture books that model including others. And y’all, this one is a must-read. Though it was originally published in 1993, I didn’t discover it until a few years into my teaching career, but once I found it, I read it to my students every single year. And now I revisit it frequently with my girls. If you don’t know Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka yet, please read on to learn more about it — and then find a way to get your hands on it!

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Picture Books with Characters Who Stand Up to Others

Picture Books with Characters Who Stand Up to Others

Have you been following along with us as we move through the year with a Family Focus Trait each month? We have been loving the intentionality and focus that it brings to conversations we’re having with the girls, and I have to say I may be more excited about October’s trait than I have been about any all year. And what makes this even better for us is that when we created our family’s school mantra for this school year, one of the girls named this trait! I was thrilled that it was on her mind before we had even focused on it, and even more thrilled by the timing, since I knew this was coming next. So…

In October, we’ll be reading picture books with upstanding role models, books with characters who stand up to and for others, facing down both friends and foes. Because being able to stand up for what’s right and respectfully but strongly tell others what’s right is absolutely a skill we want our children to carry with them through life.

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The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

We all know that there are some kids in classes who tend to go through school unnoticed. They may be the quiet ones who follow all the rules, and academically they don’t need lots of extra support but aren’t leading the pack, either. They don’t stand out in sports or tell the funniest jokes, but they have so much else to offer. Often, they’re unintentionally overlooked, but sometimes they’re snubbed by their peers. But, they have so much to contribute, if only someone would notice.

In The Invisible Boy, Trudy Ludwig eloquently tells the tale of one of these children, Brian, a child that is invisible to those around him, until his kindness gets the attention of a classmate. Brian’s story starts by being overlooked by even the teacher, not being included in kickball teams (he wasn’t just picked last — he wasn’t picked at all), and listened to all his classmates talk about a birthday party to which he wasn’t invited. Brian feels the weight of these interactions, or lack thereof, but finds joy in drawing. So when Justin, a new student in class, is laughed at for having a different lunch, Brian uses his drawing superpowers to lift up Justin and build the first connections to bridge a new friendship. And as it turns out, just one person and one kind gesture can make a world of different to someone feeling noticed and included.

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