50+ Books to Help Build Compassion and Empathy

50+ Books to Help Build Compassion and Empathy

Drum roll please… Our family character trait(s) for February are… compassion and empathy! (You can read more about our 12 character traits for 2020 here and here.) With Valentine’s Day in February, we wanted to focus our month on love and kindness, but in terms of having family conversations about our behaviors, those are both very broad, general terms. The more we thought about how we wanted to help our girls grow, we realized we wanted to help them SEE others more. To see other people and notice how they might be feeling. To put themselves in others’ shoes and act on what they observe. So, while we also obviously hope our children are kind in every way and show love to important people in their lives, we really want them to start to notice. To pay attention to others. To stop and help if it seems that they can, or to make amends for their own choices if they need to do so…

In other words, to approach the world around them with compassion and empathy!

As Jamie C. Martin wrote in Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at at Time, “Books help your family grasp on a new level that what we have in common with our worldwide neighbors far outweighs what separates us… It naturally develops compassion… because we all have similar needs, hopes, and desires. Great stories build an empathic foundation that leads to a life of service and concern for others” (p. 26). To that end, we love to use children’s literature to help our children develop fully as people. So, of course, we’ll be reading a lot of books showcasing compassion and empathy in February! Below, I’ve got 50+ amazing books for you to read with your children. Check it out, read along with us, and let me know if I’ve missed any amazing stories that our girls need to know and love!

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Six Fabulous Chinese New Year Picture Books

Six Fabulous Chinese New Year Picture Books

For many, many years of my life, I admittedly knew little about Chinese New Year, aside from the fact that it changed dates each year, people did dragon dances or watched dragon parades, and if you were lucky, you might receive lucky money in a red envelope. As an adult, I’ve learned a little bit more, but as my girls began to learn about these traditions in school, I desired to find good books (of course) so that we could all better understand the Chinese New Year and its history and traditions. This year, Chinese New Year is on Saturday, January 25, 2020, so I’m hoping this list gives you time to snag one or more of these books from your local bookstore or library, so that you and your loved ones can either learn more about or more deeply celebrate the Chinese New Year! Continue reading “Six Fabulous Chinese New Year Picture Books”

Our Favorite Books About Loose Teeth

Our Favorite Books About Loose Teeth

Our first grader has been waiting a LONG time to lose a tooth… Her first friends started losing their teeth almost 2.5 years ago, when they were in preschool, and watching everyone else lose teeth in kindergarten, along with having a class chart tracking how many teeth the class had lost, almost did her in. So, you can imagine the excitement in our house at the beginning of the month when she discovered that she has a loose tooth!

And, making my book-loving heart proud, one of her first questions about it was, “Mommy, do we have any books about loose teeth? I want to read them all tonight!” We had a few to pull out immediately, and I asked on Instagram for more recommendations, which I gathered from the library over the next week or so. So now, we’ve been reading loose tooth and tooth fairy books on repeat in our house! (Easy literacy tip here — when your child is really interested in a topic, whether it be loose teeth or a famous person or the moon, gather those books from your shelves and the library! Children will, of course, read more if they’re interested in the books!). I’m excited to share today our favorite books about losing teeth. Continue reading “Our Favorite Books About Loose Teeth”

Books to Foster Growth Mindsets in Children

Books to Foster Growth Mindsets in Children

As a teacher, I studied and pondered the effects of mindset on our behaviors a lot, hoping to help my students see challenges and learning opportunities as chances to grow, rather than obstacles they might not be able to overcome. Now, as a parent raising two girls to approach challenges and new endeavors with optimism, perseverance, and a positive mind, I find research into growth and fixed mindsets even more fascinating and compelling (which I didn’t think was possible!).

So, what are growth and fixed mindsets? In a fixed mindset, one believes that qualities such as intelligence, personality, and moral character are set in stone, or fixed; he believes he cannot change these aspects of his lives and therefore feels he must prove himself or fear failure. A person with a growth mindset, however, believes that his intelligence, personality, and character can be changed through hard work, perseverance, dedication, and support from others; they believe that their potentials are unknown and unknowable (from chapter 1 of Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential)).

For more information, I highly suggest reading Dweck’s Mindset. While I had read snippets of her research through my education and professional development, I figured her actual book would be heavy and hard to read. Boy, was I wrong! I am so glad I finally picked it up, because I don’t want to put it down!

So, to help with the important goal of raising growth-mindset-oriented children, I’ve compiled a HUGE (25+!) list of picture books to encourage growth mindsets with children of all ages, to help them understand that challenges are learning opportunities, failures chances to try again, and potential unimaginable! I’ve got fiction, biographies, and what I’ve called “direct instruction” books, books written explicitly to teach children about growth mindset. Continue reading “Books to Foster Growth Mindsets in Children”

Winter Books We’re Loving

Winter Books We’re Loving

Given that we live in a climate so mild that our girls talk about “going to winter” rather than winter being an actual season they experience at home, we tend to wait till after the holiday season to bust out winter books. It’s not like we need to read snow books while we celebrate the first snow or anything like that… But, we had a very cold weekend (cold for us, at least…) and I know many of you around the world have had your first snowfalls already, so I figured I’d share my updated list of winter books we’re loving with you all right now.

Continue reading “Winter Books We’re Loving”

Delightful (and Informative!) Picture Books about Hanukkah

Delightful (and Informative!) Picture Books about Hanukkah

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah in your house or are simply looking to educate your children about a holiday some of their friends or family might celebrate, I think the list I’ve gathered below will give you a great place to start! You might laugh, you might cry, you might be wowed… You also might learn a little something along the way about the Maccabees, the Festival of Lights, and Hanukkah traditions such as making latkes and playing with dreidels. Keep reading to see Hanukkah titles we love, as well as a little info about each.
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25 Christmas Books for 2019

25 Christmas Books for 2019

While I love all things Christmas, I especially love Christmas music and Christmas books. I come by it honestly —  my dad used to play Christmas music throughout the month of December, and my mom had, at one point, what might have been the largest collection of various versions of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I remember spending hours as a child curled up on the couch, listening to Christmas music and reading Christmas books. So, of course, one of my favorite things once I became a parent myself was to build my Christmas book collection, as well as to find new titles from our local library. Publishing a Christmas booklist was one of the tasks I was most excited to complete when I started my Instagram account a little over a year ago. Last year, I made what I think is an amazing list of 25+ Christmas books to read… This year, I’ve got a completely new list of 25 Christmas books for you to enjoy with your little ones this season! Continue reading “25 Christmas Books for 2019”