Our Favorite School Stories for Social-Emotional Growth

Our Favorite School Stories for Social-Emotional Growth

Yesterday, I posted our favorite first day of school stories, a collection of books that will help children of all ages and experiences get ready for that first day of school. Up today is a list of our favorite school stories that help to set students up for a positive year.

These are stories of kindness and inclusion, stories that help children build empathy and understanding of self and others, stories of self-love and self-confidence. In short, these are stories children need. I love reading these year-around, but they’re perfect for helping children start their school years off on the right feet. They’re perfect to read at home or at school, independently or as a read aloud. And they’re timeless. So get them from your library or take the plunge and purchase them to own!

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Our Favorite First Day of School Books

Our Favorite First Day of School Books

It’s back-to-school season! Whether you’ve got a preschooler preparing for his first school experience or a rising fifth grader who is seasoned and suave, whether your children are starting the school year in person, with distance learning, or attempting homeschooling, reading picture books about the first day of school can help children of any age transition to the next stage or grade. Below, I’ve got you covered for whatever grade your children are starting! You can find books perfect for first-time preschoolers, kindergarteners, bus riders, elementary students… I’ve even got a few books perfect for the siblings being left behind when their older brothers or sisters start school! Be sure to scroll all the way down for the list(s) that might be best for your family. Continue reading “Our Favorite First Day of School Books”

Picture Books to Inspire Letter Writing

Picture Books to Inspire Letter Writing

If you saw my post about combatting the summer slide, you may have noticed that we’re encouraging the girls to send letters and postcards to friends and family, and that we’ve started a Conversation Journal (a notebook of letters back and forth) with our oldest. As a way to inspire writing these letters, we’ve also been reading lots of picture books told mostly (or completely, in many cases) through epistolary form. Friendly letters, persuasive writing, thank you notes, even a few business letters– these books have it all! At the bottom of this post, I’ve also included a few wonderful novels written in letter format, for those of you with older readers who may be looking for more!

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Books Featuring Courageous Role Models

Books Featuring Courageous Role Models

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post rounding up our favorite books to read to help children overcome fear and anxiety. Then, when my husband and I drafted out our year of Family Focus Traits, we knew that we wanted to include courage (by the way, courage is our July Family Focus Trait!), and in my head I thought, “Ooh, I’ve already got a great list written for that trait!” But, the more I thought about it, I knew this list needed to be slightly different. While my list of books to help overcome fear and anxiety focused on specific fears with explicit strategies to help overcome that fear (which often took courage, for sure!), our list of books featuring fiercely courageous role models shows characters demonstrating courage in other situations, too. Yes, there is some overlap between the two lists, but the books you’ll find on the list below tend to focus more strongly on the courage rather than on the fear or worry itself. So, read on to see which books we love for featuring fabulously courageous role models!

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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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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.

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The William Hoy Story (and Our Other Favorite Baseball Books)

The William Hoy Story (and Our Other Favorite Baseball Books)

One of my favorite things about reading so many books with my girls is that I often learn about people I would otherwise never know. Today’s picture book biography taught me about one such person, and I am so excited to share him with you!

When researching new picture books about baseball, I came across The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Jez Tuya. I had never heard of William Hoy but was definitely intrigued by the title of this book, and fortunately, I requested it from our library just before it closed in March. This story is so good! Read on to learn a little bit about William Hoy and how he changed baseball.

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Fantastic Fourth of July Reads

Fantastic Fourth of July Reads

I love the 4th of July. I love spending the day with my family and friends, often spending the whole day outside. I love swimming, be it in a pool, lake, river, or ocean. I love baseball games and Cracker Jack boxes. I love grilling (or barbequing, depending what part of the country you’re in…), hot dogs, and apple pies. I love fireworks. And I love celebrating our country and our independence, because despite our historical and current mistakes, America is a pretty great place to live.

Now that I’m a parent, it’s important to me that my children understand the historical context for Independence Day as well as enjoy the celebrations and traditions that take place on the 4th of July. So, as usual, I turn to books! Below, you’ll find a mix of books to help your family or classrooms prepare to celebrate Independence Day. Some of these books are very July 4th-specific, other provide some historical context to Independence Day, and others are beautiful celebrations of America. Whatever you’re looking for, I hope you find some good seasonal and patriotic reading!

And, be sure to check out these terrific books for celebrating Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, with your children!

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Our Favorite Beach Books

Our Favorite Beach Books

One of my favorite things about the arrival of summer is pulling out my big box of beach books and activities. Some of my absolute favorite books center around the ocean (I’m looking at you, Flotsam and Hello, Lighthouse!), and ocean-themed sensory bins and sandpaper artwork are just the best. So, before we get too deep into summer, I wanted to share our favorite beach books. Take a look below, reserve them from the library (or use my Affiliate links to purchase if you love them, too!), and let me know which books you love!

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90 Books for 90 Days of Summer! (2020 Edition)

As you all know, I LOVE a good booklist. I always have! As a teacher, I constantly created random themed book baskets or gathered books about a specific topic to perch on the whiteboard ledge. As a mom, I’ve always loved filling our front-facing shelf with whatever holiday or theme was appropriate for a given chunk of weeks. And as a blogger, creating lists for you all is my favorite thing to do.

Today, not only do I have a list for you, but I have my favorite annual list for you — 90 Books for 90 Days of Summer! This is the list I dreamed of making for a few years before starting my Instagram page, and I was thrilled to finally be able to release my first summer booklist last summer. I’m back with 90 Books for 90 Days of Summer (2020 Edition), a completely different but just as fabulous collection of picture books for you to read with your family this summer.

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