Social and emotional development are critical to young children. Frankly, it’s the most important part of their early education. Here is #4, a book that deals with (un)kindness and giving – through animals. Did you ever wonder why children’s books that feature animals are the most popular? I call it the ‘indirect method’ because children can identify with animals.
If You Plant a Seed
by Kadir Nelson
If you plant a seed, in time, with love and care, it will grow. Rabbit and Mouse plant seeds.
The illustrations are glorious. The reader knows something is going to happen. And it does. Other animals come along. They watch the harvest. And they watch more.
Is there any doubt what the other animals -the birds- are thinking? This large and powerful illustration is cause for pause. I always stop and say, “Oh, my.” Silence. I let children soak up the image, and we talk, for a long time. Wordless images are powerful.
Hmmm… it appears a stand-off is about to begin. The wordless page sets the stage for what is going to happen. And it happens. At this point, children understand Rabbit and Mouse worked hard to plant seeds and grow the harvest. Illustrations of wind and rain, night and day, and hard work have children subtly cheering Rabbit and Mouse. But, now it is complicated. Should they share their food, their hard work? I ask children, “What would you do?”
The children immediately know it will grow into a heap of trouble. Oh, the trouble! Fighting and arguing, and ruining the food, the hard work, and the harvest. What do they decide to do? They work together. If Rabbit and Mouse share their food with the birds, then the birds can give back. Planting seeds of food is much like planting seeds of kindness.
This is my ‘go to’ book on kindness and giving. Children relate to this book. They’re troubled at the crossroads. They are ‘there’ from cheering Rabbit and Mouse, to the birds, to deciding what to do. And if you’re wondering what the birds actually gave, they dropped the seeds for new crops. Oh, that illustration is when I talk about ‘the circle of life’. Gee, this book has everything.
Stay tuned for #5, Red Sled and Trees, my two terrific finds at the Eric Carle Museum.