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.
tomato, carrot, and cabbage plants grow.
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?”
If you plant a seed of selfishness, in a very short time…
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.
But, if you plant a seed of kindness, in almost no time at all, the fruits of kindness will grow and grow and grow.
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.
Thanks for sharing.
I’m going to order this!
It’s a staple in the classroom, Beth. Wait till you get to the illustration of the birds looking head on! Your Kinders will have plenty to say!
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Thank you, Michael!
Wonderful! Great paintings with a interesting story, Jennie! Thanks for sharing, and have a nice week! xx Michael
Thank you, Michael. I’m glad you enjoyed this book.
YES …. Kindness and giving. Start the thinking young, and hope it sticks as they get older.
Lovely illustrations for the story. Good one Jennie!
Thank you, FR!
What a lovely book! I agree with you about social emotional learning being the most important thing to learn.
Thank you! Yes, social and emotional is #1. I love how this book hits the nail on the head… indirectly, through birds.
I love the illustrations, so detailed and expressive! It looks as though they really make the book.
Yes, they really do make the book. Many illustrations are wordless, which are the most powerful. Best of all, while the story cheers the rabbit and the mouse, it becomes complicated when the birds arrive. This is where children learn what is important. Thank you to great illustrations!
My thought when I looked closely at the pictures was that they are closer to art than illustration.
You make a good point, Liz. Yes, it is art. I have seen the originals at the Eric Carle Museum. Many picture books have stunning art. I sometimes wonder if the Eric Carle Museum’s mission was (is) to show illustrations… because they are art.
Thanks, Jennie. I think art is able to communicate more than illustration–although the line between the two can sometimes be very, very fine.
It looks like a wonderful book. I’m adding it my list of books I’d like to add to the boy’s home library.
It’s a winner, Deborah. I’m glad you’re adding it to your library. Wait till you hit the wordless illustration of the birds looking on!
I love children’s books! The illustrations for this look amazing and the story sounds excellent.
Thank you, Chel. This one is a winner!
Great posts! Reading is so important in the educational process that progress is non-existent without it! That is truer today than ever before. So much of the information we receive is via visual presentation. Often the delivery becomes more persuasive than content. Dangerous! On my cards the phrase “Readers are Thinkers” is printed. I truly believe that.
Another wonderful book, full of important learning.
Thank you, Darlene!
What a wonderful way to illustrate life for children!
Yes, it is. He is an incredible illustrator. One of my favorite books that he illustrated is “Blue Sky, White Stars.” A picture is worth a thousand words.
Such a cute book!! I want this for Charlotte! 🙂
It is cute, and oh so much more. Charlotte will love this book. Some of the pages are wordless, and they are powerful.
It conveys its message with such lovely pictures. Wordless books can spread that message anywhere in the world.
Best wishes, Pete.
Thank you, Pete. The illustrations really are the best. Yes, wordless books can spread a message anywhere. Sometimes those wordless pages can be more powerful than words.
Wow what a lovely message and the illustrations.. Seeds of selfishness or kindness. The illustrations are so powerful.
You are exactly right. Thank you!
Another lovely sounding one!
It is! I do wish our books and authors crossed the ocean.
Thank you, John.
You’re knocking them out of the park in this series, Jennie.
Thank you, Dan. I thought December and Christmas would be a good time to review and recommend books. Parents want to know good books.
They do, and these sound delightful.
I guess a picture is worth a thousand words; another wonderful book…
I think a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. When I show children those birds looking straight on… oh my! Thank you, Jim.
it must be wonderful to be surrounded by such wonderment every day…
It is, Jim. Big time. 🙂
I don’t know this one, Jennie, but of course, I like the theme. Teaching lessons with animals will always be popular with kids.
Yes, it always will be popular. Animal books are my go-to books, especially when there’s a moral lesson.
I love identifying with animals myself! That kind of book works for adults too.
Yes, it does!
I really like this idea for a book, Jennie. A much better version of The Little Red Hen where everyone shares in the end.
It is! It’s a favorite in the classroom, and better than The Little Red Hen.
Yes, it is better, a nicer ending.
I absolutely love those illustrations, Jennie. What a wonderful message as well.
Thank you, Carla!