Terrific Children’s Books – #4

                                                           Kindness Matters
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.

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in behavior, Book Review, children's books, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Inspiration, Kindness, picture books, preschool, reading aloud, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Terrific Children’s Books – #4

  1. beth says:

    I’m going to order this!

  2. Wonderful! Great paintings with a interesting story, Jennie! Thanks for sharing, and have a nice week! xx Michael

  3. YES …. Kindness and giving. Start the thinking young, and hope it sticks as they get older.

  4. Lovely illustrations for the story. Good one Jennie!

  5. What a lovely book! I agree with you about social emotional learning being the most important thing to learn.

  6. I love the illustrations, so detailed and expressive! It looks as though they really make the book.

  7. 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.

  8. Chel Owens says:

    I love children’s books! The illustrations for this look amazing and the story sounds excellent.

  9. 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.

  10. Darlene says:

    Another wonderful book, full of important learning.

  11. quiall says:

    What a wonderful way to illustrate life for children!

    • Jennie says:

      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.

  12. bosssybabe says:

    Such a cute book!! I want this for Charlotte! 🙂

  13. beetleypete says:

    It conveys its message with such lovely pictures. Wordless books can spread that message anywhere in the world.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      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.

  14. Wow what a lovely message and the illustrations.. Seeds of selfishness or kindness. The illustrations are so powerful.

  15. Ritu says:

    Another lovely sounding one!

  16. Dan Antion says:

    You’re knocking them out of the park in this series, Jennie.

  17. Jim Borden says:

    I guess a picture is worth a thousand words; another wonderful book…

  18. petespringerauthor says:

    I don’t know this one, Jennie, but of course, I like the theme. Teaching lessons with animals will always be popular with kids.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I love identifying with animals myself! That kind of book works for adults too.

  20. I really like this idea for a book, Jennie. A much better version of The Little Red Hen where everyone shares in the end.

  21. Carla says:

    I absolutely love those illustrations, Jennie. What a wonderful message as well.

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