Storytime offers an opportunity to bond with your child and also discuss the world around them. Children learn from everyday activities, so teaching them early on that it’s important to love and respect people of all backgrounds, races, shapes and abilities helps them relate to others and themselves and makes the world a better place.
One study found 41 percent of children say they have a hard time finding books they like. Your first step as a family involves guiding your children toward books with a strong moral message and exciting plots. One place to start is with Hachette Book Group’s list of 15 picture books that talk about issues such as love, respect and community.
Teach children to embrace diversity and they’ll have an easier time adjusting to any changes in the future, such as moves to new cities or visiting foreign countries. The list of picture books offers a couple of great options to help your child understand how varied the world and the people and cultures in it are.
“The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade” is by Justin Roberts, with illustrations by Rebecca Crane. The book takes a look at how bullying happens and how standing up to bullies helps both the main character and the kids around her. The theme of the book is that no matter how big or small you are, you can make a difference in the world if you stand for what is right.
“Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Pena with illustrations by Christian Robinson is a Newbery Medal winner, Caldecott Honor winner and a Coretta Scott King Honor winner. The New York Times also named it a notable children’s book. The book focuses on community, being different and embracing the specialness of every person. This is a good book to teach your child that different isn’t wrong.
Learning to Love
If you want a child to learn to love the world at large, you must first model that behavior. You can also back up what they see by studying beautiful books on the topic.
“Love the World” by Todd Parr offers verses that focus on building self-esteem, loving the environment and respecting others.
“City Shapes,” written by Diana Murray and illustrated by Brian Collier, focuses on the shapes, colors and sounds of city life. It teaches that even though we’re all different, we have common things around us.
Studies show that children begin to comprehend the meaning behind stories at a very young age. Scientists noticed that when you read books to young children, specific areas of the brain are activated that help the child understand bigger concepts. Reading books that teach love help store those things in the child’s memory and help them better understand how to love others.
Being a Good Citizen
Part of living in a larger community includes learning to be a good citizen in that community. Part of learning to act appropriately in different situations involves exposure to people, places and things. Even if your child is 18 months old, they can begin to learn basic manners, such as please and thank you.
“Give Thank You a Try” by James Patterson focuses on the power behind the words “thank you.” The book suggests that readers thank people who live with them and their neighbors. The book teaches both manners and ways to build bridges in a community.
Even if you disagree with the views of others, you can protest in peaceful ways and find constructive methods to deal with differences. In the book “A Is for Activist” by Innosanto Nagara, the author goes through the alphabet and focuses on words that begin a conversation. “A is for activist.” The book then asks the reader if they’re an activist, which encourages conversation with parents. Other concepts include cooperating with the culture, equal rights, democracy and living with people from different cultures.
There are communities all around us every day. The people who live on your street, in your neighborhood and throughout your town all make up communities. The people at church, or an organization you belong to, make up another community. Teach your child the social skills needed to interact with all these different communities by reading books that teach community values.
“My Very Own Space” by Pippa Goodhart follows a bunny as he learns how to find his own space in a large community. This book works well for children who are introverted and must learn to handle the distractions of others.
“Brave” by Stacy McAnulty teaches kids to be heroes in their communities. It suggests visiting friends in the hospital and standing up for what is right for everyone in the community.
Choose a Wide Range of Stories
Using books to teach children about manners, being part of a community and loving everyone is a long-held tradition. To cover all these topics effectively, choose from a wide range of books by different authors on a variety of issues. Talk to kids about how to apply what they learn from the books to their everyday lives.