Just LISTEN. When a child wants to talk or needs to talk just LISTEN. We all fight battles daily. We all fight battles that we wish were not ours. We all fight battles to be able to help others. In the silent moments that feel lonely, we are never alone because our story can help so many people.
I was asked the other day how to teach or present the tough stuff. The first and only response I ever give is read a picture book. A 28 page book can do more for the heart than an awkward conversation that leads to butterflies or more unanswered questions.
When I was 10 years old, I was the heaviest in my grade and had the worst cowlick that made cows run. When I was 18 years old, I was the heaviest in my grade and wore blue eyeshadow for days. When I was 20 years old, I was the heaviest in my group of my friends and ordered a #2 from In N Out more days than not. The silent moments turned into years of wishing I knew someone else like me.
If there were picture books like Abigail the Whale or A Girl Like You, when I was a kid I would not have felt so alone. I had parents who supported me and loved me but still felt all alone especially when my best friend would try on a size 2. I saw no one else like me and was taught that I was not good enough by the way peers and my siblings reminded me that heavy set girls are not pretty.
This story was not to make you feel sad for me, but to remind you to LISTEN to your children and students. Bring books into your classroom that teach kids about all types of people, cultures, ethnicities, body types, and how to love each other fiercely.
Body shaming starts very young. Do I dare tell you, it can start as early as kindergarten. Below is a list of books that help open conservations surrounding the importance of listening, loving yourself, and how to treat others.
Picture books allow for students to build their empathy meter. Read a book and just let your kids listen. Next time, read another book and ask questions and allow them to speak freely. Ask open ended questions that can let your child speak freely about their feelings.
Empowering Kids With Character has compiled a list of 101 Must Read Books for Families, where you can find books that will help teach social emotional skills – this is a FREE list for you. You can download the list here.
Open the hearts of your students by OPENING THE MAGIC.
The following books I highly recommend to start building your home or classroom library to open the doors to loving each other and especially loving ourselves.
Don’t forget to download your FREE 101 Must Read Books for Families – all the books on this list are recommended by the Empowering Kids With Character team and help you when teaching social emotional skills.
Courtney Hinshaw is a teacher from Southern California who loves picture books. Courtney earned her degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona. She also graduated from CSUF with her masters degree in Reading Education. Courtney, founder of Ramona Recommends, celebrates picture books, student engagement, social emotional learning, and kindness. In 2021, she created National Open The Magic Day to encourage parents, teachers, and students to find their confetti moments all around them. She truly believes books open the magic and allow students to find themselves. Teaching with picture books is her jam. You find all the confetti moments with Courtney over on instagram @ramonrecommends.