Building Self-Esteem Through Picture Books: Sofia and the Heartmender

perfect-pic-book-badge-e1325891994293

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

The holiday season is upon us…I know that many bloggers have been reviewing holiday-themed books.  Here’s one that looks like a Christmas-type book, but what it celebrates is a child who learns to speak up for herself and overcome her fears.  This ties in with Universal Children’s Day which was started by the United Nations almost 60 years ago this week.  Millions of children all over the world lack the basic rights they are entitled to…nourishing food, clean water, an education, a safe environment in which to grow up in and parents who believe in them and are able to provide these things.

Building Self-Esteem Through Picftue Books,Show Me How,Positive Parental Participation

Sofia and the Heartmender

Written and illustrated by Marie Olofsdotter

Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing (reprinted 2007…original edition 1995)

Ages: 5 and up

Themes:

Speaking up for oneself, self-esteem, overcoming fears, respecting onself, creative expression, night terrors, parental support.

Synopsis:

From Amazon and Book Review:

”Sofia’s heart is broken in two when adults refuse to take her fears seriously. Parents and teacher alike trivialize the shadow monsters that follow her, but a wise dog guides her through a magical world where she meets the Heartmender. During the journey, Sofia confronts her fears, which then disappear, and the Heartmender heals Sofia’s heart with moonlight. Back in the real world, stronger with renewed self-esteem and confidence, Sofia makes her feelings known to the adults and asks that they be respected. Olofsdotter has created a rich and inspiring story by carefully crafting a dynamic between text and illustrations. Richly colored and exquisitely detailed, the illustrations add information and evoke the mythical time and space where the wounded self is healed. A book to be enjoyed at various levels by young and older children alike.”

Why do I like this book:

I love the message in this story…a child learns to overcome her fears and speak up for herself, gaining a positive self-image.  This is a story about a strong capable young girl and would be a wonderful book to help parents understand how important it is to listen to their children and take what they say seriously.   It also points out that teachers often expect children to ‘color within the lines’…instead of encouraging creative expression in every child.  I also love the illustrations and ethnicity of the characters…from the look of the main characters and the surroundings, I get the feeling that the story is placed in Mexico or South America.

Related Activities:

HEARTMENDER ORNAMENT #1

If you are looking for a VERY easy heartmender ornament, try this one.

heart-ornament-tissue

Photo courtesy: http://www.apples4theteacher.com

You will need: 1 piece of red construction paper, 1 piece of red tissue paper, several cotton balls, glue, scissors, piece of ribbon, hole puncher.

  1. Cut the red construction paper into a heart shape.
  2. Pull the cotton balls apart and glue pieces around the heart edge.
  3. Tear the tissue paper into small pieces.  Crumbple each piece and glue inside the heart shape.
  4. Punch a hole in the top middle and thread the ribbon through so the heart can be hung up.  Make sure you put your child’s name and the date on the back of the ornament…in later years you will look back and remember when it was made.

HEARTMENDER ORNAMENT #2

If you want a heartmender ornament that is a little more complicated, please visit: http://www.craftideas.info/html/swedish_paper_heart.html

You will find materials needed and a video tutorial.

Christmas_Paper_Craft_-_Swedish_Heart_Paper_Christmas_Ornament

Photo and instructions courtesy: www.craftideas.info

show me how build your child's self-esteem, positive parental participation 

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA

Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.  If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft (like the diorama above) and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy on Amazon of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  At $24.95, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   Buy your copy today!  My website is still offering free shipping AND a beautiful hand-crafted fabric bookmark…limited time only!  Offer ends December 30th!create a peaceful home,www.positiveparentalparticipation.com,free bookmarks,show me how build your child's self-esteem

PPBF: Cat Tale….A Lesson in Group Dynamics and Word Power

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

I do have four (!!!!) things to share with you before we reveal the Perfect Picture Book Friday pick.

  1. Show Me How! has been endorsed by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  Studies show that kids with special needs often struggle with self-esteem issues and JDRF feels the book is especially helpful to families who are dealing with juvenile diabetes or children with other special needs.  The book will appear on their newly launched book review page from now until April: http://www.jdrf.org/index.cfm?page_id=101074   I’m donating 20% to JDRF for any books people buy when they click through to my website from the JDRF page.
  2. If you haven’t already signed up for Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo 2012, hurry over and DO IT!  I’m planning on using the wonderful journal Susanna sent me for participating in Summer Short and Sweets…it will be PERFECT for those 30 picture book ideas that are already swirling around in my head!
  3. Monday, October 29, at 7pm EST, the wife of Governor O’Malley of Maryland will be talking about bullying on a Google+ HOA (Hangout on Air).  I may be joining the discussion.  I will definitely know by Sunday…so if it works out, I will include that information in my Sunday post.
  4. Susanna Leonard Hill has a wonderful Halloweensie writing contest going on right now…you still have plenty of time to participate…entries are due by Wednesday, October 31.

And now…because you have been so patient…perhaps I should offer goodies like Susanna does…here is the last PPBF for October.

Our Perfect Picture Book Friday choice is Cat Tale…in honor of  National Bullying Prevention Month.

Written and illustrated by Michael Hall

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (2012)

Ages: 4 and up

Themes:

Communication (using words), friendship, group dynamics

First lines:

“From word to word, they find their way, Lillian, Tilly and William J.

They pack some books and kitty chews, they choose a spot, they spot some ewes.”

Synopsis:

Using words, the three intrepid cats go from adventure to adventure…always sticking together.

Why do I like this book:

BOLD ILLUSTRATIONS WITH THE COLORS BURSTING FROM THE PAGES.

THE SMOOTH SING-SONG RHYME…THE PLAY ON WORDS AND PLAY WITH WORDS.

Experts recommend that kids use group dynamics and words to combat bullies (in addition to telling an adult right away).  Michael Hall’s three cats show us how using words and sticking together can get one past many obstacles.

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Kids love to do arts and crafts!  Michael Hall used cut paper for his illustrations.  Using cut paper, kids can do amazing projects.

Here’s a cut paper “quilt” that would make a wonderful wall or door decoration for Halloween.  All you need is a large piece of poster board and several sheets of appropriately colored construction paper.  Trace various ‘Halloween” themed characters, cut them out and paste onto the poster board.  You can make the project more simple by using a single piece of construction paper and doing just one character.

Here’s a project that will be easy for the youngest child.  You will need several sheets of contruction paper in “Halloween” colors, paste and scissors.  Trace the child’s handprint several times on each sheet and cut out.  Paste them together to form a wreath shape and hang up on door or wall.  To make the wreath more sturdy, use a piece of poster board or cardboard as backing.

Both of these crafts are from: http://www.dltk-holidays.com/halloween/halloween_crafts_other.htm

More wonderful paper crafts here: http://www.marthastewart.com/274940/kids-paper-crafts/@center/276975/marthas-crafts-kids

And more amazing paper crafts here: http://www.origami-resource-center.com/kirigami-for-kids.html

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

PPBF: Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl…Dealing with Bullies

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

Before we get to our picture book review and craft activity, I want to share some things with you.

  • I offered to send a Halloween Prize Package to one of the people who visited and ‘liked’ the new FB page for Show Me How!  Fifty names were entered in the Random.org drawing…and today I mailed out the Halloween cupcake set and a Halloween board book to Annie in Thornton, CO.  She has two little boys so I know she will enjoy the prize with them.  Thanks to everyone who participated!
  • It’s always a joy to get book orders from libraries because it means that hundreds of people will be able to use the book…I just received an order for two copies from the United Library Service in CALGARY, ALBERTA…yes, that’s right…CANADA!
  • We’ve decided to extend the FREE SHIPPING for anyone who orders my book throughout the holiday season!
  • Thursday morning I had two school presentations at Steele Elementary in Colorado Springs.  We read “Yes We Can” by Sam McBratney…a great picture book that addresses teasing and bullying.  The kids loved the story…even more, they loved talking about what they like to do with their friends (play, share, be kind, say I’m sorry if you hurt their feelings)…and what friends shouldn’t do to each other (don’t hit, don’t kick, don’t tease, don’t laugh at, don’t be mean).

After the story, each child made their own book of friendship.

Our challenge, as educators and as parents, is to find a way to keep alive the enthusiasm for learning that young children embrace naturally.

Our Perfect Picture Book Friday choice is a story that addresses bullying and teasing…in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month.

Written by Jane O’Connor

Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Publisher: Harper Collins (2011)

Ages: 4 and up

Themes:

Believing in yourself, courage, determination, bullying, teasing, communication, friendship

Synopsis:

Fancy Nancy has a relay race coming up…she remembers that last year her team lost because she was so slow and she was made to feel badly by one of her teammates.  Nancy pretends to have injured her foot so that she won’t have to run in the race, but her father notices that she limps on her left foot sometimes, and her right foot at other times.  When her father speaks with her, Nancy confesses the problem and has a long talk with him.  On the day of the race, Nancy confronts the ‘mean’ girl and tells her that although she is a great runner, she is not a good sport.  Does this show of courage help Nancy win the race?  You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Why do I like this book:

I opened this book prepared to NOT like it.  Although it is considered a picture book, it is also a ‘first reader’ type of book.  I had been turned off by the ‘hype’ of ‘Fancy Nancy’ and all of the assorted merchandising products out there.

As I read the book, the frequent definitions of ‘big’ words bothered me at first.  There is also a page at the back of the book with the same definitions.  But then I put myself in the place of a child…and I loved the book…and the definitions seemed to fit.

The messages of the story are fantastic…believe in yourself, communicate with your family when you have a problem, confront bullies with words and let them know how they are making you feel.  Children deal with real-life situations like this one every day…this would be a great story to read to your child…or for a teacher to read to a class.

The illustrations also convey the message of the story and help move it forward to a satisfactory conclusion.  The expressions on the girls’ faces are perfect!

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

A Storybook of Friends

Kids love to make their own books.

You will need: 1 piece of colored construction paper for the cover, 2 sheets of copy paper for the inside pages, crayons or markers and a stapler.

  1. Fold the pages in half with the construction paper sheet on the outside as the cover.
  2. Staple them so they will not fall out but can still turn.
  3. Let the child draw on the front cover and write the title of the book. (During my presentation, some of the kids decorated the back cover as well, telling me that the back of books had pictures and words also.)
  4. Encourage the child to draw a picture on each page, showing the child with his or her friends, playing, sharing, helping, listening.

Talk about teamwork and how each person on the team contributes their best.

Plan a playdate or sleepover for a couple of your child’s classmates.  This is especially important if your child is in a new school or community and is feeling out of place.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

Save The Bookstores Day…Indian Two Feet and His Horse Book Review

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review and related resources for parents, teachers and children. 

Did you know that June 16th is Save The Bookstores Day?  Mega-stores like Walmart are putting bookstores out of business and bookstores in small towns and big cities continue to close.  Tara Lazar has a great post about this: http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/support-save-the-bookstores-day-on-june-16th/ and I hope everyone will spread the word about this event.  I’ll be stopping and shopping in at one of our local Indie bookstores here in Colorado Springs, Poor Richards.  What will you be doing?

As a child, I was fascinated with books and I would have been happy to live in a bookstore.  One day that almost happened!  My mom needed to buy a junior high school graduation dress for my older sister.  We went to Abraham and Straus, a big New York City department store and my mother left me in the book department which covered the entire eighth floor.  Floor to ceiling bookshelves lined the rooms and tables filled with books crowded the space so there was little room to walk.  Finding a little kneehole desk amidst the book strewn tables, I took a copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (one of my favorites), crawled into the space under the desk and proceeded to read the entire book from cover to cover. 

Like many of you, when I am reading, I become one with the book and get lost in the story between the pages.  So engrossed was I that I never heard my mom and sister calling for me a couple of hours later.  It wasn’t until I turned the last page and stood up that I saw the store security guards, police and my mom and sister, frantically searching for me.  They had been looking for an hour.  You can read more about that day in a blog post I did last year.  You’ll get a bonus if you go there because I was doing picture book reviews back them and you will find a review of Don’t Worry, I’ll Find You by Anna Grossnickel Hines as well as some great tips for Shopping with Kids.  With summer just around the corner and kids tagging along when parents are shopping, those tips might come in handy!

Today’s classic picture book pick is about as far away in time and place from the above book as you can get…but with a similar theme…listening to our parents and following their instructions.

 

 Indian Two Feet and His Horse

Written by Margaret Friskey

Illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats

Publisher: Children’s Press (1959)

Ages: 3 – 8

Themes:

Books for boys, goal setting, problem solving, responsibility, self-reliance, family, diversity, maturation

Opening:

“There was a little Indian.  He wished he had a horse.  But he did not have a horse.  He had to walk, walk, walk.”

Synopsis:  

Little Two Feet wishes he had a horse.  He can sing and dance and draw and swing across the river from a tree.  But he can’t ride a horse because he doesn’t own one.  His father suggests he go and look for one and little Two Feet decides to look in places he would go if he were a horse.  In the end, a horse finds the boy and they develop a friendship based on mutual trust and caring.

Why do I like this book

The story text and message is simple enough for very young children to understand and enjoy, while older kids will identify with the boy who could master many tasks and skills, but dreamed of riding a horse of his own.

Ezra Jack Keats (Peter’s Chair, The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willy, etc.) is one of my favorites author/illustrators.  This book is one of his lesser known illustrating gems.

Related Activities:

Indian Headband Craft (from Cool Kids Crafts)

You will need: Construction paper, crayons or markers, scissors, glue or tape…real feathers, beads and string are optional.


How to Make an Indian Headband Craft

Step 1 Cut a strip of brown paper about 2 to 3 inches wide. Make it long enough so that when you bring both ends together it will sit on the child’s head comfortably.We used some craft scissors with a wavy design to cut ours just to give it a bit more flare.Tip: If you need it to be longer, just cut two strips and tape it together.

 

Step 2 Using your crayons or markers, decorate the outside of the strip (the side you will see once you tape both ends together).

 

Step 3 Bring both ends together to form the headband and tape or glue together.

 

Step 4 Cut out several feathers using colored construction paper. Cut small slits on both sides of your feathers leaving about 1/2″ in the middle uncut.

 

Step 5 Glue the feathers to the back of the headband.

 

Step 6 Optional:Cut out one more feather. Then glue some real feathers to the bottom of the feather (so that when you hang the feather upside down, the bottom becomes the top and the top becomes the bottom – see picture). Add a string of beads and glue this onto the feather.

 

Step 7 Glue this feather to the side of the headband and hang it upside down so that it will hang down when you wear the headband.


This Native American Indian headband craft is a fun kids Thanksgiving activity and has been a traditional craft for many during the holidays.   However, kids will enjoy making it at any time of the year.  In addition to this indian headband craft be sure to check out these Native American Indian coloring pages.

Talk about different animals people can take care of…which ones would make good pets?  Which ones would be difficult to keep in the city?  What are some of the responsibilities a pet-owner has?  What did little Two Feet do to be a good horse owner?

Official website of Ezra Jack Keats with tons of info and activities.

Lovely site that gives interesting background on Ezra Jack Keats and a number of activities here.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

Help Kids Who Are Anxious About Moving and Keep Learning Alive During the Summer

 Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review and related resources for parents, teachers and children. 

As usual, I have two or three items I need to mention first:

1.      The copies of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking that are being donated to libraries across the country were mailed out earlier this week.  Four went to Florida, three to California, two to Maine and Illinois and one each to New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Virginia.  At least ten of the people who nominated their libraries were sent an additional review copy of Show Me How! .   Many thanks to all of you…I really appreciate your willingness to read through the book and review it!!!I’ll let you know when the reviews will be up on their blogs.

2.      The teacher-training program I did last Friday for the staff of our local Boys and Girls Club at their annual Youth Development Conference (Building Self-Esteem…One Picture Book at a Time), went really well.  One of the staffers shared his experience of falling away from reading at about age eight or nine and not returning to it for pleasure until his twenties.  He asked what advice I would give to teachers and parents who are trying to address this issue with kids, especially boys.  I suggested a couple of things:

  • Be seen reading by your kids
  • Encourage and help kids to find books that address their interests or passions
  • Try the “Passport Project”.  This is a great summer activity.  Make a “passport” from construction paper and talk about local “hotspots” you can all visit.  Each page of the passport book will be devoted to one of those places…zoo, museum, art gallery, national park, landmark or forest, factory (take a tour), etc.  After the visit, kids can write a short story and draw an illustration (or paste in a photo).  Parent or teacher can stamp each page (like a visa stamp) and when the book is completed, a special treat or prize is awarded (bowling, dinner at a fancy restaurant, new clothes).

If you have some good suggestions, please do share.  The summer is almost upon us and I know it is difficult to keep kids in a learning mode…but it is important to continue some of the educational activities and routines…otherwise they take two steps back during the summer.

And now to our Perfect Picture Book Friday selection!

Friendships are very important to kids.  Studies done recently indicate that kindergarten children (especially boys) benefit from close positive relationships with other children their own age.   Parents can help by arranging supervised playdates and by attending library story-times and other community programs where young children have the opportunity to socially interact.

Moving disrupts those important friendships and most children are not enthusiastic about moving to a new neighborhood and attending a new school.  However, moving is a necessary part of many children’s lives. 

Here is a book that might help.

 

 Alexander, Who’s Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move

Written by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz

Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (1998)

Ages: 4 – 8

Themes:

Books for boys, common childhood experiences (moving), expressing emotions (anger, fear, anxiety), moving, pets.

Opening:

“They can’t make me pack my baseball mitt or my I LOVE DINOSAURS sweatshirt or my cowboy boots.  They can’t make me pack my ice skates, my jeans with eight zippers, my compass, my radio or my stuffed pig.  My dad is packing.  My mom is packing.  My brothers, Nick and Andrew, are packing.  I’m not packing. I’m not going to move!

Synopsis:  

From Amazon:

Alexander is not going to leave his best friend Paul. Or Rachel, the best babysitter in the world. Or the Baldwins, who have a terrific dog named Swoozie. Or Mr. and Mrs. Oberdorfer, who always give great treats on Halloween. Who cares if his father has a new job a thousand miles away? Alexander is not — Do you hear him? He Means it! — going to move.

Why do I like this book

We are all creatures of habit…and most of us don’t like changes or the unknown.  Alexander is no different and he expresses what many children will relate to.  I love that Alexander feels confident enough to let his family know what is bothering him.  I love that Alexander’s vivid imagination finds so many inventive alternatives to his moving.  I love that Alexander’s father comes up with a wonderful solution…buy a puppy who will accompany Alexander and his family on the move so that Alexander will have a ready-made friend to start his life in a new place.

Related Activities:

Any child will enjoy making this neighborhood map, but it can be especially helpful for kids who have just moved.  Making this map will enable your child to feel more comfortable in this new and strange place…invite one or two of his or her new classmates to help (with special snacks after a job well-done) and you will be helping your child to develop new friendships.

NEIGHBORHOOD PLAY MAT MAP (Courtesy www.Crayola.com)

 

Children’s pretend play often reflects the real world. While they make a map of your neighborhood or their route to school, encourage language, math, and memory skills by asking thinking questions.

1. Use at least one piece of posterboard. If you use two or more, lay the pieces side-by-side, making sure the sides touch each other. Tape the pieces together with short strips of wide masking tape. Then cover the seam with a long strip of tape from top to bottom. You may want to tape the seam on both sides for a more durable map.

2. Cover a large work surface, such as the floor, with newspaper. Put the poster board onto the newspaper.

3. Now think about, plan ahead, and draw your neighborhood. Ask an adult for permission to take walks in the area to help remember details. Use Crayola® Crayons to add bright colors and cover large coloring areas. Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils work well to outline roads and buildings, label signs, and do detail work.

Find more map-making crafts here at eHow

And lots more map-making crafts here at artistshelpingkids.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

Perfect Picture Book Fridays: Julius…The Baby of the World

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources.  Before I do the review, I have a few things I need to share with you.

My little poem, Fears of the Inner Child, took second place in Marylin Warner’s February Poetry Contest.  You can see all of the awesome entries on her blog: Things I Want to Tell My Mother.  

 It’s also the beginning of a new month…so we will be choosing the February winner of the Positive Parental Participation Reading Challenge and sending a picture book out in the next few days.  I know parents are so very busy…but I hope you are reading with your children every day, even if you are not able to post a comment.

 

Since February has come to an end, it’s also time to check-in with the 12 x 12 group…yes…my February picture book draft is completed.

Last, but not least, today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday!!!  For more information, resources and events, you can go to the official Dr. Seuss website

Oh…sorry…one more thing!  Don’t forget that March 7th is World Read Aloud Day…go to the LitWorld website to find out about planned events…or celebrate by reading aloud to kids.  I just got back from reading Spaghetti Eddie to 15 Pre-K children…they LOVED it!  Fifteen hands shot up when I asked “Who likes to eat spaghetti?”   Next week, to join in celebrating World Read Aloud Day, I’ll be reading Julius – The Baby of the World, to 20 Pre-K kids at Keller School. 

You can also visit Ella Johnson’s wonderful website to get more information about the NEA’s Read Across America program and to enter to win several books and hop from there to over 100 other blog sites that are hosting book giveaways.

And now…(drumroll please)…Perfect Picture Book Friday.

My picture book selection today is one of the hundred picture books I recommend in my book for parents and teachers, Show Me HowJulius: The Baby of the World is a veritable “baby” compared to some of the others I have picked…only twenty-two years old…but again, as relevant today as when it was published in 1990.

 

Julius: The Baby of the World

Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes

Publishers: Greenwillow Press

Ages: 3 – 8

Themes:

Sibling rivalry, bullying, celebrating an individual’s unique strengths and talents

Opening:

“Before Julius was born, Lilly was the best big sister in the world.  She gave him things.  She told him secrets.  And she sang lullabies to him every night.”

Synopsis:    

Lilly eagerly awaits the birth of her baby brother, but when Julius finally arrives, Lilly wishes that he would go away.  Her jealousy causes her to resent the attention her mother and father shower on Julius, even though they continue to treat her with love and affection as well.  She sings mean songs to him, tweaks his tail and draws a family portrait leaving Julius out of the picture.  Her parents call Julius, the baby of the world, but Lilly wishes he would go away so that things would go back to the way they were before he was born.  At a family party for the baby, her cousin begins insulting Julius.  What will Lilly do…join her cousin in making fun of Julius…or defend her baby brother? 

Why I like this book

Sibling rivalry is a common occurrence.  Many children resent the arrival of a new baby…and why shouldn’t they?  Now they have to share the time and attention of their parents…and sharing is a difficult skill to learn.  Reading this book to a young child who is in that situation would provide parents with a great opportunity to engage with their child and discuss how their child is feeling about the situation..allowing the child to express his or her feelings.  The author/illustrator, Kevin Henkes, uses his amazing talent for knowing just what little ones are thinking and feeling.  Lilly leans over and whispers to her baby brother, “If you were a number, you would be zero.”  The book is funny and heartwarming.  If I could change anything about the book, I would wish that Lilly was not such a bully as she insists that her cousin praise Julius.  Perhaps this is Lilly’s persona…but I would rather end with her learning a “kinder, gentler” way to encourage others to see things her way.

Related Activities:

When I read picture books to kindergarten and Pre-K classes, I always follow-up the story with a simple arts and crafts project.  Not only does this extend the learning experience, it also gives the kids a chance to talk about the story and how it relates to their own situation.

For this story, I love to make Popsicle stick puppets.  The kids love this activity…and then can do role-playing with the puppets they have made…another opportunity for them to express their feelings.  Parents can encourage  their children to put on a puppet show with the family of puppets they have made and then join in, perhaps taking the role of the child while the child becomes the mother or father. 

Popsicle Stick Puppets

You will need: Several Popsicle sticks, construction paper, markers or crayons, scissors and glue.

1.      Let your child decide how many puppets to make and who they will be.

2.      Draw the people (you can also use people cut out from magazines).

3.      Cut out the people and paste them onto the top half of each Popsicle stick.

4.      Put on a play!

The above image is from the blog of Muffin Tin Mom.

Read/Write/Think has a lesson plan for Julius the Baby of the World.

You can find lots of quick and easy instructions for Popsicle stick puppets at ehow.com here

Education.com also has great puppet-making instructions here.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.