This weeks book recommendation is one of my all time favorite children's books and one that I have previously blogged about. I truly believe that this book should be in every preschool and early school age classroom. Be A Friend by Salina Yoon is a beautiful book about what it means to be a friend...especially to someone who is different than you. While many children can just roll with it, other children can become nervous or anxious by children who are not just like them.
The basic premise of the book is simple: Everyone Needs Someone. In this case, that someone is a little boy named Dennis who doesn't speak but has a wild imagination and shares his thoughts and ideas through his actions. Not many of the kids who are near him can be bothered by his behaviors but one day a little girl named Joy decides to take the brave step to get to know Dennis a bit more. With time, they develop a beautiful friendship that relies on accepting and embracing someone who might be different. In the end, the other children in Joy and Dennis' class saw what fun they had together and ended up joining in on their imaginative play. There are so many wonderful lessons that this book teaches, most importantly that not everyone is the same and being different is okay. Being a good friend means thinking outside of the box sometimes and learning something new from a friend.
This book not only tells a beautiful story about friendship, it has some of the most beautiful illustrations I have seen in a children's book. Kids are drawn into the story because of the stories the pictures tell.
Below, you will find some questions and activities you can do with in conjunction with reading Be A Friend:
~sometimes kids need help identifying what characteristics make a good friend. After you finish reading the book, you can talk about what made Joy a good friend to Dennis and then extend that conversation to have them think about things they have done that make them a good friend or what someone can do for them that shows them they are a good friend.
~this is a great book to read to a classroom/group of kids in the beginning of the school year as everyone is getting to know each other. After reading it to the group, you can come up with a list of things that makes them a good friend. You can try and expand this by not only discussing characteristics that make them good friends but talk about things they can do that shows someone who might be different that they are a good friend.
~for older children you can have a conversation about what kinds of things they have in common with their friends and also have them identify what makes them different than their friends. Being able to recognize that it is normal to not always have the same interests as your friends....being different is normal and what makes us each unique.
~have the kids pretend to be mimes and have them act different things out. You can start with having them mime different feelings and emotions and eventually move onto having them act out activities they like. This could be a great way for kids to get to know each other better and discover what kinds of things they have in common with their friends.
When I find a book like Be A Friend, I feel like I have to share it with everyone. I work with so many kids who feel different from their peers and I think it is important for them to know they are not alone. I once heard that it's more important to have one good friend than to have lots of acquaintances and this book shows just that.
Be sure to check back next week to see what book I will be sharing with you all. If you have any book suggestions, I would love to hear them! I am only a click away and love hearing from you all.