Posts Tagged ‘social responsibility’

I wanted to love this book – The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Posted on July 18th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian RobinsonThe Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Antibullying Picture Book published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons: An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA)

You’ve really got to love a recording artist who has a very popular kids’ CD titled, Meltdown! and another called Not Naptime. The album titles alone are enough to bring a smile to a weary parent’s face. So, I wanted to think that The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade was terrific.

And, I do think it is a good book but, there are ways it could have been better.

Sally McCabe is both young and small. She is in the lowest grade at her school and she is the smallest child in the class. Kudos to the illustrator for depicting a racially diverse group of children in the classroom and at the playground. It would have been excellent to see similar diversity in terms of mobility (perhaps one child in a wheelchair or using crutches, for example).Illustration from The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Sally is unusually observant. She notices a kite that is tangled in a tree and she notices that the janitor’s ring has twenty-seven keys. Unfortunately, this is where my evaluation of the book begins to drop: one illustration of the janitor’s ring only shows seven keys and another shows five keys. I completely understand that twenty seven may have been essential to the rhyme BUT the illustrations should be true to the story. If the ring has twenty seven keys – the illustration of the ring should show us each one of them! Young children will pick up on this sort of disparity. They will want to know where the other twenty or twenty two keys are and the omission will detract from the important antibullying message the author is attempting to share.

When a bully pushes Sally’s classmate, the story tells us that he begins to cry but in the illustration, he is dry-eyed. These seemingly minor disparities really do make a difference and discerning young readers will notice them.

Adults may understand the (metaphorical) significance of wildflowers tipping toward light and cats meeting together in a parking lot but I doubt that, without guidance, young children will see any connection between the cats or the flowers and Sally’s story.

Essentially, Sally, observes bullying on the playground, in the hallway at school, in the classroom and in the school cafeteria. Eventually, she speaks up. She announces, “I’m tired of seeing this terrible stuff. Stop hurting each other! This is enough!”

This prompts all of Sally’s classmates and school staff members to point their fingers in the air in solidarity. Soon the school is a much more harmonious place. A somewhat “magical solution” to bullying? Yes, but, this is story that could be used to initiate discussions about bullying and social responsibility.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade at Amazon.com

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade at Amazon.ca


St. Patrick’s Day Picture Books

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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For each petal on the shamrock this brings a wish your way -
Good health, good luck, and happiness for today and every day.

~Author Unknown

Link to our free St. Patrick’s Day Free Printables for Children ~

Explore all St. Patrick's Day Theme Printables and Picture Books



A Fine St. Patrick’s Day written by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by Tom Curry
St. Patrick’s Day fable published by Dragonfly Books,Random House Kids



Each St. Patrick’s Day, rival towns, Trala and Tralee compete, and year after year Tralah wins the competition and is declared “Best Decorated.” When one young resident of Tralee proposes a way to win the upcoming event, her suggestion is embraced by the residents of the town. Everyone gets involved in the project until a small man arrives in the town and asks for help.

He crossed the field into Tralee. At the first house he came upon, he asked, “Beggin your pardon, can you help me? I was leading my cows across the river and, sure and begorra, they are stuck in the mud.”

Folk art style illustrations beautifully enhance a terrific story that explores themes of social responsibility, community and kindness. A Fine St. Patrick’s Day is highly recommended for children aged four years and up.

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.com

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.ca

Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Paul Meisel
Rhyming lift-the-flap book published by Penguin Putnam



Best for very young children, Hooray for St Patrick’s Day shows a racially diverse group of children trying on costumes, playing with puppets, doing crafts, dancing, parading and snacking as they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together. Just fifteen pages plus a glossary, it is a suitable introduction for children aged two years and up.

Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day! at Amazon.com

Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day! at Amazon.ca

Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day written by Peter and Connie Roop, illustrated by Gwen Connelly
Non fiction picture book about St. Patrick’s Day published by Millbrook Press



Part of a series of “Let’s Celebrate” books, Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day answers questions children in the primary grades might ask. Who was Saint Patrick? Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America? Why is everything green on St. Patrick’s Day? Young readers will have fun with the Irish-theme riddles featured on the end papers.

Lets Celebrate St Patrick’s Day at Amazon.com

Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.ca

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.

~Irish Blessing

St. Patrick’s Day written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons
Non fiction picture book about St. Patrick’s Day published by Holiday House



As one might expect from Gail Gibbons, St. Patrick’s Day is thorough look at traditions associated with Saint Patrick and ways people celebrate March 17th. Clear, bold illustrations are well suited to a read aloud setting and compliment the text nicely. The treatment of Saint Patrick and his life is more complete than in other comparable non fiction titles and legends association with him are briefly touched on.

Suitable for children aged four years and up.

St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.com

St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.ca

St. Patrick’s Day written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell



Part of a series of “Mrs. Madoff” books, St. Patrick’s Day follows a young boy as he goes to school on St. Patrick’s Day. He and his racially diverse classmates are working on reports and they present their discoveries dramatically, musically, pictorially and in written form. Once the school day ends, Delicious soda bread awaits at home where the family’s Irish heritage is celebrated. Suggested for children aged five years and up.

St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.com

St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.ca

St Patrick’s Day in the Morning written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Jan Brett
St. Patrick’s Day picture book published by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin



When Jamie is told that he is too young to walk in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, he takes matters into his own hands. He starts out before the rest of his family awakens. He dresses in his mother’s raincoat and his father’s hat. He takes his brother’s flute and the family sheepdog and, with great determination, heads to Acorn Hill.

They marched down the street. None of the chimneys was smoking yet. Milk bottles stood on front steps, waiting to be let in.

Encounters with neighbors are just one highlight of this gentle story of independence and growing up. Highly recommended for children aged four years and older.

St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning at Amazon.com

St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning at Amazon.ca

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, May good luck pursue you each morning and night.
~Irish Blessing

That’s What Leprechauns Do written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Picture book published by Sandpiper Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt



Boys and Girls will delight in this look at St. Patrick’s Day from the perspective of a trio of playful leprechauns. Boo, Col and Ari have important work to do but it is fun to make mischief and they can’t resist temptation.

Och, sure, but I couldn’t help myself. Mischief’s what leprechauns do,” Ari said. “Along with our more important duties.” He glanced up at the tatters of clouds in the sky. “And we better not delay, for we’ve delayed enough already.”

As rain clouds gather above gorgeous green fields, the leprechauns rush to place a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Great fun, That’s What Leprechauns Do includes some repetitive text and will appeal to children aged four years and up

That’s What Leprechauns Do at Amazon.com

That’s What Leprechauns Do at Amazon.ca


Very glad to be part of this week’s Kid Lit Blog Hop ~

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Looking after Louis, An Autism Picture Book Highlighting Inclusion

Posted on December 3rd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Cover Art for Looking After LouisLooking After Louis written by Lesley Ely and illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Autism picture book highlighting inclusion published by Albert Whitman & Company

You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

When a new boy arrives at school, he is partnered with a girl who notices that he is not like the other children in the class. He often just sits and stares at the wall. If I ask him what he’s looking at, he says, “Looking at,” and keeps on looking.

Louis tries using his new friend’s crayons but she can’t decide what he is drawing and he can’t say. When they go outside for recess, Louis runs around with outstretched arms. He runs through the boys’ soccer game and annoys the players. When invited to join the children who are climbing on a tire, Louis does not move. He just stands and watches.

In the classroom, Louis sometimes echoes his Miss Owlie’s instructions. His classmates laugh when he sounds like her. His partner notes that he is granted more leeway to speak out than others would be given.

When one of the children arrives at school with a new soccer ball, Louis shows interest. His classmates join in the game and, each time Louis touches the ball, he is encouraged. Later in the day, Louis and the boy with the soccer ball are allowed to escape the classroom and enjoy an impromptu game.

When Louis’ partner talks with Miss Owlie about Louis, she asserts,

“I think we’re allowed to break rules for special people.”
Miss Owlie put her finger to her lips and nodded a tiny little nod that nobody saw but me.
We peeped through the classroom window at Sam and Louis’s Great Game… and I felt special, too.

An afterword, written by Kori Levos Skidmore, Ph.D. provides information about the advantages of inclusion for all children.

Readers will be interested to consider Inclusion vs Seclusion: A Review of Looking After Louis published in Disability Studies Quarterly. While Ms. Hirad’s comments are interesting, I am not sure that I agree with them. When Louis repeats his teacher’s instructions to, “Sit up straight, everybody.” The children laugh because he sounded just like Miss Owlie. The text does not imply that the children are laughing at Louis, they are laughing because he sounded like his teacher. In a happy, relaxed and tolerant classroom, this would seem to be a natural reaction. When Louis runs through the boys’ soccer game, one of the boys yells at him. Again, while not an ideal reaction, this is likely a typical response to the interruption of a recess soccer game. Finally, Ms. Hirad seems concerned that the classroom teacher has not labelled Louis as autistic. Surely, we do not require labels or even explanations in order to show understanding and tolerance.

Looking After Louis is written from the perspective of a classmate.

Looking after Louis at Amazon.com

Looking After Louis at Amazon.ca


Anti Bullying Chapter Book – Song Lee and the “I Hate You Notes”

Posted on November 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Song Lee and the “I Hate You” Notes written by Suzy Kline and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
Anti bullying chapter book (reprint) published by Puffin

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Suzy Kline has written many books for young readers. She writes about school life, family life and social situations in chapter book series that feature Horrible Harry, Song Lee and
Herbie Jones.

In Song Lee and the “I Hate You” Notes, Mary has been staying up late. She is tired when she arrives at school and she is grumpy for most of the day.

Everyone laughed but Mary. She was too busy biting and chewing on her braid. Her rotten mood was as mean and angry as the dark clouds gathering outside our classroom window.

I could tell something bad was going to happen.

I hoped it was just a storm.

Doug’s intuition is correct. Not only is a storm brewing outside, there is one developing inside Miss Mackle’s classroom. Mary is upset with Song Lee and leaves two notes on her desk. Harry and Doug see Song Lee open the notes. They quietly retrieve the notes from a garbage can and read them. They are reluctant to “tattle” but they can see that Song Lee is upset. Harry speaks quietly to Miss Mackle and she is grateful for the information he provides. She has the perfect solution: she reaches for a picture book. Lovable Lyle by Bernard Waber has just the right message for Mary and her classmates.

Best suited to children in grades two and three, Song Lee and the “I Hate You” Notes realistically depicts both the bully and her victim and encourages bystanders to get involved and enlist the assistance of an adult.

Song Lee and the I Hate You Notes at Amazon.com

Song Lee and the I Hate You Notes at Amazon.ca

Lovable Lyle at Amazon.com

Lovable Lyle at Amazon.ca


The Lion and the Mouse, An Award Winning Almost Wordless Picturebook

Posted on July 9th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at an award-winning almost wordless picturebook, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Storytime Standouts looks at award winning almost wordless picturebook, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
The Lion and the Mouse created by Jerry Pinkney
Almost wordless picturebook published by Little, Brown Kids



Be sure to check out our page devoted to wordless picture books. As well, you will be interested in our page about anti-bullying picture books for children.

The story of the lion and the mouse is an Aesop’s fable that every child ought to know well. The lion, powerful and dangerous resists an opportunity for bullying and, instead, is kind to a small mouse. Later, when the lion is trapped in a hunter’s net, the grateful mouse has an opportunity to return the favour. He chews the rope net and eventually manages to free the lion.

Jerry Pinkney has created a masterful, almost wordless picturebook version of The Lion and the Mouse. From cover to cover, beautiful illustrations depict the African Savanna and the animals found there while telling the story of a compassionate lion and his small friend. Winner of the 2010 Randolph Caldecott Medal and also a New York Times 2010 Best Illustrated Book and a 2010 Horn Book Awards Honor Book, The Lion and the Mouse relies upon the illustrations to tell the story. Pinkney only uses words to describe animal sounds.

Highly recommended for both classroom and home libraries, The Lion and the Mouse could be used to explore many themes including anti-bullying, friendship and stereotying.

Educator’s Guide in PDF format

The Lion & the Mouse at Amazon.com

The Lion & the Mouse at Amazon.ca


I’m Here by Peter H. Reynolds

Posted on April 2nd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at I'm Here by Peter H. Reynolds, a picture book that encourages children to embrace those with autism spectrum.I’m Here written by Peter H. Reynolds





You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Written with a goal of encouraging children and adults to reach out, embrace, and appreciate children in the autism spectrum as well as anyone who is different from ourselves, I’m Here suggests that young readers rethink their ideas about a child who prefers solitude or who is not skillful at social interactions.

At recess, a young boy sits, by himself. The loud, playground voices are too much for him, I hear it all like one big noise. A big drum. Boom. Boom. Boom Boom.

Sitting away from the crowd he feels the touch of the wind, notices a floating leaf. When a piece of paper lands near him, he knows, This is not where the paper wants to be.” He folds the paper into an airplane and launches it heavenward. Soon, the young boy is flying in the plane, exhuberant at the adventure.

A thoughtful, metaphorical picture book, I’m Here explores themes of friendship and acceptance and encourages children to look for opportunities to smile and be a friend.

I’m Here at Amazon.com

I’m Here at Amazon.ca

April 2, 2012 is World Autism Awareness Day

Seal Song by Andrea Spalding and Pascal Milelli ‘Enchants’

Posted on March 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Seal Song, a picture book by Andrea Spalding and Pascal MilelliSeal Song written by Andrea Spalding and illustrated by Pascal Milelli
Picture book published by Orca Book Publishers



You will also be interested in our page highlighting picture books about caring for our environment, recycling, reducing our environmental footprint and more. Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.


In folklore, selkies are mythological creatures that can change shape. Selkies live in the ocean as seals and on land as humans.

Each morning Finn helps his father fish but he is secretly anxious for the opportunity to slip away from the wharf and the cannery. He wants to swim with the seals.
“Sing to me.” said Finn. “Sing the seal song that brings good fortune.”
The seal blew a fish breath and disappeared below the waves.
But, despite Finn’s pleas, he does not hear the seals sing.

One afternoon, while enjoying his usual swim with seals, Finn notices a commotion in the waves, his favourite seal has been caught in an old fishing net. Finn dives into the ocean, rescues the seal, feeds it and nurses it back to health. He has made a new friend. Finally his wish is granted; he hears the seals sing.

Father is not happy with Finn and does not believe that a seal song will bring good fortune. He is suspicious when a mysterious child appears near the wharf. The other fishermen warn, “That child will never let salt water touch her skin. If it does, she must return to the sea.”

Sheila becomes a good friend to Finn but she does not swim in the ocean with him nor does she allow salt water to touch her skin. Meanwhile, the salmon fishing is good, Finn and his father are especially lucky and the old fishermen attribute their good fortune to Finn’s new friend.

Richly illustrated with beautiful, evocative oil paintings, Seal Song is a thought provoking look at what it means to be a friend.

For older children, Seal Song could lead to an exploration of folklore, shapeshifting, friendship, sacrifice, social responsibility and/or salmon fishing.

Seal Song at Amazon.com

Seal Song at Amazon.ca

Updated June 19, 2012 — Seal Song has been nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award


The Juice Box Bully – Anti Bullying Picture Book

Posted on February 28th, 2012 by Jody

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The Juice Box Bully; Empowering Kids to Stand up for Others written by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy and illustrated by Kim Shaw
Published by Ferne Press | Nelson Publishing and Marketing LLC



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Teaching a grade four/five class means that you have to find a balance between capturing their attention but not “babying” them. They are intermediates and want to be treated as such. I don’t think there’s an age limit on picture books; if there is, I’ve personally surpassed it and I’m okay with that. Some of the best messages children will ever get come from picture books and kids truly enjoy them. I read a book tonight that I think strikes the balance between giving an appropriate kid friendly message while appealing to the intermediate audience. The Juice Box Bully; Empowering Kids to Stand up for Others talks about being a bystander, or rather, not being a bystander. The kids in Mr. Peltzer’s class have all made a promise to their teacher, and each other, that they will not bully and they will not allow others to be bullied.

This month especially, with Pink Shirt Day (Bullying Awareness Day) being tomorrow, we focus on what bullying is, how to prevent it, and how to stand up against it. Being a bystander means that you are not involved in the bullying but you witness it. Research has shown that all three groups, the bully, the victim, and the bystander/witness have long term emotional repercusions from the bullying experience. It is not easy for kids to witness bullying, particularly if it is a friend being bullied.

The charming part of The Juice Box Bully is that the entire class agrees to stand by each other. The new student, Pete, has been bullied before and figures that if he intimidates others first, he’ll be safer. The students continuously invite Pete to be a part of their classroom family, even when his behavior does not warrant the invitation. A “juice box incident” leads one student, Ruby, to forget her class promise and she insists that she will make life at his new school hard for Pete, now that he’s upset her. Her classmates tell Ruby that they will not let her fall into that trap; they will not let her bully Pete through isolation or rumors. Likewise, they insist that they will not allow Pete to continue to harass their friend. Pete is humbled by the fact that the other students stood up for him, even though he had been cruel.

The Juice Box Bully shares a powerful message of what it can be like if kids stood together to reach a goal or make a difference. It’s a great connection to the story of two boys who really did band together and make a difference. David Shepherd and Travis Price took action against bullies when they organized a protest with students wearing pink shirts to stand up for another student who had been bullied because he wore pink. They chose not to be bystanders, but upstanders.

Social media and the internet have added a new facet to bullying, but the message from The Juice Box Bully still applies; make a promise, work together, and do your part to stop bullying. To find out more about Pink Shirt Day, visit www.pinkshirtday.ca.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to0 Stand Up For Others at Amazon.com

The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others at Amazon.ca


The publisher offers a free printable The Juice Box Bully Resource Kit

Anti Bullying Picture Book – The Bully Blockers Club

Posted on February 27th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at The Bully Blockers Club. an anti bullying picture book by Teresa BatemanThe Bully Blockers Club written by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic
Published by Albert Whitman & Company



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Lotty Raccoon is excited to begin a new school year. She leaves her house with new shoes, new backpack and a positive outlook. Moments after she sits at her new desk, Grant Grizzly begins his taunting, “I’m Grant Grizzly and I say there’s a smell, and it’s coming from around you.”

Lotty does not react immediately. She talks with her siblings after school. Lotty’s younger brother suggests a karate chop could be the answer and her older sister suggests ignoring him. Lotty is not interested in the “karate chop” solution but she thinks ignoring Grant Grizzly might work.

The following day, Lotty ignores Grant Grizzly but unfortunately, the abuse continues. After further discussion at home, Lotty’s sister suggests that Lotty try to be Grant’s friend while her brother suggests joking about it. She tries both approaches without success. The next step is to get Lotty’s mom and dad involved. They contact Lotty’s teacher and she promises to be watchful but, whenever her back is turned, Grant continues his bullying.

Finally, after noticing that Grant only bullies when adults are not watching, Lotty arrives at a creative and very empowering solution to her problem. She enlists the help of her friends whenever Grant picks on someone.

That afternoon, when Grant grabbed Lotty’s crayons, Barney said, “Hey, what are you doing?”

“Yeah,” said Laurie. “Those aren’t yours.”

By now everyone, including Mrs. Kallberg was watching.”

Grant turned red, and handed the crayons back.

The Bully Blockers Club’s bold illustrations are well-suited to sharing in a group setting. The facial expressions effectively depict the emotions of the bully, the bullied and the bystanders.

After Notes include suggestions for parents and teachers including a description of the “TELL IT system.” This anti bullying system suggests children should

  • Think before they react
  • Express themselves by stating how they feel
  • Leave the situation
  • Laugh
  • Ignore
  • Tell an adult

The After Notes also suggest that Lotty’s decision to create a supportive group can be an effective way to curtail bullying.

The Bully Blockers Club is best suited to children aged five and up.

The Bully Blockers Club at Amazon.com

The Bully Blockers Club at Amazon.ca


Walrus’s Gift – Anti Bullying Picture Book

Posted on February 23rd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book with an important anti bullying message…

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying picture book, Walrus's Gift by H.E. StewartWalrus’s Gift written and illustrated by H.E. Stewart
Antibullying picture book published by Tudor House



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

When a young walrus notices a sad child sitting and looking out at the ocean, the walrus wonders why the boy is unhappy. He turns, first to his mother and then to his grandfather, for help. His grandfather gives the little walrus an important and unusual present… The gift allows the curious walrus to discover why the human boy is alone and unhappy.

The young walrus discovers that the boy is not like his peers; his hair is different and he is not interested in their games. The boy is being teased and bullied by the children around him. Armed with information about the problem facing the boy, Grandfather Walrus calls many sea creatures together, seeking their assistance and suggestions. Before long, a plan is made and the young walrus steps forward to help the boy. Over time, the young walrus suggests four possible ways the young boy could deal with bullying.

The Walrus’s Gift anti bullying suggestions match those recommended by the WITS program: Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out, Seek Help.

It is important to note that the young walrus’s actions to help the boy are not only successful, they are celebrated by the sea creatures. This exploration of what it means to notice a problem with another person, be concerned and to take action should encourage young readers to consider how, in a similar situation, they might help child in difficulty.

Gentle, soothing illustrations match the thoughtful, caring tone of Walrus’s Gift.

Best suited to children aged five and up, additional content outlines ways Walrus’s Gift is a story that echos the animal characters and wisdom typical of native legends.

Walrus’s Gift at Amazon.com

Walrus’s Gift at Amazon.ca

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi offers Countless Treats

Posted on November 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Zero by Kathryn Otoshi, a counting book that explores self worth.Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
A counting picture book that examines themes of self esteem and self worth published by KO Kids Books



Kathryn Otoshi’s picture book, One, was a delight from cover to cover and won many awards. Her latest picture book is titled, Zero and it will certainly be a strong contender as well.

When Zero looks at herself in a mirror, she sees ‘nothing’ and ‘emptiness.’ She compares herself to other, larger numbers and finds herself lacking. She longs to have value. Self-conscious about her roundness, Zero lacks social skills. When she tries to participate, she is clumsy. Unfortunately, she flattens the other numbers in her exhuberant attempt to join in their fun.

Vibrant, colourful and bold illustrations support a thought-provoking story that can be enjoyed on many different levels. Whether read simply as a counting book or used as to elicit discussions about individuality and self worth, Zero by Kathryn Otoshi belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Zero at Amazon.com

Zero at Amazon.ca

You will also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.


Timmerman Was Here, 2010 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award Winner

Posted on November 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Timmerman Was Here written by Colleen Sydor and illustrated by Nicolas Debon
Picture book highlighting social responsibility published by Tundra Books



Tuesday evening, November 9th, 2010, the winner of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award was announced at The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s gala. Jury members’ comments about Timmerman Was Here were as follows, “This is a sublimely humanistic and memorable story about the way we discover the difference between truth and appearances… Dramatic pictures equally involve the reader, while the artistic use of dark and light further affect our emotional response… This intriguing tale with a twist delves exceptionally well into values and perceptions, the rational and the irrational, achieving a conclusion that is profoundly self-affirming for the child… This emotionally rich and suspenseful story is capped by an uplifting ending that will stir hearts from 8 to 80… A perfect pairing of text and illustration.”

Timmerman Was Here is written from the perspective of a young girl. We share her nervousness as a stranger arrives at her home. The stranger moves into a bedroom, recently vacated by the girl’s grandfather who has gone to live in a residence for seniors. The young girl is not happy about the stranger’s arrival but as she watches and interacts with him, she discovers a gentle heart. When the stranger is discovered walking the neighbourhood at night (with a spade and a burlap sack), gossip abounds. The neighbours speculate that he could be a bank robber or responsible for the death of a cat.

Timmerman Was Here is a lovely, thought-provoking picture book that encourages the reader to rethink assumptions and stereotypes. Highly recommended.

Suggested for children 4 – 8

Timmerman Was Here at Amazon.com

Timmerman Was Here at Amazon.ca


When Randolph Turned Rotten – helping kids deal with emotions

Posted on October 22nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts writes about When Randolph Turned Rotten - helping kids deal with emotions
When Randolph Turned Rotten written and illustrated by Charise Mericle Harper
Picture book about dealing with emotions published by Alfred A Knopf



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Ivy, who is a goose, and Randolph, who is a beaver, find their friendship put to the test when Ivy is invited to an all-girl sleepover and Randolph is not. He feels left out. Ivy’s excitement about the upcoming party is too much for Randolph. Suddenly he feels sad and jealous and he decides to make Ivy feel just as horrible as he does.

Amusing illustrations and a charming storyline will help young children understand that not-so-nice feelings are a part of life and good friendships will endure.

Especially great for sharing one-on-one or with a small group, the format (which includes thought clouds and conversations) may be somewhat awkward in a large group setting.

Suggested prereading and postreading activities and questions from WITS

When Randolph Turned Rotten at Amazon.com

When Randolph Turned Rotten at Amazon.ca


Have you filled a bucket today?

Posted on October 9th, 2011 by Jody

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Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud is a story that offers children a creative way to recognize the impact we all have on each other. Based on Dr. Donald Clifton’s “How Full is Your Bucket?”, McCloud’s book allows younger audiences a bright and colorful way to understand a unique metaphor. The book explains that each of us has an invisible bucket. When the bucket is full, we feel happy and good about ourselves. When our bucket is empty, we feel sad. People can be “bucket dippers” or “bucket fillers”. What I liked about this part is that she explains that when you fill someone’s bucket, by being kind or thoughtful, you also add to your own bucket. Likewise, if you dip in someone’s bucket, by being unkind or hurtful, you are dipping in your own bucket as well. I think that’s a powerful way to explain to children that being mean or unfair to others does not make you feel good about yourself but being kind to others does. The language is simple and straightforward, making it understandable for even preschool children. Though I think the illustrations are more suitable for younger students, the theme is one that is especially powerful for students of all ages.

Children need to be taught behavior and social expectations along with everything else. Sometimes we take it for granted that they might already know that their actions affect others. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a few incidents where some students have spoken quite harshly to other students. When I’ve asked, “why are you speaking to them like that?” the response has been “I don’t know”. Their first response is to react to others with whatever emotion they are feeling at that moment. Offering the suggestion, “try telling them like this…” allows students the opportunity to learn how they can express themselves without hurting someone else. And while this direct instruction is still going to be necessary, establishing a classroom language based on a book such as McCloud’s, is a simple way to weave the concept of more positive interactions into your classroom community.


How we treat others is how we are treated in return. We need this lesson to resonate with our children and with our students. We need them to understand that regardless of how well you do on a test or how high your reading level is, without the ability to interact positively with others, you are at a disadvantage. To be honest, it’s not a bad lesson to impart to adults either. It’s just as easy to offer a kind word as a negative one. The difference is, the domino effect of kindness makes us feel better about ourselves and the world around us.

McCloud also has the books Fill a Bucket and Growing up with a Bucket Full of Happiness.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? at Amazon.com

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? at Amazon.ca


Mousse and Nut usually love to spend time together, a picture book about friendship

Posted on September 17th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Encouraging children to learn about getting along, a story about friendship

Mousse and Nut usually love to spend time together, a picture book about friendshipJane Simmons is a favourite author/illustrator for many youngsters. You may be familiar with ‘Daisy’ a charming young duck that appears in many of her books.

Together by Jane Simmons
Picture book about friendship published by Knopf Books for Young Readers






Together is the story of two very good friends; Mousse and Nut. Usually they love to spend time together but one day they can’t agree on anything. As dark clouds gather, they decide they are no longer best friends. In this story about friendship,it takes some time apart to remind each that differences are okay and friendship can endure even when pals are apart.

Together at Amazon.com

Together at Amazon.ca

Special Picture Books to Watch For

Posted on August 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Today we’ll look at three special picture books to enjoy with young children


image of cover art for A Sack Full of FeathersA Sack Full of Feathers
Written by Debby Waldman and illustrated by Cindy Revell
Picture book that explores social responsibility published by Orca Book Publishers

Young Yankel is a storyteller. He overhears bits of news at his father’s store and excitedly shares the gossip throughout the village.

One day a wise rabbi gives Yankel a job; he is to put one feather on each doorstep in the village. Puzzled, Yankel willingly distributes the feathers even as gusts of wind send some flying.

When the rabbi subsequently asks Yankel to collect all the feathers and return them to the sack, Yankel comes to understand the danger of gossip.

A delightful folktale is retold in A Sack Full of Feathers with engaging illustrations and warmth.

A Sack Full of Feathers at Amazon.com

Sack Full of Feathers at Amazon.ca

Heave Ho!
Written by Heinz Janisch and illustrated by Carola Holland
Imagine, a refreshing and surprising story told in just twelve sentences! Engaging illustrations introduce a cat, a dog and a trio of mice. Together, they take on a tricky job and discover they are ‘up’ to the challenge. Good fun.

Heave Ho! at Amazon.com

Heave Ho! at Amazon.ca

Dooby Dooby Moo
Written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin

I hope you have discovered the not-to-be missed Caldecott Honor book, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type. In Dooby Dooby Moo we once again encounter Farmer Brown and his irrepressible animals. With good cause, Farmer Brown is suspicious that something is going on behind the barn door. In fact, Duck is determined to win a trampoline in the upcoming Talent Show. He is busy organizing rehearsals of “Home on the Range” and “Born to be Wild.” This book’s a sure ‘winner.’

Dooby Dooby Moo at Amazon.com

Dooby Dooby Moo at Amazon.ca


Quotes About Social Responsibility

Posted on June 15th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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I’ve started to pull together some quotes about Social Responsibility and have created a new page for them. I’ve also included cover art from some of the titles I include in my Supporting Social Responsibility with Read Alouds workshop. Please take a look I would love to hear your suggestions for quotes. Please let me know your ideas.

Supporting Social Responsibility with Great Read Alouds

Posted on June 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Last evening I had fun at a workshop for Richmond Child Care Resource and Referral. It was great to meet so many enthusiastic and committed educators.

Supporting Social Responsibility with Great Read-Alouds is my newest workshop and a great opportunity to rediscover some terrific picture books. Over the last month, I’ve enjoyed identifying some special titles that encourage children to be active, contributing members of our society and help them learn to take responsibility for themselves, for others and for the environment.

Last evening, I shared a variety of wonderful picture books that support and encourage social responsibility. As well, we talked about ways to enhance the read-aloud experience with songs, games and activities. Workshop attendees received an extensive book list featuring cover art, title, author/illustrator, ISBN codes and tags.

image of PDF icon  Sample Booklist for Supporting Social Responsibility

Thanks so much Richmond Child Care Resource and Referral!

You may be interested in our page of quotes about social responsibility.

What are your favourites titles that encourage children to contribute to their community, solve problems peacefully and respect and value diversity?

Simon With Two Left Feet – Delivers an Important Anti Bullying Message

Posted on May 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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image of cover art for anti bullying picture book, Simon with Two Left FeetSimon with Two Left Feet - written by Angela K. Narth and illustrated by Heidi Vincent
Anti bullying picture book published by GWEV Publishing

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Young Simon is the brunt of relentless teasing. He wants desperately to be accepted as part of his flock but he is clumsy. His awkwardness is humiliating and he worries that he won’t be able to pull his weight when the flock flies south in formation. When training begins, Simon arrives early and faces further teasing by some young geese. He retreats from the group, convinced that he has two left feet.

Simon watches the other young geese learn how to fly information and then sets off by himself. By the time he returns home, the entire flock has departed for the south. Simon is devastated, the squirrels and red-winged blackbirds are preparing for winter and the weather becomes increasingly cold. He is in a very dangerous situation especially if his pond freezes.

It is a happy reunion when one of the elder members of the flock returns to look for Simon. Old Blue is already tired from leading the flock partway and returning for him. She will not be able to lead Simon to the warmer breezes in the marshland to the south. Encouraged to take responsibility and to help Old Blue, Simon flies in the lead position, gaining confidence and eventually saving her life.

Simon with Two Left Feet offers many opportunities for discussion including the impact of teasing and bullying, the importance of finding a way to contribute to your community and how labelling can effect one’s self esteem (and assumptions).

Purchase this anti bullying book and DVD directly from the publisher: GWEV Publishing

Simon With Two Left Feet DVD (Home Use) at Amazon.com

We Planted a Tree and Made a Difference

Posted on April 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Are you aware of the United Nations’ Billion Tree Campaign?
It is a campaign that encourages people all over the world to plant trees that are indigenous and appropriate to our own environments. By the end of 2009, more than seven billions trees had been planted in more than one hundred seventy countries.

One cannot overstate the value of trees to our very existence. Trees and forests contribute to our health, wealth, food and fuel supplies as well as air, soil and water quality and climate stability. Today’s post pulls together some resources related to trees and the campaign to plant them.

Be sure to visit our page highlighting picture books about caring for our environment,
ecosystems, recycling, reducing our environmental footprint and more
. Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Beginning with a bright, cheerful introduction to trees and what they do for our world:

image of cover art for We Planted a TreeWe Planted a Tree – written by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake



Young families in Brooklyn, New York and in Africa each plant a tree. As their trees grow, this inventive and beautiful picture book takes us to visit beautiful trees budding in Toyko and gorgeous bright, pink blossoms in Paris.

“The sun kept shining.
The pink blossoms dropped off,
But soon there were green leaves,
Green, green shiny leaves,
Which had food inside for the tree.

This joyous celebration of trees and the impact of planting just one, highlights that they can be a source of food and shade, they help to clean our air and they can prevent soil erosion. As well, readers learn that trees are home to birds and animals.

We Planted a Tree at Amazon.com

We Planted a Tree at Amazon.ca

This picture book connects nicely with Green Belt Movement Kenya. The mission of the Green Belt Movement (GBM) is to mobilize community consciousness- using tree planting as an entry point – for self-determination, equity, improved livelihoods and security, and environmental conservation.

For additional information about tree planting, check out The Green Wave, The Green Wave is a multi-year global campaign that enables children and youth to make a difference – one school, one tree, one step at a time. The Green Wave brings together children and youth from around the world to raise awareness about biodiversity, and the need to reduce its loss.

The United Nation’s Billion Tree Campaign a worldwide tree planting initiative facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme. People, communities, businesses, industry, civil society organizations and governments are encouraged to enter tree planting pledges on-line. The campaign strongly encourages the planting of indigenous trees and trees that are appropriate to the local environment.

Plant a Tree Today (PATT) Foundation works to raise awareness of global environmental issues, campaign for better environmental practices and take action against deforestation and climate change by planting trees.


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