This is Part Two of my book recommendation post. Last month I chose a few books for young readers that explained some tough situations. This month, I’ve found a few titles aimed at helping kids to be the best versions of themselves.
Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand by Liz and Jay Scott. The true story of a little girl who made lemonade when life handed her lemons.
I’ve included this story this month (over last) because it’s less about helping kids to understand what having cancer means, and more about an incredible little girl who decided to do something to help herself and other kids like her. Alex can be a reminder to us all, young and not-so-young, of the amazing power of altruism. Too often, we aren’t interested in doing something good for others unless there’s some reward involved for us.
Sadly, our heroine succumbed to her disease at age eight, so be prepared to answer some tough questions about that if your kids ask. (I’m still looking for the perfect books on how to talk to kids about death).
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud. Everyone carries around an invisible bucket that can be filled with kindness and joy from others or dipped into with cruelty or teasing.
I have a feeling that I may use this imagery with my pre-schooler at some point in the near future – will you fill someone’s bucket with a kind word or gesture, or take from it by excluding them? A good reminder for adults, too – as society as a whole becomes less and less kind.
A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles by Thich Nhat Hanh. The renowned Zen master has written a book on meditation for kids.
The Four Pebbles of the title represent Flower, Mountain, Water, and Space, and as the practitioner holds each pebble in her hand, she meditates on the quality of each—renewal, strength, peace and freedom—thereby helping to instill those qualities in herself. This is a book best-suited for older kids, probably at least six or seven years old, and is great for helping a child (or adult!) struggling to find stillness. I would recommend purchasing this book rather than borrowing it from the library – it’s really a workbook and there are several activities you can do right in the book including drawing.
Of course, the best way to help our kids is by being there for them and leading by example. Lots of times, if a child is feeling anxious, it’s because they’re confused about something and just need someone to talk it out with. And if we practice kindness to ourselves and to others, they probably will, too.