Posts tagged ‘kindness’

AN UNEXPECTED REWARD

Hazelita And The Magic Broom

Written and illustrated by Hope Finning

Hazelita is a destitute, lonely old woman. Every day she wanders from village to village with her only valuable possession, an old broom passed down to her from her mother. At night she knocks on the door of a local inhabitant seeking a warm meal and a place to state. In return, she promises to sweep their home in gratitude for their kindness. Hazelita cries herself to sleep each night because she has no family to care for her. After a while, word spreads around that her broom is magic and that it will grant any wish the family requests.

One evening she comes to a family headed by Thomas who goes out of their way to shower kindness upon Hazelita. The next day, they refuse to allow her to sweep as she is their honored guest. But Hazelita is horrified to discover the next day, that her broom has lost its magic. What will happen to Hazelita now that she cannot pay for her room and board? The answer lies in kindness rewarded. Read the book to find out how.

This book teaches children the value of community responsibility and the lesson that we should not expect rewards for everything we do. I would recommend the book to elementary and middle-grade students.

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IT’S ELEMENTARY….. #Read Kids Classics

Morris the Moose Goes to School

Written and Illustrated by Bernard Wiseman

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This classic was one of my favorite books to read to my own children or to students in my classroom at the beginning of the school year. Originally published as Morris Goes to School in hardcover in 1970, Scholastic reprinted it as a paperback in 1978 under the title, Morris the Moose Goes to School.

Morris never thought about attending school until he visited a candy store one day and was unable to count out his pennies to pay for the candy he wanted to buy. A kindly storekeeper brings Morris to the local school where Miss Fine, the teacher, warmly welcomes Morris. Poor Morris can’t fit into the desk and picks the wrong bathroom because he fails to understand the concept of letters. He can’t comprehend what a song is and does not have fingers to help him count to ten. Morris is unprepared; he doesn’t have lunch so he eats the grass outside on the lawn. Miss Fine is the epitome of a kind, patient teacher who never loses her patience and finds numerous concrete examples to elucidate and get her lessons across to Morris. At the end of the day, Morris learns his counting skills and is able to revisit the candy store.

I love the clever way Wiseman brings the plot full circle to its logical conclusion. Children proceed step by step along the story line and learn multiple lessons along the way. Wiseman uses only three colors, brown, white and blue in each of the simple but expressive illustrations peppering each page of text. The current version is marketed as an I Can Read Step 1 book, perfect for the preschool through grade three student audience. Also a good choice for parents to include in their back to school reading list. The book is still available on Amazon in multiple formats.

About the author: Bernard Wiseman wrote many books on the Morris theme. He was active from 1958 through 1995. He kept a low profile. Little biographical information is available. Amazon provides only a list of his books.

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DEVELOPING CHARACTER THROUGH PLAY

A Boat Full of Animals: Fun Activities to Develop Character in Kids

Written by Sally Huss
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I have read many of the Sally Huss books, but this one takes her work a step farther by showing children how to put the lessons into practice. This book contains thirty animal games which allow a child to play while developing skills in kindness, gratitude, appreciation, goodness, patience, and truthfulness. We have all heard the expression, “ A happy life makes a happy wife.” Huss believes the same applies to children; by creating happy children we will build cooperative communities of future happy adults putting these virtues to good use worldwide.

There are thirty games featuring different animals; they can be divided according to time, virtue or animal preference. Each of them provide interactive questions for the child and then create a scenario in which to imagine and act the game out. Here is one example: #4 The Cat Game. Huss points out one of the best qualities of a cat is how it cleans up after itself. Then she gives the child reasons why cleaning up is a good thing and how good it makes you feel. Next she presents the steps in playing the game. The child is asked to make a mess at different times of the day and then clean up seven times. At the end of the day, think of what has been done and how much you have learned. As time goes on, be sure to remind yourself how happy your success has made you.

Each of these games is so cleverly crafted that it is hard to choose. Let me give another example. In #16 The Rabbit Game, the child learns that a rabbit’s long ears are for listening as well as hearing. He must be alert for danger. The child is asked how many times must he hear something before he pays attention. Listening is fun because when we listen we learn new things. Instructions are to really listen at least five times when parents, teachers, siblings or friends speak to you. Then put your rabbit friend on your animal boat and both he and you will be happy listeners.

As a child moves through the book, he will eventually have filled his boat with thirty animals and all their good character traits. A child will have learned how to assimilate their good traits and apply them to everyday life situations making each day a happier experience for the child and those around him. These games are fun to play, and parents or teachers may choose to zero in on those qualities which need the most reinforcement. Highly recommend the book, particularly for children in the five to eight age group.

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AN UNLIKELY PAIR

My Monster Burrufu

Written by Alberto Corral

Illustrated by Alessandra Sorrentino

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This chapter book is targeted for eight to twelve year olds; the easy going storytelling style and charming illustrations interspersed throughout make it visually appealing as well. I can’t make up my mind which character I love the most, Olivia, the seven year old mistress of the monster’s house or Burrufu, the melancholy monster.

At the beginning of the adventure, Olivia is about to move from the city to a home four hours away in the country. She immediately endears herself to me when I read the note she left to the new tenants asking them to take care of the house and sending them hugs and kisses. Upon arriving at the old three story house, Olivia and her dog Tula begin to explore the home’s nooks and crannies. They hear noises in the attic; her father, Steve, tells her jokingly that maybe it is a monster. Olivia thinks he is making fun of her, and when he assures her that a monster in the house is good luck, she feels relief.

Olivia can’t sleep and goes down to the kitchen to have some milk and cookies. To her surprise she spies a furry white claw stealing cookies! So the adventure begins….Olivia is determined to lure the creature out by setting a cookie trap. She discovers that the monster lives in the attic and is a writer like her father. Because Olivia’s dad spends lots of time in his study writing, she has lots of time on her own. Olivia learns that her friend Burrufu can make himself very large when he frightens people; he is fearful of going outside and scaring people. Olivia wants to make him feel wanted and secure so she tries to provide him with courage. One day Burrufu is discovered and chaos ensues. Will Olivia be able to remain friends with her monster, who is really a talented and sensitive writer or will they both be forced to relinquish their friendship due to the fears of others?

This book contains approximately one hundred pages and ten short chapters. It can be used as a classroom read aloud or read independently as a chapter book for readers in the middle grades. There is plenty of humor and adventure. The plot contains enough twists and turns plus thought provoking issues to challenge the middle grade reader. Highly recommended.

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TRUE SPIRIT OF MOTHERHOOD

The Bridge

Written by Kay Bratt

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It’s Mother’s Day here in the United States. Whether you celebrate the holiday today or on another day on the calendar, this book expresses the true nature of motherhood.

The book is a short story of approximately seventy pages that will grip you on many levels. Ms. Bratt has spent five years in China and bases her writing experiences on the time she spent there and the love she acquired for the country’s people. She quickly and deftly paints the scene in Suzhou, China, 2010, portraying the old woman named Jing who is now dependent on the generosity of her son for her own survival. Jing is grateful to be able to care for her grandson and cook the meals in exchange for food and shelter over her head. She collects old sweaters and uses scraps of wool to make scarves so that she can save enough money to prepare for her unmarried daughter Qian’s annual trip home for the New Year holidays.

The reader soon senses her generosity of spirit and kindness. Jing notices a young five year old boy sitting on the bridge near her window and watches with sadness as his mother does not return for him. Jing takes him in for the night and realizes that he is blind. She resolves to take him by foot to the orphanage, where she is a familiar character. The reader learns that she has done this many times before. Feeling particularly sad about the vulnerability and susceptibility of this disabled five year old named Fei Fei, Jing is unable to forget him. When she makes a return trip to the orphanage, she finds that he has been neglected. The director agrees to place Fei Fei in her care as a foster parent for three years. Jing doubts she will be able to succeed in taking care of him until he is old enough to be trained properly in a school for blind children, but she knows his survival is dependent upon her. When Jing’s daughter Qian arrives for the holidays, circumstances take another dramatic turn.

The reader learns how the concept of motherhood can change and transform us. Will Fei Fei face a life of misery or will the struggling old woman named Jing somehow succeed in rehabilitating this child who, like many other Chinese children, has been abandoned on the “Lucky Bridge?” I recommend this book to children age eight and up. The story is based on a character that the author met in China. All the characters are well developed; the author explores some very important societal issues as well as the culture of China. This book is a good multicultural addition to a classroom library and introduces children living in the Western hemisphere to Asian traditions.

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SEARCHING FOR MOMMA

Terry Treetop and the Lost Egg

Written by Tali Cami

Illustrated by Cindy Liang

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This is another book in a series from the Happy Inspired Children’s Books Collection featuring an endearing young boy named Terry Treetop because he loves climbing trees. In this one, Terry has found an egg lying on the ground. He vows to protect it at all costs until he can locate the mother. Terry meets several animals on his journey including a turtle, alligator, frog , hen and parrot. Along the way, the reader is introduced to the way each of these animals nourishes and takes care of its young. When Terry finally solves the puzzle and finds the true mother, he insists on remaining with the egg until it is hatched and the mother is present to take full charge.

The entire story is written in verse which works most of the time, but seems forced in a few instances. The illustrations by Mindy Liang are simple but drawn in bold deep colors to attract even the youngest reader. Children will learn a lot about how animals take care of their young as well as lessons of loyalty, empathy and kindness for our fellow creatures. This book is marketed for ages two through six; older children will have the patience to listen to the entire text which is a bit on the long side for a picture book. I read the kindle edition which was nicely formatted. As a bonus, the author offers a link to obtain a fun creative kit that can be downloaded as well as a preview of another book in the series titled, Terry Treetop Finds New Friends.

These books are a worthwhile addition to your bedtime story collection or useful as beginning readers for a child who has begun to read independently.

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