Books are a great way to show children examples of kindness and build awareness of needs in the community.

Often times, it is easier to learn about a situation by talking about it through a story.  It is an excellent way to PAUSE interactions and talk about what is going on in the situation.

We use books all the time to springboard our acts of kindness and service projects.  To introduce the Kindness Crocodile to our family, we used the book “One Smile.”  Worked perfectly!

Books provide great experiences that let you:

  • Create a calm, quieter experience focused on a specific story or topic.
  • Reflect on a picture or a story, making it an experience for kids to think and feel in a situation
  • Experience examples to refer to later . . . “That’s just like how it happened to the girl in the story!”

Tips to Using Children’s Books to Teach Kids about Kindness, Service, & Compassion

1.  Stop and look at the picture or the action in the story.  Examine the facial expressions and the actions that the characters are taking.  How do those things affect what is happening in the story?  How do the characters feel?

2.  Relate it to your life.  What in the story reminds you of something that happened to you? Showing that the meaning and essence of the story connects with you shows children that the story can show something more than just “pretend.”

“Oh, I would feel so sad if that happened to me when I was riding bikes.”

“That’s like when I was at Grandpa’s house and we lost our cat.”

“I had a surprise party once, too, and it helped me see how many people loved me.”

3.  Be explicit about how:

  • To use language.  Knowing what to say in a situation about kindness or helping another can start right here.  Using the words to identify need and fill the need, as well as how it feels to be kind and serve is taught and reinforced through books that tell stories of those situations.
  • Actions affect others, positively and negatively.  Kids need to understand that when they help others, they are having an impact on someone else.  By reading about how that impact is positive, it gives them an experience to connect to when they are out helping others.
  • People have needs.  Teach kids to recognize needs without being prodded by the adults around them. Books are a great way to help them start seething those needs either by picture or the movement of the storyline.
  • To help others.  When a need is identified in the story, stop and talk with your kids about what could be done to help out, to fill that need.  This problem-solving exercise, although done in a pretend fashion, helps practice the skills necessary to know what to do when someone needs help.

4.  Just because the book is closed doesn’t mean the story is over.  When out and about, refer to the story when you see something that relates.  When helping others, recall parts of a story that will help kids connect to the meaningful conversation that you had earlier.

What helps you when teaching kids through children’s books?

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