As I poured a new version of the pineapple Popsicle mixture into the molds, Little Brother waited patiently with the sticks, ready to place them in the mold.
“Mom,” he asked.
“Hmm,” I distractedly responded.
“Can we made a deal?” He paused. “After every time we make HEALTHY popsicles, can we make sugar-y ones?”
I paused my pouring, looked at him–seeing the hopeful glimmer in his eyes, and decided that switching off provided a better chance of success on the healthy weeks.
“Sure,” I replied.
“Yes,” he whispered and then asked if he could tell Big Brother the good news.
Summer brings bike rides to the ice cream store, chances to cool off in the water, experimenting with “new, healthy” recipes, and trips to the library, kids eager to find new books and cross titles off of summer reading lists. For us, we’ve always loved infusing kindness into our summer routine by reading books about kindness!
Summer Reading List
You don’t need a special book to teach kids about kindness. Kindness can be found in many books that we read with your kids. During bedtime reading tonight, go on “Kindness Hunt” with your child as you read and point out when characters are being kind to each other in words and actions.
At the same time, there are some marvelous stories out there that very deliberately teach the importance of kindness. This summer, add these books to your summer reading list!
- One Smile by Cindy McKinley
- Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
- Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein
- How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
- What If Everybody Did That by Ellen Javernick
- The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
- How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer
Books For Older Readers
If your children are reading chapter books, they can go on a “Kindness Hunt” and look for examples of characters being kind. They can mark the examples of kindness they find in their book with a post it to talk about it with you later. (Big Brother and Little Brother call it “Going on a K Hunt” and really are eager to share examples of kindness when they find them!)
We also recommend the following books for older readers to read as they very strongly talk about kindness. Great suggestions for a summer reading list!
- Pay It Forward: Young Reader’s Edition by Catherine Ryan Hyde
- Wonder by RJ Palacio (movie is coming out!)
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
- Moo by Sharon Creech
- Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern
Family Movie Suggestions
Snuggling together with popcorn, drinks, and a great movie is one of our summer traditions. After a busy day in the sun, we gather together on Friday nights for cooling off and relaxing time! The following movies connect into concepts of kindness, empathy, and learning to think from another’s perspective. Consider these movies when you have your own family movie night. (Be sure to click on the title of the movie and check out the review beforehand to make sure that it is appropriate for your children’s ages.)
After the movie or the next day, take a few moments and talk about what happened in the movie. A short reflective conversation about the movie will extend your children’s thinking and make watching a movie a more meaningful experience.
- Pay It Forward
- Bat Kid Begins
- Charlotte’s Web
- Lilo and Stich
- Dolphin Tale
- The BFG
- Kindness Is Contagious
- Living On One Dollar
- Girl Rising
- Little Red Wagon
Helping a Nonprofit This Summer
Oftentimes, nonprofits aren’t immediately “kid friendly” which can be hard when a family wants to be more fully involved in helping in their community. This summer, consider the following ideas as ways your family can help a local nonprofit.
- The organization “Meals on Wheels” is very family friendly. Did you know that you can usually take your kids with you when helping deliver food? This is a great way for your family to help the community and for your children to get to know the elderly in your area. Give them a call and volunteer for a route (or to be a substitute driver) for the summer.
- Local food pantries are often very “kid friendly” organizations. Contact your local food pantry and ask how your family can help. If they aren’t sure, here are some ideas you can suggest: sorting food in the back, accepting “high need” donations from your family, and participating in “nice notes” that can be included with food orders.
- Nursing homes or residential facilities provide great opportunities for your family to help another.
- Contact a local nursing home and volunteer your family as a resource to help them.
- Have budding musicians in your family? Your children can hold a mini-recital there.
- Your family can make cards ahead of time and deliver them at a scheduled time.
- Ask if your family can deliver flowers during meal time.
- Your local nursing home may even already have an “Adopt a Grandparent Program.”
- Look for a 5K or other sporting event to support. Many nonprofits use sporting events like walks, runs, or even attending a game as a way to create awareness for their organization and raise money. This is a great way to help a nonprofit and have fun as a family!