Much of what children have to grapple with in the real world today are issues around self-acceptance, finding themselves and courage during trying times. And if you are a teacher, you are in a unique position to help enable your students to develop some of these very valuable life traits.
A very simple way to introduce these topics before making practical activities that students can then use to apply in their lives, is through read-alouds. Read-alouds are a fantastic way to get the conversation started. Students truly love them!
Below, are 4 different read-alouds that teach one of the beautiful lessons of self-acceptance, finding yourself and courage.
In ish by Peter H. Reynolds, young Ramon loves to draw, but one day his older brother’s harsh criticism dampens his will to develop his talent. That is, until his little sister reveals the value of her perspective. This book deals with the delicate theme of finding your true talent and learning to shut the haters out while keeping your mind open to different perspectives and possibilities.
The Paper Bag Princess is easily my favourite by Robert Munsch. Young Princess Elizabeth shows her courage in rescuing her betrothed prince from a dragon, only to find that he cares more about her appearance than her courage. This classic shows children that courage is ultimately more important than how well you dress, because courage shows character and cannot be bought. It also puts your female students in a unique position to imagine themselves as individuals capable of saving others and making a difference, and not the damsels in distress that alot of our society champions.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is about a little mouse who grows up to love her name, until the harsh bullying of her peers changes her mind. Can she learn to love her name, and herself again? Henkes adeptly touches on the subject of bullying, but chooses to focus on the person being bullied as the victor, not the victim. Self-acceptance is at the heart of this book, and so is the courage to be different.
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon paints an intricate picture of a young girl, Camilla Cream, who suppresses her love of Lima beans because she does not want to stand out. Can she learn to feel good about being herself? With generous illustrations that tease the imagination and have students gasping when they see the different forms our protagonist takes, this book is sure to leave your students standing up for what they truly believe in.
Collectively, these books offer students the opportunity to understand that like Ramon, Princess Elizabeth, Chrysanthemum and Camilla, situations that call them to accept themselves and show courage can occur to just about anyone.
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