Reading with your child has many wonderful benefits. It is a nurturing activity that builds your relationship with your child. It is an intimate time together, naturally opening up opportunities for a multitude of conversations. Reading together also builds academic skills for your child, including learning basic speech skills when they practice enunciating letters and hear you pronounce words. Communication skills your child will gain include learning how to express themselves and recognizing how they are feeling. Reading together also gives your child the opportunity to practice concentration and self-control. Reading together can help with transitioning to new situations and life events as it helps children see that other kids and families experience the same kinds of changes. It gives them an opportunity to see how others have handled different life situations. Lastly, reading with your child will cultivate a love for reading, helping to prepare them for life-long learning.
Books about feelings:
Andrew’s Angry Words by Dorothea Lachner
Andrew’s bad mood and anger ripple from his sister to his sister’s friend, a poet, a motorcyclist, and others. The story does turn around and the characters do experience kindness rippling back.
Mrs. Biddlebox by Linda Smith
Mrs. Biddlebox gets up on the wrong side of the bed but is determined to turn it around by baking it away. This book is about overcoming a grumpy mood.
I Wish I Were A Butterfly by James Howe
While being offended by frog’s remark about being an ugly creature, the cricket wishes he were a butterfly in the pond. The others encourage the cricket to be grateful for who he is and not be envious of others. The cricket is successful!
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel is content to stay in his tree because he is scared of what he might encounter. One day he is forced to jump out of his tree and finds that he enjoys being outside his tree.
Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Feeling jealous towards Knife and Fork who can do things he cannot, Spoon learns to recognize and appreciate his own abilities with the help of his parents.
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Wemberly worries about everything. This shy mouse learns to control her anxiety with the help of a classmate and her nursery school teacher. This is a sensitive, gentle story appropriate for all worriers.
Calm-Down Time by Elizabeth Verdick
The author suggests several tools for calming, including deep breathing, finding a special quiet space, and/or getting hugs from a caring adult. This award-winning book helps little ones and parents deal with strong emotions.
Books about friendship:
The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Friends by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Lizzy, a new little girl cub, moves in next door to Sister Bear. When they decide to play school together, they fight over who will be the teacher. Mama Bear helps resolve the problem and the girls decide to take turns being the teacher.
Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
Chester and Wilson are best friends who do everything the say way. When Lily moves in and shows she has a mind of her own, Chester and Wilson think she is very different from them. The three find that even though they are very different in some ways, they have a lot in common and enjoy spending time together as friends.
You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown
The lively and energetic Lucy wants a new friend. When Lucy finds she doesn’t fit in with the other animals, she gets frustrated and demands that they be friends with her. The others run from her but one new creature asks her to be friends. Lots of tongue-in-cheek humor makes this fun as well as educational about how to make a friend.
Same, Same, but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Elliot and Kailash are pen pals. They share about their home countries of America and India and learn that while some parts of their lives are very different, they have some things in common as well.
Poindexter Makes a Friend by Mike Twohy
Poindexter, a shy little pig, would rather read to his stuffed animals than play with the neighborhood kids. He hides when relatives come to visit. He loves visiting the library where he can be by himself with his books. The librarian then invites him to help at the front desk. Poindexter ends up helping a shy turtle read a book called How To Make a Friend, helping both make friends with each other.
Sam’s New Friend by Thierry Robberecht
When Sam, a puppy, meets Ellie, a sad kitten, he thinks she is not as brave as he is because he is a boy. Sam plays with Ellie at school when he finds out that Ellie is sad because her parents may be divorcing. Even though Ellie doesn’t know what will happen with her parents, Sam realizes that Ellie is brave and will be all right.
Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School by David Mackintosh
Marshall is the new kid in the class and is seen as different from everyone else. He has freckles that look like birdseed and ears that look like seashells, he eats specially wrapped food, can’t play sports, doesn’t watch TV, and can’t be in sunlight. Marshall invites everyone to his birthday party, not caring what classmates think of him. The party is amazing!
Books about divorce:
I Don’t Want to Talk About It by Jeanie Franz Ransom
When a little girl chooses not to talk, her patient parents reassure her of their unwavering love. When she does find her voice and raises concerns, she is comforted when she realizes some family traditions will not change. The various emotions kids go through while parents are going through a divorce are shown through metaphors of wild animals. This book is endorsed by the American Psychological Association and offers tips to parents on helping a child of any age to adjust in healthy ways to divorce.
Mom and Dad Glue by Kes Gray
A young boy who feels responsible for his parents’ divorce tries to fix the relationship by finding the right kind of glue. When he realizes that he is not able to fix the relationship, is also realizes that his parents’ divorce does not affect their love for him.
Was It the Chocolate Pudding? A Story for Little Kids about Divorce by Sandra Levins
A young boy is concerned that he caused his parents’ divorce when he made a mess with chocolate pudding. He describes his new routine of staying at two houses and finds relief when his mom explains to him that the divorce was not his fault. There is a “Note to Parents” included that shares emotions kids experience when parents divorce and gives advice for explaining divorce/separation.
My Parents Are Divorced, My Elbows Have Nicknames, and Other Facts About Me by Bill Cochran
Ted shares various facts about himself that some might think make him weird. He doesn’t think so. Ted wears only one sock to bed, has names for his elbows, is sad about his parents’ divorce, and is doing well living in two homes and getting to know his steep-mother. None of these facts make him weird. Ted has a light hearted approach to sharing about himself and how he is coping with changes in his life, however much he wishes it hadn’t happened.
My Mom’s Wedding by Eve Bunting
Despite feeling guilty for liking her future stepdad and longing that her parents still get back together, Pinky is excited to be a part of her mom’s wedding. Her dad helps her understand that her parents will not be getting back together and that it’s ok to love both her dads.
Two Homes by Claire Masurel
Alex has two homes, one with mommy and one with daddy. Alex has a room in each house and friends that come over to play at each house. Alex is secure knowing both mommy and daddy love him/her, wherever Alex is staying. The author does not clarify whether Alex is a boy or girl, making it a sweet story for everyone.
On The Day His Daddy Left by Eric J. Adams and Kathleen Adams
This story is more suited for older children. The main character writes a question that has been bothering him to his mother: “Is it my fault?” Mom replies “NO” on the paper and encourages him to keep the note to refer to each day. He continues to ask questions about why his dad left but does eventually believe his mom’s answer to the note. This is a comforting story with illustrations that show clearly the emotions the main character is experiencing. The authors offer advice in talking with children about divorce in the afterword.
At Daddy’s on Saturday by Linda Walvoord Girard
Katie finds that she can continue her relationship with her dad even though he lives farther away and she doesn’t get to see him every day. Katie expresses various feelings including worry, sadness, and anger.
Books about bullying:
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
When classmates start teasing Chrysanthemum about her name, her parents support her. When the students’ favorite music teacher shares her unusual name, Delphinium, the classmates learn that being unique can be a good thing.
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Colors and numbers are used to share the message that one person can make a difference by standing up for oneself and helping others. The story teaches acceptance and appreciation for diversity. It is a simple read aloud tale.
Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig
D.J. is teased by his friend, Vince, who always ends the teasing with “Just kidding!” D.J. seeks help from his dad and brother. They also meet with his teacher to create a plan to deal with it. The story includes advice for parents in dealing with bullying and some helpful dos and don’ts for students.
The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill
Katie Sue is the new kid in school who leads in the playground fun. Mean Jean gets angry, so Katie Sue invites her to play. No one has ever done that before. This story shows how one person can reach out and make a difference.
The Orange Shoes by Trinka Hakes Noble
When her teacher announces the Shoebox Social to raise money for art supplies, Delly’s father buys her a new pair of shoes for the event, even though they are poor. Classmates bully Delly and her shoes get scuffed and scratched. While she is very upset because of her shoes, she paints flowers and vines on them to remedy the problem. This is a great story about resilience and the power of love.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
Even though she is the shortest girl in first grade, Molly Lou Melon is confident, even when she moves to a new school and faces the bully. Molly Lou continues to believe in herself, stand up for herself, and prove to the bully that he will not upset her.
Books about the death of a loved one or pet:
Saying Goodby to Daddy by Judith Vigna
Clare finds out that her father died in a car accident when her grandfather picks her up from school instead of her mother. With the support of her loving mother and grandfather, Clare moves through the grieving process. The story is gentle and realistic and meant for younger children.
Bottled Sunshine by Andrea Spalding
Sammy loves his grandmother, with whom he just spent the summer. When he is sad to leave, his grandmother offers him some “bottled sunshine” to take home with him. They enjoy one last day together picking blackberries and making jam. Later on when Sammy’s mother receives word that his grandmother has died, Sammy opens his “bottled sunshine” and is comforted by the memories of his time with grandmother.
I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
Written by a psychotherapist and counselor, this informational picture book is for children. It explains issues surrounding death, promoting conversations on the topic. It is part of the “first look” information books on sensitive issues series.
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems
City Dog finds a new friend, Country Frog, when he goes to the country and is able to run free. They enjoy each other’s company each season of the year, teaching each other new games, until one fall, Dog finds that Frog is too tired to play. Winter comes and Dog misses his friend but when spring arrives he makes a new friend, Country Chipmunk. This is a sensitive, gentle story of friendship and loss.
The Tenth Good Think about Barney by Judith Viorst
When Barney, a little boy’s cat, dies his mom encourages the boy to think of 10 good things about Barney. While helping his father garden the next day, the boy realizes that “in the ground everything changes.” He realizes that Barney will help the trees and flowers continue to grow where he is buried- the tenth good thing about Barney.
When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers
Rogers explains the common feelings- sadness, frustration, and loneliness- experienced by children when a pet dies. He explains in a very honest style the reality that sometimes pets can die even though they have the best of care. The author provides opportunities for parents to have conversations with their children about their feelings and questions they may have.
The Forever Dog by Bill Cochran
Mike is best friends with his dog, Corky. They plan to be best friends forever. When Corky dies, Mike’s mom helps him realize that their plan to be forever friends can still happen because Corky can live in Mike’s heart. Cochran’s story is gentle and sensitive and will help youngsters understand and accept the death of a pet.