Thursday, August 16, 2012

Storytime - Empathy

Last month I decided to do a storytime with a theme that is very important to me - empathy. As a parent, I feel there is no better lesson I can teach my child than to treat others with caring and kindness. However, if any of you have parented a four year old boy before, you know this is easier said than done. I used these books to teach the lesson as best I could.

The first book I read was Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman. I really love this book. It's a sweet story but funny, too and perfect for little boys. The story is about a boy who finds a robot in the woods but believes the robot and is sick and attempts to nurse him back to health. The robot later tries to do the same for the boy. Very cute story about caring for others, friendship and reciprocity.
Next I read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. In retrospect, this story is probably a bit grim for younger kids, although none of them seemed bothered by it. This is the story of the Three Little Pigs, as told by the misunderstood "Big Bad" Wolf, who is a victim of sensationalism by the media. This is actually more graphic than the original story, but it offers an interesting perspective for kids - there are 2 sides to every story.

The next book I read was One by Kathryn Otoshi. This book is about how to stop bullying and the importance of standing up for ourselves and our friends. With the added benefit of teaching colors and numbers, the book focuses on the power of ONE - what one person can do to help another. Great book, great lesson. One of the kindergartners at storytime told me they read it in his class at school.
The last book I read (after craft time) was Hurty Feelings by Helen Lester. This is a book about a hippo who may be considered a bit of a cry baby. The book is humorous, with a focus on understanding the hippo's feelings. The kids enjoyed it (especially the dramatic crying bits).

There were lots of ideas I kicked around for craft time, but I think one of the most important ways to create empathy is to listen and get to know other people. So I asked the kids to pair up with someone they didn't know well and "interview" the person. This required some help from parents for the younger kids, but the kids asked each other what colors the other liked, what their favorite things are, etc. The kids each then created a craft for each other based on that discussion. Ideally, this would work better with older kids, but its never too early to teach kids to listen and how to get to know each other better. Here's a couple pictures from craft time.

I'm hoping to explore this theme with another storytime in the near future.

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