The nighttime reading routine is a staple in many of our homes. But how can we make the most out of this daily habit to see our children thriving?
We asked this question of Rose Pennington, is a teacher and social emotional learning consultant. Rose is currently completing her PhD, where she’s looking into how we can promote wellbeing and resilience – as well as academic performance – in our children, while supporting schools to implement programs and teaching strategies. Here, Rose reviews some of her favourite books for promoting social and emotional skills, and provides some questions for us to kickstart meaningful discussions with our children. Rose has published a set of conversation cards to spark discussions just like these, called 7 Steps To Thrive. Now, let’s get reading.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss
I adore this book and read it to my students at the beginning of every year. It is a realistic account of life’s ups and downs. Kids (and adults!) need to remember to normalise both the moments for celebration as well as the challenges; that they are both part of the human condition After reading the book, ask:
- You can steer yourself in any direction you choose! Where might you go – tomorrow? Next week? Next year?
- What will help you to get to where you want to be? (by working hard)
- What is a bang up or hang up (problem) that has happened to you? What is a bang up or hang up that might happen to you in the future?
- Have a think about this problem. What might you do to make sure you can cope with it? (make sure you have positive self talk, identify someone you can chat to, remember that is only one part of your life)
Flood by Jackie French
This book can be used with kids of all ages (as can most quality children’s literature) and you’ll be amazed to see how much they can get out of it. It is the story of the floods that affected Queensland a few years ago, and chronicle the events before, during and after the disaster. An amazing tale of kindness, friendship and community. After reading the book, ask:
- How do you think the people in the book felt during the flood? (scared, angry)
- How do you think they felt afterwards? (angry, relieved, hopeful)
- What might you do to make yourself feel better when you are scared or angry?
- Who was helping the victims in the books? (everyone – the community pulled together)
- Do we only help people we know? (no, part of being in a community, small or large, is to contribute where we can, and treat others the way we wish to be treated)
Little People, BIG DREAMS: Marie Curie by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
This series is absolutely fabulous and is my current go-to for new baby presents! I often get children to think about people they look up to (usually famous people) and think about how they might be able to emulate them. Rather than asking specific questions following this book, I would urge you to chat about people they have heard of or know about (from basketball players through to Nobel Peace Prize winners – feed them some if you need to!) and identify what it is about them that is so admirable. Then, choose a couple of traits (honest, hard working, kind, etc) and help your child to ‘plan’ to demonstrate that trait over the next couple of weeks. For example, if your child likes the fact that Marie Curie made discoveries, have a think about what they might investigate that they are interested in. While it is lovely to promote the idea of shooting for our dreams, I believe that a more practical and realistic approach is to drill down and work out what needs to be done and how. Some effort can really pay off!