The Happiest Birthday Ever Book Review and Video Reading

Book Title: The Happiest Birthday Ever

Author: Stephanie Berger

For Ages: 4-8

Themes: kindness, generosity, love, empathy, compassion, understanding, giving, character, community, emotions

Related learning areas: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), character education, emotional intelligence

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Book Title:  Ella & Mrs Gooseberry – Discovering what love looks like

Author:  Vikki Conley

Illustrator:  Penelope Pratley

For Ages: 4-8

Themes: love, empathy, compassion, kindness, understanding, giving, character, community

Related learning areas: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), feelings awareness, character education

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Enemy Pie Book Review

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Enemy Pie

Derek Munson

Tara King

4 - 10 years

Friendship, Problem-Solving, Bullying, Judgement, Respect

Story overview

The story is narrated by a young boy. He was looking forward to a really great summer. That was until Jeremy Ross moved into the neighborhood!!

After laughing at him when he struck him out at baseball and not inviting him to his trampoline party, Jeremy Ross became the first person on the boy's enemy list. 

He talked to his dad about his problem. His dad said he has a sure fire but secret way of getting rid of enemies. Enemy Pie!!

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Experts advocate for teaching kindness and empathy in schools to reduce bullying. Why? Because kindness is the antithesis of bullying and empathy is the foundation of kindness.  

Being kind means that you consider the needs, feelings and concerns of others to ensure you act appropriately. Having empathy means you're able to put yourself in someone's shoes to understand their needs, feelings and concerns. 

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A book. One single book. Many people don’t realize how important having one book can be in the life of a child. But believe me, just one book can mean the world. I know this because I have seen the joyous expressions on children’s faces as they receive a book to keep. read more →

In the book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, she writes about Choosing Kind as the best option in life. This phrase resonated with me and sparked a new appreciation on how I discuss bullying with my 6th graders.

I then came across an article on the Edutopia website titled, “Why Teaching Kindness in Schools is Essential to Reduce Bullying” and knew this was the right angle to take with my incoming 6th graders. They have all heard the lectures about how bullying is wrong. I wanted to attack bullying from a different point of view. After reading the Edutopia article, I decided to teach kindness. What does it truly mean? I wanted my students to reflect on the meaning of kindness. I wanted them to pay it forward and start applying kindness to their peers at school.

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Critical skills - mindfulness, resilience and focus for children to succeed at school

As a mother of three teenage daughters and an experienced elementary school teacher, I am deeply concerned about our kids. Let me explain. Children today live in a world filled with technology — iPad interaction from birth, social media from pre-teens and access to everything and anything on the Internet from a very young age. Don’t get me wrong, as a teacher I know technology can be an amazing tool for learning. Extraordinary really. What does deeply trouble me, is the negative aspect of child/learner interaction with technology.

I have come back to teaching after four years away. What I found on my return, was many children (dare I say the boys) had a much lower attention span than I had previously experienced in my teaching practice. Where once I had five- and six-year-olds listening and focused for 15 minutes, they were now only engaged for around five minutes. After that period of time, eyes started to roam, feet began to fidget and turning around seems a more entertaining thing to do!

In a time of technology overload, and on-line and off-line societal pressures, I have come to the conclusion that we need to formally teach our children the following:

  1. To be mindful of others and of themselves. That is, to show respect and empathy towards others and to show respect and empathy towards themselves.
  1. To be resilient. That is, we need children to feel confident about themselves and to be able to accept disappointment and even rejection without losing a sense of self. The teaching of resilience goes hand in hand with children learning to be assertive — both about their bodies and their mindset.
  1. To be focused learners. That is, I believe we formally need to teach children in a school environment to focus on a task and to slow their mind down, allowing them to sustain longer concentration.

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