FREE SIGHT WORD CHECKLIST
Do you have bookworms for students? Do they love to gather round and listen attentively at story time, and to enjoy wonderfully written and incredibly illustrated books? I certainly do, both in the classroom and at home.
It might be the time of year, when we read a lot more stories on those cozy winter evenings, or it might be purely by chance, but I seem to be reading a lot more stories which focus on being brave, taking chances and overcoming fear. As a mother of two energetic, fearsome girls, I love to read these stories to them, and to talk about the messages we can get from them.
What better way to spread a little festive positivity and cheer, I thought, than to share with you some of my favorite stories like this, and why I (and, of course, my girls) love them so.
The Lion Inside
The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright and Jim Field
This is an all-time favorite in our house. Telling the rhyming story of a mouse who feels small and insignificant, and the steps he decides he simply must take to overcome his self-doubt, it is also beautifully illustrated. I find with rhyming stories that my daughter learns the rhythm of the book, and will join me in finishing the end of the sentences. It’s so fun to read it together… almost! Another bonus is the chance to do a big ‘RRRROOOAAAARRRR!’ together at one point, which always gets a giggle. The over-riding message that, no matter how small we are, we all have the heart of a lion, is a beautiful one.
Giraffes Can't Dance
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
We love this story so much that we bought a second copy to replace the first one, which was lost in a house move (!), and also bought a copy for a friend with a child the same age as ours. Gerald is a giraffe who longs to be able to dance the day and night away, but is limited by his size and shyness. With a bit of encouragement from an unlikely friend, he loses his inhibitions, and embraces his wild, carefree dancing style. Overcoming challenges, ignoring the perceptions of others, and throwing yourself into whatever you can do to make yourself happy are some of the themes which come across here. There’s also a lovely version on YouTube [link], which we’ll often cuddle up to and watch together.
Be Brave Little Penguin
Be Brave, Little Penguin by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees (again!)
The adorable little hero of this story is Pip Pip, a penguin who is scared of the water, and therefore can’t join his friends for a swim and a play. What I love about this story is that it shows how a little bit of encouragement – in this case provided by the mom (I can relate!) – can allow even the most fearful to find a bravery that they didn’t know they had, and to take the plunge! It’s another rhyming story, so my daughter again likes to ‘read along’ where she can, and the happy ending leaves us feeling warm and mushy inside. There is nothing better than a cuddle after reading, and my own little Pip Pip seems all the braver and more confident for learning these lessons.
The Thing Lou Couldn't Do
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires
As children grow older and older, they’re bound to face more opportunities to push themselves into more adventurous (read ‘potentially risky’!) fun… and more and more times when they will need to be braver than they have been before. Like our heroine, Lou, they’ll often seek to find ways to avoid situations they’re not comfortable with by imagining alternatives, procrastinating or making excuses. This wonderful story by Ashley Spires will inspire them to face their fear, whatever the outcome. It also wins bonus points for ably showcasing the importance of having compassionate and understanding friends!
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell
My elder daughter likes nothing more than messing around in the playground or swimming pool with her mummy and daddy. She will often see the bigger kids fearlessly climbing higher, sliding faster, and diving in from higher. She, like Jabari, is confident she can do it, often until the last moment when it’s her turn! In Jabari Jumps, you’ll be transported to that moment for Jabari and his father, and you’ll enjoy seeing his determination triumph. This is one of the most relatable stories of bravery for parents and children alike.
Right Now, I Am Brave
Right Now, I Am Brave by Dr. Daniela Owen, Ph.D.
The very first thing that will grab your attention in Right Now, I Am Brave are the wonderful, enchanting illustrations. They alone would normally be enough to draw the reader in, even without Dr. Daniela Owen’s efforts to empower her young readers with practical examples to help them overcome fears and anxieties. The theme here is one of choices: we all have a choice when faced with situations which make us apprehensive, and they can live bravely when they understand and embrace this.
Book Reports to Dig In More
You can use simple and kid-friendly book reports for your students to explore different parts and elements of a book. For the books that I recommended today, the problem and solution book report template would work beautifully!
There are many more books we enjoy reading – we have quite the little bookworm here (!) – but these are some of the favorites these days. We love to look at the beautiful pictures and talk about why the characters do what they do, and how they behave. I am sure one day, sub-consciously, my children will think back to these brave animals and try to find similar qualities in themselves.
What are some of your favorite stories? We’re always on the lookout for more!
Thank you for reading. Have a great day!