Wow, only two and a half weeks left of September! It will be October before we know it! With everyone back in school, this is the perfect time for friendships and acceptance – new people to begin a friendship with, a chance for old friendships to grow, and unexpected friendships to blossom. This applies to both the younglings and their caregivers. With every new school year, there is a chance for everyone, young and adult to build relationships. A simple smile, a compliment, or even the classic “weather” topic are great conversation starters. As far as children go, they are extremely good at watching and mimicking us, they want to be just like us. When they see you being friendly and making friends or at least making an effort, they will follow suit and learn that there are friends to be made everywhere!
There are so many different ways to make a friend. Helping hands, similar interests, but two of my favorite ways to make friends is with books and with food. Both are a never-ending subject of shared likes and dislikes. Offering or surprising someone with food or a book is a great way to get to know them! Universally food shows love and is used to break the ice between strangers. Just talking with someone about food or books can create harmony.
Here is a list of books we have at the library for children of all ages AND THEIR CAREGIVERS on the topics of acceptance, food, friendship, feeling different, socialness, shyness, and everyone’s perfect unique-ness, come explore and make friends!
“Food may not be the answer to world peace, but it’s a start.” – Anthony Bourdain
1 A World Together – Sonia Manzano (Sesame Street’s “Maria”) – This book brings life to a little saying that my dad used to tell me when I was young. Sometimes when it would rain and I would complain about the rain or holler “I’m getting wet!” as we ran inside to beat a storm. He would remind me that everyone gets wet in the rain. The plants, the animals - all living and not living things on Earth – all of it –gets wet when it rains. That was always so comforting to me because it made me realize the more I thought about it, that no matter how different we are or where we come from – we all get wet in the rain. The rain doesn’t pick favorites, the rain doesn’t care if your special or not, the rain doesn’t exclude anyone. This book definitely reminds me that even with all the differences across the globe – we are in this together – we are a world together!
2 Just Ask – Sonia Sotomayor - This book is so important for young ears. Feeling unlike others, especially as a kid, can be rough. Nevertheless, in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden lovelier and more pleasant to be around, unique kinds of people make our world more vibrant and delightful. Celebrate differences and abilities of everyone. Different, but no less. Building the garden together, the children ask questions and learn more about one another. From this book, children learn it’s okay to ask questions, in fact, encouraged! If ever you feel unsure – just ask. “When I was 7 years old and diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, to take care of myself, I had to do things other kids did not. When kids saw me giving myself a needle shot of insulin, my medicine, I knew they were curious about what I was doing. But, they never asked me about it. Sometimes I felt different; I also often felt they thought I was doing something wrong.” –Sonia Sotomayor.
3 The World Needs Who You Were Made To Be – Joanna Gaines - It’s that time, time to fly, it can be scary and your child may wonder if they’ll be ready or not. Explore how beautiful flying can be with colorful pastels when each of the kiddos in this book attempt to build their own individual hot air balloons. While building, the reader my notice each child does things differently. Some children would rather work together, others would rather work alone. Some are scientific, some are artistic, some are teachers, but ALL are learners! This book shows how our differences can help us to grow together because we all have a very important role to play, even if sometimes we have trouble figuring it out. Ideal for ages 4-8, The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be is a lively picture book. "You're one of a kind, and it's so clear to see, the world needs who you were made to be." –Joanna Gaines.
4 Kalamata’s Kitchen – Sarah Thomas – This is a story about a little girl named Kalamata. She is nervous, tomorrow is her first day in a new school. Her tummy starts to feel scared and swirly. What if nobody wants to be her friend? So, Kalamata and her best buddy Al the alligator climb under her kitchen table while her mom prepares dinner to try to come up with a solution to her scared feelings. They go on a magical, delicious journey to an Indian Market. She remembers being scared before when trying something new and there was actually nothing to be scared of. Soon, her senses take over and the scared, swirly feeling in her tummy is replaced with a rumbly hungry feeling. Being brave is definitely something she can do! Being brave can be exciting! "Most importantly she learns that when we're nervous about trying new things, food can comfort us and remind us to stay curious, courageous, and compassionate." (quote taken from the book)
5 A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale – Penny Parker Klostermann – William lived in the magical land of fairy tales. Instead of William dreaming to be the next new Knight in Shining Armor and face a mighty dragon, he dreamt of becoming a chef and sautéing, poaching, pureeing, etc.! But, cooking happily ever after wasn’t what everyone else expected or wanted from William. This story reminds us all that we must love and accept ourselves first in order for others to love and accept us as well!
6 Yoko – Rosemary Wells – A story about a little girl cat named Yoko and her lunch. Her mother packs her lunch for her, filled with Yoko’s favorites! When another student notices what Yoko brought for lunch, he teases her by saying it’s gross or yucky. This hurts Yoko’s feelings because these are her favorite foods and she knows how hard her mother worked to make her lunch. Feeling down, Yoko doesn’t want to play at recess and her teacher has an idea to fix this problem for all the students. A colorful American-melting-pot of kindergarteners who grow a genuine respect for one another's differences. Readers will learn from this story that we don’t know if something is gross or yummy until we give it a try!
7 Sandwich Swap – Rania Al Abdullah – Best of friends, Lily and Salma, have always gotten along in perfect harmony. That is, until one day at lunch, one of the girls decides to say something that has been itching the back of her mind. “Your lunch looks yucky” one girl says to the other. Little did she know her best friend had been thinking the very same thing about her lunch every day and had never said anything until now. “Yeah, well your lunch looks gross and it smells bad too!” Lily and Salma, who never argue, were in official disagreement. Eventually the whole school gets involved! Everyone is hurting each other’s feelings left and right. Find out what happens in this BEAUTIFUL story about speaking your mind, not judging a book by its cover, and friendship.
8 Enemy Pie – Derek Munson – A boy was excited to have the most flawless and great summer yet, or so he thought. His dad helped him build a treehouse in the backyard, his sister was at camp for three weeks, and he is on the best baseball team in town. This young boy only had one enemy, Jeremy Ross. And, he just moved into the neighborhood! Instead of letting a good summer go to waste, the young boy’s dad had the foolproof remedy for enemies – the recipe for enemy pie! What is enemy pie? Find out in this wonderfully sly book about food, new neighbors, and dreading something that turns out to be great!
9 The Gulps – Rosemary Wells – This book is about a family named The Gulps. They consist of a mom, a dad, and three children. All five of the Gulps are similar to each other, especially when it comes to food. Except little Miss Dawn Gulp, she is the youngest of the family and doesn’t quite enjoy the family’s usual diet of winky-tinks, jiffy-chips, and bloat burgers (ultra-size with extra cheese). She would much rather have some fresh greens. Well it isn’t long into the story when the Gulps have a little engine trouble, and a local farming family offers refuge. Immediately the reader can tell one of the big differences in the two families is the way they eat! Will friendships form? Find out how food can be exactly what brings everyone together! This book is all about moderation!
10 Bad Case Of Stripes – David Shannon – This book is perfect for anyone who feels like they will be teased because of their food choices. Have you ever NOT done something you REALLY LIKE because of what others thought about it? Well, because all the kids that Camilla Cream knows do not like lima beans at all, she pretends she does not as well, when in fact she loves to eat lima beans! All of a sudden, her body starts acting funny, exhibiting symptoms impossible to ignore. Is being made fun of for eating lima beans as bad as roots, berries, crystals, feathers, and a long furry tale sprouting up overnight all over your body?
1 American Girl Tea Parties – American Girl – Whether you are young, old, boy, girl, stuffed animal, or live animal, everyone loves tea parties! In my opinion, one of the great things about tea parties is the invitations! There is no wrong person or way to invite someone to a tea party. Gather up courage and ask, or make them yourself! They can be un-extravagant or on the fancier side. That is just the beginning. Not only is planning and prepping a tea party a great way to make friends, but the actual tea party itself is a blast and is an excellent way to make precious memories that last forever. Each new tea party is a chance to try new treats, different tea and themes. Who knows, maybe they will love the tea party so much that tea parties will become a regular get-together for your child and their friends!
2 Taste of Home Kid Approved Cookbook 328 Family-Tested Fun Foods – Taste of Home – This cookbook is what every family needs. Children can learn together from over 300 recipes. There are sure to be appetizing, healthy after-school snacks and classroom treats for even the most particular eaters. Maybe while a classmate is trying something your child has made, a conversation and a friendship will bloom!
1 Growing Up Social – Gary Chapman - Kids today aren’t playing hide-and-seek outside, getting dirty or curling up with a good book - instead they’ve been introduced to a world of limitless digital or electronic entertainment. And while technology can be beneficial for many reasons, it can also erode a sense of togetherness and hinder a child’s emotional and social development! In this beautiful caregiver book, through stories, wit, and wisdom, you’ll discover how to teach the five A+ skills that every child needs to master: affection, appreciation, anger management, apology, and attention. All skills needed for a healthy social life.
2 Thirty Million Words Building a Child’s Brain – Dana Suskind, MD –Thirty Million Words establishes the three Ts: “Tune in to what your child is doing; Talk more to your child using lots of descriptive words, and Take turns with your child as you engage in conversation” (quote taken from the book). Parents learn a way to make the words they use or choose more enriching and open-ended. For instance, instead of saying, “Wash up for dinner,” you might say, “We are going to eat dinner now, what do you think you should do to get ready”. Giving your child the tools he or she needs to become a better conversationalist and giving them the opportunity to expand their vocabulary daily will benefit them throughout their entire life and encourage them to have the confidence to make more friends anywhere they go.
3 Unselfie – Michele Borba, Ed. D. - Developing a healthy sense of empathy in children is so important. Dr. Michele Borba explains why in this perfect caregiver book about child socialization. Why is what he calls the “Selfie Syndrome” so harmful to our kiddos? Primarily, it can lead to bullying behaviors. A lack of empathy hinders their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve. While reading Unselfie you will learn why discipline methods like spanking, yelling, and even time-out can squash empathy, how excessive praise inflates kids’ egos and keeps them locked in “selfie” mode, why reading makes kids smarter and kinder, why self-control is so important, and why when it comes to teaching collaboration, organized extracurricular activities and free play is key. Ignite a kindness revolution in your children. Empathy is one of the most important characteristics a child can and will have through plenty of nurturing and patience. Dr. Borba offers an agenda for parenting that harvests the results we all want: successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient. “How to help kids be upstanders—not bystanders—in the face of bullying. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want to shift their child’s focus from I, me, and mine…to we, us, and ours.” (quote taken from the book)
4 Socially Strong, Emotionally Secure - Nefertiti Bruce & Karen B. Cairone –
After a pandemic and a lot of social distancing, adults may feel responsible to give children the skills needed to socialize. A child gaining a new friend is daunting, but even once they have a handful of friends, being a good friend can be challenging as well. Building social and emotional strength, adults increase children's resilience and prepare them to handle the trials in life. The activities in Socially Strong, Emotionally Secure provide all caregivers with the tools they need to help children become socially and emotionally healthy for life. From this book, you will learn about expanding activities and experiences from the classroom into the home. Learn daily routines to foster a sense of belonging and community. And, you can develop activities that focus on open-ended thinking, physical activity, cooperative participation, and social, emotional learning.
5 Baking With Kids – Leah Brooks – In the kitchen with our children is a great place to learn so much about them. Questions about their friends are not only a great icebreaker, but believe it or not, they want you to ask them about their lives! If your child makes friends effortlessly or you are worried they are going through a bit of a social drought, making food for others is a great way to bring people together. Good conversation topics or starters could go something like, “What do your friends like to eat?”, “Would you like to make some treats to offer to someone new?”, and “Would you like to ask a friend to come over sometime and bake with us?” Baking with Kids will help all children learn how to bake. Recipes include muffins, scones, bread, pretzels, crackers, pizza dough, piecrust, cake, cookies, cupcakes, and more! There are easy-to-follow systematic pictures that will help kids through each recipe and encourage creativity throughout. Fun for everyone!
“A real true friend doesn’t care what you like to eat, they just want you to be happy, healthy, you, just be you, that’s what a real true friend wants.” –Tandra Filbin
Written by: Tandra Filbin
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