In many parts of the US it is back to school time! These encourage students to nurture their individuality while learning to work and play in a larger community.
Many school librarians don’t see students for the first few weeks of school. This allows young students the time to operate in their classroom setting. More importantly for the librarian these weeks provide much needed administrative time.
By the time librarians see students for the first time the “back to school” book may have lost some of its charm. The book suggestions here offer a different take on the new school year. They focus on personal identity and giving one’s best at all times.
A Color of His Own, by Leo Lionni
Lionni wrote many books that celebrated individuality and self expression. In this charming story, a little chameleon learns to believe in himself! An excellent story about self-respect and celebrating individuality without becoming a star or saving the day.
The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper
A personal favorite from my childhood, this story hasn’t lost its appeal over the decades. A little train engine is asked to take a toys to a all the good boys and girls. Other engines who seem to be more "gifted and talented" refuse the job. The hill is steep and the task daunting. The Little Engine doesn’t succeed at first, but through perseverance he meets his goal. A great lesson for children and adults that accomplishment isn’t always easy. An good way to change, "I can not" to "I think I can."
Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum hates her name! The other students tease her about it and she wants to change it. Through the kindness of her teacher she learns the value of her own identity and is surprised by a great gift. Since names don’t have to be odd to be turned into vehicles of hurt by children this story is appropriate to all young patrons.
A Fish in His Pocket, Denys Cazet
Russell learns a valuable lesson when through an accident with his math book. He winds up with a fish in his pocket and worries all day about what to do. Students learn that there is a place for everything. Fish cannot live out of water and books cannot live in water. The story also reinforces the importance of honesty.
Officer Buckle and Gloria, by Peggy Rathman
Officer Buckle spends his time giving safety lectures to schools and civic groups with little effect. One day police dog Gloria is assigned to accompany him to a school. They are a smash hit! When Officer Buckle learns why he becomes hurt and jealous of the attention paid to Gloria. Through a series of mishaps he learns that friendship is stronger than pride and that together we can make a change.