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Insightful Books on Forgiveness for Kids
Miranda Rosbach is a librarian turned children’s book reviewer and freelance writer. In her spare time she likes scouting new restaurants and colorful murals. She loves reading middle grade novels and memoirs. She lives in St.Louis with her husband and two daughters. You can find her book reviews on her blog or as @bookbloom on Instagram.
No matter your age, race, or creed, forgiveness is part of being human. Of course, saying “I’m sorry” takes practice and doesn’t necessarily come easily. But, whether an apology is for a genuine accident or a more intentional offense, forgiveness taps into the feelings of others and tries to see things from their perspective.
Forced apologies rarely work, but teaching children to sit with unsettling emotions and heartache (both for wrongdoing and inflicted pain) is part of raising empathic and kind people. Teaching forgiveness usually begins at home; however, it isn’t long before children begin to navigate the complexities of friendship and learn that offering a heartfelt apology is part of interpersonal relationships.
With topics from cheating to sibling rivalry and dealing with a third-wheel, these books have little life lessons for all of us.
by Patricia Polacco
Young friends Stewart, Winston, and Patricia (the author) spend Sunday at church with Miss Eula. Afterward, they enjoy a Sunday dinner of traditional Southern comfort food and listen to Miss Eula pine about a hat they recently passed in a shop window. As Easter approaches, the trio gets wrongfully accused of egging Mr. Kodinski’s shop, and they must come up with a solution to win back his favor. Together, the creative children make an assortment of intricately decorated Russian eggs and present them to Mr. Kodinski. This peace offering opens the door to a new and unexpected friendship that leads to the sweetest gift of the coveted hat for Miss Eula. This book is a family favorite of ours that comes out every spring around Easter.
by Cathy Hapka and Ellen Vandenberg, illustrated by Gillian Reid
Astronaut Girl Val returns in this well-known science-infused series. As summer comes to a close, Val and her friend Wallace head to the town fair. When Wallace’s old friend Carlos shows up unexpectedly and tags along for the remainder of the day, Val must navigate her friendship with Wallace while feeling uncertain about the unkind remarks Carlos makes. Back at Val’s house, the trio (and baby makes four) ends up on an intergalactic mission that requires the cooperation of all three strong-willed friends. Once more, Val’s accepting nature and willingness to give Carlos another shot make her heroism admirable.
by Laura Knetzger
Two beetle friends, Rhino-B and Stag-B, navigate life together as best friends. They spend time at the beach, discover a secret library, and attend a moonlight ceremony to celebrate their transition into life as adult bugs. When the two argue, one of the boys spends the evening away from his friend. But with the encouragement of a friend, the beetles sort out their differences. The boys realize that saying how you feel is like a magic spell that can soothe and heal at the same time. Bug Boys is an engaging graphic novel compiled of several short stories about two inseparable insects.
by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Fourth graders Jada and Miles have both been nominated by their classmates to run for student council. Each of them must make a campaign poster and prepare a speech. While Jada is excited about the opportunity, she's terrified of public speaking. When rumors fly about Jada’s fears, she mistakenly believes that Miles started them. Then, when Jada finds Miles’s missing math homework, she has an unexpected chance to retaliate or make amends. In a heartening twist, most of the classroom fesses up to bad campaign behavior, and the students all get a second chance. This inclusive new series is a must-read.
by Barbara Park, illustrated by Denise Brunkus
First-grader Junie B. Jones forgot to do her homework over the weekend. When her know-it-all classmate leaves the classroom, Junie seizes the opportunity to copy the assignment. Unfortunately, her teacher, Mr. Scary, discovers Junie's deceit and sends her home with a note for her parents. Later that same week, Junie’s friend shares his paper to “help” Junie spell a word correctly during a spelling test. However, neither child sleeps well that night, and they both admit the cheating to Mr. Scary. It's an all-too-familiar story about building trust both within the classroom and with one’s parents.
by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Chris Chatterton
Louise tells her best pal Arnold that she can predict the future — for a fee, of course. When Arnold pays with a prized marble, Louise proclaims that he will get wet (it has just started raining) and that he will have a fun time. Perturbed by this prediction, Arnold huffs off to his cave. Finally, after some time apart (an antidote that often works wonders), the two friends reconnect, and Arnold concedes that Louise was, in fact, accurate in her fortune-telling skills. This slim volume is best for emerging readers.
by Gail Silver, illustrated by Youme Nguyen Ly
When Lily gets annoyed with her little sister, Ruby, their father pulls out a journal from his grandfather. Soon, Lily finds herself transported to a warm summer day in 1923. A young boy gets flustered by his little sister and sets off on his bike, running from the situation and his emotions. Soon, his anger manifests as a frog that teaches the young boy how to focus on his breath and recite a mantra for health, safety, and peace for his little sister. Finally, Lily closes the journal and searches after Ruby to make amends. This moral-infused story also provides readers with a helpful meditation practice to implement during times of stress.
by C.J. Taylor
Generations ago, the five Iroquois nations lived together in peace. But, over time, clans emerged, and Chief Atotarho now rules the land with black sorcery and violence. One day, Atotarho goes too far and kills the daughters of his rival, Chief Hiawatha, leaving him to roam the land in grief. But, when Chief Hiawatha meets another powerful man named Tekanawita, he puts his anguish to good use for his Indigenous brothers and sisters. The two men work together to establish a new union of nations and create a strong leadership that can overthrow Atotarho. This is a fascinating legend worth seeking out.
by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Maurie J. Manning
Jack used to be a nobody until he became friends with Charlie. But Charlie is always getting into trouble, which he shakes off with insincere apologies. When Charlie causes a commotion at the school science fair and involves Jack in the shenanigans, the two boys offer a half-hearted "I’m sorry." However, the science teacher insists that they fix the problem they created. With a note from the author and insightful discussion questions at the back of the book, this is an excellent primer for teaching children about choices, consequences, genuine apologies, and the feelings of others.
by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
“Everyone makes mistakes. Whether you are big or small.” Whether you fall through a roof or break a priceless heirloom, it’s important to recognize when you need to apologize. Apologies can be simple, yet they should always be sincere. Whenever possible, try to fix the mistake and offer a heartfelt apology. It will make you and the person you wronged feel better. This 2021 publication is a family-friendly step-by-step teaching tool for fostering forgiveness as a way of life.
*Blog Link: www.babybookworms.blogspot.ca
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