Books to Build a Classroom Community

Long time, no blog! WHOOPS!

Anyway, spring break this week (woohoo!) gives me a little time to sit down and blog about something I've wanted to share for a while!

Back in February, I won a gift card to Amazon from Jillian at The Starr Spangled Planner to get some books for my classroom! (Thanks Jillian!!) I debated and debated what books to buy, asked the kiddos for recommendations, and scoured blogs/Instagram/Pinterest, but I still couldn't decide!

After some bullying incidents in my classroom arose, I knew EXACTLY what it would go to! Authors Julia Cook and Maria Dismondy have some AMAZING books about character building, accepting differences, and promoting respect and empathy, so I decided we definitely needed a dose of that in Room 6!

These. Books. Are. Amazing!!

In the beginning of the year, we did the "wrinkled heart" activity, and we made a promise to each other. We promised to (and I quote) "treat each other with respect and kindess at all times." We signed our promise, hung it in our classroom, with our wrinkled heart. I referred to it ALL. THE. TIME. Worked pretty well.

Until this looooooooong stretch of time between our winter break and Easter/spring break...with lots of snow and cold temperatures and rain.....which means LOTS and LOTS of indoor recess. 

So this past week or so, we took some time to read one of these books and talk about them. We talked about how we felt when we read them. We talked about why we felt that way. We talked about what was wrong, who did the right thing, and why it was the right thing. I work in a Catholic school, so we talked A LOT about how Jesus would feel about all of these things. 

We also listened to and read this incredible book:
I knew about this book and song for a LONG time, and I never thought to introduce it to my class until now. Probably because I can't get through it without a little tear. It's a beautiful concept. We read the book and listened to the song, but also watched it on YouTube before I could get my hands on the book...

Then we made a new promise. We came up with it together, and on Monday when we come back from Spring Break, we will sign it.

("Live the message of Jesus" is the mission statement of our school, and it was HUGE part of our conversations this week!)

So many of the books I bought were about what to do if someone is bullying you, how to stand up for each other, and how to stand up for yourself. I LOVED that Have You Filled A Bucket Today? and Making Friends is an Art addressed HOW to actually be a good friend, and how to treat others with kindness right off the bat!

I sent a copy of our promise home, along with a list of the books we read.

I noticed, almost immediately, a change in the climate of our classroom community. It was amazing!

We're also reading...

My city is doing this thing called One City, One Story, and it's promoting everyone in the city to read Wonder! I read it last summer, and was THRILLED to see that this was picked! Since it's generally for the older crowd, they also recommended The Invisible Boy for the K-2 crowd, and it's such a touching story! (Not to mention the drool-worthy illustrations!) We read The Invisible Boy last week, and Wonder is our current read's got BIG shoes to fill, considering we just finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!

I also got some other great Julia Cook books with my Amazon order!

These didn't really touch on bullying or kindness, but they DO talk about some pretty important topics! It's Hard to be a Verb! and Wilma Jean the Worry Machine touch on ADHD and anxiety respectively. I went to an awesome workshop on childhood anxiety this winter, and I think all kids could benefit from learning a little bit about things that make you feel anxious! I'm sure we ALL know a munchkin (or six) who could use a trip to Personal Space Camp ! 

How do you promote kindness in your classroom? Are you solely bucket fillers? How do you prevent bullying? Any other books you would add to this collection?

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