Teaching children to be kind people | NevadaAppeal.com

Teaching children to be kind people

by Kendal Rauthzan

Not long ago, I had a discussion with two college seniors about the power of media manipulation. My soapbox position was that we must teach young and old to be critical thinkers so that they can understand what the messenger is trying to convince us of and decide if we believe and perhaps adopt that position or toss out their message. Just because someone excels in selling their bill of goods doesn’t mean they’re right.

These two young adults (being critical thinkers) quickly pointed out that not only was I a part of the media, but that I also tried to convince (or manipulate, if you will) my readers toward my point of view. Bravo – absolutely correct.

My primary message in this weekly column is to convince you that what we expose our children to is extremely important, including the choice of literature. My media message today has two parts. One: Teach children to become critical thinkers and critical readers so that they do not fall prey to believing everything they hear or see. Two: Being kind to others is important, and the books reviewed below carry that theme.

Of course, you have the option of believing me or not. What do you think?

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“Mr. Peabody’s Apples” by Madonna, illustrated by Loren Long, Callaway, 32 pages

Read aloud: age 5-6 and older. Read yourself: age 7Ð8 and older.

Mr. Peabody is a grade-school teacher and the little league coach in his small town. He is a kind man and well liked by everyone. One day, young Tommy sees Mr. Peabody pick up an apple from Mr. Funkadeli’s fruit market, put it in his bag, and continue on his way. Tommy doesn’t see Mr. Peabody pay for the apple, so he rushes to tell his friends, who then tell others. Soon the whole town believes Mr. Peabody is a thief.

A well-executed presentation of the power of words and the damage and hurt that result from gossip, “Mr. Peabody’s Apples” provides a strong and important lesson for readers of all ages.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Dayton Valley Branch Library, 321 Old Dayton Valley Road

Branch manager: Theresa Kenneston

Choices this week: “One of Each” by Mary Ann Hoberman; “Piggie Pie!” by Margie Palatini; “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” by Lois Ehlert

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Here Comes Darrell” by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Mary Azarian, Houghton Mifflin, 2005, 32 pages, $16 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 and older. Read yourself: age 7 and older.

It’s two below zero and snowing hard at 4 a.m., but Darrell is ready to go to work. He’s off in his truck to plow 21 of his neighbor’s driveways. Come spring, Darrell works hard splitting logs, repairing neighbor’s muddy driveways, and with other chores. This is what Darrell does for a living all year, keeping his neighbors safe and sound, but Darrell is so busy that there isn’t much time to tend to his own home.

When a fierce storm rips Darrell’s barn roof off, Darrell knows he should have made time to repair it earlier in the year. But Darrell’s worries quickly come to a halt when he arrives home to find his neighbors there, helping Darrell as he has always helped them.

A gentle story with a solid message, this tale warms the heart and makes you feel good all over.

“Dear Baby: Letters from Your Big Brother” by Sarah Sullivan, illustrated by Paul Meisel, Candlewick, 2005, 34 pages, $14.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 and older. Read yourself: age 7 and older.

With heartfelt honesty, this young boy sends letters to his baby sister to let her know how he is feeling and what it’s like to be a big brother. He begins his letters before his sister is born and continues them until her first birthday, where he compiles those letters into a book as a gift for her.

With humor and often a candid look at what an older sibling might be thinking, the primary message of this lovely book rings through – love and kindness between siblings.

— Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rauthzan writes and lectures on children’s literature and may be e-mailed at kendal@sunlink.net