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Books to Help Your Grandchildren Polish Their Social Skills in Time for School

By Eve Panzer August 14, 2021 Family

School is right around the corner for your grandchildren. The start of school can be challenging in a typical year, but this is not the usual start of school. Many children have been learning remotely and will have to adjust to being with classmates again.

Every year, countless back-to-school books flood the market, but many of these will not address some of the unique circumstances surrounding this new school year. (My next article will feature some of my traditional back-to-school book recommendations.) Books about friendship, caring, empathy, and inclusiveness will be helpful to prepare your grandchildren to transition back to in-class learning. Check these out!

Ages 2 – 4 Years

Mindful Tots: Loving Kindness …Happy Feelings for Little Ones

Also available in English/Spanish bilingual, this board book helps toddlers to “wish happiness, kindness and calm for everyone.” The book teaches the ancient practice of loving-kindness medication, which can be taught to children as young as 2 years. “Mindful Tots: Loving Kindness uses simple, straightforward instructions and bright illustrations to nurture compassion, self-awareness, and a strong caregiver-child bond.”

Mindful Tots: Tummy Ride …Calming Breaths for Little Ones

Mindful Tots: Tummy Ride will help your toddler grandchild manage everyday emotions. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. The imagery in this book aids grandparents to enjoy a simple breathing exercise with children as young as 2 years old.

“A must-have for naptime, bedtime, travel, and more, Mindful Tots: Tummy Ride is designed to help small children learn to soothe themselves while laying the foundation for self-awareness and kindness.”

Ages 4+ Years

Big Words for Little People Series

As they grow up, children need to learn the words to explain their emotions. This series of books teaches children 4 years and up to recognize their feelings by putting focus on connected words and phrases.

If you’d like to focus on something like Kindness or Friendship, this series can certainly offer it. There is also one on Doing Your Best.

Ages 4 -9

The Boy Who Grew Flowers

The Boy Who Grew Flowers is an excellent book for children who feel they don’t fit in with their peers. And for those children who don’t think they can achieve their dreams. “Inspired by the experiences of her brother, who is on the autism spectrum, Jen Wojtowicz’s heartwarming tale encourages children to empathize with and reach out to others.” Timely, timeless, and enlightening.

My Panda Sweater

My Panda Sweater provides an age-appropriate approach to immigration. It also can be used as a springboard to discuss social-emotional learning topics such as “…bullying, friendship, sharing, new experiences, and self-confidence.”

What Does It Mean to Be Kind?

What Does It Mean to Be Kind? is part of the “What Does It Mean to Be” series. All books in this series follow a similar formula, but each title addresses a different aspect of life, giving examples of how a child can be a better global citizen.

What Does It Mean to Be Kind? starts with examples of different definitions for the word “kind.” “Kind’ can mean category, “sort of” (as in “kind of”), etc. But this book makes it clear that it is addressing acts of kindness and includes a myriad of examples.

Some are everyday kindnesses such as holding a door open for others or picking up litter. But many of the examples are refreshingly unexpected such as “…seeing the best in people even when they are struggling to do their best” and “…allowing yourself to make and learn from your mistakes.”

The book concludes with the following wisdom: “Being kind means having the courage to treat others the way you like to be treated. So, show your friends what it means to be kind. And spread the word – if we can all be kind to each other and to ourselves, the world will be more loving, caring, and harmonious.”

This book provides opportunities to have children come up with their own examples of acts of kindness. Then, as a family, you can develop acts of kindness you could do together on a larger scale. The book also invites the reader to empathize with others, have compassion, and understand things from someone else’s point of view.

There is no age limit on kindness, so this book can be used to start a discussion with any grade level. The art is engaging, colorful, and whimsical. I highly recommend this book to everyone in the human race!

What Does It Mean to Be Present?

What Does It Mean to Be Present? provides an introduction to learning empathy and mindfulness for kids of all ages. It ties in with the mindfulness movement that has become very popular. It is backed by data gathered by scientists and doctors from Harvard and other prestigious schools. In addition, the Hawn Foundation, founded by actress Goldie Hawn, has brought mindfulness to schools through her program “Mind-up.”

Being present means…

Noticing when someone needs help

Waiting patiently for your turn

Focusing on what’s happening now

This book also provides opportunities to have children come up with their own examples of being present. The art is engaging, colorful, and whimsical. Highly recommended.

What kinds of books do you think will prepare your grandkids to return to school? Do you think they need to learn about kindness and friendship? What else might you want to teach them to polish their social skills?

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The Author

Eve Panzer, a retired school librarian, is passionate about children's literature. Through her Barefoot Librarian business, she sells quality children's books and writes book reviews for First Chapter Plus, Readers Views, and BlueInk Review. She has a Masters in Library Science and has been a children's literature professional since 1999.

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