Picture Book Potential Part 2: The Feel Good Side
Written by: Colette Huxford-Kinnett
Last month, I shared the idea of using non-fiction picture books in the secondary classroom. I am encountering a plethora of non-fiction picture books which would provide an excellent curricular tie-in for a lesson opener. Such a great way to stimulate student curiosity for a new unit of study. For ideas, check out this list.
But that is not the complete picture book story; there also exists the whole world of picture books which speak to our feelings and to our mental health. Feelings can be confusing, overwhelming, and hard to handle. Story helps us all, little ones and big ones, learn how to handle feelings and express them in healthy, caring ways. Yet another beauty of picture books, they read quickly. The reader reaps maximum rewards for a very minor investment of time.
“Story helps us all, little ones and big ones, learn how to handle feelings and express them in healthy, caring ways.”
These picture books speak about choices and kindness. They speak about being yourself and noticing those who hide in the shadows. They speak about standing up for what is right. My mother was a Neuropsychologist. She loved using picture books in her practice to help encourage a positive mental attitude and to foster positive self-talk, and picture books are also much more approachable and less intimidating than an adult non-fiction tome about depression or self-worth or kindness.
In this area of encouraging positive mental health, I have discovered I truly love picture books by Peter Reynolds. His words. His illustrations. His encouragement. They are very simple, yet very powerful. They encourage the reader to notice the world around him or her and to do something when he or she sees someone in need.
I have also found the trilogy treasure of What Do You Do with a Chance?, What Do You Do with an Idea?, and What Do You Do with a Problem? Beautifully written and illustrated, they help the reader move beyond fear and worry and failure and reach out. Picture books can encourage us in such non-threatening, gentle ways. They can help us to be brave, to try something new, to reach out to others, but they do so through story. They are not a lecture or a list of rules or a list of dos and don’ts. They gently encourage and guide by example.
“Picture books can encourage us in such non-threatening, gentle ways.”
With my Library Media students, towards the end of the school year, especially for my Seniors whom I know I will not have around next year to encourage, I read the book Be You! to them. To me it is much like Dr. Suess’s Oh The Places You Will Go, but more personal. We live in an all too often dark world that likes to tear people down rather than build them up. We have many students that are unique little creatures and we worry about them going out and facing the “real” world. This story provides me with one final opportunity to build them up.
Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. Doing so brings my mom back, if even for just a short while. Some of these my mom never got the chance to see, but I know that she would have loved them and would have known just the right person to share them with. However, don’t stop with my ideas. Check out this list of titles and see how you can help to spread kindness and to encourage positive mental health.