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Culture Children's Books

Children's Books

Please and thank you

Four books on manners

Social Skills Activities for Kids 

Natasha Daniels

For some kids, making friends comes easily. Other kids excel at listening or discerning how people are feeling. In seven chapters, Daniels covers a variety of social skills and settings, providing prompts, exercises, and 50 activities to help children build confidence and learn how to handle the intricacies of relating to others. As children gain these social skill “superpowers,” they also learn character traits like deference, compassion, discernment, and kindness. Daniels writes with lighthearted humor and includes lots of fill-in-the-blanks that invite children to become active participants and add their own flavor to the discussion. (Ages 6-12)

Grown-Ups Never Do That 

Davide Cali & Benjamin Chaud

Even though parents ought to teach their children manners, any kid knows parents break the rules, too. This picture book presents a comical look at what is all too true: Grown-ups make mistakes, complain, lose their temper, burp, interrupt, waste time—the list goes on. Parents and children will laugh together as colorful illustrations contradict the book’s 23 dubious and irony-laden claims, ending with, “Adults are always good. So you really should be just like them.” Beyond the humor, the book may foster disrespect, but it could provide an opportunity for parents to talk about the ways they and other adults fall short and why young and old need the gospel. (Ages 5-8)

Connoisseur Kids

Jennifer L. Scott

Scott, author of the Madame Chic books, wants to help kids become “experts in the art of living.” This book covers a wide range of topics including etiquette, manners, tidiness, hygiene, and health. With charming illustrations throughout, each chapter includes brief explanations and admonishments. Activities, rhymes, DIY crafts, and games help kids practice what they learn. Tidbits like dinnertime conversation starters, homemade wrapping paper ideas, and recipes for snacks, stain remover, slime, and house spray add fun and flavor kids will appreciate. Scott also emphasizes selflessness, reminding children, “Thinking of others and how you can help them doesn’t come as naturally.” (Ages 6-12)

365 Manners Kids Should Know

Sheryl Eberly

This book gives parents a comprehensive guide to manners, covering everything from telephone talk, gender-specific etiquette, introductions, and internet safety. The short lessons are intended for daily reading with simple follow-through activities. Originally published in 2001, the updated version includes sections on technology and digital communication penned by Eberly’s daughter, Caroline Eberly. Parents might want to alter or elaborate on topics like inappropriate touch, dating, and social media usage. The book is already outdated without discussion of popular apps like Instagram and Snapchat, but it refreshingly upholds traditional practices such as young men holding the door for others. (Ages 8-15)

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Children's Books

Hooves, paws, and claws

Four silly animal stories

Let Me Sleep, Sheep!

Meg McKinlay

As Amos counts sheep to fall asleep, he hears a loud thump. Two grumpy sheep have tumbled into his bedroom, beckoned by his nightly ritual. More arrive and want Amos to build a fence for them to leap over. Lots of humorous demands and attempts follow. Finally the sheep are satisfied, and they tell Amos to test out the fence. He jumps and jumps until he’s sound asleep. Readers will enjoy the zany illustrations and crazy requests: “I feel like having a shower right now,” one sheep says. “Do you happen to have a hot tub?” another asks. (Ages 3-7)

What Does an Anteater Eat?

Ross Collins

An anteater wakes up and realizes he’s hungry, so he asks a series of animals if they know what he should eat. The animals give him all kinds of advice, but none of it seems quite right. He asks a leopard, who responds, “I must say, you look very tasty.” Finally he spots an ant mound and discovers the joys of … bananas. The book’s square format, bold watercolor-and-charcoal illustrations, and large text make it appealing for pre-readers and early readers. Children will also enjoy finding the ants going about their business on each spread. (Ages 2-5)

The Pawed Piper

Michelle Robinson

“I want a cat to cuddle.” So begins this story of a little girl who really wants a cat. She hatches a plan that proves so successful it attracts 67 cats to her bedroom, including her Granny’s cat, Hector. The detailed watercolor-and-pencil illustrations show the little girl’s determination and the blessing of a bed teeming with cats, which she enjoys all the next day. But when she returns Granny’s cat, she discovers the others also belong to other people. She has to return them, too. The ending will delight cat lovers. (Ages 2-5)

The Little Green Hen

Alison Murray

The Little Green Hen lives in the hollow of an apple tree and tends the orchard. When she needs help, the dog, sparrow, and squirrel volunteer, but the peacock, fox, and ginger cat refuse. Through the seasons the friends enjoy the trees, and when the rain comes they find shelter in the hollow. But the lazy critters are almost swept away in the flood until they beg for shelter. Later, when it’s time to clean up, all the animals help. This version of an old story has a subtle environmental twist. Simple woodcut-style illustrations give the book a retro feel. (Ages 2-5)

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Children's Books

Making connections

Middle grade books that explore understanding, community, and friendship reviewed

Some Places More Than Others

Renée Watson

Amara grew up in Portland, Ore., far away from the extended family she wished she could meet. She is excited when she gets the chance to go with her father to visit New York City, where he grew up and his parents and siblings still live. While there, Amara learns about the history of her family and African Americans in the United States and discovers how our family history and culture affect us in ways we don’t always recognize. The story explores forgiveness and understanding between generations, the importance of family, and the cultural differences between the East and West Coasts. (Ages 9-13)

Song for a Whale

Lynne Kelly

This whimsical and bittersweet book is about loneliness and the importance of connection. Iris’ deafness causes her to feel isolated from her schoolmates and even some of her family members who don’t know how to sign. When she learns about a hybrid whale named Blue 55 whose song is too high for the other whales to hear, she is determined to make a song for him and tell him he is not alone. During her pursuit of the whale, Iris discovers that a healthy life thrives on relationships—with family members, friends, and, sometimes, even with whales. (Ages 9-13)

The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA

Brenda Woods

A near miss on his bicycle changes 12-year-old Gabriel’s whole summer. A stranger named Meriwether Hunter saves him from an oncoming car, and the two become unlikely but close friends. The story explores the little-understood experience of African American soldiers returning from the battlefields of World War II to hometowns that did not always appreciate their service. It tackles themes of friendship and empathy between people with significant cultural, racial, or religious differences. The author also weaves into the story interesting details about the time period, like the Green Book that African Americans used to travel safely. (Ages 9-13)

The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten

Krista Van Dolzer

This fun mystery focuses on math and codes. When a storm prevents Esther from getting to art camp and instead strands her at math camp, she must team up with the other students to solve a mystery. As she makes friends with the “math nerds” and learns to organize and solve logic puzzles, she discovers her artistic creativity isn’t so different from the talents of the Camp Archimedes students. Although the book seems to take a dark turn, the conclusion is lighthearted and appropriate for middle graders. A great read for kids who are interested in puzzles and codes. (Ages 8-12)


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