Arming Kids With the Right Books

A few months ago I heard Andrea Davis Pinkney speak at a Social Justice Saturday event hosted by Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University.  She said that she was wondering what books the future presidents of the United States might be reading now in elementary or middle school, and how those books might influence the kind of presidents (and people) they would become.

What an interesting question to consider. How will the books we are giving children now impact the adults they will become, whether or not they choose to become the POTUS.  As a Literacy Coach in an elementary school, I feel that it is my responsibility to help  students find THE books that will help them to become the best human beings they can become.  I am always on the lookout for the read aloud text that will pull a classroom together during good times and bad, the book that a certain student needs at a certain moment to pull them through a tough situation, or celebrate a special one.  

After the horrific events that took place in Florida last month (and in other schools and neighborhoods before that),  I wonder if reading certain books might be part of what is needed to protect us from (or even prevent) this kind of senseless violence.  If these children had read (or listened to) the right books, would they be turning to violence?  Would they feel so alone?  Would they be so hopeless and angry? Or would they have learned how to navigate difficulty, have persistence in the face of trouble, have hope even when the world seemed hopeless.

What are the books?

My list includes:

Wish Tree by Katherine Applegate

Love by Matthew de la Pena

Smoky Night by Eve Bunting

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Ish by Peter Reynolds

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

Can you add to my list?

What books do kids need in their hands right now? What books do we hope our future POTUS will have read?

6 thoughts on “Arming Kids With the Right Books”

  1. You read The Hate You Give. We will have to chat. Come With Me by Holly McGhee. I think that belongs on the list. This is a good list. I’ll keep thinking… and reading.

  2. That IS a good question. Of course it only works if the book sinks in, but I would add two classics: A Wrinkle in Time (because what allows Meg to save Charles Wallace?) and Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco. I’ll keep thinking, I guess The Other Side and One Green Apple belong, too.

  3. I add How to Heal a Broken Wing and Blackout – two wordless picture picture books that I think can bring out conversations about the power empathetic actions and community! Thanks for sharing!

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