September Books: Getting Along

By on August 31, 2013

Together autumn and school are reminders of the importance of the work we all do, in childhood and as adults, to keep our friendships strong and healthy. Not only reading stories, but also taking time to talk about both the story and the practice of reading offers a chance to strengthen our ties with each other.

  • Plan to read favorite stories again and again – not only your child’s favorite stories, but ones you like too! We all learn by repetition. Don’t forget to enjoy repeats!
  • Talk about what happened in the story. Ask about the characters, places, and events that took place. Ask what new information your child has learned from the book. Encourage her/him to read on her/his own.
  • Ask your child if s/he has any ideas about what happens next in the story. This can happen either in the middle or at the end of the book. Sometimes a tale ends but many times we wonder what comes after. Here’s a chance for you and your child to imagine together. Predicting what happens next in the middle of the story gives your child a sense of power and builds interest in reading to the end to see if the prediction is accurate. It’s like putting puzzle pieces together.
  • Read different kinds of books; try folk tales, poetry, songs, information books, books about animals, space, biographies and cookbooks. Variety opens up possibilities.
  • Read lots of stories with rhyming words and repeated lines. Invite your child to join in on these parts. Point, word by word, as your child reads along with you.
  • Reading is an everyday activity. When we read together each day, we build strong relationships with each other and strengthen reading skills too. Reading is fun, and doing it together makes it even better. Try some of these titles!


BOOKShunterHunter’s Best Friend at School

by Laura Malone Elliott, illustrations by Lynn Munsinger.

Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 2

When Hunter’s best friend Stripe starts making mischief at school, Hunter joins in. Following Stripe’s lead, Hunter even destroys his own careful art project. This makes him feel awful. He realizes he doesn’t always want to do everything Stripe does. With help from his mom, Hunter recognizes that “sometimes being a best friend means you have to help your friend be his best self.”

Once again artist Munsinger creates lovable animals (this time raccoons) wearing clothes, in this story about peer pressure. Her sunny watercolors add drama in both face and body movement in this humorous story.

Familiar places at home and school help young children to understand how Hunter works to change his own behavior. And how Stripe changes too. HarperCollins, $6.99 (paperback). (Borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, or purchase from Books & Books online:


BOOKSmollyStand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow.

Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 3

This gleeful picture book takes a comical path to handling a bully.  It shows tiny, buck-tooth, frog-voice, clumsy Molly Lou Melon acting on her grandma’s advice to “believe in yourself.”  But Molly Lou Melon must move away from all that is familiar.  At her new school she meets up with Ronald Durkin. His bullying “talents” are well developed.

Bright yellow, green and blue watercolors with lively details keep the movement in the story swinging.  Peppy text and occasional repetition convinces young listeners to join in.

This cheerful tale may not be true to life.  It can, however, offer youngsters one way to talk about and steer through sometimes-difficult school relationships. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99 (hardcover). (Borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Miami Lakes, North Shore. Or purchase from Books & Books online:

BOOKSmarshallMarshall Armstrong is New to Our School by David Mackintosh.

Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 2

Everything about Marshall Armstrong blares DIFFERENT.  This includes freckles that “look like birdseed,” “space food . . . in silver wrappers,” wearing a hat outside “because of the ozone,” and staying “in the shade.”  These comments come from the student who sits beside Marshall, and dreads going to Marshall Armstrong’s birthday party.

Bold colors and lots of white space make the several sizes and shapes of text stand out.  Cartoon-like pictures have child-like qualities and show the details of an unusual party.  The sense of being out-of-step with “normal” is a highlight.  It can offer any who march to a different drummer a chance to speak up. Abrams, $16.95 (hardcover). (Available to purchase from Books & Books online:


BOOKSeachkindnessEach Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis.

Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 3.

Maya is new to the class, and the other girls make fun of her second-hand clothes.  Every time she offers them a chance to play, Chloe and her friends refuse. They even turn their faces away.  Mrs. Albert, the teacher, brings a bowl with a stone to show the ripple effect of one small kindness, as it goes out into the world.

Watercolor paintings are shaded with quiet wintery colors to match the shadows this story creates in the mind and heart of the reader.  Framed by the bully who is the speaker, this powerful tale allows the listener to feel both points of view.  Losing a chance to make a friend is painful. Penguin, $16.99 (hardcover). (Borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Little River. Or purchase from Books & Books online:

More terrific titles to try:

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat

by Anna Dewdney. Viking, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten–Kindergarten (Available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Bugs in My Hair

by Catherine Stier, illustrated by Tammie Lyon. Albert Whitman, $6.99 (paperback) Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 3 (Available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Ready and Waiting for You

by Judi Moreillon, illustrated by Catherine Stock. Eerdmans, $17.00 (hardcover) Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 2 (Available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Back to Front and Upside Down

by Claire Alexander. Eerdmans, $16.00 (hardcover) Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 2 (Borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Little River, Miami Lakes, Miami Springs. Or purchase from Books & Books online:

Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web:


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