I’m sure I have the same hopes for my children as every parent. I hope they grow up to be kind, compassionate, and humble. By following their dreams, I want them to believe they truly can make the world a better place.
Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Although I’m not the type of person who can march or rally with the masses, I know the change I’d like to see in the world starts at home. I can teach my children to overcome fear, evil and sadness, with love, kindness, and respect.
One way to accomplish this is to lead by example. In addition, I can emphasize important ideals through story. Today, I’m sharing five books that deliver valuable lessons for both kids and adults. So head to your local library or bookstore, and you’ll definitely read these over and over again!
Get Happy by Malachy Doyle
With words as catchy as Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” this book teaches children simple ways to achieve happiness. I love using this book when my kids (and I – let’s be real here) need to pause, take a step back, and remember to smile, laugh, and have fun. I read it as if I’m reciting a mantra: (inhale) worry less, (exhale) wonder more.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
Bringing together the concepts of random acts of kindness and paying it forward, this book shows how altruism from one “ordinary deed” exponentially spreads throughout the world. I like asking my daughter to tell me about one nice thing she did, and then imagine how many more acts of kindness occurred afterward. It’s a great way to reflect on how you live your daily life. I also appreciate the subtle math reference to demonstrate how billions of people could be affected by a single good deed.
Be A Friend
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
What I love most about this book is how the little boy isn’t discouraged or resentful by the fact that his pet elephant isn’t invited to the Pet Club. Instead, his solution is to create a club that celebrates diversity and includes everyone – “All Are Welcome.” I’d love to shelter my children from bullying or feeling excluded, but I know that’s unrealistic. As my oldest daughter prepares for kindergarten, this book wonderfully illustrates the importance of friendship and acceptance. A valuable lesson for all ages, it also reminds us to be resilient in the face of adversity and proud of our unique differences.
The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell
Do your kids ever say they’re bored and have nothing to do? Have they ever thrown a tantrum when you didn’t buy something they wanted? I often tell my daughter, “You can’t always get what you want, but you can be grateful for what you have.” By emphasizing humility, this book reminds us to appreciate everything around us. Happiness does not have monetary value. It can be found everywhere – by enjoying nature, exploring the world, or spending time with loved ones.
One Love by Cedella Marley
Who doesn’t start swaying to the tune of “One Love?” According to his daughter, Bob Marley wrote this song with the belief that love could unite the world. And isn’t that a concept we all want to teach our children? As an adaptation of his song, this book shows how love connects us and strengthens our community.