Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Books That Teach Children About Compassion, Recommended by Parents

This is a photo of my grandchildren. It was chosen as the Photo of the Day and posted on the Smithsonian Magazine website. It is by far my favorite as I can see the love and compassion in my grandson's face. My daughter taught my grandchildren that when they argue or became angry with each other they should give each other a hug--such a beautiful parenting approach, and one my grandson obviously embraced with a seriousness rarely seen in children so young. 

Elijah adores his older sister, and Layla feels the same about him. They speak about each other as if they are a team. For instance, when we went hiking on one of our favorite mountain trails near their home, my granddaughter saw a prickly pear cactus and turned to warn her brother to step to the side. Then she told me, "Eli and I don't like those plants. We stay away from them on walks." I noticed how she referred to their walks, and her brother, in a way that implied they are a permanent team, bonded forever. This is what happens when you teach compassion to children--they learn to watch out for others and understand how their words and actions affect those around them, and one way that many parents have found to teach compassion to children is through books. Today's post is on books that teach children about compassion. 

Yes, I do believe children are born with an understanding of what it means to show compassion toward other children, adults, animals, everything around them. Warmth, love, tenderness, tolerance, kindness--all synonyms for compassion. 

Compassion encompasses everything that we could possibly do in our daily communications with others that could change their world. 

However, I also believe that there are forces in this world working to remove the understanding of compassion in children, including anyone who encourages bullying and abusive behavior. I considered writing about bullying, but I think I'll cover that topic in more than one post. It's a complex and controversial topic, and for that reason I believe it is important to reinforce the understanding of compassion in children. As a writer, of course, I believe in encouraging this through the use of childrens' books!

How Much do you Love me? 

Now this is a common word game parents play with children all the time. "How much do you love me?" one will ask, and the other replies, "To the moon and back!" Of course the answer varies from family to family. We liked the word infinity, but that's a tough concept for little children. 

There is a book, though, a favorite of many families, that discusses how love is endless. I gave this book to my son, and his wife gave it to him again when their oldest son was born. My daughter and her husband shared the book, as well, as a gift. It is the perfect gift for any parent and I believe it belongs on every family's book shelf. It is impossible to read this book without crying, but more importantly, it teaches compassion in a way that children of any age can understand. 

Love you Forever by Robert Munsch

The book is Love you Forever by Robert Munsch. When I asked my daughter-in-law to suggest a book that teaches compassion, she replied immediately with the title of this book, and the funny thing is, everyone I asked had this book on their list! 

Love you Forever is a short, simple book detailing the life of a boy as he grows into a man. He can be a little troublemaker at times, but his mother never fails to hold him in her arms and tell him that she loves him. When he reaches that stage that every child eventually comes to, that stage when they think they are too old to be cuddled, mother sneaks into his bedroom and whispers to her son that she will love him forever. When she finally grows old, her son lifts her into his arms and tells her those words she has spoken to him with love so many times before: I will love you forever. 

What is it about this book that makes it so appealing? Eternal? Effective? It reaches deep into our souls and touches us in a place that is sacred to parents and children. It teaches children of all ages that the bond that ties them to their parents cannot be broken, and that they should respect and honor that bond. It teaches parents and children that compassion, love, respect--these are all necessary components in the parent/child relationship and nothing should ever come between that relationship. It is a bond that should never be broken. These are the spokes on the wheel of life that keeps turning through the ages. 

I was also told that The Jesus Storybook Bible is a good source for parents and children when teaching what is required to live a compassionate life. 

Another series recommended to me, one I'd never heard of before, is The Love and Logic Philosophy Series. My sister-in-law recommends it. She uses these books to help my nephews understand how to be "self-confident, responsible, aware human beings." 

What books do you use with your children? Please share--I'd love to learn! 

  • Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Zondervan: 2012.
  • Love and
  • Munsch, Robert. Love You Forever. Firefly Books: 1995.

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