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  • Kim Bogren Owen

New Year, New Ways to Help Others

Years ago while observing in a preschool, I witnessed a very sweet birthday tradition. The teacher lit a candle (most states no longer allow this), placed it on a small table, and asked the child to walk around it the same number of times as their age. This beautiful and simple ritual gave shape to the yearly movement of the sun in a way that is relatable to young children. At the birth of this new year recreate this ritual to demonstrate what a year is. Expand on it by encouraging your child to think of ways the sun and a candle are similar and different.

Help children understand the social meaning of the new year by explaining how the new year represents a new beginning and that people make resolutions, which are a kind of a promise, to start, learn, or do something. One of the resolutions people often make is to be kinder and more helpful. Here a few books with examples of how someone helped others in big or little ways. After reading these books ask your child to come up with ways they can help others and to think of ways others help them. Write out their resolutions and have them illustrate it for a fun keepsake to look at on future new years.

In Sidewalk Flowers by Arno Lawson and Sydney Schmitt, a young girl walks through the city with her father collecting flowers growing along the sidewalk. One by one she gives her flowers away brightening up people's and animal's days in small acts of kindness and respect. An absolutely beautiful book!

The Brave Little Parrot by Rafe Martin and Susan Gaber shares a myth from India of a brave parrot's attempts to put out a fire despite the hopelessness of him completing the task alone. The gods watching from the clouds laugh at his attempts, but one god turns himself into an eagle and implores the parrot to stop because he is getting hurt, but the parrot responds that he does not need advice, only help. The god, seeing the self-sacrifice of the bird, cries and his tears put out the fire, as well as replacing the parrot's burnt feathers with beautifully colored ones.

The Eye of the Whale: A Rescue Story by Jennifer O'Connell acquaints readers with the true story of a whale trapped by fishing lines that was having a hard time reaching the surface to breathe. Divers came to her aid and cut the lines while she remained still and allowed them to help her. Once she was free, she looked each diver in the eye and gently nudged them before going on her way. Was she thanking them? Read the book and decide with your child.

Two others books that I have either recommended before or are very well-known are The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Make your families rallying cry for the new year "What can we do to make the world a more beautiful place?"

Words Reflected Updates

I want to take a moment to update you about upcoming blog topics and my two children's books. For January, the focus of the blog will be on winter from the science of winter to how animals adapt to what cold weather activities people enjoy. February will focus on relationships and friendships. During these months, each week I will post recommendations for books that relate to a different aspect of those themes.

I am excited to announce that in mid to late January; I will be starting presales for my two children's books: Art Parts and Orchids. Keep an eye out for updates about these books and images from the final versions, as well as additional blogs with book recommendations centered on the topics in both books. This means art and plants will be big featured topics in additional blogs during January and February!

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have finding them! As always, feel free to share with credit to Words Reflected and Kim Bogren Owen on Facebook, your website, or in your newsletter. Please add your recommendations for additional books about helping others in the comments.

(This blog uses the Amazon affiliate program so when you click on the title and purchase through Amazon, you are supporting us! If you don't purchase through these links, please, be sure to support your local, independent bookstore or find them at your library!)

Happy New Year!

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