Using Books to Get your Children Talking!!

I am a self proclaimed book addict, my husband would agree.  I LOVE books and especially love books that are not only good for the mind but are good for the heart and soul too.  I often use books as an easy springboard into difficult discussions and find that children (and even adults) are more comfortable talking about books and characters then they are talking about themselves.  These are some great reads, and some great books to use as conversation starters.  I’d love to hear some of your favourite books that get your kids talking! 


Born from the Heart – By Berta Serrano.  There aren’t many books that can bring me to tears with just the title. But this is one of them.  My family is made up of three incredible children.  My oldest daughter is my born from the heart daughter. I met her when she was five and I started dating her dad.  From that moment on I have told her she was born in my heart, not my belly.  She is now 18 and I know the love you feel for your children is not determined on whether or not they grew on your inside. This book is an incredibly beautiful illustration of that journey. This book also hits close to my heart as two of our dear friends are in the process to adopt.  This process is so incredibly beautifully illustrated here and would be a beautiful book to read to classes of students and show just one more way a family can be born.  Thank you Berta Serrano for so beautifully illustrating the song in my heart!!


What does it mean to be present? – By Rana Diorio Sometimes a book falls into your lap that is perfect for the very moment that you are in. This happens to be one of those books.  What does it mean to be present is a beautiful book for any age. It speaks beautifully to a problem so many of us face, busyness. Today as I was trying to write this, (while dealing with dinner, my children arguing, our oldest’s grad meeting (Yes our oldest graduates this year!!) and my husband’s business) I giggled thinking that this was the book I was going to be writing about. How do we remain present when life is moving at a break-neck pace?  I can’t wait to read this book to my kids (and my students) and have all the conversations that I know will arise.  This book is a great one for Inference, Questioning and Transform.  It also might just become my go to gift book, to both kids and adults alike!!

PictureThe Way I Act – By Steve MetzgerThis book is the sequel to a great little book called the Way I Feel. The Way I Feel I can repeat verbatim as it was the book my now 18 year old daughter learned to read with. For whatever reason she decided that this was the book that she wanted to read and I must have listened to her read (recite) it more than a hundred times for anyone and everyone who would listen to her. I used The Way I Feel to get my toddlers to explain how they were feeling (by pointing to the pictures when they were too mad to speak) so it is near and dear to my heart.  This lovely sequel doesn’t disappoint, it’s another great book with great vocabulary.  I used The Way I Feel in teaching by having my students write their own descriptions for feelings and I plan to use this book the same way.  It’s another great addition to any teaching collection!

The Best Part of Me – collection by Wendy EwaldPicture
Some books seem to have lessons that leap off the pages and into my being and this is definitely one of those books. It is a beautiful book of photography of different children and their favourite parts, with a description of why that part is the “Best Part of Me”.  What an exceptional way of illustrating diversity and highlighting and celebrating differences!  The students writing is honest and as unique as they are. I know my students will love listening to each written piece and I can’t wait to see what they create themselves (we will definitely be doing this activity!).  This book would be fabulous for Harmony Week or Anti-Bullying lessons too!


If Everybody Did – By Jo Ann Stover
This is one of those books that grows on you. At first I was underwhelmed by the black and white illustrations and the simplicity. But the more I read it, the more I love it.  What “If Everybody Did” is a great concept and has many many great teaching points. What if everybody did pick all the flowers?  There will be lots of great discussions I’m sure as we add on to other ideas of “If Everybody Did”. I think this book will be a great one for teaching Questioning, when I read it to my kids there was a MILLION questions and thoughts about every page!!
It’s Hard to be a Verb – Written by Julia Cook 51Wu1JXz-5L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_
Definitely one of my new favorite finds (really anything by Julia Cook).  Her messages are easy for kids to relate to and often have teachable moments at  the back which are kid friendly.  In It’s Hard to Be a Verb, a little boy with some “wiggle” issues learns to understand himself better. This is an excellent book for connecting as so many of our little people deal with the “wiggles”.  My son LOVED that there was a book with a character that dealt with some of the same issues that he does.  When I read this book to my students at the end of the year last year the connections that were made were excellent and the class ended up brainstorming their own ideas for dealing with the wiggles. This will definitely become one of my first reads to my students this school year (and every year).


Ish – Writen by Peter H. ReynoldsOne of my favorite discoveries last year.  This book is an excellent teacher to students whowon’t try if they can’t be perfect. We did a ton of “Ish” drawings ourselves as a class and students who typically tell me they “can’t” were all over drawing ish.  I love this book for teaching transform. In both primary and intermediate grades the students were able to easily grasp how words can impact and how sometimes Ish is a good start!  This book will definitely be one that I gift over and over again as it’s a great must have in your classroom.


The Kissing Hand – Written by Audrey PennDefinitely a tried and true story for the first days of school. Guaranteed to make parents cry and comfort kids.  This adorable story about a little raccoon’s first day of school is an excellent read for Kindergarten.  My grade two daughter still asks for a kissing hand every once and a while when she’s feeling worried about us leaving. The activities that you can do with this book are endless. A great book for connecting!


hello! hello! written by Matthew Cordell.  Hello! Hello! is an incredibly intelligent book. With little language (much like the book Hug by Jez Alborough) there is tons of room for inference and, in today’s technology obsessed world, more connections than we would probably like to admit.  There have been a number of books written lately about being “present” where we are and this is another great one.  This book will illicit some great conversation and I am very intrigued to hear what my “phone toting” students have to say about it!
Those Shoes (Maribeth Boelts) – Those Shoes is one of those books that will not leave your students

Picture the same.  Its premise is simple, its a book about a young boy and his shoes, however the book is written in a way that with some thinking, truly can change the way students think.  Teaching “Transform” is one of my all time favourite things to teach.  I truly believe when we are able to introduce our students to new ways of thinking, everything changes.  Teaching at a somewhat lower socioeconomic school made this lesson even better, as there were a few “Ah Ha” moments that I don’t think students will soon forget.  The lesson that I do with this book was borrowed from an Adrienne Gear Workshop and over time I have changed it to be suit the grade I’m working with (Lesson Plan Link). This book is definitely a fabulous addition to any home or classroom library!

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Director of Teaching and Learning

I am a learner, a teacher and a mom, and I love life's simple blessings. To me there is nothing better than seeing the world through the eyes of children. There is no question that my three beautiful children have been my best (and sometimes hardest) teachers. Although my favourite role is mom, it is followed very closely by my role as teacher. This year I will begin a new journey as the Director of Teaching and Learning at a local private school. I can't wait to take on this new opportunity. During my career I have been a district literacy team member, a literacy support teacher and have had more than a decade of classroom experience teaching grades K-6. I thrive on creating a learning environment where the students are encouraged and enriched. Where they are able to discover their strengths. I love inspiring children to change their perspectives of themselves as a learner. I am new to websites and blogging and am teaching myself how to build this site (so please be forgiving of any technical difficulties). In my spare time (which isn't much) I love to read, run, cook and explore new places!

One Response

  1. […] For younger children, so many books have great teaching opportunities about different scenarios and are great teaching tools (Find a list of some great Social Emotional Learning booksHere ). […]

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