The start of a new school year is always a great time to share books about friendship, manners, and celebrating uniqueness with students. There are a few books about friendship that are my all-time favorites. Tarra and Bella by Carol Buckley is story about a unique friendship between an elephant and a dog. The story is endearing and lends itself to discussions about loyalty among friends and that friendship can come in all shapes and sizes. After I read the story with students, I usually show them the news clips about Tarra and Bella from CBS news. Watch the segment "On Elephant Sanctuary, Unlikely Friends" first, then watch "Elephant Loses Man's Best Friend". Get your tissues ready. It pulls at your heart strings.
Another story that I love about unusual friendships is Owen and Mzee by Paula Kahumbu. It's about an Aldabra tortoise and a baby hippo. A great story about how friends can help one another in a crisis. There's a fun video you can show students on Vimeo called, "Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship".
In addition to books about friendship, I like to read books to my students about celebrating how everyone is unique and has something special to offer to each other. Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a clever book about a character named Spoon who tries to compare himself to all the other utensils in the silverware drawer, such as knife, fork, and chopsticks. In the end, he accepts himself for who he is and learns to love his unique qualities. This funny book is perfect for opening up a discussion about student's unique gifts and talents.
Here are two more great books for the beginning of the year. Spork by Kyo Maclear celebrates individuality and demonstrates the importance of tolerance and leads to great discussions about respect for differences. Another great book about friendship by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is Chopsticks. Both of these books are funny and will leave your students giggling and wanting more.
The beginning days of school are a great opportunity to refresh students memories about manners. There is a set of books by Munro Leaf that are so cute and funny. They include Manners Can Be Fun, How To Speak Politely And Why, and How To Behave And Why. Even though they were published in the 1930's, his advice still stands the test of time. My students love the simple, but funny illustrations.
Some other great books to share with students about manners include Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller, Whoopi's Big Book of Manners by Whoopi Goldberg, and What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick.
If you have a great book that you love to read to your students at the beginning of a school year, please write the title in the comment section. Thanks so much and happy reading!