I could easily sit here and list dozens of the classic Robert Munsch books, maybe even some Little Critter books. And let's not forget about the Bernstein Bears and Clifford! All books I could list when answering the question "what three books should every library have?". I could narrow down that list if I absolutely had to, as all those books I can look at and remember fond childhood memories, like listening to my teachers read them to us as a class, learning to read them myself or borrowing them from my schools library. But when I sit here to answer this question I am pulled in a different direction. There is a book, a book we recently discovered as a family and this is a book I full heartedly believe should be in every school library, with several copies available. The book I am writing about is called "In my heart. A book of feelings" written by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey.
Let me explain how we as a family came to know this book and explain why I feel every school library needs to have this book.
Back in May we attended a butterfly release family picnic put on by the PAIL (pregnancy and infant loss) Network. We are a family of our very own angel. At the picnic there was a children's grief session. This was facilitated by staff of the PAIL Network, but it was not your typical vision of a grief activity. Children of all ages, our son being 4 years old, gathered and listened to a story. The story I write about today "In My Heart". The facilitator led them through this story, discussing many different feelings. From happy, strong, angry, hurt, sad, hopeful and so on. In this book, the reader is led through a description of how ones heart may be feeling when experiencing and coping with such feelings. See, the thing about feelings is how we currently teach them. "Look at Tyler's face, he's pouting, how do you think he's feeling?" I, as an early childhood educator and as an IBI therapist, have said this exact statement too many times to count. We are teaching emotions, or feelings, based on what can be seen, not what can be FELT. This is why this book "In My Heart" needs to be in every school library. Children need to learn how these emotions, or feelings, FEEL. When we can support children in learning to self regulate, by teaching them how to listen to , and be intune with, what their bodies are telling them from the inside out, than we are really onto something big.
This story has been a staple in our house since we first heard it back in May. Helping a child navigate through tough life circumstances doesn't come with a manual, but this book is a close second. "In my heart" has helped our son to be able to more accurately label and identify his feelings, which inturn, has helped us support and parent him better. We have a duty as parents, as our children's first teachers, to help our children understand their feelings at their level, and this is the book to help us do just that.
Every school library, every school classroom, every household of younger children, should have this book. I believe that in my heart!