Teaching kids to see things from another’s view can be challenging, but these three books do the job beautifully!
A Perfect Day by Lane Smith is perfect in its simplicity. Beautiful illustrations with simple, repetitive text draw the reader to share in the pleasures of a warm nap, cool drink, and good meal — the qualities of a perfect day for the cat, dog, chickadee, and squirrel. And then… emotional upheaval! Anger, frustration, sadness, disbelief follow as a bear ruins it all for his own pleasure – and his own perfect day. It provides a great platform to discuss how one person’s idea of “perfect” can be completely different from another’s and how we each can inadvertently trample on someone else’s perfect day. Best of all, it provides a concrete example for navigating sibling conflict — who is the cat? Who is the bear? What can we do differently so they can both have a perfect day?
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel is a gorgeous book that lets the reader look at the same cat through the eyes of others in its world – a child, bee, worm, mouse. Each image conveys information about the viewer; some emotional, some scientific, all interesting and unique to the individual perspective. We love discussing the details of each perspective – the mouse’s fear, the child’s comfort, the infrared detection used by snakes, the echolocation of bats, the overhead view of a bird. But my favorite part of this book is when the cat sees its own reflection. Distorted by rippling water, it’s a great example of how none of us sees ourselves clearly.
Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell is simply a super fun book! The illustrations are lighthearted and packed with delightful details. The writing is humorous and fun to read. But the best part, as a parent, is watching my kids realize how frustrating it can be when one party *cough, cough* is constantly detouring the bedtime routine. By distorting all the things that make bedtime comforting (warm bath, reading, rocking, saying goodnight), my kids rapidly identify with the child and are eager to explain why he’s so frustrated by the end of the book. And then I’m eager to point out how mommy and daddy also have “No Thank You” moments – and I think they actually understand. Even if they don’t, it’s a great place to start the conversation.