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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | anger

Dear Peacemakers

In recent weeks, we’ve had many requests for books about anger and fear and conflict resolution.

Book by BookI was immediately reminded of an excellent resource published in 2010 called Book by Book: an Annotated Guide to Young People’s Literature with Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution Themes (Carol Spiegel, published by Educators for Social Responsibility, now called Engaging Schools).

Peace educator Carol Spiegel has gathered a useful, important, and intriguing-to-read list of 600 picture books and 300 chapter books that will spark your imagination and help you find just the right book to use in your classroom, library, or home.

When Sophie Gets AngryAs she says so well, “Stories can gently steal into the lives of young people and show the way to peace and conflict resolution. Children’s literature is rich with such tales. As an example, picture this. Annie struggles with her anger and then she hears about Sophie who gets just as angry. Annie is heartened when she learns how Sophie copies. Had someone tried to talk directly with Annie about ways to deal with anger, Annie may have been defensive. This posture was unnecessary when Sophie was being featured.”

Of course, the book Ms. Spiegel is describing is Molly Bang’s book, When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry … (and check out the 2015 book When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt).

There is an Index of Book Themes in the back matter that will help you find books with themes such as:

  • Elderly, respect for
  • Emotional literacy: accepting limitations and gifts
  • Exploring conflict: nature of conflict, conflict styles
  • Friendship, inclusion and exclusion

You’ll find good books that will be useful for your reading and discussions, such as:

  • First Day in Grapes by L. King Perez, illus by Robert Casilla (Overcoming Obstacles, Bullying)
  • Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema, illus by Leo and Diane Dillon (Listening, Rumors or Suspicion)
  • Probably Still Nick Swanson by Virginia Euwer Wolff (Accepting Limitations and Gifts, Respect for Elderly or Disabled, Rumors or Suspicion)
  • The Revealers by Doug Wilhelm (Bullying, Prejudice or Dislike, Nonviolent Response)
  • REVOLUTION is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine (Nonviolent Response, Oppression)

Book by Book books

In our current world, where books have a shelf life of less than five years, you may not readily find some of these books (because they were published six or seven years ago). Get the book you’re interested in on interlibrary loan from your public library, read it, consider whether it’s important to have it in your school or classroom library, and then find a used copy online.

The folks at Engaging Schools were kind enough to send me two downloadable PDFs that may help to convince you to obtain this book: Table of Contents and Supplemental Index. You can order the book from Engaging Schools online.

I hope they will update this book … it’s a critical reference in our unsettled, growing wiser, opening our minds world.

Seriously, you’ll wonder why you don’t already have this reference book on your shelf.

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The Sandwich Swap

The Sandwich SwapNormally, I spurn picture books written by celebrities, be they actors or royalty or what have you. If it’s a person in the headlines, I quite assume they could not possibly write a worthy picture book. The only exception on my shelves, I believe (and I realize there are other exceptions! Feel free to leave titles in the comments.) is The Sandwich Swap by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah with Kelly Depucchio, illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

I adore this book and have read it to many groups of kids. It’s about two best friends, Salma and Lily, who do most everything together—they draw, they swing, they jump rope. And every day they eat lunch together—Lilly always has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on squishy white bread, and Salma always has a hummus sandwich on pita bread. Secretly, they each find their friend’s choice of sandwich mystifying. Gooey peanut paste? Ew Gross! Icky chickpea paste? Ew yuck! But they don’t say this to each other.

Until one day they do. Lily blurts out her feelings about Salma’s sandwich.

Salma frowned. She looked down at the thin, soft bread, and she thought of her beautiful, smiling mother as she carefully cut Salma’s sandwich in two neat halves that morning. 

The next line is the most brilliant in the book, I think: Her hurt feelings turned to mad.

Isn’t that how it goes? Once, when I read this in story time a little boy smacked his forehead with his hands and said, “Oh no!”

Oh no, is right—Salma snaps back with hurtful words about the grossness and offensive smell of Lily’s sandwich.

Lily looked surprised. She sniffed the thick, squishy bread, and she thought of her dad in his silly apron, whistling as he cut Lily’s sandwich into two perfect triangles that morning.

Well, the disagreement is personal and hurtful, and the friends part ways after a few more hurtful exchanges. No more picture drawing, swinging, and jump roping. They don’t eat together, they don’t talk…and the pictures are exquisite—two deflated girls without their best friend.

Meanwhile…the story spread and everyone in the lunchroom began to choose sides around the peanut butter and hummus sandwiches.

Pretty soon the rude insults had nothing at all to do with peanut butter or hummus.

Sandwich Swap“That’s so dumb!” said one outraged girl I was reading to.  I nodded vaguely and turned the page to the two-page spread of a food fight right there in the lunchroom. “See!” said the girl. She held her head as if she had the worst headache.

This is how wars start, people! Interestingly, every time I look for this book on my shelf I’m looking for the title “The Sandwich War” and am then reminded that the actual title is more…peaceful. As is the book in the end.

Salma and Lily come to their senses as pudding cups and carrot sticks whip past their heads. They’re required to help clean up the mess and they’re sent to the principal’s office, as well. Again, the illustrations carry the feelings—two small girls, made smaller by all that has happened.

The next day, brave Salma sits down across from Lily at lunch. In return, Lily works up the courage to ask Salma if she’d like to try her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A swap occurs, as well as glad exclamations of the yumminess of each others sandwiches.

The girls hatch a plan, which is depicted entirely in a gorgeous pull-out three page spread.

Sandwich Swap

When I read this to kids, we looks at all the flags and try to identify them. We wonder what food was brought to represent each country. I’ve always wanted to have such a potluck after the book, but although I’ve been to such potlucks, I never seem to have the book with me at the right time. Perhaps I just need to carry it around in my purse… Or create such an event!

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Peace

Peace is elusive. It is a goal of some people at some time in some parts of the world. As John Lennon wrote: “Imagine no possessions / I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man / Imagine all the people sharing all the world …” Is […]

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