Graduating from school doesn’t mean the end of school, but the beginning of a lifetime of learning. Here are some outstanding books that emphasize what’s truly important in life and the importance of service, selflessness, kindness, setting goals for improvement and striving to be more Christ-like throughout life. These books are good for all ages.
A Bucket of Blessings, by Kabir and Surishtha Sehgal, and brightly painted by Ting Ting Tsong, is based on an old Indian myth that demonstrates the importance of recognizing our blessings and the importance of serving others. This old tale is set in a thick jungle near a mountainside. A village is dealing with no fresh water for many weeks. But Monkey remembers a story from his mama that told how peacocks can make rain appear by dancing. What he discovers is much more than just how to make rain and that’s what makes this simple tale so powerful!
The Invisible Boy, by Trudy Ludwig, and illustrated with wonderful pencil sketches and colored digitally by Patrice Barton, teaches how the power of kindness and friendship can make a tremendous difference. Brian is so quiet and shy that everyone around just doesn’t take notice of him. The first page sets the tone as you see another student in his class acting out while he stands by unnoticed. Even though there is color everywhere else on the pages, Brian has no color. But when a new student, Justin, comes into the classroom and Brian reaches out to befriend him, color begins to appear. As Justin includes Brian in his activities, Brian’s color reaches a maximum amount and so does his happiness. Be sure to check out the end-pages. The opening pages have just a colorless Brian all alone. But, definitely not on the closing pages.
No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits, by Jordan Romero with Linda LeBlanc, is about an aspiring teen, Jordan, who accomplished his goal of climbing the seven highest summits on each continent of the world. It all began when he was nine and he drew a mural for school of the highest peaks. Through much hard work and diligence he became the youngest (at thirteen) to climb Mount Everest. But he didn’t stop there and by fifteen he had accomplished climbing all seven summits. This personal account of his experiences throughout this quest is exciting, interesting and definitely motivating. This will surely inspire, perhaps not mountain climbers, but for us to work hard and not give up as we attempt to achieve our dreams.
Grandfather Gandhi, by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, and painted richly with watercolor and a blend of mixed media by Evan Turk, relates how his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, taught him to control his dark anger and change it into light. “Anger can strike, like lightning, and split a living tree in two.” “Or it can be channeled, transformed. A switch can be flipped, and it can shed light like a lamp.” “Then anger can illuminate. It can turn the darkness into light”, Grandfather said. This beautifully told and illustrated book showcases how to deal with anger or respond to another’s anger without passing judgment. Be sure to read the note from the authors found at the back of the book.
Be Happy: A Little Book for a Happy You and a Better World, by Monica Sheehan, is a simple book rich in simple advice to help you stay focused on what’s important in life. The result is that by the end of this short book you will smile with appreciation of life’s many blessings. Sheehan’s simple cartoon characters found throughout will also bring a smile to your face. Here’s a sample of the advice found on each page: “Say THANK YOU to the people that teach you…help you…cheer you on.” “Don’t be afraid to make MISTAKES. The only real mistake is not trying.” “BELIEVE IN YOURSELF”. I especially like the last two pages. There’s a place to list what you’re thankful for and to write down your dreams and goals.
Blast to the Past: Disney’s Dream, by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon, showcases the importance of never giving up! The kids in Mr. Cruthers’ class need to time-travel right away and go back to when Walt Disney was attempting to make his first animated movie. Walt was about to give up and they need to go back in time to convince him otherwise. This is the third book in this excellent series helping kids understand determination of great people who had success. But it also demonstrates the challenges along the way.
Women and the Priesthood (What One Mormon Woman Believes), by Sheri Dew, is the perfect book to give to every young woman who is about to leave her family’s home and go out on her own in life, rather it be a mission, college or marriage, etc. This book gives the reader a clear picture of what we, as women, do to help promote the gospel in our current society. There are many who want to dissuade or persuade members of the church to march against the “men” who run the church. What they don’t realize or know is that it’s not men who run the church, but God. The many blessings that women have as part of this beautiful and perfect gospel are spelled out in this highly researched book. One chapter highlights how revelation is open to every single member and the importance of it relies on each of us to seek and receive revelation. Sister Dew was inspired to write this book right now and every member of the Church should read it.