The month of May brings graduations of many levels, kindergarten through college. There are many great lessons in these books that be learned as your graduate grows older. The first three books are good for ages four to eight. The rest are good for all ages.
Pass It On, by Sophy Henn, demonstrates in a simple yet powerful way the importance of doing good in this world continually and then passing it on to others. This sweet book, which is covered in color from top to bottom, is a perfect way to teach youngsters to appreciate the beauty of kindness and God’s earth. “When you see something terrific…smile a smile and pass it on.”
The Thank You Dish, by Trace Balla, is a small book to bring out appreciation for all that surrounds us and for being grateful. It also points out saying “thank you” out loud. Young Gracie is demonstrating her thankfulness at the dinner table by saying thank you to many different endeavors. She is grateful for the rain and soil and sunshine. But she is also grateful for different animals and people for providing essentials to her table.
How to Be a Bigger Bunny, by Wendell and Florence Minor, is a brightly painted book that features a discouraged bunny who feels left out as her brothers and sisters go off to play. But she immerses herself in books that teach her about never giving up and to keep trying, to be brave and ingenious in solving problems and ultimately in helping others. When her siblings get stuck in a log, she is prepared and doesn’t hesitate to help them. There are many lessons to be learned in this empowering book.
The Promise, by Nicola Davies, and cleverly illustrated by Laura Carlin, begins with colorless pages filled with grays and dull blues. A nameless girl attempts to steal from an old woman. But the woman wouldn’t let go of her bag. This old woman states, “If you promise to plant them, I’ll let go.” The girl promises and grabs this heavy bag. All she can think about is the amount of money that must be in the bag. But all she finds are acorns. But she follows through with her promise and plants throughout the city which thereby lifts her spirits and makes the surroundings a happier place. Colors, toward the end, saturate the pages.
If I Had a Little Dream, by Nina Laden, and beautifully illustrated with pencil and colors digitally by Melissa Castrillon, showcases a world full of great possibilities. There is much to explore in this wonderful world of ours. “If I had a little pond, / I would name it Wonder. / Wonder would show me beauty / above the water and under.” There is much detail shown in each picture which will motivate you to pour over them and revisit them again and again.
Old Turtle: Questions of the Heart, by Douglas Wood, and with gorgeous illustrations by Greg Ruth, asks questions like how do we find happiness, the beauty of life and earth and death? The answers are given in a rhetorical way and since the author isn’t a member of the Church there isn’t the depth we find in the gospel. But nonetheless, the questions and answers open up a good discussion.
Famous Fables and Folk Tales Collected from Around the World, retold by Tom Baker, is a small book full of advice. There are familiar Fables and less known ones. You’ll find Aesop’s Fables such as “The Foolish Man and the Fiery Ants” and “The Tortoise and the Eagle”. The advice from the aforementioned is: “Always treat others the way you I want to be treated”. The Tortoise Fable teaches: “never let pride cloud your judgement”. These little stories are quite effective teaching youngsters moral advice because most use animals as the main characters. But these Fables are excellent for all ages to relate and learn from.
Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, by Arun Gandhi, and gorgeously illustrated completely covering the pages by Evan Turk, is a story about a young grandson learning from his wise grandfather. The grandson, Arun, wonders why it’s so early important not to waste small insignificant items like a pencil. But the great old grandfather teaches Arun that all we do reflects how we can become. And our wasteful acts can affect others.
Heroes for my Daughter and Heroes for my Son, both books by Brad Meltzer, demonstrate to children that famous people began as ordinary kids. It just takes initiative, a moral compass and a desire to do good in this world. Both books include famous people who were just normal until they decided to be better like Ann Frank, Marie Curie, The Wright Brothers and Mr. Rogers.
Witness to the Martyrdom: John Taylor’s Personal Account of the Last Days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by Mark H. Taylor, tells this account in detail and is a most inspiring and spiritual book detailing this riveting event in our Church’s history. The events leading up to Joseph Smith’s death is told in its entirety and what happened to John Taylor after will provide more historical value and likely inspire all who read it! It was truly a miracle that Taylor survived the massacre, but the Lord needed him to live to be a witness and to eventually lead the church. Be sure to read the amazing epilogue which details what happened after the martyrdom.