According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 1 million students across America take a weapon to school each month, and over 1.3 million students are injured or threatened with a weapon each year.
National Safe Schools Week provides an opportunity to empower students to keep their schools safe by encouraging them to speak up against school violence. The NSSW Website offers resources and materials for students and families inside and outside of the classroom.
Although National Safe Schools Week targets weapon-related violence at school, we can use this event as a reminder to teach our children at a young age how to treat others with respect and kindness. Make time–at meals, bedtime or driving back and forth to school–where children feel safe and encouraged to talk about their day including their joys, troubles and sorrows. As parents and caregivers we can teach by example in how we treat others in our everyday life. By starting small in our own community and working together, we can make the world a safer place.
Here are a few books to share with kids on this topic. Many more titles available at the library:
Reviews adapted from the School Library Journal
When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman. Illustrations by Nancy Cote
Through simple language, a young rabbit relates the things that make her angry and the positive ways in which she can deal with her emotions. The situations are realistic and will strike a familiar chord with most children-being ridiculed on the playground, having to stop a favorite activity to do a chore, not being able to get a drawing right, losing a ball game. Featuring a cast of animals dressed as people, Cote's vibrant paintings skillfully convey the feelings of the characters and add significantly to the child appeal.
Ages 4 - 8
When Sophie Gets Angry by Molly Bang
Sophie is playing with her stuffed gorilla when her sister wrests it from her, knocking her to the floor. When their mother agrees that it is her sister's turn to play with the toy, Sophie becomes so angry that "She wants to smash the world to smithereens." She kicks, screams, and eventually runs into the woods where she climbs a huge beech tree, looks out over the water, and is comforted by the "wide world." Calm, she returns home ready to participate in family life. The text is appropriately brief, for it is Bang's double-page illustrations, vibrating with saturated colors, that reveal the drama of the child's emotions. Floorboards slant diagonally across two pages, echoing the agitation of the siblings as they engage in a tug of war. Outisde, the trees, outlined in bright red, mimic the girl's anger, then bow down as she passes by stooped and weeping, and finally sport bright-green outlines as she returns home cheered and hopeful. Sophie, like a missing piece, rejoins her family as the puzzle they are working on is completed.
Ages 4 - 8
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
A cautionary Cold War tale (first told by Dr. Seuss in 1984), The Butter Battle Book still has a lot to teach about intolerance and how tit-for-tat violence can quickly get out of hand. Explaining the very serious differences between the Zooks and the Yooks, a Zook grandpa tells his grandchild the unspeakable truth: "It's high time that you knew of the terribly horrible thing that Zooks do. In every Zook house and every Zook town every Zook eats his bread with the butter side down!" He then recalls his days with the Zook-Watching Border Patrol, as he gave any Zook who dared come close "a twitch with my tough-tufted prickley Snick-Berry Switch." But when the Zooks fought back, the switches gave way to Triple-Sling Jiggers, then Jigger-Rock Snatchems–even a Kick-a-Poo Kid that was "loaded with powerful Poo-a-Doo Powder and ants' eggs and bees' legs and dried-fried clam chowder."
Ages 4 to 8
Bully B.E.A.N.S. by Julia Cook. Illustrated by Anita DuFalla
A fun story that teaches people of all ages to become proactive when it comes to bullying. This book can help children and adults understand why bullying happens and what they can do to stop it. A bullying book that speaks to the bystander!
Ages 4 to 8
The Big Book For Peace by Lloyd Alexander, Natalie Babbitt and multiple authors
The range of material included under the general umbrella of "peace" is wide, and includes original fables, poems, biographies, illustrations, etc. from such distinguished contributors as Katherine Paterson, Maurice Sendak, Lois Lowry and Jerry Pinkney. The stories about the roots of war are told on a scale that children can grasp: envy between two girls in neighboring treehouses escalates into a cold war; a pair of princes squabble over their turf and eventually destroy each other's kingdoms. Equally useful for home, library or classroom.