This story seems especially appropriate for the holiday season.
Title: I am a Bear
Written and illustrated by: Jean-François Dumont
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015, (originally published in France 2010) Fiction
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/topics: bears, homelessness, kindness, friendship
Opening: I don’t know how I got here… I have no memory of my life before, just a few images that flash before my eyes from time to time, like the car headlights that sweep over my bed at night. All I know is that one morning I woke up here, on this street, and I haven’t left it since.
Brief synopsis: (LOC) A homeless bear living in a city has a hard time getting by, but when a little girl makes friends with him, his life becomes brighter.
Activities and resources:
This book is a great springboard for a discussion on homelessness.
For older children, use it to launch research into the issue in your area and exploration of outreach services.
Inspire a food drive or other service.
Start a campaign featuring acts of kindness.
Why I like this book:
In a word – powerful!
This story works at two levels – adult and child. Its emotional range moves from humor to sadness and self-defeat, to tenderness, compassion and hope. As an adult reader I was amazed by how this child’s story relates the reality of the homeless and public reaction to them. A child, seeing it through more innocent eyes, would absorb the power of a kind word and human connection. For all ages, it inspires empathy.
Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent resources.