3 Picture Books—3 Kinds of Gifts

There are so many recent wonderful picture books about kindness and gifts from the heart. Here are three that stand out to me as having actionable examples we can bring to our own lives.

EmmasGems_Cover_Aug27-2018_Final (2)Title: Emma’s Gems
Written by: Anne Renaud
Illustrated by: Leanne Franson
Peanut Butter Press 2019
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/topics: kindness, grandparents

Grandpa Phil does not have to speak or sneeze or laugh for Emma to know he’s near. It is the familiar jingle-jangle of the coins in his pockets that always sounds his presence.

The moments Emma shares with Grandpa Phil are always filled with beautiful discoveries. That is because her grandfather knows so much. He even knows how to change ordinary stones into precious gems…

Why I like this book:
This little gem of a book is flying under the radar, but I was lucky enough to receive a copy for review from the author. My favorite part of the book is that, by example, Grandpa teaches Emma to consciously be kind by using “generosity gems” and transferring them from one pocket to the other with each act of kindness. What a great way for kids to learn to be givers of kindness!

Here’s another tender story about a child and her grandfather.

Title: Ojiichan’s Giftojiichan_s_gift
Written by Chieri Uegaki
Illustrated by Genevieve Simms
Kids Can Press, 2019
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/topics: grandparents, Japan, gardens, gifts

When Mayumi van Horton was born, her grandfather built her a garden. It sat behind a tidy brown house nearly halfway around the world, and it was unlike any other garden she knew.

When Mayumi was born, her grandfather created a garden for her. It was unlike any other garden she knew. It had no flowers or vegetables. Instead, Ojiichan made it out of stones: “big ones, little ones and ones in-between. Every summer, Mayumi visits her grandfather in Japan, and they tend the garden together. Raking the gravel is her favorite part. Afterward, the two of them sit on a bench and enjoy the results of their efforts in happy silence. But then one summer, everything changes. Ojiichan has grown too old to care for his home and the garden. He has to move. Will Mayumi find a way to keep the memory of the garden alive for both of them?

Why I like this book:
I love the connection between Mayumi and her grandfather. I’m always a sucker for gardens AND for cross cultural stories. In this tender story, the main character creates the perfect gift for her grandfather after she understands what he has given her.

This book is different than the others in that the “gifts” are not tangible. But again, essential emotional skills and strategies are passed to young ones who are then able to internalize them.

9781433829390_p0_v2_s550x406Title: You Are Your Strong
Written by: Danielle Dufayet
Illustrated by: Jennifer Zivoin
Magination Press, 2019
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/topics: fear, social emotional learning

When puppy’s woofs turn into whimpers, Worry whispers in my ears.
Momma puts her arms around me and tells me everything will be OK. Her Calm becomes my inner strength, my Strong. And Worry washes away.

Soothing and empowering, You Are Your Strong reassures kids that they can handle big emotions and highlights the benefit of developing inner strength and confidence in oneself. With diverse characters and scenes featuring a range of different family relationships—from parents, to grandparents, to an older sister in the military—this book shows kids that they will have help along the way to being strong and in control. Includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers by Julia Martin Burch, PhD, with advice for building skills to navigate and cope with big emotions.

Why I like this book:
In the first part of the story, adults are modeling and providing the Strong for children. As the text progresses, the kids are using their own strategies for coping with emotions. What a great resource for kids to learn about their inner strength and the power of resilience.

Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

6 thoughts on “3 Picture Books—3 Kinds of Gifts

  1. Yay! My library owns a copy of Ojiichan’s Gift. I’ll have to wait for them to order and receive the other two books you reviewed. So many kids seem to think that the best presents come from the store, So, I’m especially happy that the gift the MC receives in ‘Ojiichan’s Gift’ isn’t something tangible. I can’t wait to read this story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m attracted to the watercolor style of the first book, and I love how all three are intergenerational in nature. I only remember one of my grandparents and have a very fond memory of hanging out with him. I also like that this third book brings kids to reflect on an inner strength that they can draw from. Nice recs! The SFPL has the second two, so I’ll have to request they order the first one. Thanks for the recs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the focus on intergenerational relationships in all three books. So touching and important. Like the idea of “generosity gems.” Kids will remember a gift like that from a grandparent. I also have a review of You are Strong in my draft box. Enjoyed your reviews and pairing these books together.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed these pairings as well. I’m very familiar with Danielle’s book as one of her CPs and I reviewed it earlier. But I have not seen the other two. Unfortunately my library doesn’t have Emma’s Gems. I’ll see if they’ll order it. THank you for highlighting two I’d never seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Beth, for sharing these wonderful books and for including my book, You Are Your Strong, in your recommendations. I truly want every child to feel empowered. It’s essential to having a happy life!

    Liked by 1 person

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