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At the Housman Institute, we recognize the profound importance of building the foundation for emotional intelligence in children from birth. Our begin to ECSEL program helps children recognize, understand, regulate and express their emotions in a healthy way that sets them up for a lifetime of well-being, mental health and success. Within our program, we promote the acquisition of these emotional competencies with the use of various proprietary tools such as the begin to MakePeace Table, Our Emotions Board, calm down bottles and puppets. But major tools not listed here that our teachers use daily are children’s books.
Children’s books are important because of how readers interact with them, especially the read-aloud experience. Some parents try to rush their children out of picture books into chapter books because they believe that reading text-heavy books will help young people prepare for academic challenges, and ultimately standardized testing, not realizing that picture books alone are an extremely valuable resource and that they are in fact later into childhood as well, even up through high school. Beyond simply introducing children to the concept of reading, picture books can also help them develop critical thinking skills. “To some degree, picture books force an analog way of thinking. From page to page, as the reader interacts with the book, their imagination is filling in the missing themes”. Picture books are a comprehensive learning tool that has the potential to teach children far more than what is simply written or depicted on the pages.
The experience of having a book read aloud to children prompts conversations about what’s happening in the story, what the characters are feeling, meanings of words and especially how what’s happening in the book might relate to the child. In a world where there seem to be so many things that they aren’t allowed to do and where adults have the final say, a children’s book offers an opportunity for kids to feel as though they are a part of the story -- or even more compelling -- a part of the greater world. Because of the impact that books have on children, it is especially important to consider the content of these books.
Young children need caring adults to help them construct a positive sense of self and a respectful understanding of others, as from a very young age, children are exceptionally aware of facial expressions, tone and body language. Emotionally driven books provide a wonderful opportunity for leading children toward a more understanding and empathetic worldview.
This holiday season, we are sharing some of our favorite empathy-encouraging books along with those curated by the editors of Parents Magazine:
At Housman Institute, we believe our role is to nurture the social, emotional, and cognitive well-being of all students and educators without bias. It is critical that every child feel recognized and validated from their earliest days—to understand that their voice matters, regardless of background or experience and is being heard. We listen to, respect and support the needs of our educators as we recognize their critical role in a child's emotional growth and development. Together we need to begin the important work to help all our children and educators, as we move toward a more equitable environment for early learning, setting the stage for the building blocks of empathy and conflict resolution, and a more equitable future for us all. To learn more about how our program works to address equity in early childhood school communities... visit here.