Monday, May 9, 2016

5 Must Read Books for the Shy Preschooler

All preschoolers need to learn how to make and to be a good friend.  However, this major milestone can be a challenge for some children.  Books have the amazing ability to help people of all ages with their fears and challenges. By reading and discussing how the characters made friends, children can be empowered with the knowledge to act. 

After reading dozens of picture books on this topic, I narrowed it down to the best 5 book to read with your shy preschooler.

Publisher Summary: Bunny and Bird live in an old apple tree. Bunny is eager to be friends. But Bird feels too shy. Then one night, Bird’s nest is ruined in a rainstorm.  With Bunny’s help, Bird builds a new nest, overcomes her shyness, and discovers what friendship is all about. 

Why I Like It:  The pictures and characters are adorable. Who doesn’t love birds and bunnies?  Bunny does not give up, even when Bird acts shy initially. Bunny demonstrates great friendship qualities like sensitivity to others needs, sharing what she has, and helping an animal in need. Though she is the lucky recipient of Bunny’s compassion, Bird learns how to accept help from others and to express her gratitude

Blue Horse by Helen Stephens (2004)
Publisher Summary:  Tilly is the new girl in town, which isn't much fun if you are shy and have no one to play with.  Then Tilly meets Blue Horse.  

Why I Like It:  A stuffed animal provides practical and imaginative learning experiences on how to interact with others.  Later, Tilly feels more confident.  She asks another child to play.  The two girls play and imagine with with their favorite stuffed animals.  The sweet characters and warm illustrations make Blue Horse a winning combination.

So Shy by Vicki Morrison (2004)
Publisher Summary: Jake is shy, so shy that he has no friends. His only playmate is his shadow. They do everything together—race along the beach, clamber over the rocks, climb trees. But shadows can’t talk, and Jake longs for a real friend to laugh and joke with. Jake is shy, but he is kind and brave, too. And one day his kindness and bravery help him forget his shyness and win him a wonderful new friend.

Why I Like It:  Jake is active and imaginative. Like many children, he acts out social situations with his imagination. Parents can use this idea as a springboard for playing out how to interact with others.  Jake makes a friend through an act of kindness. Teaching kids to look for ways to help others is an ideal approach to meeting new people. 

Dave and Violet by Sarah Adams (2011)
Publisher Summary:  Violet thinks her best friend Dave is very beautiful.  But she doesn’t know he is very shy.  When she persuades Dave to meet her friends, he becomes nervous—and as he grows redder and hotter with embarrassment, flames gush from his mouth.  Violet’s friends run away in fright, and Dave realizes he going to find it hard to fit in. But one evening his flaming breath is just what is needed to rescue a damp situation, and so he is everyone’s friend. 

Why I Like It:  Even though Dave is a dragon and there is a magic realism aspect, the story can be an excellent discussion starter. To begin with, Dave becomes so nervous he blows fire and causes a big mess. The book has a fun line repeated periodically that children can anticipate and participate in related to his fire breathing.  Parents can prompt kids to talk about how they react to uncertain social interactions and even embarrassing situations. In comparison to Dave, whatever they experience won’t seem so bad (hopefully). Also, I love that Violet is a patient and kind friend. She works to help Dave overcome his fears. The best part is that Dave does not give up after a couple of botched attempts.  Children will learn an awkward or embarrassing moment does not have to define them.

Publisher Summary: Panda longs to play with Pandora next door, but he’s too shy. Pandora longs to say “Hello, Panda!” but she’s much too shy too.    

Why I Like It:  First, the pandas and illustrations are too cute.  Preschoolers will love the animated pictures of these bears. Second, the story depicts a common characteristic of this age group—playing side by side.  Both pandas realize how lonely they are, but they are too shy to change the situation.  Finally, one of the pandas asks the other, “Please come to my house and play,” showing that making a new friend can be as simple as asking. The two new friends are seen playing together in multiple merry scenes.  It is the ideal opportunity to discuss with your preschooler how to play cooperatively with others.

Honorable Mention: 
Dream Friends by You Byun (2013)
Publisher Summary: Melody loves her dreams, where she has an enchanting friend. They do all sorts of magical things together.  Melody wishes her dream friend could be in her real world too—but something more wonderful is about to happen that will make all melody’s dreams of friendship come true. 

Why I Like It:  Similar to So Shy, there is an excellent imaginary aspect to this selection. Author-Illustrator Byun incorporates many whimsical and creative illustrations. When Melody brings her imaginative personality to the playground, she begins to interact with her peers.  Dream Friends encourages children to be who they are and to use their interests and personality to make friends.

I am going to add one more book to the list to help kids in this area.  Linda Davick’s Say Hello is not about being shy, but it does show preschoolers ways to make connections with others like smiling, giggling, sharing, shaking hands, and more. This bright and cheery text is a perfect pep talk before going into a social situation. 

Some children will be social butterflies and others prefer to be wallflowers, but everyone can learn how to make friends.  Re-enforcing positive character qualities like expressing gratitude, being helpful, and showing compassion, preschooler will gain the skills they need to be successful!

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