By Livy Traczyk
By now teachers have fallen into a rhythm with their students. It’s incredible how within just a few short weeks, school begins feeling like a second home for everyone. Now is the perfect time to pick up the second book in Free Spirit’s Being the Best Me! series, Be Positive! The book teaches optimism in a way that helps students understand the power of their own thoughts, and it is ripe with discussion topics for classrooms to have now that everyone has settled into a daily classroom routine.
The story follows a young child making positive decisions throughout the day. He decides to be grateful for his school lunch (I have a hunch there are teachers reading this right now who wish all their students showed gratitude for what food they are given!). Among many other things, he also learns to appreciate what exercise and fresh air do to improve his spirits. The story progresses from these more lighthearted situations to scenarios that are much harder to be positive about—such as going to the dentist. The story shows, “I can choose to be patient and accept the way things are. Things won’t be like this forever.”
It is in these pages that I am grateful again for the work that Free Spirit does. Children in most every classroom are living in uncomfortable or difficult situations that are beyond their control. We do our students a disservice when we ignore these very real parts of life, but this book can be a tool to help students develop positive outlooks regardless of circumstance.
One way Be Positive! suggests working through hard situations is by thinking of new ways to approach a problem. In the back of the book is a great, tangible exercise called “Rose-Colored Glasses.” You can imagine the general premise, but what if every time children in your class became visibly upset about a problem (large or small), you encouraged them to put on their rose-colored glasses?
I am thinking about the designated Calm Down Spot in my classroom, where I would routinely tell students to go when they were unable to control their emotions when participating with the rest of the class. I can see several of my former students now, loving the option of wearing cool new glasses for a minute or so while they calmed down. Wouldn’t it be an interesting experiment if every time students took off the glasses they were responsible for sharing a new, optimistic way of thinking about the situation?
Like all of the books in the Being the Best Me! series, the back of this book is chockfull of helpful discussion questions and activities for your classroom. I’d love to hear which ones you choose for your classroom and how they work out. If you have other ways of encouraging or teaching positivity, please share those, too.
Livy Traczyk is an author, an illustrator, and a literacy tutor residing in Minneapolis, MN. She holds a bachelor of arts in English literature and creative writing from St. Norbert College. She has published two children’s books with AppleTree Early Learning Institute, where she also taught preK to at-risk children. Livy is currently collaborating with a social worker to create a series of multicultural books based on difficult home life issues, with the goal of providing language, understanding, imagery, and comfort to kids who are often unseen in children’s literature.
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