Have you ever felt left out, or that you just did not belong or fit in. Do you know a child that has felt this way? Human beings need the feeling of self-worth to grow and develop into a healthy contributing part of society. Often our relationships and connections to others can enhance or destroy that feeling. BaBa-Balu Belongs, Too, is a story of a monarch caterpillar who doesn’t fit in. He feels uncomfortable in his own skin which he grows out of 5 times. The other bugs don’t play with him or include him. This causes him to be sad, mad, and even bad. One day he is so sad he creeps away from his home on the milkweed. He hangs upside down and grows out of his skin again! But this time he falls into a deep sleep. In his sleep he dreams about how the other bugs include him, eat with him, play with him, and invite him to a party! He feels like he belongs. This feeling overwhelms him with happiness. He wakes up feeling included and loved which causes him to spread his wings and become who he is really meant to be, a beautiful, happy butterfly.
Sonja Lange Wendt is an award-winning author of the Cultivating Compassion in Children books series. Her books are intergenerational and address important and sometimes difficult topics with children on inclusion, acceptance, disabilities, bullying and aging. Serina and Seymour Seed kick off and end each story. Seymour and Serina are the seeds of compassion children have, but sometimes they need planting and nurturing to cultivate the best in them. Through increasing awareness, understanding and discussion, these books teach that using compassion in different situations shows kindness in the greatest way in this sometimes difficult to navigate world.
Sonja uses a variety of setting and characters from grandparents, little girl, little boy, and bugs to engage children in the stories. The settings all include nature and the outdoors. Each story ends with thought provoking questions to be asked by the adult and discussed with the child.
These books are generally fitting for children ages 4-8 but as C.S. Lewis states, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Her books are brilliantly illustrated with vivid colors and scenery.
One of the best ways to grow a kind child, is to show acts of kindness. What a wonderful day to show acts of kindness than on Random Acts of Kindness Day, February 17. There are many acts of kindness that you and your child can do. In this story, BaBa-Balu the caterpillar was not included by the other bugs. As a result, he felt very sad, mad, and sometimes acted bad! Talk to your child about how they can reach out to someone who might be feeling like BaBa-Balu at school, on the playground, at lunch, or even at soccer practice. Maybe they the one feeling excluded? You might be surprised. Does your child have lots of friends and welcoming attitude to meet new friends that might even seem different or strange at first? A child feeling like they never fit in can lead to a serious mental state. It's important that every child know they are loved and that they belong.