This Amazon #1 Best Seller book in 4 categories (Peer Pressure, Values, Self-Esteem & Self-Respect, and Girls & Women's books) is part of the Cultivating Compassion in Children series. Six-year-old Maggie questions her grandmother whether old things can be beautiful. This is after Maggie sees advertisements to wash the gray out of your hair and creams to wipe away the wrinkles to make you look young and beautiful. They talk about things that are old and beautiful, like the patchwork quilt on her lap. Maggie comes to her own conclusion on beauty and age. The intent of this story is to see beauty from beyond societal norms to what is simply natural in life. It can lead to thoughts and discussion on positive self-esteem. The illustrations in the book are beautiful and culturally diverse. There are questions at the end that the adult can discuss with the child to encourage thinking and increase their understanding. This is a warm and wonderful book for grandparents and elderly friend to read to young children.
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.
Western culture tends to see beauty only in youth with every attempt to look young. There are products galore and constant advertising of these products to reduce wrinkles, grow more hair on those balding spots, or color your hair from the natural gray. Children hear and see these messages. Today children suffer more than ever to find themselves, accept themselves, and believe that they are truly enough. We hear more frequently of teen and even child suicides. The messages of not accepting natural processes of aging are similar to kids accepting themselves as they are, even if they are not skinny, athletic, popular, smart, funny or beautiful. This is another reason to bring the old and the young together, to talk with each other, share feelings and challenges, and bring together mutual understanding and compassion. Bridging the generations rather than setting up barriers, brings people together in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities and support. This promotes greater awareness and respect between generations and contributes to building more cohesive communities and relationships. Intergenerational practices are inclusive, welcoming and creates a bigger picture enhancing understanding which is the nourishment to growing compassionate people and relationships.
What are you going to do June 1 to acknowledge Intergenerational Day?
Can Old Be Beautiful? (Cultivating Compassion in Children)
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