I’m thrilled to have author and illustrator Jen Betton here today. We met at a children’s book writing class a few years back. It was a community education class at my local high school but was special. Illustrator Jannie Ho was also in the class, working on writing picture books. It’s probably unusual, but after that class, we all were on our way to becoming debut picture book authors. (Jannie Ho has illustrated four dozen books but her debut BEAR AND CHICKEN is her first author and illustrator picture book!).
Jen has since moved away from the Boston area to Austin so it’s nice to have her here! She is giving away a signed copy ofHedgehog Needs a Hug. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.
What are your favorite picture books about kindness and compassion? Thanks for leaving a comment!
Hedgehog Needs a Hug by Jen Betton
Everyone needs hugs, even if they’re prickly. When Hedgehog wakes up feeling down in the snout and droopy in the prickles, he knows a hug will make him feel better. But none of his friends are eager to wrap their arms around Hedgehog’s prickles, and he’s too smart to fall for Fox’s sly offer. Then Hedgehog gets a surprise: Another animal in the forest is feeling exactly the same way. Luckily, both are kind and brave enough for the perfect hug. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
I discovered the heart of this story when I was trying to write the ending – and I realized I didn’t want Hedgehog to hug someone just the same as him (like another hedgehog) or someone who wouldn’t be bothered by his prickles (like a turtle). He was an outsider, and I wanted him to hug someone experiencing the same rejection – a skunk! So this became a book about empathy, about being kind to someone who needs a friend.
Kindness can manifested a lot of different ways – standing up for someone, generosity, sharing, being a friend, and there are many, many wonderful picture books out there on these themes. Here are just a few of my favorite titles about kindness.
9 Picture Books about Kindness and Compassion
9. Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin
This beautiful, wordless story follows a girl whose toy is stolen by a fox. In the end the girl decides to be kind to the little fox who wronged her. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
8. The Fox Wish by Kimiko Aman and Komako Sakai
A little girl finds that foxes have taken her jump rope, and they think it is the answer to a wish. She plays with them and decides to let them keep it, even though it is obviously a special toy. Very sweet story of generosity. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
7. Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell and Corinna Luyken
There are a lot of classroom-unkindness or bullying books out there, but this one is my favorite. Chloe is very annoyed by Adrian’s claim to have a horse and loudly calls him a liar. What I love about this is that we see the whole situation from Chloe’s point of view, and we see her perspective change as she learns to appreciate Adrian. And it’s just gorgeously illustrated. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
6. A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards
Mrs. Goldman knits hats for everyone but herself, and it’s a frigid winter. Sophia decides to try to make Mrs. Goldman a hat all on her own. This is a story of kindness and perseverance – working to do something kind for someone you care about. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
5. Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jen Hill
This book has so many examples of kid-accessible acts of kindness sprinkled throughout the book. My daughter loves to ask me about all the illustrations of people being kind in the background – pulling down books for shorter children, holding open the door, comforting a girl who broke her glasses. It’s almost a how-to book, but doesn’t come across as didactic at all. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
4. Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller
This is similar to Be Kind in that it is a how-to book, but delightfully silly and showing how what we often think of as good manners are a way of being kind to one another, and how everyone appreciates the same consideration. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
3. The Lion and the Mouse by Aesop and Jerry Pinkney
A classic story of how no act of kindness is ever wasted. I love stories where the personality characteristics take on physical form, which can allow for a fresh perspective on the situation. Jerry Pinkney brings it to life elegantly and wordlessly. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
2. Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead
A gentle tale of friends who take care of each other; it’s a picture of how we want our relationships to be.
1. The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
This book is about grief, but also about compassion and it beautifully models how to be kind to someone hurting.
Hedgehog Needs a Hug SIGNED Book GIVEAWAY!
Jen Betton is giving away a SIGNED copy of Hedgehog Needs a Hug. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. We can only ship to U.S. addresses.
Jen Betton loves to draw and make up stories with her pictures. In Kindergarten she got into trouble for drawing presents on a picture of Santa, and she has been illustrating ever since. She wrote and illustrated HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG, published with Penguin-Putnam, and she illustrated TWILIGHT CHANT, written by Holly Thompson, published with Clarion.
She has a BA in English, and a BFA and MFA in Illustration. You can find her painting and munchkin-wrangling in Dallas. More of her work is at www.jenbetton.com
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.