Oprah & Other Six-Pillar Picks

As you may know, I've uncovered a few fun treasures from my kids' childhood as I'm cleaning out closets recently; this project of Kaitlyn's was one of my favorites:

She had to pick an important historical figure
and make a timeline of that person's life. 
She chose Oprah Winfrey.
I'd have to agree that Oprah is a strong character role model 
because of her resilience, work ethic, and perseverance.
As the school year comes to a close, a few of my colleagues across the hall are writing character reflection books with their firsties and they've asked me to select my top-five faves. It was a tough task, but here's that list of my Six-Pillar Picks:

Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny, Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin
The Empty Pot by Demi
The Secret Olivia Told Me by N. Joy
The Lunch Thief by Anne C. Bromley
Wolf! Wolf! by John Rocco

One by Kathryn Otoshi
Something Else by Kathryn Cave
Bird Child by Nan Forler
Shhh! by Jeanne Willis
Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose

Squawking Matilda by Lisa Horstman
The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews
If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stoval
Leo the Lightning Bug by Eric Drachman
Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban

Mine! By Kevin Luthardt
Rotten and Rascal by Paul Geraghty
One Grain of Rice by Demi
Looking After Louis by Lesley Ely
It’s Not Fair by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
KiKi’s Hats by Warren Hanson
The Sandal Artist by Kathleen T. Pelley
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Williams
Sometimes We Were Brave by Pat Brisson
The Wall by Eve Bunting
The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania
Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming

If a book has character-infusion potential, it's more than likely on my shelf, but I'm also very picky about my peace-class selections because it has to be meaty enough to springboard an authentic and meaningful character conversation with my little peacemakers. 
The second in the Ferne Press Becoming A Better You! series 
fits that bill handily.

In today's digital world where 21st-century learners make more eye contact with a screen than another pair of eyes, it's increasingly important that we intentionally teach, model, and advocate critical virtues like those covered in this treasure: 
and empathy. 
Introducing Are You Respectful Today? by Marian Nelson and Kris Yankee. This comprehensive guide to respect offers specific suggestions for making the intangible concept of respect tangible. The text seamlessly moves back and forth from cognition and understanding of the word respect to situations in which students are feeling, embracing it and showing it. 

The brilliantly-colored illustrations show children from a myriad of cultural backgrounds sharing an all-important universal trait: respect.

I especially love how the reader is shown that respect takes practice. It's something we all must commit to working on with intention, everywhere, all the time, even when nobody's looking, right?

The book ends with  Reflections and Tips for Creating Respectful Children. Ask your students what they might change as they write their own books about respect and your other school-adopted core values. 

As we study the Six Pillars of Character at Westwood-Bales, we challenge students with inquiries like these: Which trait would they say is their best? Which one do they need to work on? Which one would their teacher pick as their strength? Which one would their parents say they're the best at? How about their friends? And which one would they say is their teacher's strength? Find out why by asking, "How can you tell?" or "Can you give me an example of what makes you think that?"  

It really thrills me to talk with my little leaders about character. I've especially enjoyed listening to them explain how it's not something you can buy from someone, that it's something in your heart that you get from being nice. 
That it's not something you are born with, but something you learn. 
That it's something you are or something you do. 
That it's not something you get, but something you give.

And guess what? The more you give, the more you get.
Get it?
And with respect comes happiness all around.
Now that's golden!


  1. What a thought-provking post. I love your daughter's project on Oprah, although it never occurred to me to think of her as an historical figure. Your book suggestions are spot on -- many of which I've read. You really are an outstanding teacher and care so much about what you teach children at an early age. You had such a good group of students who are eager to learn from you. Gives me hope for the future! Always told my daughter that no one can take away your integrity unless you give it away through your own actions and choices.

  2. Thank you, Pat, for stopping by and sharing your reflections. It might be that the assignment was to map out the life of someone influential? Your comments are gently jogging different memories in this aging mom ...

    I love what you told your daughter about integrity ... timeless wisdom!


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