Author: Maribeth Boelts
Illustrated by Noah Z Jones
Interest Level: Ages 4-8
About This Book: All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for "want," just "need," when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is one of my top 10 favorite books of the school year. It's really rare to find such a profound read about the spirit of giving. We have a generation of kids that sometimes seems more concerned about the latest IPhone, the latest fashion trend, or how many facebook friends they have rather than things that have true value like family or friends. Reading Those Shoes got kids thinking about this. We had a thought provoking conversation about listening to our heart - even when we don't want to....translation - Do The Right Thing! I wanted the kids to understand when we do something kind for another person - sometimes the reward is just feeling joy. Wow, did they hear this loud and clear through the story. The most satisfying thing Jeremey did was for someone else, not for himself. Another big teaching moment - wants vs. needs. We made a whole T chart list of how these two things are different and how it can impact who we truly want to grow up to be. Society is pushing so many material things on kids it's easy and tempting to lose your way and get sucked into the external satisfactions of life. Gratitude. Thank goodness for grandmas! She had a perfect little role in the story. Students acknowledged how adults have 'experience' that kids do not yet have. Most times, adults really do know best! Listening to our hearts and doing the right thing is SO important, lets remind children early on before the walls go up and the earphones go on. I don't want kids plugging into IPods - I want them to plug into us.
I read Those Shoes to all of the K-3 grades. One of our teachers decided to do a language arts lesson after listening to my lesson. It's good stuff. Students need more literature like this that pushes such an overwhelming message of kindness and generosity.
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