Book Review: I Call My Hand Gentle

Author: Amanda Haan
Illustrated by Marina Sagona
Interest Level: Ages 4-9

About This Book: In a book about empowerment and choice, an unidentified narrator catalogs some of the wonderful things a hand can do: pick up things, throw, hold, write, draw, push. Fluid, expressionistic illustrations in Day-Glo colors, some full page, some small and square, add potency to the brief words. After exploring what hands can do, the narrator moves to bigger issues--honorable behavior and choice ("I choose not to steal, push, hurt"), with the accompanying illustration, in garish hues, on a background of orange and yellow flames. The book concludes as the narrator recounts good choices (using a hand to pet, cuddle, tickle, and share), which leads to the final statement, "So I'll call my hand gentle." An elegantly simple lesson that will work well at home and in the classroom.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've had a lot of success with this book in the younger grades. It is a simple and concrete message. We can use our hands to help or hurt. It's a choice. How will you choose to use your hands? How will you choose to solve your problems? I often read I Call My Hand Gentle a few times throughout the school year. Kids need a lot of reinforcement from adults to choose a non-violent way to deal with problems. I love this activity a teacher did with her students. Go get this wonderful book for your shelf.

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