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You know I love a great picture book and this one, Your Happy Heart by Amie Dean, is a true gem.
Javon is a 5th grader who has the opportunity to work with a kindergarten book buddy. His excitement turns to disappointment after he meets Richard, a quiet, reserved little boy who shows no interest in interacting with Javon. Not even a fist bump at the end of their time together. 😔
Javon begins to reflect on his own childhood and realizes that he and Richard are actually quite similar. Javon remembers having to go to the Zen Zone in his classroom to calm down. He remembers crying, hitting, and throwing things at school when he was Richard’s age.
Javon comes up with a new plan for their next meeting.
He starts by telling Richard that he’s happy to see him and that he’s been thinking about him. Then he tells Richard all about his own time in kindergarten and the struggles he faced. Richard begins to respond, open up, connect, and even smile at Javon.
The boys spend time talking about their gifts and things they like about themselves. Their bond builds with each visit. Javon decides to plan something special for their last reading time together but arrives at the classroom to find that Richard has been sent to the office.
In their final meeting in the office, Javon asks Richard to identify and illustrate three things that make him happy. I won’t lie… when I see that Richard identified Javon as one of those things, I got a lump in my throat.
Richard receives a gift from Javon on the final pages of the book, which brings the story full circle.
Your Happy Heart Themes:
The themes and messages conveyed in Your Happy Heart support lessons on the following topics:
- accepting yourself
- handling big emotions
- identifying your own strengths and gifts
The storyline is realistic, age-appropriate, and effective. I’m absolutely blown away by the illustrations and appreciate the inclusion of diverse characters. I recommend this book to any elementary teacher, counselor, or psychologist. It would be perfect as a whole class read aloud, a small group (classroom or counseling), or for individual students.
If you’d like a copy of the free printable resources (see below) to accompany this book, please subscribe to my newsletter here.
You may also be interested in these posts:
- Growth Mindset Picture Books for Kids: The Top Classroom Read Alouds
- What Do You Do With a Chance? Activities and Book Review
- How to Teach Growth Mindset on a Budget of 10 Minutes
- Kindness Activities and Ideas for Kids
Finally, if you’ve never checked out the publisher, The National Center for Youth Issues, their website is full of resources for parents, teachers, and counselors.