Take a Break Books: My Love for Mo Willems

I have some serious love for Mo Willems. Particularly his Elephant & Piggie series. His books are hilarious, entertaining, and appealing to kids, but did you know you can use many of his books to start meaningful conversations with your kids? I’ve listed a few of my favorites along with why I like them and the questions/commentary I use with the kids I work with (and now with Max).

There Is a Bird on Your Head - I read this one the most with my clients. It’s great for teaching the importance of using words and polite tone when making requests. It’s also great for encouraging listening. Here’s what I like to ask:

Did it work when Gerald screamed and whined? (No.) What worked? (When Gerald used his regular voice and asked the birds!) Piggie looks upset about the birds on her head. What should she do? (Ask them to leave.) Were the birds friendly or unfriendly? Did the birds listen to Gerald the first time he asked in a regular voice? (Yes!)

Waiting Is Not Easy! - The title speaks for itself. Waiting is hard for kids (and grown ups!). They whine, they moan, they worry…just like Gerald. This book is a great normalizer. I like to use it to sympathize and teach that waiting is hard work.

What could Gerald do to make waiting easier? (draw a picture, play a game, etc) Is waiting hard or easy for you? (If they say ‘easy” respond with, ‘that sounds like a wish!’) Was the big surprise worth waiting for?

Can I Play Too? - Have you ever tried getting 3 kids to play together cooperatively? It can be one of the hardest things! You can usually get 2 of them to compromise, but it is really difficult to get all 3 on board with the same idea.

Was it hard or easy to figure out how to play? What ended up working? Did they give up and run away? (No! They worked together to figure it out)

My New Friend Is So Fun! - Sometimes kids get attached to one special friend. Making friends is really hard for some and when they find one, they cling! This book does a great job illustrating that your best friend can have other friends and still be your best friend.

What were Gerald and snake worried about? Is it okay that Brian Bat and Piggie are playing? Can Piggie still be Gerald’s best friend if she plays with Brian Bat? Did Piggie hurt Gerald’s feelings?

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