Friday, February 10, 2012

Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for the Young Child

A 'must have' title for any book shelf
Each month I volunteer in Ethel's class to listen to her classmates read.  Her teacher asks parents to come listen to the kids read to help give them practice and boost their confidence.  She asks parents to assist the kids in techniques they learn in class to help them sound out words, speak clearly, and concentrate on the words, even when they know a particular book or story 'by heart'. 

I've heard all the kids in the class by now, and it's been a great way to meet the kids Ethel talks about when she tells us her tales of first grade.  The kids are reading at all different levels.  I help some kids with two and three letter sight words, and others I have to encourage to slow down and read the words, rather than hurriedly tell me the story.  Regardless of their reading ability, I try to let them know that I enjoy my time with them and I think they all understand that the parents who come to listen are there to help, not criticize or correct and make negative reports to the teacher.  Selfishly, I enjoy the fact that Ethel rushes to hug me when I arrive, and all the kids love to see their friends' parents.  It's not embarrassing for them.  Yet. 

A few weeks into the school year Ethel came home with a picture she'd drawn at school where she and another child had buckets, and she was filling the other child's bucket.  They had been working on using manners and being kind to each other, which I thought was a great lesson.  She reported to me for a week or two about buckets she'd filled, who had filled hers, and who in the class was emptying buckets.  I assumed this was a general lesson the teacher was doing with the kids, and didn't think much of it.  She still talks, on occasion, about bucket filling.

Today I sat with one of Ethel's classmates and I finally figured out where the bucket filling talk originated.  Classmate, Joy*, read me the book, Fill A Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for the Young Child, by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin.  I was so happy to hear this whole book, and to have it read to me by one of Ethel's good friends who happens to be an excellent reader.  If you haven't read this book, I think you should.  I think it's a great way to help children understand just how kindness impacts the people they encounter each day.

The illustrations are bright, the text is simple, and the message is clear.  The story gives example of ways to fill buckets {smiling, helping, playing}, and of ways buckets can be emptied {making fun of others, being mean, not listening, hurting others}.  Acting with kindness fills both your bucket and the bucket of the person you're being kind to.  Joy stopped and smiled at me at one point and told me she was filling my bucket, and told me that she fills her mom's bucket every day.  I loved it!

The book wasn't just a book in the library or the classroom, the book was given to Ethel's teacher as recognition of her kindness, a gift from fellow staff members at the school.  What a great idea!  Not only is this a great book to have on your (or your child's) book shelf, it is a great gift for anyone.  Remember this title when you're trying to come up with a gift for your child's teacher!

Have you filled someone's bucket today?