With a sprout in class expecting a new baby brother or sister any day now and many friends with younger siblings, I decided to pull out one of my all time favorite books – Julius The Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes. One of my favorite author/illustrators, Kevin Henkes' books are sweet stories that always prompt amazing discussions. I suppose that is why I love his books so much… Chrysanthemum, Wemberly Worried, and Owen (oh how I loved my binky as a child) thrill my class over and over.

As I read Julius today, the connections were palpable. Kids fights with their siblings – I know, my brother and I practically waged war for the better part of my childhood. In Julius, Lilly is excited for her new baby brother to arrive... until he does. She can’t understand why her parents and family fawn over him when she finds him disgusting. The book never names the feeling… jealousy, but we did during our discussion.

One of the many aspects I love about Kevin Henkes books is the humor. He just finds the right balance between emotion and laughter. My favorite part of Julius? When Lilly stalks strangers warning them about the dangers of babies.

We had an amazing talk afterwards about sibling rivalry and sibling love. Most sprouts expressed their general dislike for their brothers and sisters, but a few could see the light at the end of the tunnel… thanks to Julius. These discussions about family, love, and life are what I cherish most about my job. Oh, and my brother and I, we stopped fighting and grew to love each other.


MBR said...

Teaching older kids (4th graders), I experience sibling rivalry in quite a different way. Many of my students are younger siblings who feel the pressure of following in their older siblings footsteps. But like you I can turn to literature to help them. Ron Weasley is a perfect example of a character who feels the weight of his siblings' success on his shoulder, but manages to find his own way in the world.

Great post as always!

Ms. R said...

Thank you so much for sharing these books. As a fellow lover of children's literature, I will definitely have to add these few to my list -- since they aren't already on there. Although I know that Chrysanthemum was one of my favorite books as a child, thank you for reminding me of it once again!

Michaele said...

Also try Darcy and Gran Don't Like Babies- it's terrific!