Building Communities Where Everyone Counts
I’ve written about a couple of books that I recently discovered in the past, but I wanted to focus on this growing series of simple yet profound books today. All of them are by an author named Kathryn Otoshi. She writes and illustrates these stories that are aimed at young children, but they have messages that should resonate deeply with every human being.
The first one I read was, coincidentally, called One. It tells the story of standing up for others and teaches that One really, truly can make a difference just by speaking out. I shared it with my class last year and again with my students and their learning buddies this year.
The second book I found by this author was introduced to me by my student teachers last spring. It, too, had a simple one-word name that was a number: Zero. Miss C and I used this as the very first read aloud with our buddied students and talked about how important it is to make sure that everyone counts and everyone feels needed.
Then I heard from a good friend and first grade teacher in my district that Ms. Otoshi had written a third book, Two. It isn’t often that I run to the bookstore on the day a book is being released to buy something I had never read before. But this was one of those times! As soon as we got in the car, I handed the book to my wife and asked her to read it while I was driving. Two continues to teach about building community, this time with the idea that excluding others hurts everyone.
I love the simple message these books share. Everyone should count. Everyone should matter. Everyone should be included. I hope that Ms. Otoshi continues to write about all of the numbers and then I hope she’ll tell us the stories about the colours, too! I also hope that she reads this short post and knows that her stories matter to me, to my colleagues, and to my students.
Oh, and to celebrate this new book I shared with my students and their learning buddies today, there was only one shirt I could wear to work: