Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated on July 18th around the world. Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in South Africa and spent his life fighting against apartheid, racism and for equal rights for everyone in his country. He spent over 30 years of his life in prison because of his work to end apartheid. After his release from prison in 1990 he worked with South African President, FR de Klerk, to end apartheid. This work won them both the Nobel Peace prize in 1993.
In 1994 all people were allowed to vote for the first time in the South Africa election and Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa. In 1999, he stepped down the from world of politics and started the Nelson Mandela Foundation, an organization that works to promote the principals of equality, freedom and peace. A great way to celebrate Nelson Mandela, his perseverance and his work for civil rights is to share a book with your children about his life. Here are a few of our favorites and an interview done on his 90th birthday.
Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson is a beautiful book about his life. This is a great overview of his entire life and the work he did to end apartheid in South Africa. The illustrations are incredible and this book is a recipient of the Coretta Scott King honor award. I would recommend this book to ages 4 and up. You will find a YouTube link of the story below where it is beautifully read by a child.
Granddad Mandela is a beautiful book written by Nelson Mandela’s daughter and his great grandchildren, Zazi and Ziwelene Mandela. In this story Zazi and Ziwelene asking questions about their great grandad’s life to their grandmother. It is a very child friendly way to learn about Nelson’s life as leader and activist for civil rights in South Africa. I would recommend this book to ages 4 and up.
Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom is the official picture-book edition of Nelson Mandela’s bestselling autobiography. This book was abridged by Chris Van Wyk and beautifully illustrated by Paddy Bouma. It is a kid friendly version of his autobiography and covers his entire life. This book would be great for children ages 6 and up.
This book from the Who Was..? series is all about Nelson Mandela and his life. This book is perfect for children ages 8 and up to read on their own.
From the publisher: “As a child he dreamt of changing South Africa; as a man he changed the world. Nelson Mandela spent his life battling apartheid and championing a peaceful revolution. He spent twenty-seven years in prison and emerged as the inspiring leader of the new South Africa. He became the country’s first black president and went on to live his dream of change.”
An Interview with Nelson Mandela on his 90th Birthday
The Holiday Cards for our Military Challenge is a non-profit from NH that collects and sends holiday greetings to our deployed military. They have collected and sent out almost 500,000 cards since the project began!
This is a wonderful project for you and your family to work on together. Write out a holiday card (or make your own) and thank a warrior for their service to our country and wish them a happy holiday. Send your completed holiday cards to Holiday Cards for our Military Challenge, PO Box 103 Hollis, NH 03049.
This article was written in September 2019, some of the suggestions may need to be modified because of the current pandemic.
September is a month of big changes for many children. Kids are going back to school, meeting new teachers, starting new sports teams or clubs, learning new homework routines and trying to stay awake as their bodies adjust to the new pace that is September. Given all of these changes that our kids are facing, we at Kids in Service decided to spend time this month talking about bravery and courage. Here is a list of 10 ways to help your children work on becoming more brave and courageous this fall.
1. Volunteer–Volunteering takes a lot of bravery and courage. Each time I set out with my kids to serve our community, my heart is pounding. I often share this fact with my children and they are always surprised to hear that I am just as nervous as they are. Volunteer at your local nursing home and bring a little joy to the residents there. Bring some board games to play with them or ask about what life was like when they were younger. Find a local trash pick up at a park or beach. Volunteer for your local food bank, church or animal shelter. The opportunities are out there if you look for them. Check out some other ideas here and here.
2. Read Stories with Brave Characters–Reading aloud stories is a wonderful and safe way for children of ALL AGES to get to “experience” difficult situations from a safe distance through the characters in the story. Check out our KIS list of books with BRAVE characters. I hope that these books will spark rich conversations with your children about the topic of bravery, fear and courage.
3. Share Your Own Stories of Bravery and Failure–A great way for children to learn about bravery is to hear about the moments in your life that you were brave and courageous. Our children need to know that we are human and that we feel the same emotions they do. Share those moments where you overcame fear, share the moments where you failed at something but you were brave and tried again. My kids love to hear the story about when I fell off of a horse while horseback riding. I did NOT want to get back on that horse but after a lot of encouragement from my family, I was brave and got back on. Share your own stories with your kids and allow them to learn about bravery from the people they love most.
4. Trying New Things as a Family–Sit down as a family and brainstorm a list of new things that you could try together. Perhaps you want to try new foods or a new activity. Maybe you want to learn how to play a new sport, or learn a new language. Try one new thing together and then come together to discuss how it went. How did you feel before the activity? Were you nervous, scared or excited? How did you feel after you completed it? Three winters ago, we learned to cross country ski. We took lessons as a family and cheered each other on as we took turns falling and taking on the harder hills. It was a wonderful family experience that took a lot of courage and patience. Perhaps you could set a goal as a family to try new things every season.
5. Make a Courage Board–We have a chalkboard in our downstairs hall that says, “Love Lives Here”. This board was inspired by Sweet Maria Goff and her beautiful book Love Lives Here. In her book Maria shares about the chalkboard that has hung in her home for decades. Her family chalkboard has been a place for positive messages of encouragement and love for the members of their family and guests in their home. On our chalkboard we welcome people into our home, share messages of encouragement to one another and share uplifting quotes of bravery and courage. This board is one of my favorite parts of my home and I love to see the sweet messages that my husband and children write on the board.
6. Watch Movies with Brave Characters–Quality movies, just like books, are not only a great way to spend time as a family but can provoke great discussions about important topics. Here is a list of movies from common sense media that inspire courage. This list has movies for ages 2 and up.
7. Visit a New Place–One of our favorite things to do as a family is to explore a new place. It is so important for EVERYONE to step out of their comfort zone and experience new things. Visiting a new place (whether it is within driving distance or further away) allows you to work as a family to navigate, find information, discover what that place has to offer and share a common experience. If you live near a big city, try visiting one of the neighborhoods that you have never visited before. You may experience new foods, a new language and see some amazing sites along the way. Share with one another the feelings you experience as you set off on this new adventure and then compare them to the the feelings that you have as make the journey back home.
8. Invite New Friends Over-Making new friends can be scary for many kids (and adults). You can model how to overcome this fear by inviting new people over to your home for coffee or a meal. Showing our kids the importance of community, kindness and making new friends is a powerful way for them to learn how to show compassion and make friends in their own lives.
9. Research a Person from History who was Brave–We are BIG history buffs in our family and one of our favorite things to learn about is the brave people who have come before us. We all LOVE Brad Meltzer’s books in his Ordinary People Change the World series. They are fun and filled with information about the courage that people like Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller and many more had to change the world. There are so many good biographies, memoirs and documentaries out there. Encourage each member of your family to learn about a brave person from history. Host a special family dinner where you each share about the person’s life and how they showed bravery and courage.
10. Solve a Problem as a Family–A great way to show how to overcome fear and obstacles is to work as a family to solve a problem. Scavenger Hunts are a fun way to work as a team to solve problems. You can create a scavenger hunt for your family around your home or you can purchase an online scavenger hunt. Let’s Roam has scavenger hunts for most major cities (this is not an advertisement) and it is a fun way to explore a new city or a city you already know very well. Finding a challenge to solve as a family can also be a lot of fun. Destination Imagination has something called Instant challenges and they have 4 free challenges listed at this link. Cooperative Games are another fun way to work as a family. My family loves Gamewright games and the Forbidden series of games are cooperative and challenging. For Harry Potter fans, Hogwarts Battle Cooperative Game is very challenging and requires lots teamwork. My kids and I LOVE this game and are still working to beat game 5 out of 7.
When You are Brave by Pat Zietlow Miller is the story of a young girl who is moving away from the home that she knows and loves. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and the colors reflect the feelings and emotions that the young girl feels as she is on the journey to her new home. This book encourages readers to remember those times when they showed courage and call on those memories when facing new and scary situations. I LOVED this book (a new favorite) and would recommend it for ages 4 and up.
the dot by Peter H. Reynolds is a favorite book in our house. In this story Vashti is afraid to draw in art class. Her art teacher inspires creativity, courage and bravery by telling her to just make a mark and see where it takes her. That first dot takes Vashti on a journey of self discovery.
After the Fall-How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Sanat is the tale of Humpty Dumpty after he fell from the wall. It is a story of perseverance, bravery and taking one step at a time to overcome your fears. This book is a family favorite and great for ages 6 and up. Please Note–At first many people think that this book ends badly for Humpty Dumpty…pay close attention.
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismandy is about a girl named Lucy who is being made fun of for being different. In the story she finds courage inside and uses advice from her grandfather to help her overcome this challenging situation. This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall is the story of a young boy who sets a goal of jumping off the diving board at the community pool. He starts off the story very brave and excited to take on this goal but as his time to jump comes closer, he becomes more and more unsure and scared. Will Jabari find the courage to jump off the diving board? This book is wonderful for ages 3 and up.
Brave Enough for Two by Jonathan D. Voss is the story about Olive and her very best stuffed friend, Hoot. Hoot loves brave adventures and Olive prefers a quiet time and reading about adventures in books. Throughout the story, Hoot encourages Olive to be brave and step out of her comfort zone and onto some wild adventures. In the end Olive ends up being brave enough for both friends. This fantasy story would be great for ages 3 and up.
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel is the true story of Clara Lemlich who is a young immigrant in America at the turn of the century. When her father can’t find work, she finds a job at a factory making shirts. Working in the factory is hard work and unsafe due to the poor working conditions. Brave Clara becomes a young activist and inspiration as she organizes others to fight for better rights at the factory. This story is the true story of a BRAVE and COURAGEOUS girl who did not stop fighting for what she believed was right. This book would be great for ages 6 and up.
I am Enough by Grace Byers (ages 3 and up) is an award winning book that is all about believing in yourself. This book encourages kindness, loving others and self-respect. “We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.” Grace Byers has also written a book called I Believe I Can. This book is for ALL children and it is to inspire them to love and believe in themselves.
The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger is the perfect book for autumn. This story illustrates that sometimes all you need to be brave, is someone by your side. I LOVE the illustrations in this story and think it would be a great read aloud for ages 3 and up.
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully is the story of a young girl who’s mother runs a boarding house. A famous wire-walker comes to stay at the boarding house and Mirette’s life changes forever. This beautiful story is about perseverance, facing fears and finding our own courage from within. My daughter LOVES this book and we’d recommend it for ages 5 and up.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (ages 4 and up) is the story about a little girl named Grace who loves stories and using her imagination. When her class is going to put on the play of Peter Pan, she wants to play the role of Peter. The children in her class tell her that girls and black children can not play Peter. Grace’s grandmother teachers Grace a valuable lesson.
Be Brave Little One by Marianne Richmond (ages 3 and up) is a book that will help inspire children to be brave. This sweet book will help them to understand what bravery looks and feels like. The author/illustrator reads her book in the video below. Marianne’s website has FREE printables that go along with the book! Check them out here!
I Can Do Hard Things by Gabi Garcia (ages 4 and up) is a book filled with positive and mindful affirmations. This book is one that should be shared with people of all ages. The power of our mind is incredible and it is important to teach our children these positive affirmations so that they can use them as they navigate difficult situations. I LOVE the illustrations in this book and that EVERY child will find someone who looks like them in its pages.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell (ages 4 and up) is the story of a little girl named Molly Lou Melon. Molly Lou Melon’s grandmother teaches her to stand up be proud of who she is. When she moves to a new school and meets a bully, she uses her grandmother’s advice and stands up for herself!
The Ordinary People Change the World books by Brad Meltzer are well LOVED in our house. I think my daughter has almost every one of them (she may be missing 2 or 3) and reads them daily. I love them because they show that famous people who have changed the world are still people after all. Most have have had to overcome a lot of adversity and challenges to make change happen. Brad makes the world of biographies so much fun and the illustrations by Christoper Eliopoulos are wonderful. They always hide the next famous person they are planning to write a biography for at the end of the book and it so much fun to hunt for them. The Harriet Tubman book is my daughters favorite in the series. She loved learning about how brave Harriet was and how many people she helped to escape slavery. This series also has books about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller and so many more. Ages 5 and up
Books that Will Inspire Bravery in Older Children
Green Ember Series (ages 9 and up)-This series is jam-packed with adventure! It can be a bit dark at times but my sensitive 9-year-old is just fine with it. She even named her pet bunny after one of the lead characters.
The Land of Stories Series (ages 8 and up)-This series of stories was an ABSOLUTE family favorite. We devoured these stories and loved the way the fairytale world and our world collided. These creative stories are read by the author and so much fun to listen to aloud.
The Tuesdays at the Castle Series (ages 8 and up)-This fantasy series is about a royal family who lives in a magical castle and the many challenges they face. This book is filled with adventure, magic and friendship and each book will leave you running to the next to see what happens. We truly loved this series and hope that there will be a few more in the series.
The How to Train Your Dragon Series (ages 8 and up)-This series is very different from the movie (we like the books better) and read by the amazing David Tennant. My son and I devoured this series but it was too much for my daughter who was 7 and 8 at the time.
The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates Series (ages 6 and up)-This book series is so much fun! The main character is the young daughter of the admiral and her dream is to sail the seas as a PIRATE. Her companion is a magical gargoyle and their adventures will keep you laughing and saying, “ARGH”. This is such a fun series.
The Peter Nimble Series by Jonathan Auxier(ages 9 and up)–The Peter Nimble books will keep you guessing until the end. Jonathan Auxier is a gifted story-teller and his characters are like no others. These stories are filled with humor, adventure and will leave you on the edge of your couch.
“Even though we may have the different skin color, we’re still the same type of people, no matter what.” -Simsola 6th Grade–Global Citizen Video
February is a month of KINDNESS here at Kids in Service and also a time to celebrate our differences. As part of this celebration we wanted to take a moment and recognize Black History Month. So many people have dedicated their lives to making sure that all people in our country have a voice. They have fought (and continue to fight) for a world where everyone is respected and treated with kindness no matter their beliefs, the color of their skin, their gender, or their place in society.
As part of Black History Month, Kids in Service would like to celebrate the people who have fought for civil rights in this country. We have a lot of resources below that you can share with your children. These books and movies are meant to be a springboard to have a conversation with your children about acceptance, bravery, respect, celebrating our differences and KINDNESS.
The Ordinary People Change the World books by Brad Meltzer are well LOVED in our house. I think my daughter has almost every one of them (she may be missing 2 or 3) and reads them daily. I love them because they show that famous people who have changed the world are still people after all. Most have have had to overcome a lot of adversity and challenges to make change happen. Brad makes the world of biographies so much fun and the illustrations by Christoper Eliopoulos are wonderful. They always hide the next famous person they are planning to write a biography for at the end of the book and it so much fun to hunt for them. The Harriet Tubman book is my daughters favorite in the series. She loved learning about how brave Harriet was and how many people she helped to escape slavery. This series also has books about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and Jackie Robinson for Black History Month. Ages 5 and up
I use to read this book every February in my 2nd and 3rd grade class. It is a wonderful story of Rosa Parks life and how her one courageous act started a civil rights movement. This book would be great to share with children ages 6 and up. There is a lot of information in this book and it is a great springboard to a rich conversation about segregation and prejudice. I am a strong believer that a good picture book can be used for children in ANY grade (even high school) and I believe that this is one of them.
This beautiful book tells the tale of Peg Leg Joe, an old white sailor, and the song he use to teach slaves about the Underground Railroad. This book tells the tale of one family as they follow the words to Peg Leg Joe’s song and escape their life of slavery. The Drinking Gourd is a gentle book about this difficult subject and would be great for children ages 6 and up.
This is another wonderful biography that I use to read to my 2nd and 3rd grade class every year. Martin’s Big Words is the biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was written for children ages 5 and up. This beautiful biography is easy for children to understand, has beautiful illustrations and weaves Dr. King’s famous words throughout it.
This book celebrates the lives of 40 African American women. These brave and inspirational women have made a difference in our world. Each woman has a page long biography and a full page sweet illustration of them. This is part of the Little Leaders and Dreamers series by Vashti Harrison. This is a wonderful resource and would be great for ages 8 and up.
Here’s a book for the little ones. This board book is a younger version of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. This shorter and simpler book celebrates the lives of 18 African American woman. The sweet illustrations and language in this book make it a wonderful story to share with young children. It is never to early to encourage children to be brave and follow their dreams.
Garretts Gift--This 17 minute movie can be found FREE on Netflix. The movie tells the story of African American inventor Garrett Morgan’s life. Garrett Morgan is responsible for inventing the traffic signal, the gas mask, chemical hair straightening solution and many other things. This movie teaches that we all have gifts to share with this world. All we need is a little support, encouragement and the right tools. The story is told by Queen Latifah and the animation is simple but fun and would be great for ages 4 and up.
Dancing in the Light the story of Janet Collins–This 17 minute movie can be found on NETFLIX. It is the story of Janet Collins an African American ballerina in the 1930s. She was the first African American to dance at the Metropolitan Opera house but dealt with a lot of racism in her career (the Ballet Rouse asked her to paint her face white in order to perform). This uplifting story is narrated by Chris Rock and is great for ages 4 and up.
Follow the Drinking Gourd–My kids and I rented this 26 minute movie on Amazon. Morgan Freeman narrates the story of the Drinking Gourd by Bernardine Connelly while the beautiful illustrations from Yvonne Buchanan are shown on the screen. We really enjoyed this historical fiction tale and learned a lot about Peg Leg Joe, the Drinking Gourd and the Underground Railroad. This movie is listed for ages 6 and up but I would think it would be better for 7 and up.
Ruby Bridges–This Disney move is not rated and unfortunately not reviewed on Common Sense Media. It is on our list of movies to watch this month as we continue our study of the Civil Rights Movement. From what I have read, people recommend it to children ages 7 and up.
Remember the Titans–I LOVE sports films and this is one of my favorites. This movie is the based on a true story of two high schools integrating after segregation has ended. The story follows the integration of the football team and is a powerful story of racism, acceptance, respect and teamwork. This movie is rated PG and recommended for ages 10 and up.
Hidden Figures–This was one case where I loved the movie as much as the book (that rarely happens). This is the true story of the unsung heroes behind the mathematics of the space program. The story follows the lives of three strong and brilliant African American women (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson) and their struggle to find acceptance and respect at NASA while they work to put John Glenn into orbit. This movie is rated PG and recommended for ages 10 and up.