As a member of the International Literacy Association, I receive a copy of The Reader Teacher. I love this publication because it helps provide me with excellent resources and wonderful tips as a parent.
With home instruction on the rise due to our current Coronavirus situation, I wanted to share some evidenced based tips that can be easily implemented at home with your children.
Using Children’s Picture books to Facilitate Restorative Justice Discussion (2020) by Jessica Koltz and Sara Kersten-Parrish is an article about the concept of Restorative Justice Discussions and how to support social emotional learning in the classroom through the use of picture books. According to Marshall (1996), “RJ is an exercise where all parties with a say in a specific situation, to an injustice, come together to find a solution as a group; they actively discuss how to deal with the future scenarios.” The authors, Jessica Koltz and Sara Kersten-Parrish (March/April 2020) discuss the idea of a “restorative circle”. This type of circle is a way to “support classroom community through engaging and interactive conversations that can support conflicts and other necessary discussions surrounding a certain topic.”
In this article, are specific examples of books with questions that can help support social emotional learning.
How the Groups Work
When I read this article, I was immediately drawn to how the groups were set up. According to the Koltz, J. & Kersten-Parrish, S., “The dialogue in a restorative circle is drawn from Native American practices, such as having a keeper and a talking piece.” The talking piece is passed around and each person only talks when they are holding the talking piece. When a “participant” wants to speak out of turn, the use of gestures is allowed (e.g. thumbs up for agreeing, etc.) Who is a keeper? That is the person who acts as the facilitator to the conversation. Within the home, this can be the parent or an older child for example!
Picture Books Suggested in the Article with Questions
What pictures books are used as examples in the article? One book the authors discuss is the picture book, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, which is about starting school for the first time. The reason why these authors chose this specific book is that it reinforced the “golden rule of treating others the way we want to be treated” and focuses on “inclusion and kindness.”
Here are some of the questions that the authors Jessica Koltz and Sara Kersten-Parrish suggested:
“How are we all different?”
“What advice would you give to another classmate about being kind of inclusive?”
“Does anyone have an example of when you needed your own space or to be left alone?”
Other books suggested in the article are Pink is for Boys, I Am Enough and Alma and How She Got Her Name.
To access this article from The Reading Teacher and learn more click here.
Using Restorative Circle at Home
Now that we know what a restorative circle is, let’s talk about how to use this concept at home!
With many children at home and not in the classroom, create your own restorative circles at home. Whether you have one child or more, a circle can include parents, grandparents, cousins, etc. Don’t want to use a talking piece? Give each child a talking piece and have them put their talking piece on the table when it’s their turn to talk. There are many different ways to create a circle without physical contact and maintain social distance. A restorative circle is a wonderful strategy to use during mealtime when the family is sitting down for dinner together.
Choose either a book suggested by the authors above or see my suggestions below. Remember, these books should support Social Emotional Learning and promote diversity, inclusion and empathy.
Check out more selections here.
What are the benefits of these circles?
According to Fisher and Frey (2018), there are four benefits of circles relating to literature; “1. A stronger reader text relationship..”, 2. Improved class climate… 3. Boosted gender equality…4. A well rounded learning environment…”
Teaching our children at home, there can be different challenges. Using picture books to create a better climate in your home can be key as well as having important discussions to help stimulate conversation.
Are you looking for more tips for read aloud?
Check out my ebook book, Improve Your Child’s Language and Learning in 20 Minutes.
Fisher, D., & Frey, N (2018). Raise reading volume through access, choice, discussion, and book talk. The Reader Teacher, 72(1), 89-97, https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr1691
Koltz, Jessica, and Sara Kersten‐Parrish. “Using Children’s Picturebooks to Facilitate Restorative Justice Discussion.” The Reading Teacher, vol. 73, no. 5, 2019, pp. 637–645., doi:10.1002/trtr.1873.