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Dealing with Differences

As more and more individuals are vaccinated across the province, it can be easy to hope for things to return to normal soon so we can visit with friends, see our extended families, or go to the movies. However, some researchers are concerned that after living in our abnormal world for so long, we might struggle with some of the activities we are longing to do, like socializing with the people we like or interacting with others around us. If you’re noticing that your formerly social butterfly of a child is now a homebody that’s normal, and here are a few books that might help them relearn how to enjoy the outside world.

The first one is Follow Your Breath! A First Book of Mindfulness by Scot Ritchie (Kids Can Press, 2020). As the title says, this book teaches children mindfulness strategies. It is beautifully illustrated and the activities the author suggests are all clearly explained so you can easily try them out for yourself. However, the actual story about the friends at a sleepover isn’t the most exciting or interesting, so if you are looking for a story that weaves mindfulness into the narrative this one isn’t for you. However, if you want a book that will teach you at a child-appropriate level what mindfulness looks like, that also gives you examples of what that may look like in your life, this book can be helpful. For ages 4 to 8.

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Another book for you to consider is Albert’s Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault (Tundra, 2019), because while we want our children to enjoy others’ company, it’s also important for us to respect their desire to be alone and have some quiet time to help them cope with chaos. In this book, Albert is looking for a quiet place to read his book. He finds a nice peaceful corner outside and sets up a chair in front of a painting of a beach scene that has been thrown away. Unfortunately for him, no one else wants to be quiet. They all want to play, talk, and listen to music. And, they all want him to join in. The illustrations in this book are simple but stunning and they show Albert’s mind as it flips between his reality and the imaginary beach world he has created for himself. For ages 4 to 8.

A third book for you to read is The Invisible Bear by Cécile Metzger (Tundra, 2020). Unlike in Albert’s Quest where Albert wants his world to conform to his wishes for quiet, the bear is uncomfortable in his quiet and colourless world. He feels like he has been forgotten and that he’s invisible. That all changes when Madame Odette moves in next door. Unlike the bear, Madame Odette lives in a world filled with colour and sound. But, since the bear has been surrounded by quiet for so long, he’s not really comfortable with the beautiful racket. As the two of them live side-by-side they both have to learn to live together and cherish the other ones silence or sounds. For ages 4 to 8.

Your House, My House by Marianne Dubuc (Kids Can Press, 2020) is another book filled with detailed illustrations that can remind your children that not everyone lives like you. This book follows the story of Little Rabbit as he gets ready for his birthday party. But while the narrative only tells the story from Little Rabbit’s perspective, the illustrations show us what everyone in the apartment building is doing, from the mice triplets who are causing havoc, to Mr. Owl who just wants to nap, to Goldilocks who is looking for a good place to eat and sleep. As an added bonus, the story itself is easy enough that your emerging reader can read this book on their own, which is good because they might want to spend more time looking at each page than you are ready for. For ages 4 to 8.

A final book for younger children that can remind them that not all families are like theirs is Peppa Pig and the Family Reunion (Candlewick, 2019). In this book Peppa’s extended family comes over for a family reunion, and while they are there, Peppa discovers that in order for her baby cousin to sleep, his father needs to vacuum and his mother plays the trumpet, which makes for a very long and noisy night. For ages 2 to 4.

If you and your children are struggling with getting along with others after spending so much time apart, I hope the lessons, illustrations, and stories within these books can help you because spending time with friends is amazing.

Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenburg lives in Victoria with her husband, children, and cat. She is the author of One Tiny Turtle: A Story You Can Colour and many articles. To read more of her work and learn about her upcoming books, check out her website at
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