SPARKLERS / Kindness & friendship

A Sparkling Book Review

A book review worksheet for exploring books with positive diversity, emotion or wellbeing- based themes.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki have an understanding of themes of diversity, acceptance and wellbeing

He aha ai? – Why we love it

This activity can be used across many books, however we recommend trying it for stories with themes tamariki may find hard to talk about, such as sexuality, gender, culture, emotions or friendships. This is a gentle way to introduce topics your tamariki may struggle with or have some prejudice around, but the key is to open up the conversation.

Tāngia ēnei tohutohu – Print me

Book review 1: Use with books that focus on diversity and/or acceptance.

Book review 2: Use with books that have broader wellbeing or emotion-based themes.

If tamariki are completing this worksheet at home and have misplaced their printout, they could copy the questions into their exercise book. If you've discussed the concepts in class, they should have lots of great ideas!

Hei mahi - What to do

For this activity we’ve focused on books that incorporate LGBTQIA+ characters, but you could include books on any topics adults might find hard to talk about with tamariki.

Here are four of our faves:

After reading one of the books, give each tamaiti a Sparkling Book Review worksheet (either diversity-themed or general) and some time to complete it. Then regroup for a class discussion.

As well as working through the worksheet questions, you could ask:

  • What’s one of the themes in this book that some people find tricky to talk about?
  • What might it mean that Ferdinand doesn’t want to be ‘masculine’?
  • What did you notice about the parents in this book?
  • Why is it important that these themes are in the books we read?
  • Without giving names, do you know anyone who would agree or disagree with something in this book?

If contrasting ideas and points are made, you might respond by saying: some people have different ideas about this topic. We try and be kind a realise it's OK for us to have different lives and different ideas.

Please note, some tamariki (depending on their age and understandings) may not have noticed any LGBTQI+ theme – and that’s absolutely okay. This doesn’t need to be a wholly courageous kōrero, it’s just about allowing LGBTQI+ to be a normal and respected part of the classroom environment.

What next?

To explore these themes further, try Common Ground, Our Aotearoa Upstanders and Me, and We Can Only Shine.

We’d also suggest adding some Rainbow themed books into your library, if you haven’t already. We love the selection at Palmerston North Library which you can find here.

For more information, or to support whānau supporting their child, we've put together this guide - How to Support Our Rainbow Kids

A special message from InsideOUT

Firstly, thank you for your support in bringing rainbow identities into the classroom! It will make a huge difference to rainbow kids in your class (or those with rainbow parents) to see themselves in the world, and know they are OK, and can thrive, shine and grow freely.

Some young kids already know they are transgender, or nonbinary, or just 'different somehow'. Others will grow into it later. Either way, little conversations let them know they are OK.

In general, we find kids are totally open to these conversations, as long as you use age-appropriate, factual language. A child that says 'but boys don't wear skirts!!' isn't being prejudiced, they are just trying to understand the world. They will probably be satisfied with 'some boys don't wear skirts, but some do'. Likewise 'but all boys have penises' can be met with 'most boys have penises, but not all'.

Whatever comes up, keep it simple and factual and you'll be fine.

Sometimes people think that we at InsideOUT are trying to label kids and make them grow up too fast. You might face the same objection. However, what we want is for kids to be able to play, try out wearing a skirt or sparkles or a silly santa beard if that calls to them, try out 'he' or 'she' if they want, and in time grow healthily into whichever adult they are.

Five year old Sam might grow into being Samuel or Samantha, and might fall in love with a woman or a man or neither. Either way, we want Sam to thrive, be free of bullying or shame, and able to make their own choices.

Thank you for gently introducing all kids to the fact that rainbow people exist, and are all good.

Bronwyn Kerr

Thanks to...

InsideOUT for being so cool and running workshops to explore this kōrero more.

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