I want my kids to be compassionate people who not only respect their elders, but have empathy for all human beings. This book is a great way to allow kids to understand what it feels like to be nearer the end of your life in a way that is sweet, without being sad.
Title: The Old Woman Who Named Things
Author: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator: Kathryn Brown
Publication Year: 1996
Age Group: PKindergarten, Early Elementary
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Comments: This is a charming story about an old woman who names things like her car and bed. She has outlived so many of her friends that she makes a rule not to name anything that might not last for the rest of her life. She meets a dog and gradually befriends him, but never gives him a name.
When the dog disappears and she has to go rescue him from the pound. She ultimately breaks her rule and gives the dog a name. In doing so, she welcomes him into her life despite the risk of losing him.
This story is such a wonderful way of helping children develop empathy for very elderly people. Readers of the story really feel what the old woman felt, especially the worry she experienced when her nameless dog disappeared. Old age is almost imaginable to kids. I hope that next time my kids encounter an extremely old person, they remember the lonely old woman in this story and treat that person with kindness and compassion.
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