Kinder Book Club: Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

This is a re-post from last fall. This book remains one of my kids' favorites (and spaghetti in a hot dog bun is one of their favorite silly meals). Check out the author Maria Dismondy's blogand website for excellent kindness and literacy resources. Just in time for the new school year, and the attendant social pressures, I stumbled across another great book.

Check out Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy (author) and Kimberly Shaw-Peterson (illustrator).

This is exactly the sort of book that I once maligned (See Ordinary Mary, the very first Kinder Book club book). It's exceptionally sweet, it's message is the primary point, and it even comes with a list of "Be Kind" and "Be Yourself" proclamations in the end.

My appreciation for such books has grown in the last year (see Ordinary Mary's reappraisal), and this is an exceptionally well-done message book. As it turns out, kids, at least my kids, respond to this straight-forward, lesson-in-a-book sort of story.

Don't get me wrong, they love fabulously entertaining stories as well (check out our latest favorite, multiple Caldecott winner David Weisner). Still, we've had Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun for a couple of months now, and both girls often dig it out from their bedside book pile.

This simple story is about lovely, unique little girl who gets picked on by the class bully. When the bully finds himself stuck atop the monkey bars, our little friend is prepared to go tell him just how mean she thinks she is... that is, until she sees the tears in his eyes. She overcomes her own hurt feelings to help him out of his trouble, and in the end, she has made a new friend.

Though real life might not always unroll so easily, this story does, in fact, give kids the courage to be who they are. Whenever we finish this book, I try to ask a few pointed questions:

  • How do you think Lucy felt when Ralph picked on her?
  • Why do you think Ralph started teasing Lucy?
  • What would you feel like doing if someone made fun of your lunch the way Ralph did?
  • Lucy tried to tell Ralph how she felt. How did he react?
  • Do you think it was easy for Lucy to help Ralph when he was stuck?

Bullying has been all over the news, thick in our state legislative discussions, and headlining teacher training conferences all year. Find some additional resources to help your child understand and address the issue of bullying as it arises this years.

  • StopBullying.gov - This website offers a very simplistic message to both the bullied and the bully, but as I've seen, kids often respond to the most straight-forward approach. There are also helpful resources for teenagers, parents, and educators.
  • Education.com - This website offers more extensive tips and tools for parents.
  • National Bullying Prevention Center - This is a project of the PACER Center, whose helpful resources are distributed to parents and parent educators on every parenting topic you can think of.  Some of their classroom activities and songs would be useful for those of us who spend a lot of time at home with our kids, including a downloadable color book.

Have you read Spaghetti on a Hot Dog Bun with your kids? How do you address the issue of bullying with your family?