A Picture Book Teaches Compassion

  • Early Learning Center
  • Learning
Liz Salegumba, Pre-K Head Teacher

This fall’s earthquakes in Mexico and devastating storms in Puerto Rico deeply affected members of our teaching team. Despite the difficulty, Daisy Vivar of the Silver Plateado team saw an opportunity for children to learn compassion with the use of Alvaro F. Villa’s Flood, a moving and wordless eBook. 

The book opens to the wide-open terrain of fields and a farmhouse, the home of one family. Ms. Vivar asked the children to thoughtfully spend several seconds simply viewing the page on the classroom screen and commenting on what they saw. Each page bore many details. One child described: “There’s a TV and a light and there’s a bed and it’s dark and a mommy and daddy.” On the following pages, a weather forecast, a parent barring up windows, a car getting loaded up with boxes, and a home surrounded by sand bags gave clues to the coming storm. “There’s a pink cloud! Its going to be a big wind! There’s a lot of wind-things, it’s blowing!” Children drew on previous experience to make predictions regarding the storm: “If the clouds go on the house, it’s going to rain on the house and then they’ll say ‘Rain, rain go away, come stay another day!’” Some children knew about storms that hit Houston, San Antonio and parts of Florida. Even Hurricane Irma was mentioned.

Children discuss the book Flood.

Children discuss the book Flood. 

When the storm arrived, the illustrations did not shrink back from showing the truth. Huge waves rushed into the home and tore off pictures on the walls and up-ended chairs and tables. The children understood clearly that the family was not hurt, but spending the night in a motel. “They are driving away from the house cause they have to go somewhere in the car. The daddy is driving it and the kids are in the back and there’s a storm and the trees and the flowers are dead.” Another child observed, “The kids are crying cause they miss the house.”

The author used restraint and kept the brunt of the storm brief. The water flowed back out of the home and the family drove back to see it, standing stupefied and silent. At this moment, Ms. Vivar wisely asked the question: “How do you think the families in Puerto Rico feel (when they see their homes broken)? In unison, most children responded, “Sad.” One child decided that even after the home was fixed, the family could still be sad about the flood.

A student's journal entry in response to the book.

A student's journal entry in response to the book. 

Ms. Vivar made time at every new page for more thoughtful observation. One child summed up the repair efforts: “They were making a house and painting it, and someone’s standing on the ladder painting and the girl is mixing up the paint and the mommy is planting the flowers and the daddy and the big kid is making a big tree.” 

Decorating the donation box for Puerto Rico,

Decorating the donation box for Puerto Rico,

The key question was then asked of the children: “What do the friends in Puerto Rico need?” One child supposed: “They need to fix it, they need to paint the houses.” Another knew, they need “chairs and food and water to drink.” The children were invited to participate with their grown-ups in the APA sponsored Avenues event “Tables for Relief,” and many did! 

A book for little children brought them “through the storm” and out the other side.

Creating signs requesting book donations for Puerto Rico.

Creating signs requesting book donations for Puerto Rico.

Posting the signs outside the classroom.

Posting the signs outside the classroom.

 

  • Early Learning Center
  • Immersion
  • Pre-Kindergarten
  • School Culture
  • Spanish