April 25, 2023 by admin 0 Comments

Big Heart Books for National Library Week

Social and emotional learning is essential for children’s overall well-being and success in life. One of the best ways to foster these skills is through reading.

This week, in honor of National Library Week, we’re suggesting a list of children’s books that can help parents, caregivers, and educators grow kids’ big hearts — helping them understand feelings; identity and belonging; friendship; empathy; and more. 

10 Big Hearted Books to Grow Big Hearted Kids

1. “The Feelings Book” by Todd Parr

This book is a great introduction to emotions for young children. It covers a range of feelings, from happy and sad to mad and scared, and helps children understand that it’s okay to have different emotions. The book also includes tips for dealing with feelings and encourages children to talk to trusted adults about their emotions.

2. “All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

“All Are Welcome” is a picture book that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. It encourages children to embrace differences and shows how everyone is welcome in a community. This book is great for developing a sense of belonging and understanding that everyone is different and unique in their own way.

3. “The Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig

“The Invisible Boy” is a story about a boy who feels invisible at school. He’s overlooked by his peers and teachers, but he makes a friend who sees him and includes him in their activities. This book is excellent for teaching children empathy and the importance of inclusivity and kindness.

4. “The Name Jar” by Yangsook Choi

“The Name Jar” is a story about a young girl who moves to America and is embarrassed by her Korean name. She decides to choose a new name but changes her mind when her classmates help her understand the importance of her name and identity. This book is excellent for teaching children about identity and acceptance of themselves and others.

5. “I Walk With Vanessa” by Kerascoët 

“I Walk with Vanessa” is a wordless picture book about a young girl who helps a new student who is being bullied. The book shows the power of kindness and empathy and how one person can make a difference. This book is great for teaching children about empathy and standing up for what’s right.

6. “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers

“I Am Enough” is a beautiful book that celebrates self-love and self-acceptance. It encourages children to love and accept themselves just the way they are, and it teaches them that they are enough, no matter what. This book is great for teaching children about self-esteem, self-worth, and self-acceptance.

7. “The Rabbit Listened” by Cori Doerrfeld

“The Rabbit Listened” is a heartwarming book about a young boy who is upset and doesn’t know what to do. Different animals try to help him, but it’s the rabbit who listens quietly and understands what he needs. This book is great for teaching children about empathy, active listening, and the importance of being there for others. It shows how sometimes the best thing we can do is to listen and be present for those who are struggling.

8. “My Mouth is a Volcano!” by Julia Cook

“My Mouth is a Volcano!” is a fun and engaging book that teaches children about self-control and managing their emotions. It shows how sometimes we need to wait for the right time to speak, and it provides strategies for controlling impulses and calming down. This book is great for teaching children about self-regulation and emotional management.

9. “Strictly No Elephants” by Lisa Mantchev

“Strictly No Elephants” is a heartwarming story about a boy and his pet elephant who are excluded from a pet club because of their differences. It’s a great book for teaching children about inclusivity, empathy, and the importance of celebrating differences. It shows how friendships can form despite differences and how everyone can be included in a community.

10. “The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst

“The Invisible String” is a beautiful book that teaches children about the power of love and connection. It shows how we are all connected by an invisible string that binds us together, even when we are far apart. This book is great for teaching children about empathy, compassion, and the importance of building strong, positive relationships.

Visit Your Local Library This Week!

When you read the words, notice the pictures, and discuss the ideas with your child, you will help them to learn about the many skills that make up social and emotional learning. 

Visit your local library this week — in honor of National Library Week — and throughout the year to find your family’s next favorite big hearted book! 

March 16, 2023 by Winnie Cheung 0 Comments

Parenting with a Big Heart: Starting Small to Think Big

I Am a 'Detective' to Answer My Kids' Big Questions

When my kiddo turned three years old, his world opened up. He would ask questions like “Where are the dinosaurs?” … “Will I grow taller than the trees?” … “Who is Grandpa’s Grandpa?” 

The world provides a deluge of information and children’s brains are soaking up every single drop. The best part is being by his side to discover answers together. I like to prompt him with questions or challenges in response to his questions, such as: “Have you heard of an asteroid?” or “Let’s go outside and see how tall trees are” or “You’ll need to talk to grandpa about that.” 

We are like detectives, solving all the questions the world has to offer. 

COVID Made Me Question This Approach

When the world shut down because of COVID-19 and some people mistakenly blamed Asian Americans as the cause of the pandemic, I felt our world get smaller.

My instincts were to shield my children from this rhetoric. We made careful choices on where we should go as a family. Even so, on a walk in a nearby park, people shied away from our family. 

My “detective” status felt revoked as I struggled to begin thinking about how to communicate the issues of bias and racism to my kids.

I Researched to Think About How to Respond

With a researcher’s mindset, I dug into reading research, articles, webinars and books (anything!)  I could find on how to talk to kids about race and racism. 

From what I read and heard, I knew that I should talk about racism early because research shows that even three year olds in the U.S. associate racial groups with negative traits. 

I knew that I should affirm their identity and make them proud to be third generation Chinese-Americans. I knew that it would involve life-long conversations. I knew all of these things — and yet, I had no idea where to start. I was nervous to do it wrong.

My Child Led the Way

While reading a book one night, my three-year-old said to me, “That person’s skin is different than mine, but that’s OK!” 

I was surprised because previous attempts to discuss skin color were met with more neutral responses. But there he was, starting the conversation. I picked up where he left off and we discussed other ways people are both similar and different. 

It felt like a win! 

We’ve since had more conversations and “solved” more questions like “What is melanin?” “Who are some Asian Americans who fought for civil rights?” and learning our own history, finally figuring out who “Grandpa’s grandpa” is and being proud of our own roots. 

There are so many questions ahead of us. 

For us, the concepts are small but the ideas are big. I hope that for parents who want to start the conversation on big topics like race or racism, they can start small, like appreciating each other for what makes us different and the same. 

Visit our interactive guide for parents and caregivers to use with children (about aged 2-6) to discuss identity, similarities and differences, race and racism. It’s here: www.BigHeartWorld.org/DiscussingRace.

March 10, 2023 by admin 0 Comments

Social and Emotional Learning is a Super Power

Happy SEL Day!

SEL Day — a special annual celebration of social and emotional learning — is today! It’s a day for parents, caregivers, educators, and policymakers to promote the importance of helping little kids grow big hearts: What we do here EVERY day at Big Heart World.

To celebrate, we turned to a big-hearted friend — Darryl McDaniels, the legendary American rapper — to learn how SEL is a super power. He knows from his own lived experience the importance of social and emotional learning, and he has written a children’s book, “Darryl’s Dream,” to inspire today’s kids to embrace who they are and follow their dreams. 

4 Reasons SEL is a Super Power, According to Darryl "DMC" McDaniels
1. It's Education.

When CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) was founded nearly three decades ago, it coined the phrase “social and emotional learning” and asked the big question: What if education supported the social, emotional, and academic development of all children?

Since then, the movement has grown, with parents and educators across the country (and around the world) now recognizing that SEL is an integral part of children’s education. 

Here at Big Heart World, we define SEL as: 

  • Learning About Me — Awareness of self: identity & belonging, feelings and self-regulation
  • Learning About You — Awareness of others: empathy, appreciation of diversity
  • Learning About Us — Relationships with others: interpersonal strategies
2. It's Communication.

SEL starts the day a baby is born, when he or she is held by a trusted parent or caregiver. This back-and-forth between parent and child grows over time as children learn about who they are (their identity), how they fit into the world (belonging), and how to identify and describe all of the feelings that come with being human. These are the fundamental building blocks of SEL, which enable people to understand themselves and start to communicate with others. 

3. It's Participation.

SEL equips us to work with others. It’s not just about understanding and managing our own feelings. It’s about empathy — thinking about the experiences and feelings of other people — and listening to them so that we are able to truly collaborate with them. SEL gets kids ready to work together on projects, play together on teams, invent and discover. We can’t do it alone, we can only do it together — which is possible because of SEL. 

4. It's Elevation!

Through SEL, people learn how to dream BIG and work actively and collaboratively to make the world a better place — to stand up for others and to become global citizens. Only when we empathize with others, and celebrate the differences that surround us can we look across borders, identify critical challenges, and collaborate with others to solve problems. 

Learn More about SEL from DMC

Earlier this year, Big Heart World collaborated with The 74 to produce a special event about SEL, also featuring Darryl McDaniels. To learn more from him — and a panel of experts — about the power of SEL, please watch the full event, available online

February 10, 2023 by admin 0 Comments

The Secret Powers of Teddy Bears

Teddy bears are perfect gifts for the little Valentines in your life. This time of year, shop windows are full of teddy bears and bear puns like “I Love You Beary Much!”

But teddy bears are NOT just cute, cuddly, stuffed toys. They can play an important role in children’s early social and emotional development. 

Let’s take a look at some of the secret powers teddy bears have to help children learn important early skills. 

Teddy Bear Science

The softness of teddy bears makes them lovable. Many children are attached to inanimate objects, and research shows that more than 90% of those objects are soft like stuffed animals. Research shows that teddy bears — which started as plush toys modeled on wild bears — are now designed and manufactured to optimize cuteness. 

Comfort and Security

Teddy bears can be comforting to children.

Research funded by the National Institutes of Health is investigating the role that teddy bears can play in helping children relax and get a good night of sleep. 

Other research shows that teddy bears can become “transitional objects” that help children adapt when they are separated from their parents (for example when they go to preschool). In essence, the object represents the process by which one can navigate life, and experience a homeostatic inner balance, a cohesive sense of well-being at every developmental milestone,” wrote Colleen Goddard, a specialist in child development.

Just hugging a soft bear can be comforting and soothing. Cuddling a teddy bear “evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort,” psychologist Corrine Sweet said.

The physical hug — or even the familiar scent of a teddy bear — can have a calming effect, making it a great tool for children dealing with stressful situations.

Companionship and Communication

Teddy bears can also be friends to young children (and adults, too — but that’s another story!). 

Teddy bears can play roles in children’s imaginative play and help children practice communicating with (human) friends. Imaginary play can help children develop their creativity, problem-solving skills, and ability to communicate with others.

Children can talk through problems with teddy bears or invite them to join in their imaginative play — from a teddy bear picnic to playing school with bears to creating obstacle courses with (or for) stuffed bears. 

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Teddy bears can also help children learn new skills. 

A bear will not judge or rush an early reader who is reading aloud to it. One study found that teddy bears can help children read more. Another found that “teddy bears can give confidence to students to do well in class.”

A bear will happily accompany a child who is trying something new — giving a child the confidence he or she needs to take on a new challenge. 

A Guide for Caregivers Helping Their Children Become Part of a More Just & Decent World

Raising children is hard. It can be beautiful, fun, and rewarding — but it is challenging, too. Caregivers and parents are often desperate for support, ideas, and concrete ways of answering our children’s big questions.  

As a child psychologist, I hear many of those questions from kids and from parents. Their big concerns are about how people get along, why the world works the way it does, what is fair, and how to understand themselves. Many of their big and, frankly, toughest questions involve race. 

With such a contentious topic and the many dynamic feelings and opinions, our job as caregivers can seem impossible. 

Parents ask and tell me:

  • “What do I tell my young child about race anyway?” 
  • “I don’t want them to learn about race in the ways that I did.” 
  • “How can I protect them from discussions they aren’t ready for?” 

These are all questions I’ve heard from caregivers over my years of practice. I hear families, educators, and others serving children saying that they need help. They need the help of folks who understand children and who have had these conversations before. They also want access to the research about what this all means for kids and families. 

The new guide, “Discussing Race with Young Children: A Step-by-Step Activity Guide,” is a most welcome resource for every young family! It doesn’t solve all the problems related to race, but is a helpful guide for caregivers who want to support our children in becoming part of a more just and decent world. This guide was created with children’s stories, questions, and experiences at the heart of it. It was also created with a clear understanding of what caregivers are facing — the questions, stories, and conflicts that commonly arise.  

The work here is well-researched and supported by many experts who understand children’s needs. Most importantly, this guide provides an opportunity to really listen to our children and to be in conversation with them — and it encourages us, as caregivers, to grow and learn with them.  

This guide accompanies us as we play, listen, and learn with our children. I am sure that in these conversations and guides, you will come up with even more questions — but you will also learn something new and feel supported. This is not easy work, but with help like this guide provides, it can be beautiful, fun, and rewarding.

January 22, 2023 by admin 0 Comments

Year of the Rabbit: Learning Through the Holidays

More than a billion people around the globe are saying “bye bye” (or “zai jian”) to the “tiger” and welcome to the “rabbit” in honor of Lunar New Year today. 

It’s a time of celebration in parts of Asia and around the world as families gather, eat, and celebrate the new year.

Even if YOUR family doesn’t celebrate Lunar New Year, this is a wonderful time for all families to learn about their own identities and explore the other people and cultures, similarities and differences that surround us.

What is Lunar New Year?

Lunar means “moon” and the “Lunar New Year” celebrates the beginning of the lunar calendar, which is based on the 12 phases of the moon.  In the same way that many families celebrate the New Year on January 1, the Lunar New Year is an opportunity to look forward and create goals for the coming year.

Each lunar year is represented by one of 12 zodiac animals. Each animal is associated with different traits. For example, this year is “Rabbit,” which is known for its intellect and cautiousness. Children born this year are thought to have some of the rabbit’s traits. 

Families and communities have different ways of celebrating the holiday, including: 

  • Festivals and parades
  • Wearing red, which is considered a good luck color
  • Lights and fireworks
  • Family gatherings and special meals
How Can Families Learn More About Lunar New Year?


Your family can learn about Lunar New Year by going to a parade, party or other public celebration in your community and talking to people there about their traditions! (Across Asia and the world, different communities and families have different traditions — so even if you celebrate Lunar New Year, you might learn about a new tradition by talking to other people in your community!)

Reading picture books together is also a great way to explore Lunar New Year Traditions. Here are some titles to start with: 

Lunar New Year Art & Food

The foods that families eat on the Lunar New Year aren’t just food! They represent good luck, prosperity, and togetherness. Here are some examples: Long noodles represent long lives; dumplings and steamed fish stand for wealth and abundance; sticky rice balls stand for togetherness. 

The art and decorations of the holiday also hold meaning. For example, many families decorate with lucky colors red and gold. 

You can learn more about Lunar New Year by exploring the tastes and colors of the holiday. Be sure to talk to friends and neighbors who celebrate to learn more! Here are some ideas for kid-friendly projects you can try to explore the art and food of the holiday: 

Observe Similarities & Differences Together

Each of us has an identity — it’s related to who WE are, which is related to our thoughts and beliefs and the traditions of our families and communities. Each of us is different, but we also have a lot in common with other people around the world. 

Parents and educators can help prepare children to thrive in our diverse world by helping them learn about their own identities AND by helping them to observe other people and notice the many similarities and differences that surround us. 

When various holidays are celebrated around the world, we have an opportunity to think about and explore identity, similarities, and differences with the children in our lives. For the Lunar New Year, try asking:

  • How do we celebrate the new year? 
  • Why do we celebrate the new year? 
  • What are our wishes for the year ahead? 
  • What was the animal in the lunar calendar the year YOU were born? (Here’s a page on National Geographic Kids where you can look up your animal.)
  • What are some things that are similar and different between the new year’s celebration on January 1 and the Lunar New Year?