Back to School brings about an excitement for my son but also for me.  When I was a kid, I loved getting a new outfit, pencil box and supplies and back pack. It was an exciting time, and despite my longing for summer to never end, I also looked forward to the new things to come.

As I sit on the other side as a mother getting ready to send my son off to 1st grade, I’m also thinking about my desire to preserve and protect the essence of my son, his sense of self, while also helping him to understand and accept his and others’ differences.

As parents we all wish for our children to be seen and loved for who they are by the mentors and teachers in their lives.  We hope that they will be celebrated in their gifts and that they will receive guidance and support for areas that are not their forte.

We also know that sometimes this won’t be the case; that bullying and “the bystander syndrome” are real things and that we can’t always protect them from the world.  But I still want my children to grow up knowing that they can love and be themselves and also to stick up for others when they are being wronged.

So how do we teach our children to go out of their way to think, learn and befriend those that don’t look like us, don’t talk like us or have different interests and backgrounds?  How do we teach them to stick up for those that are not being treated with kindness, respect, and love?  How do we teach them that we are all in this together?

I think the best way we can do this is by having conversations about these things with our children. One way I’ve found helpful to do this is by reading books. Here are a few recommended books by children’s authors who are talking about difficult subjects in fun and interesting ways: