I AM A BEAR is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post!
Written/Illustrated by: Jean-François Dumont
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, English Edition 2015
Originally published in France under the title Je Suis un Ours by Kaléidoscore, 2010
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: homelessness, poverty, compassion, kindness, friendship, hope
Brief Synopsis: I AM BEAR is a story written from a bear’s point of view who sleeps on the sidewalk, on cardboard boxes, in old clothes. We learn early on people do not like this dirty, smelly, hungry, homeless bear which makes him sad until he meets a little girl.
Opening pages: “I don’t know how I got here… I have no memory of my life before, just a few images that flash before my eyes from time to time, like the car headlights that sweep over my bed at night. All I know is that one morning I woke up here, on this street, and I haven’t left since.”
Why I like this book: This is a heartwarming story about what life is like for someone who is homeless and sleeps on the streets. It allows readers to experience the despair many homeless feel when trying to find food and or shelter. And the humiliation they feel when asking strangers to help. The bear realizes that people no longer pay attention to him but on one day when sitting on the sidewalk feeling grumpy, a little girl walks up to him and asks, “Why do you look so sad?” She reminds her of a ”teddy bear”. Unlike the adults bear encountered, this act of kindness gives him hope.
This is a wonderful story to introduce young children to a difficult topic. The bold illustrations keep readers engaged and helps deliver a message about social ills such as homelessness and poverty that exist everywhere.
Click here for The Teddy Bear Project based on another book, The Teddy Bear about a boy who gives a bear to a homeless man.
Click here for teaching kids about poverty using chocolate. Especially good at this time of year when those of us celebrate Thanksgiving by overindulging in food.
Click here for lesson plans from Teaching Tolerance: A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center geared toward grades 3-5 about poverty and homelessness.
For more of today’s book reviews, click here to go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.