At Primrose schools, teachers use our Balanced Learning® curriculum and books to encourage children to feel a sense of belongingness, compassion and community. One of those books is “We’re Better Together: A Book About Community” by Eileen Spinelli.
Spinelli fell in love with books when she was six years old—thanks to a wonderful librarian, Miss Armstrong. Since Spinelli’s debut in 1991, she has been a staple in children’s literature and has gone on to author numerous picture books, poetry collections and chapter books. We spoke to her about her approach to writing and the importance of togetherness—because we truly are better when we are together.
You’ve written many books over the decades. How do you think about children when you’re writing for them?
When I’m writing I think about my own childhood and that of my children. And of course I think about our grandchildren. Though times have changed—sometimes drastically—kids still have the same needs I had those many years ago…to be loved, to have friends, to do things we can be proud of, to learn, to try new things, to play, to laugh, to share our feelings, to dream.
What is the story you wanted to tell with “We’re Better Together: A Book About Community”? Why did you focus on the theme of togetherness?
I was invited to write a book about community by Marlo Scrimizzi, an editor with Highlights. The message is both simple and profound. We ARE better together. Studies have shown that human beings in community are happier and healthier. Good things that might be difficult for a single person to achieve can be happily accomplished when people work together. I think it is vital to teach our children about cooperation. And to present opportunities to practice cooperation.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope readers will be inspired to work for good in their families and communities. I hope readers will bring caring hearts into the world around them. I hope readers will be helpers…and also not hesitate to ask for help when they need it.
Why do you feel it’s important to show diverse characters?
Seeing diverse characters gives us the sense that we are in the same family—the human family. That we share the same home—this beautiful planet, earth. We may look different. We may have cultural differences. We may be literally worlds apart—but in the deep down things we are very much the same.
Why do you feel it is important to foster a sense of belongingness in children?
I like the idea that at Primrose both similarities and differences are well nurtured. Similarities create a caring bond. Differences create interesting learning experiences for us all.
Belongingness Discussion Questions
At Primrose, the books in our classrooms help teach children that everyone belongs and that differences are to be celebrated. After you read “We’re Better Together” with your child, ask them these questions to reinforce these important concepts.
- Why is it important to work together?
- How do you work together with your friends?
- What are some other ways people can work together and help each other?
For more interviews with authors of books in Primrose classrooms, check out:
- Kerascoët Shows the Power of a Simple Act of Kindness
- Markette Sheppard Writes Her Own Story as a Working Parent
- Lizzy Rockwell on the Magic of Collaborating with Children
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