In this story, a wise teacher helps young Sara deal with negativity from a classmate. Morah Ilana uses a clever analogy to explain the girl’s behavior: “Buckets aren’t only for sand. Each of us has a bucket, but it’s invisible. The bucket holds all the good feelings we have about ourselves, about other people and the world….When our bucket is full of good feelings, we feel happy, when our bucket is empty, we feel sad or angry.”
As Sara goes through her day, she feels sad and a little angry as her bucket empties. She learns that “one of the best ways to fill up your own bucket is by filling other people’s buckets.”
“Bucket filling” is a technique used by elementary school and preschool teachers to help children understand that we can increase or decrease our happiness through our actions. Each time we do something kind, or make someone feel good, a bit is added to our bucket and theirs. Negative actions take a bit out of the bucket. Being kind to other people is a skill that can be learned.
This is a welcome addition to the bibliotherapy list. It is recommended for ages 5 to 8 and also works well as a read-aloud both in and out of a classroom.
Sandy Lanton, a former teacher, earned a BA in Psychology and an MS in Early Childhood Education from Queens College. She is the author of Daddy’s Chair (Sydney Taylor Award), The Happy Hackers, Lots Of Latkes, Still a Family: A Young Child’s Book About Divorce (Gittle Honorable Mention), and The Littlest Levine (named one of the best Jewish Children’s Books of 2014 by Tablet Magazine). Her work has appeared in magazines as well as several anthologies. When she isn’t writing stories or visiting schools, Ms. Lanton likes to crochet, line dance, play bridge and pickleball, spend time with her grandchildren, and read, read, read.