The Brand New Kid Literature Guide
The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric is a sensitive book that helps children see the effects of teasing on a new child in school, while it offers a way to help children who feel left out. We want our children to learn to face new situations with confidence, ready to face what comes next. We also want them to be kind and sensitive to others, with strategies for how to include others in play. Reading this book gives you the opportunity to discuss the best way to act when your child is either “the new kid” or watching the new kid. As the author says in her introduction, “as loving and wonderful as they are, children can sometimes be cruel. Kindness can be taught, and perhaps we can all do a better job helping our children learn about tolerance and inclusion.” Not just for new kids, this concept includes children who are misunderstood and feeling left out for any number of reasons. For parents who want to teach their children about tolerance and kindness to others, this book provides a great discussion starter.
ASK: What are some of the ways we show kindness to each other? Why is it important to be kind to people with whom you live, play, and work?
SHOW: Look at the face of the boy on the cover. How does he feel about coming to a new school? Predict how he will act and how the other kids will act toward him.
CONNECT: Have you ever been the new kid somewhere? Have you ever watched a new kid? What was it like?.
ASK: How do Ellie and Carrie feel about the first day of school?
SHOW: Look at the picture on the page where the teacher is writing “Welcome Back to Brookhaven School” on the chalkboard. How would it feel to be the child in the middle of the room? How do the other children feel about the way they are acting?
ASK: What did Ellie do that changed things? Do you think that was hard for Ellie to do? Why?
SHOW: Notice how the other children acted toward Ellie the next day. Then turn the page and notice how they are looking at Lazlo. Will things be different for Lazlo now?.
CONNECT: What are some ways you can help a new child in the neighborhood or school feel comfortable and accepted? Is it important for someone who has been here to welcome the new kid or family to the block or can you wait until the new kid comes to you?
- Write an acrostic poem using the letters in the word WELCOME. Write the letters vertically down a page. On the first line of the poem, write a word, phrase, or sentence that begins with W. On the second line of the poem, write a word, phrase, or sentence that begins with E. Continue with the remaining letters, writing a poem that expresses your thoughts about welcoming others. The finished poem can be rewritten and illustrated. Hang it up in your home to let others who come to your house know how you feel about welcoming others. You may work together as a family to write the poem, or each write your own.
- Role-playing is a great way to get practice with difficult social situations. Assign some of the following roles and act out the situations. Try acting out the same situations with different strategies to see which works best.
- Situation: You are a new kid in school and the other kids are not talking to you. One student has looked at you like he or she might like to get to know you.
- Roles: new kid, child who may be interested in getting to know the new kid
- Situation: There is a child at school who often plays alone at recess. She (or he) is in your class and seems pretty shy. You decided to play with her (him).
- Roles: shy child, child who wants to play with him or her
- Situation: Your two best friends teased a child. You know the child doesn’t play with anyone else. You don’t like what your friends are doing.
- Roles: two teasing friends, teased child, child who doesn’t like to see his or her friends tease someone else
- Situation: Someone new just came to your school. She moved here from another country and doesn’t speak much English.
- Roles: new student, child who has been in the class for a while
- Situation: There is a new child in school. He hits kids sometimes. Some kids stay away from him. You want to be his friend but you don’t want him to hit you.
- Roles: new child who hits sometimes, child who wants to be a friend, a teacher
- Situation: It is the first day of school. You say hello to one child who walks away. You see another child playing with something you like to play with.
- Roles: child who is already playing, child who wants to play with the same materials
- Bake some cookies or bread to bring to a new neighbor, someone you haven’t met, or an elderly neighbor. Bring the gift over and introduce yourself or offer to play or help with a big job around the house.