Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Study: Honesty... from What's Under YOUR Cape?

It is such a delight to write a post about someTHING wonderful that I care deeply about. It is even better when that post also includes the opportunity to talk about someONE wonderful! I am honored to share my thoughts about Barbara Gruener and her new book, What's Under Your Cape?

Barbara has been a BloggyFriend of mine "since the very beginning." Her blog, The Corner on Character, is one of my first check-ins in the morning because her blog posts always make me think. Sometimes they make me laugh and sometimes they make me cry. But they always make me think.

When I first started blogging, Barbara and I quickly discovered how much we had in common (including our frequent trips to Starbucks!). It wasn't long before a true friendship developed. Two summers ago, I traveled to Texas and showed up at her doorstep. (And, yes, we did let her know we would be in town... I'm not THAT forward!) She was warm and welcoming--just like her writing. We stayed for three days! And, within minutes of arriving, I felt like I was part of the Gruener family. That's just how it is with Barbara. Complete JOY!

Here's my Texas Starbucks card!

At the end of June, I had the privilege of watching Barbara present at the Character Education Conference in southern California. It was so hard not to stand up and wave and say, "Hey! I know her!" She was motivating and encouraging and her presentations left the audience feeling, "I can do this! I can change lives! I can make things better for kids!" For me (and, I am sure, for others), the time with spent with Barbara was one of the highlights of the conference!

Barbara is a SuperHero in my life for many reasons. But for this post, I will narrow the list down to the fact that she challenges us to encourage "Superheroes of the Character Kind" in the classroom every day. I find that to be such a fitting subtitle to her book. In fact, when she said she was writing a book, I almost said: What took you so long?! Your writing has already led to character superheroes across the country!

The book is a "fun read," yet it is filled with possibilities. You read through each chapter and smile and walk away with lots of ideas and resources.... and a feeling of satisfaction. It IS possible to help students develop good character. And this book will help you make that happen. Within the pages, there is an always-discernible mantra that character education is at the core of educating strong, productive citizens.
Want a copy of your own? Just click on the book cover to order!
 For my part, I am talking about Chapter 6: H is for honesty.

"Honest people can be trusted because they tell the truth. They keep their promises and we can count on them. Honest people don't do these things so that they won't get in trouble. They do these thing because they're the right things to do. Honest people live life with integrity." (p.55). These are powerful words from our author. And they are the words that I plan to use when I discuss honesty with my sixth graders in the fall. And the chapter is filled with ideas and resources to accompany and reinforce those words.

Have you ever read The Empty Pot by Demi? Barbara provides a comprehensive plan to use this delightful story to teach the importance of honesty. She provides a list of thought-provoking questions to use after the book has been shared. Here's my favorite: What's the difference between doing your best and being the best?" All of the questions she has provided would lead to an insightful discussion and would help elucidate the importance of honesty. Barbara also includes enrichment activities for use with this book to help students explore the concepts even further.

See these shoes? They are shiny. And sparkly, And guess what? After wearing them for about five minutes, my toes are aching and a blister will be forming on my heel. In chapter six, Barbara provides a delightful commentary about shoes--and friendships--that are "a good fit." She also lists of a range of book titles to use in the classroom and suggests numerous activities to support students as they work to develop (and maintain) friendships--always a delicate dance throughout the year.

The next book offering is Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie.  Again, Barbara offers a variety of possible lessons to use along with this sweet story. There are movement activities, chants, discussion opportunities and more real-life applications. Such a treasure trove of ways to reinforce the importance of being honest! I hadn't even finished the chapter before I had jumped over to Amazon and one-click ordered this selection!

Children (of all ages) need to recognize that telling the truth is necessary when a classmate needs help making better choices "next time." Sometimes being honest can help them--and others--be safe. Sixth graders, in particular, have difficulty breaking through their allegiance with their peers and sharing truthful details with a teacher or trusted adult. Students need to realize that that there will be times when being honest is more important than "protecting their friends" (That is always how they see it!). The ideas in this chapter help to foster the importance of being honest... even when it might lead to losing a friend... because integrity will always be more important.

There is a need to teach the value of honesty and children at all grades need support navigating friendships. Barbara has managed to provide an inspiring commentary that weaves book suggestions, lesson ideas and personal anecdotes together with a desire for teaching good character in the classroom. This is a perfect back-to-school book that will help transform any classroom into a more positive respectful, honest place in which all students can learn and grow.

And, in keeping with the premise of the book, we've invited you to learn along with us! The linky is open to anyone who wants to add their reflections about What's Under Your Cape? and the strategies that can be used to support character education in the classroom. We hope that you will join us and become a part of this collaboration learning experience!


  1. This is great! I love finding ways to have some character education for kids in a way they can relate. 😄

  2. First, I love that you referred to me as "our author" ... second, I think you only stayed in TX with me two days ... wish it would have been more! ... and third, thank you for a perfectly joyful and heartwarming post about Chapter 6.

    Our friendship makes my heart happy because superheroes like you make the world a friendlier, more peaceful and all-around more enJOYable place to live.

    Be blessed as you bless,


  3. Yes, I think there is a need to teach the value of honesty and children at all grades need support navigating friendships. Barbara has managed to provide an inspiring commentary that weaves book suggestions, lesson ideas and personal anecdotes together with a desire for teaching good character in the classroom. I would like to say Thanks for sharing such a nice collection.
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