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Mind Your Manners: New Books Help Out!

Three new books use popular formats to remind students of good manners they already know! Use the books with kids of all ages, and then let them create their own imitation manner manuals. Your students are sure to say thank you for a fun -- and educational -- classroom lesson!


Yes, manners should be taught at home, but if a teacher can help reinforce good manners at school in a fun way, why not?

Some new books can help teachers do just that!

Benny Bug Book CoverMind Your Manners, Ben Bunny (Scholastic Press) is fine fun! Author and illustrator Mavis Smith makes excellent use of the popular lift-the-flap format. But don't let the primary-grade format fool you. Mind Your Manners is a great way to introduce good manners to kids of all ages! Students will recognize some of their manner slipups in Smith's humorous animal illustrations. For example, bulldog, kitten, and bunny are making quite a mess as they greedily chow down in the book's first scene:

Gobble, slurp, chomp! Crunch, crunch, crunch!
      Ben Bunny and his friends were eating lunch.

Enter friend Crow -- flip the flap! -- and the mannerless trio gets a lesson in proper dining:

"Don't you know," said the crow, "it's very rude
to make so much noise when you chew your food?"
Before you take another bite,
I'll show you how to be polite."

Subsequent lessons cover such dining disasters as wearing a hat at the dinner table, not using a napkin, playing with food, taking huge mouthfuls of food, talking with a full mouth, not saying thank you, and getting up from the table without being excused -- because

" using good manners is an excellent habit
for kittens and bulldogs and even a rabbit!"

The lessons in Mind Your Manners, Ben Bunny -- done with humor underlined with seriousness -- can be lasting. And the book opens up some delightful possibilities: Why not have your students write their own good-manner rhymes, draw their own lift-the-flap illustrations, and publish a sequel to Mind Your Manners, Ben Bunny? It might surprise you to learn that you have a classroom full of Miss Manners wannabes!

IT'S A SPOON, NOT A SHOVEL

Shovel Book Cover Caralyn and Mark Buehner have borrowed another familiar format to create two guides to good manners for kids, It's a Spoon, Not a Shovel (recently released in paperback by Picture Puffins) and the follow-up I Did It, I'm Sorry (just out in hardcover from Dial Books). In both books, animals introduce good manners through multiple-choice questions.

Barney Bull has been polishing his nose ring for hours, but when Hannah Heifer drops all of her daisies in the middle of the road, Barney stops and rumbles:
    a. "Do you need some help?"
    b. "Clumsy Cow!"
    c. Have you any spare buttermilk?"

The choices are pretty simple, the manners pretty basic, but the format is what makes learning manners the multiple-choice way so much fun. Adding to the fun are Mark Buehner's richly colorful and humorous illustrations, each of which includes in it a hidden letter that matches the correct answer to the question.

As is the case with Mind Your Manners, Ben Bunny, the format of It's a Spoon, Not a Shovel lends itself to imitation -- the sincerest (as in good-mannered?) form of flattery! Students might work in groups of four to brainstorm four situations that call for good manners. They could create their own questions with a, b, c answer choices. Then each student could create an illustration to accompany one of the questions. Gather the results to make a charming little book, a veritable manner manual!

So if you're looking for some good-manners fun -- and some good-manners lessons -- share these new books with your students, and challenge them to create some books of their own. Your students are sure to say thank you for a worthwhile lesson!

These books are available at bookstores everywhere. If you are unable to locate one of the books, ask your bookseller to order it for you, or contact the publisher directly.

  • Mind Your Manners, Ben Bunny, written and illustrated by Mavis Smith, is published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic Press. Call 1-800-SCHOLASTIC.
  • It's Not a Spoon, It's a Shovel, by Caralyn and Mark Buehner, is now offered in paperback from Penguin-Puffin, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.
  • I Did It, I'm Sorry, by Caralyn and Mark Buehner, is available in hardcover from Dial Books for Young Readers, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1999 Education World

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05/17/1999