Me: The last book, we’ll be reading today is Scaredy Squirrel. (holds book up for class to see the cover)
3rd Grader #1: Mr. Martin, Didn’t you read that book to us last year?
3rd Grader # 2: And the year before that?
3rd Grader # 3: I think he read it to us in kindergarten, too.
3rd Grader # 4: Shhhh. Let him start. I love this one.
Yeah. I admit it. Sometimes I overdo certain titles. There are a few books that I like to read to several age groups, every year. I can’t help it. I just love them so much, and I want as many kids as possible to be exposed to them as often as possible.
Scaredy Squirrel is one of those books. It was first published nearly a decade ago, and I adore it. It’s everything a good picture book should be. It’s hilarious and cute and it tackles some real issues kids can relate to.
Scaredy deals with a problem that most kids, (heck most adults if they’re being honest) struggle with: the fear of the unknown. Scaredy maybe overdoes it a bit. He literally doesn’t do anything besides eat nuts and look at the view from his tree, (I’ve been asked a few times over the years about his bathroom habits, but the book doesn’t delve into those depths) but I think kids can really relate to that.
When life happens, (in the form of a killer bee) and Scaredy accidentally leaps from his tree to catch his emergency kit, he discovers that he’s actually a flying squirrel, and that he was made for so much more than nut eating and view watching. He was designed for adventure.
My favorite thing about the book, though is the end. Yes, he’s made some changes to his life, but he’s hesitant to jump all-in at once. He still keeps to his routine mostly, but he leaves the tree for a few hours every day, which is a huge step for him. He’s still the anxious Scaredy we love, afraid of everything imaginable, but he’s trying to be brave and take chances, a little bit a time. There’s a message for kids there. You can still be anxious about the unknown, but you should try to not let it get in your way. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but doing what you need to do despite your fear.
It’s such a good picture book. And yeah, kids notice when I read it to them several years in a row, but I’ve never had one student complain.They seem to love it as much as I do. If you haven’t been introduced to Scaredy before, you should check him out.