Book of the Month

May 2021

Dear P.S.115 Community,

As we celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage month in May we are delighted to share this month’s book of the month with our school community- The Name Jar written by Yangsook Choi. The Name Jar is a beautiful story about a young girl who is in a new country. She has just arrived from Korea and feels anxious about her new school and is worried that no one will be able to pronounce her name. Throughout the story, questions about difference and identity are the basis of Unhei’s consideration of taking an American name rather than using her given Korean name at school. At the end of the story Unhei decides to keep her own beautiful name and helps her classmates to pronounce it.

This book serves as a mirror for students who have come to the United States and experienced what the main character Unhei is feeling in the story as she originally felt scared to be different. This book also serves as a window for our students to help them better understand the experiences people may have when they come to the United States. The Name Jar also presents readers with the following questions to think about and opens opportunities for discussion. “How do we respond to difference?” “Is a name just another word, or is it something more?” “How closely is one’s identity connected to one’s name?”

This book beautifully aligns and connects with our continuous discussion around accepting and understanding everyone’s differences, and how these differences are unique and should be embraced and valued. This month we encourage you to take some time to discuss these questions with your child and to help them see the connection peoples’ names have with their identity. A good place to start is by telling your child what his/her name represents and who or what they were named after. Students should understand why their name is so special and the meaning behind it. This helps to create a sense of pride in your child’s heritage and their cultural identity.

This month’s Virtue of the Month is Compassion. Compassion is having kind feelings toward someone who is hurt or troubled. It is caring deeply and wanting to help, even if you don’t know them. It is being kind and forgiving to someone who has hurt you. Compassion is a way of thinking and being that results in a spontaneous readiness to act for the benefit of others. Quote by Pema Chodron: “Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.”

Sincerely, The P.S. 115 Community

April 2021

Dear P.S. 115 Community,                                                             

The Virtue of the Month for April is Tolerance.  Tolerance is being accepting of the differences of others.  It is accepting people for who they are and not judging anyone.  Practicing tolerance is showing respect and appreciating differences.  It is an understanding that all people have feelings and should feel included.

The book we chose to align with our virtue is titled, Red, A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall.  In this touching story we meet a blue crayon who is mistakenly labeled as red.  Throughout the story many “people” including his mother, teacher, and even his classmates, (the art supplies) try to help him be red by asking him to draw red strawberries and hearts, sending him on a playdate with yellow to draw a nice orange, taping him because they thought he was broken inside, and sharpening him to make his crayon point sharper.  Throughout all of this Red becomes frustrated.  No matter how hard he tried he could not be red.  Finally, with the help of a new friend everyone learns that Red is in fact Blue!  This book teaches us to not judge people by what we see on the outside and to be true to who we are on the inside.

With the sad and devastating current events taking place in our country and in our city, it is extremely important that we educate our students on this important virtue.   Teaching tolerance supports the building of an inclusive school community where all students feel safe, valued, and supported.  There are many ways we can demonstrate tolerance in our everyday lives. We can do this by accepting others for who they are, making sure that everyone feels included by being friendly towards others, showing forgiveness when someone makes a mistake, and embracing differences including the point of view of others even if we do not agree.

As a school community we value and embrace one another’s differences and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual.  We hope to see many positive behaviors that reflect this important virtue in our school community.

Sincerely, The P.S. 115 Community