With a sprout in class expecting a new baby brother or sister any day now and many friends with younger siblings, I decided to pull out one of my all time favorite books – Julius The Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes. One of my favorite author/illustrators, Kevin Henkes’ books are sweet stories that always prompt amazing discussions. I suppose that is why I love his books so much… Chrysanthemum, Wemberly Worried, and Owen (oh how I loved my binky as a child) thrill my class over and over.
As I read Julius today, the connections were palpable. Kids fights with their siblings – I know, my brother and I practically waged war for the better part of my childhood. In Julius, Lilly is excited for her new baby brother to arrive… until he does. She can’t understand why her parents and family fawn over him when she finds him disgusting. The book never names the feeling… jealousy, but we did during our discussion.
One of the many aspects I love about Kevin Henkes books is the humor. He just finds the right balance between emotion and laughter. My favorite part of Julius? When Lilly stalks strangers warning them about the dangers of babies.
We had an amazing talk afterwards about sibling rivalry and sibling love. Most sprouts expressed their general dislike for their brothers and sisters, but a few could see the light at the end of the tunnel… thanks to Julius. These discussions about family, love, and life are what I cherish most about my job. Oh, and my brother and I, we stopped fighting and grew to love each other.