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My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith.  Illustrated by Julie Flett. Orca, 2016

“My heart fills with happiness when … ” A comforting board book offers young children the opportunity for reflection, and for affirmation, too. Moments of happiness tucked into each and every day celebrated here include time with family (“I see the face of someone I love”), self-expression (“I sing”), and the natural world (“I walk barefoot in the grass”). Author Monique Gray Smith (Cree/Lakota) has written a narrative lovingly grounded in First/Native Nations culture, community, and traditions (“I smell bannock in the oven … I drum”). Illustrator Julie Flett (Cree/Métis) invites children into the book’s warm embrace with intimate and expressive gouache and digital collage illustrations of First/Native Nations children, or children and adults together in a book that invites all children to consider, “What fills YOUR heart with happiness?” ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: A book that makes you happy.
  • Talk: What fills your heart with happiness?
  • Sing: “You Are My Sunshine” & “If You’re Happy and You Know It” Use the book to make some new verses. For example, “If you’re happy and you know it, play your drum”.
  • Write: Draw a picture of what makes you happy/or what your face looks like when you’re happy.
  • Play: Act out actions on each page. Make up your own actions to go along – pretend to play the guitar.
  • Math or Science: Talk about what the ingredients – what is used to make — bannock. Have them guess first. And if you can, find some to try?

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