This is my new favorite children’s book. I first saw it at the Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy Training I went to in April. The story is about the power of kindness, positivity, and consideration for others. It teaches children that everyone has a bucket and that they have the power to fill that bucket with happiness for those around them. It also explains that bullying, negativity, and fighting will dip into the buckets of others causing sadness and low self-esteem. I asked a 14 year old patient to help me with an activity to go along with this book. I asked her to think about her day and then draw a picture of her bucket for the day. We talked about it and she shared that there was a lot of color because she was able to spend time with her family and had good time in the playroom. But she added some black because she was grumpy about being in the hospital and taking that grumpiness out on others. Then she drew a picture of her goal for the next day. I asked her to think about ways she could change her bucket and her impact on those around her. Her second drawing shows her goals to have an overflowing bucket and a bucket of color as she enjoys the people around her.
It can be difficult to engage teens in this type of activity. I have found that one way to get their involvement is by asking for their help. For example, I explained that I had just got this book and was excited to try out a new activity. She volunteered to help me and then gave her suggestions of how to make the activity work for younger kids. She suggested using it with kids who are bullies [and with older brothers].
The book was a little long so I would probably skip a few pages to make a shorter version for young children. I would also modify the activity based on the child's needs. For example, a child with low self-esteem could benefit from thinking about all the things [that fill their bucket] that make them special. Or a child who is extremely selfish could consider his impact on the people around him. This book is definitely a keeper!