Being a well-behaved child and kind and compassionate adult is tested time and time again in our lives. Books can help support children in choosing good ways of behaving and being. Florenza Denise Lee has written a powerful children’s book to do just that in Barry Bear’s Very Best: Learning to Say No to Negative Influences. Beautifully illustrated by Michelle Wynn, this full-color book is the story of a young bear who chooses to be helpful and do his “very best”. Yet, he’s confronted by a group of new young bears who make negative choices. Barry has to make difficult decisions. Will he let the appropriate adults know? Will he choose to continue on a more positive path?
Young readers and parents might be a bit surprised by some of the choices the neighbor bears choose to make in the pages of Barry Bear’s Very Best, but these are things that our children are confronted with regularly in their lives. Florenza Denise Lee is straightforward in making that clear. She doesn’t hint around at what younger children may face regarding peer pressure or possibly even bullying. She drives home the point instead. But, Lee doesn’t leave children wondering how to handle the situation. Instead, at the end of Barry Bear’s Very Best: Learning to Say No to Negative Influences, she offers tips and advice on how to handle bullying for the victim, bystander and the bully. There can never be enough books on the market to help create positive change in the world, and Florenza Denise Lee’s Barry Bear’s Very Best is one every parent and child should read.