This week, I’m pleased to present a fabulous new book that takes aim at bias.
Those binoculars are a metaphor folks. As adults, we tend to walk around with our perception goggles rigged for bias, possibly through parental conditioning coupled with mass media that insidiously (and often blatantly) establishes and then reinforces cultural, racial, and class bias. So we tend to see others through that lens, and to a lesser extent through our experiences.
Kids, those little sponges, need books that help them become aware, again and again, of how they may make snap judgments about others, based on what they’ve seen or heard, or even imagined. And refreshingly, unlike my soapboxing, NO BEARS ALLOWED! is not didactic. You’ll find no 2x4s for head-whacking the reader within its pages.
We start with dear ol’ Rabbit who’s afraid of lots of things, from thunder to spiders to things that go BUMP in the night. Yes, sirree, that ol’ Rabbit is afraid. What’s he afraid of most of all?
BEARS!!! Poor rabbit. And he lives in the woods. So scary! Oh, my! Kids will have great fun identifying all the things in the illustrations that show them just how scared rabbit is.
Rabbit must go on his journey to learn that fear can be misplaced, misleading, or downright wrong. And in the end, rabbit not only learns to face his fear but also discovers that others (including those big scary BEARS!!) may have similar fears, too.
By getting to know someone who’s not like us, fears/distrust/bias can fall away, and we can become friends. There are plenty of adults who could benefit from reading this book, I’m thinking.
Tara J. Hannon’s illustrations are simultaneously sweet and hilarious in their detail—a visual treat that gives kids plenty of opportunity to understand the story before they’re able to read it for themselves. Give those illustrations the time they deserve; they add another layer of richness to this sweet, funny, and meaningful story. Enjoy!
Pair this book with THE NEW NEIGHBORS by Sarah McIntyre. Discuss how all of the animals make assumptions about other animals they don’t know.
Get additional ideas on how to talk about bias from this anti-bias website: Teaching for Change
Have kids draw friendly bears and scary rabbits. Ask them to be specific about the details that make each look friendly or scary.
Title: No Bears Allowed
Author: Lydia Lukidis
Illustrator: Tara J. Hannon
Publisher: Blue Whale Press, 2019
Ages: Preschool-2nd grade
Themes: Bias, Fear, Friendship
For more perfect picture book recommendations, visit Susanna Hill’s website.