When awesome things happen to my friends and family, I’m happy for them.
But sometimes I also feel sad. For example, when my family’s economic situation was tenuous, it was hard to hear from a relative that so and so’s new beach house was twice as big than our own house, which we could barely afford at the time.
Or when I was a teen, it was painful to hear how somebody’s father was taking her on a trip to glistening Florida beach town when my own father was dying.
Or something as simple as being a first grader, and being jealous of a friend’s ability to read quickly when I was still stumbling along.
The list goes on. I know you know what I’m talking about. It’s envy. And it’s understandable and so very human. So what do we do with it? How do we celebrate the success of others while finding our own when, for a variety of reasons, we are feeling diminished?
I wish I had an easy answer. But one thing I know is true–we need to talk about it. And an author, I might be biased, but I think that kids also need to read about it.
When looking at some of the themes running through my forthcoming chapter book series, Ellie May, which will be debuting the end of December, I’m seeing a common motif of a kid struggling with envy (in the classroom) running through the books.
In Ellie May on Presidents’ Day, the titular character would like to be flag leader just like her high-achieving classmate Ava.
And in Ellie May on April Fools’ Day, she would like to be as funny as the class clown Mo.
In both of these books, Ellie May yearns for success that she sees others having and goes about claiming it for herself in an exuberant but ultimately wrong-headed way.
I decided to look to see what else there is out tackling this subject for kids 6-9.
What to Do When it’s Not Fair: a Kids’ Guide to Handling Envy and Jealousy by Jacqueline B. toner and Claire A. B. Freeland Is a nonfiction book created to help kids deal with envy. The authors identify triggers that may indicate jealousy and offer alternative ways to reduce envy.
Amber Brown is Green With Envy by Paula Danziger with Amber‘s feelings of unfairness when other people‘s in tact families do not seem to have the same problems as her own.
In Judy Moody Gets Famous by Megan McDonald, third grader Judy gets a famous case of envy when classmate Jessica Finch wins a spelling bee and tries to seek fame of her own in funny and desperate endearing ways.
What are some of your favorite books dealing with envy?
Hillary Homzie is the author of the forthcoming Ellie May chapter book series (Charlesbridge Fall 2018), as well as the forthcoming Apple Pie Promises (Sky Pony/Swirl, October 2018), Pumpkin Spice Secrets (Sky Pony/Swirl, October 2017), Queen of Likes (Simon & Schuster MIX 2016), The Hot List (Simon & Schuster MIX 2011) and Things Are Gonna Be Ugly (Simon & Schuster, 2009) as well as the Alien Clones From Outer Space (Simon & Schuster Aladdin 2002) chapter book series. She can be found at hillaryhomzie.com and on her Facebook page.
Thanks so much, Heather. At first it was hard for me to admit my own envy, but it’s also liberating.
Great suggestions, Hillary. I’m adding them to my list!
I can definitely endorse the Judy Moody books, which were great reads for my 6- and 8-year-olds. I’ll have to check the others out!
Dan, I’m a huge fan of the Judy Moody books!
Great book list, Hillary! Thank you — such an important subject, and one that’s hard to talk about with kids. Definitely looking forward to checking out some of these titles.