Mo Willems is the creator of many clever kids’ series, incuding “The Elephant and Piggie” books. Gerald the elephant and his friend, Piggie, are like Dr. Suess characters with social skills. These books are deceptively simple in appearance, which also makes them perfect for kids who need uncluttered formats. They speak through dialog bubbles, which appeals to this generation’s love of graphic novels. Gerald and Piggie’s social miscues make these a perfect choice for teaching how to repair conversations, resolve conflicts, and most of all, how to laugh at gaffes. Understanding these books also provides a platform for teaching abstract reasoning, along with plenty of slapstick humor to engage kids. even if some of the finer points are initially unclear. Mo Willems explores their delightful relationship which often seems tested to the max. And yet it survives, as Gerald and Piggie find ways to understand and forgive one another. This series is a great tool for social skills instruction that will have you laughing along the way.
And there’s more! Pigeon is another invention of Mo Willems, a conniving bird who is often desperate to drive a school bus. Pigeon is a master of manipulation, and speaks directly to the reader in his attempt to garner support. Kids love the authentic interaction; the Pigeon series offer opportunities to discuss whining and manipulation a gentle step away from your student’s actual behavior. Disney is publishing the Pigeon series and even has lesson plans! And games, of course!
Mo Willems is a well-respected author and illustrator, and is a former writer and illustrator for Sesame Street. He’s collected an impressive number of awards, including 6 Emmys. He has a great website that links to GoMo, with videos, books, and more. GoMo is a great place for watching him talk about his passions: encouraging parents, teachers, and kids to play with books that deal with silliness, anger, jealousy, friendship, and well, real stuff!