89. Mrs. Morgan’s Lawn by Barney Saltzberg
Retell: Mrs. Morgan does not tolerate anyone or anything treading on her lawn. Whenever a ball lands on her lawn she confiscates it and it is never seen again. After some encouragement from his parents, Mrs. Morgan’s neighbor decides to confront her and ask for his ball back. Even when he asks her nicely Mrs. Morgan refuses to return his ball. After a few weeks he notices that Mrs. Morgan’s lawn is looking unkempt. He rakes up leaves for her and discovers that kindness can often change people’s minds.
Topics: kindness, problem-solving
Units of Study: Character, Talking and Writing About Texts
Tribes: mutual respect
Habits of Mind: taking responsible risks
Reading Skills: inference, interpretation
My Thoughts: I like to read this story when students start having conflicts with each other. Giving “I-Messages” solves many of these conflicts but sometimes something more is needed to solve a problem. Creating peace often starts by attempting to understand the person you have a conflict with. In this story, the neighbor changes from thinking Mrs. Morgan is mean to understanding how she feels about her lawn and eventually helps her, despite the fact that she has not been kind in return. When I read this out loud to my class last year, a student pointed out that “sometimes bullies act mean because they don’t feel that people are nice to them.” She was talking about a particular bully in the class who had been absent during the read aloud. She suggested to the class that they should say nice things to the student and compliment him when he did something well.