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Prejudice Lesson in a Charming Picture Book From Award-Winning Author Sarah McIntyre

Updated on March 8, 2019
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Who Wants Rats for Neighbors?

We have to give everyone a chance to be friends.  Friends come in surprising forms.
We have to give everyone a chance to be friends. Friends come in surprising forms. | Source

Charming Picture Book Teaches a Lesson Against Prejudice

Sarah McIntyre's new picture book The New Neighbors teaches a lesson for young children about prejudging someone because of preconceived ideas. Our society and neighborhoods are multicultural. Schools are multicultural. Everyone must learn to live together.

The bunnies hear that rats have moved into the apartment building. Who wants rats for neighbors?!!! One little bunny doesn't think that having rats as neighbors is such a good idea. All kinds of ideas pop into the bunnies' heads about how rats are. Rats are not very clean. Rats smell bad. Rats might steal food. The worst thing might be that the rats might chew through the walls and the entire apartment building might come crashing down. That would be a terrible thing. All of the other neighbors decide that they must get rid of those awful rats as neighbors. One little bunny decides to be brave and knock on the door to visit the rats. He is very surprised that the little rats invite him in to have cake. Everyone knows that cake is hard to refuse. All of the other neighbors join in the welcoming party and discover that their preconceived ideas about the rats are totally wrong. The cake is delicious! All is well and the new neighbors are welcome to stay.

Colorful and whimsical illustrations help tell the story. McIntyre writes with humor and there are lots of hidden jokes within the story and illustrations. The large print on many of the pages invites the opportunity to participate in dramatic reading. Young children always enjoy and become engaged with stories that have animals as characters. McIntyre's The New Neighbors is a perfect choice for story time to learn that our prejudices can be totally wrong.

The New Neighbors was published by Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin/Random House. It is recommended for ages 4-8 and has an ISBN of 978-1-5247-8996-1.

Colorful Whimsical Illustrations Help Tell the Story


Bring The New Neighbors Into the Classroom to Learn Acceptance

Picture books were always my favorite way to introduce a concept to my young students. I used picture books for teaching lessons in all subjects. Sarah McIntyre's The New Neighbors is a perfect choice to teach the concept of friendship, acceptance, and to help with combating prejudice in our complicated society. Young children are exposed to many different cultures in their classrooms today. Most neighborhoods have neighbors from a mix of cultures. Children are exposed to other children of other cultures at the park. As bullying unfortunately continues in our schools, it is increasingly important to teach young children to accept everyone.

*Read The New Neighbors in your story time session.

*Practice dramatic reading skills when text words are printed in large black letters.

*Call attention to the action words as you read along. Young children might enjoy acting these words as an enhancement to the reading experience. Hopping, trotting, and bouncing all offer an opportunity for young children to participate in the reading experience.

*What are some of the preconceived ideas about having rats as the new neighbors?

*What do the new little rat neighbors offer when the bunny knocks on their door?

*Take a class poll of the children who have had new neighbors move into their neighborhood. Does their neighborhood have different people from other cultures or skin colors?

*Look around your classroom. How many children are of different cultures or skin colors?

*Teachers might take this opportunity to expand this idea of different cultures by calling attention to the variety of languages that might be spoken in the school or community.

*Have a cake or small cupcakes as a snack after reading The New Neighbors.

*Teachers might also like to invite parents to come into the classroom with a favorite cake from their family to share with the class as a snack. Food is always a fun activity to share from other cultures.

Combating Prejudice in Your School and Community

How many different cultures do you have in your school and community?

See results

© 2019 Cindy Hewitt


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