Each month, the Chancellor selects a children’s book that she feels is inspirational and informative for the students, parents, and staff members who make up the City’s public schools. For past book selections, review the “Book of the Month” category right here on The Morning Bell.

Little Tree
Philomel Books, 2015
By Loren Long

Little Tree lives in a forest surrounded by other little trees, with little leaves that keep him cool during the hot summer days. Squirrels scamper up his branches to play, and the mourning dove settles on a branch to sing her “flutey song.” From where Little Tree stands, life is fine just the way it is. But his future is threatened when autumn arrives and he refuses to drop his leaves.little-tree-book-cover

Little Tree clings to his leaves through the winter. In the spring, the other trees grow new, green leaves while Little Tree’s are brown and withered. Season after season, he hugs his leaves tight, his growth stunted, while the former saplings grow tall and strong. In time, Little Tree learns an important lesson: that, sometimes, we have to let go of what we know in order to grow.

This enchanting fable will speak to children as well as adults and is especially appropriate this time of year, as many of our students prepare to transition to the next grade and phase of their academic careers. As parents, we must remember that parents as well as students fear the unknown. Change can be hard, even with encouragement and support.

Parents can also remind children that change is part of growing up and moving on. We must teach children that even if they are content with the way things are, they must have faith that good things will happen if they step out of their comfort zones.

These are difficult, but critical, lessons for all of us. We often must decide whether to hold onto an idea or situation, or take a chance on change—and grow. As Little Tree learned, with courage and support, we can drop our brown, withered leaves, and soar to majestic heights.

Posted by Carmen Fariña

Former Chancellor of NYC Schools, lifelong educator, native Brooklynite, and proud abuela.