Giraffes Can't Dance is one of my favorites! It's a favorite for our granddaughter too! This sweet book has been read to her since she was only a few months old. It's never too early to fill children's ears, minds and hearts with the message they are special just the way they are!
Gerald was awkward and this made him so sad when the time came around for the annual jungle dance. He felt like everyone else could do what he couldn't do. As he retreats from the other animals ridicule, he receives a bit of wise advice from a little cricket.
"Sometimes when you're different, you just need a different song."
Interpret Gerald's facial expressions. Use the illustrations along with the text to determine how Gerald may be feeling at that point of the story - sad, embarrassed, relieved, brave, etc. Have fun making your own facial expressions for kids to interpret emotions.
Discuss how the other animals treated Gerald. Think of ways they could have treated Gerald more kindly. Allow kids to pretend to be the characters in the book and act it out.
Have kids list things that are special about each type of animal in real life. Then have them name things they themselves are good at along with the talents of their friends. We need to notice, appreciate and encourage each other's talents and special traits as well as our own differences.
Dance! Put on some music and allow kids to move to the rhythm however they want. Learn a new dance. Demonstrate the dances mentioned such as a waltz, tango, Scottish reel, etc. and allow kids to try.
Psalm 139:14 is a wonderful Bible verse reminding kids they are each unique and special:
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
This book can take this a step further though reminding us not to compare ourselves to others. We are each created to be unique and have different talents.
Galatians 6:4 tells us -
"Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,"
Gerald became discouraged when he compared himself to all the other animals' dancing. Yet when he looked at what he could uniquely do, it turned his whole perspective around. He made an "upturn!"
God has created us each unique to become and do what only we can do.