(INDIANAPOLIS) — Tina DuBrock has been a teacher for 15 years.
After watching recent tragedies like the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead, DuBrock said she felt for the first time that she needed to do even more to build her students’ mental well-being.
DuBrock, a kindergarten teacher in Dyer, Indiana, had an idea to help students the best way she knows how, through books.
She created a “mental wellness in the classroom” book wish list on Amazon with more than 80 books, all focused on helping kids develop emotionally.
“I really feel that if kids get social and emotional education early, we won’t have as many negatives later,” DuBrock told ABC News. “Being in education, books have always been a nice way to start a conversation, to get to the grit of something.”
DuBrock added, “It is my job to teach kids to love to read, to learn from it and to know that it gives them power, the power to learn something new or to go into a fantasy world and imagine.”
DuBrock shared her book wish list on Facebook, where she often posts if her classroom needs extra supplies and learning tools.
“I teach kindergarten in NW Indiana and my job is not just about academics as some may think,” DuBrock wrote on Facebook. “I shape children. I am their first step out of the home. I can make school a place they want to be and teach them that learning can be fun. I choose to do so.”
Within one hour of DuBrock’s post, 50 books from the list had been purchased and donated to her elementary school.
The school has since received 300 books and counting, from parents, strangers, book publishers and even authors themselves.
“I’m so grateful for all the support and in awe that there are so many good people out there,” said DuBrock, who has been sorting and organizing the books overtime. “It’s not just the book, it’s the kind words that are hitting us in the heart.”
DuBrock has also heard from teachers and librarians across the country who have adopted her wish list for their own schools.
DuBrock’s elementary school is even incorporating the ideas in the donated books — kindness, inclusion, diversity, respect, friendships, coping, perseverance, emotions, for example — into a superhero theme for students.
“Those are the superpowers they’ll learn and they’ll come up with their own superpower and how they can add to it, like making friends,” DuBrock said.
Out of all the books on the list, DuBrock said she has two books she’d recommend to all parents and teachers to teach kids about feelings and mental health.
“‘Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It,’ by JoAnn Deak, is a great book about not giving up,” DuBrock said. “And ‘Mind Bubbles,’ by Heather Krantz, is great for exploring mindfulness with kids.”
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