I’ll admit it – I bought The Bad Seed after seeing it on a few education instagrams, just crossing my fingers that it would live up to the hype. Spoiler alert: It does! It’s amazing.
This. Book. Rocks. In the first month I owned it, I used it with two different individual students and read it as part of a mini classroom lesson. The illustrations are fun and the story is engaging and simple without being the slightest bit preachy or like it’s “teaching a lesson”.
The Bad Seed (affiliate link) is a tale of a sunflower seed that is “bad”, very “baaaaaad” according to both himself and others. The bad stuff he does isn’t too awful but he’s certainly rude. And then he tells us that he was not always so bad, and shares what is a heartbreaking story (Yes, for real. He’s a fictional sunflower seed but my heart still hurt for him). He had a loving family in his sunflower, then they dropped to the ground, got scooped up and put into snack bags, and he was almost eaten by a giant. Pretty traumatic! It was after this that the seed turned “bad”, purposefully isolating himself and pushing others away. And then he decided to make a change. The seed chose to be happy and beginning choosing prosocial behaviors, thus changing how he and others viewed him.
Here’s the who/what/when/where/why that I use this book:
- With individual students struggling with their own identity as being “bad”.
- With individual students or small groups to talk about a person’s ability to change.
- For classes that are having a tough time showing empathy to their peers with behavior challenges.
I always think it’s helpful to see inside a book and Amazon doesn’t have a ton, so here are some snaps of some of the pages:
- This story is about a sunflower seed that everyone has decided, even himself, that he is “bad”. What do you think it means to be “bad”? What does it mean to be “good”?
- Hm. I’m noticing that the seed talks about himself pretty negatively and other people are talking about him being bad too. How do you think that affects him?
- Do you think all of these behaviors make him a bad seed? (If a person did it, would they be a bad person?)
- How could the other seeds around him have acted differently when he misbehaved?
- How do you think the seed felt when he fell to the ground? when he was in the bag? When he was almost eaten?
- It almost seems like after the scary stuff happened that he decided he was bad and should act bad.
- Why do you think he decided to change?
With a couple of the students I read this story with, just reading it together seemed therapeutic and we could easily talk about how the story applied to them and their lives. Without any prompting, they started making connections! It’s not always like that though – especially for students whose strengths aren’t as verbal or whose minds just aren’t as metaphorically inclined. For them, or for when I need more structure (like with a classroom lesson or a small group), I created some more directed activities: small group processing “seed” cards (I use these in Fan-N-Pick with upper grades and a modified cakewalk game for emerging readers), a craftivity, and 4 different worksheets. They cover self-talk, finding the good in situations, self-concept, and people’s ability to change. Like many of my favorite books, The Bad Seed has a few different key themes to it and I like having activities to fit whatever my students need.