Home » Sportsmanship for Kids Easy to Learn with Howard B. Wigglebottom
Teaching kids sportmanship can be a tough battle, especially when they see examples on TV and internet of how not to act in just about every situation, much less while playing sports. With children who have special needs, though, the line blurs a bit more.
It’s no longer enough to tell the child that ‘we don’t do that’ or explain a little about what being a good sport it – their sometimes literal minds can come up with multiple ways around any scenario you might suggest. We’ve had this struggle with Andy in the past, as we’ve tried to explain that winning isn’t the most important part of playing any game in life, whether it’s a sports game or an academic contest.
But it’s hard, sometimes, to parallel the idea that you shouldn’t worry as much about winning with the idea that there are winners and losers … and who ever wants to be a loser?
That’s why I was so excited to have the opportunity to review Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns about Sportsmanship: Winning Isn’t Everything with my little gang of mini-Moodys.
Andy took over the reading of this great book, while Bobby carefully studied the pictures up close (Logan was around the room somewhere, books aren’t really his thing if he isn’t allowed to rip them up … I know, I’m mean!).
The idea of sportsmanship was introduced simply, easily, and in terms that the boys could understand.
In the book, Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Spostmanship, Howard learns that winning isn’t everything after his winning mindset is challenged late in the story. But early in the book, we’re introduced to all the other ways that this poor sportsmanship can impact not only how much Howard enjoyed a game with his friends, but even how much fun he was (not) having.
The boys picked up on this right away, with Andy immediately noticing that “Howard isn’t being very nice” while Bobby wanted to know why Howard was being “mean” (he likes to copy Andy’s questions *grin*). So we talked about how easy it is to feel like winning is important. But, I explained, it’s much more important to have fun.
In the book, Howard is called a ball hog … and that term has been sweetly slipped into conversations with both of the older boys after they started playing in their local challenger little league program. I had to explain that being excited over playing wasn’t the same thing as actually being a ball hog. And being good at catching the ball, or lucky enough to have several batted to you in a row … these don’t make you a ball hog either.
I imagine the concept is somewhat easier for some kids, but I’m pretty pleased that this book helped to open the conversation between the boys and I about this topic. It’s so hard for children with special needs to feel like they belong, especially when it has anything to do with sports … being able to work through some of their questions beforehand was not only helpful, but instrumental, in helping them feel comfortable talking with me about how the couple of games they have had so far have made them feel.
While I’m happy to report that both boys have batted and scored, I’m much more pleased to share that a good time was definitely had by all. Sportsmanship, after all, is another part of learning to adjust to other people’s expectations along with our own … and that is something that will always be a little challenging for my guys.
I found the book, and the main character Howard, to be both entertaining and very easy to read and understand. He displayed emotions the boys and I were able to identify and talk about, including frustration, anger, embarrassment, and understanding. It’s a great book for teaching kids about sportsmanship, but it’s also a great way to introduce concepts to children with special needs in a scripted way.
Many of the conversations used in the book were able to successfully model the dialogue for the boys as we further discussed what was read … Howard talked with the other characters and to himself in a way that made sense to them, making it more easy for them to use his dialogue as an example.
That’s right, the full set of ten Howard B. Wigglebottom books are on sale for $6 each or further reduced to $50 if you buy them as a set. I have already added these books to our wishlist for the kids this summer – they are engaging and fun to read, easy to read, and between the great pictures and examples, I think the kids will enjoy them for some time to come (as long as Logan doesn’t find them first!). You can purchase them by going to their interactive site, in their online shop: https://www.wedolisten.org/shop/
For more interactive fun, you can check out tons of free activities at their main site, https://www.wedolisten.org/, from animated books and games to coloring pages, songs and more. The kids will spend extra time here for sure this summer!