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"Leaping Lemmings!" Is Your Child Learning to Avoid Peer Pressure and Make Good Independent Decisions?

Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

It Is Okay to Be Different

John Briggs has written an amusing story for ages 4-8 that can teach the life lesson about how to handle peer pressure. "Leaping Lemmings!" is the story of Larry the Lemming, a character that has his own mind and must help his friends with the concept that it is okay to be different and have individual ideas while still maintaining group friendships. All lemmings look alike except for Larry. He likes pizza instead of moss and plays the bongos while the other lemmings squeak and make a lot of other noises. He also goes sledding in the winter while his friends build tunnels to keep warm. He even wants his own name to be Larry instead of just being called a lemming. Young children will easily understand his problem and will want to read to find out how he solves the problem of his friends' decision to run all the way toward a cliff when they encounter a scary surprise.

Each page in this delightful story is filled with large and colorful illustrations that are creatively done by Nicola Slater. The text is written in appealing conversation bubbles when the lemmings are talking among themselves. Every parent will relate to the question that Larry asks of his friends when he asks if they would jump off a cliff if everyone else did. Briggs uses large black print to emphasize the drama of saying yes and no when making a decision. The story has a happy ending when all the lemmings decide that thinking for themselves is the best choice.

"Leaping Lemmings!" was published by Sterling Children's Books and has an ISBN of 9781454918196. It is available at Barnes and Noble.

Fun Read Aloud for Learning to Manage Peer Pressure

It is okay to be different.

It is okay to be different.

The question that every parent has asked of their child

The question that every parent has asked of their child

Larry makes his own decision to go sledding instead of building a tunnel to keep warm

Larry makes his own decision to go sledding instead of building a tunnel to keep warm

Larry's Quiz for His Story

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What is a lemming?
    • A bird
    • A chicken
  2. What is Larry's favorite food?
    • Pizza with pepperoni
    • Moss
  3. What animals did Larry go to live with?
    • Seals and puffins
    • Whales
  4. What was the scary animal that the lemmings were running from?
    • Polar bear
    • Wolves
  5. How did Larry save his friends from running off the cliff?
    • He ran in a sharp turning curve and made a u-turn
    • He ran the opposite way

Answer Key

  1. A bird
  2. Pizza with pepperoni
  3. Seals and puffins
  4. Polar bear
  5. He ran in a sharp turning curve and made a u-turn

Get Acquainted with Author John Briggs and Illustrator Nicola Slater

John Briggs has traded his career as a reporter and editor for a career as a writer. he also spent three years as a critic for children's television. He now writes children's books. You may visit his website at

Nicola Slater contributed her talent as an illustrator for "Leaping Lemmings!". She studied illustration at Buckinghamshire Chiltems University in England and currently lives in Manchester, England.

Young Children and Peer Pressure

Research shows that peer pressure begins earlier than parents think. It is not just an issue for the middle school years or the teen years. Preschool and kindergarten will encounter peer pressure when they have their first social experiences. A fun read aloud such as "Leaping Lemmings!" can help parents begin a discussion about peer pressure with their young child. Children as young as 5 are able to figure out the consequences of bowing to peer pressure. Friendships can present situations even in early childhood that a young child will struggle with when trying to decide the right thing to do. They can fear losing a friend or even an entire group of friends if they do not succumb to peer pressure.

Young children do have a sense of fairness and they can encounter situations in which their friends may want them to do something that is not fair. Young children can use their understanding of fairness and apply it to their groups of friends. A situation that may not be safe can also occur and young children are capable of making a good decision by considering the consequences of making the wrong decision in an unsafe situation.

Parents can help their young children understand that it is okay to be different. Little ones can be taught that they do not have to like the same toys or games as their friends. Parents can explain this concept of peer pressure in simple words. Young children have their own sense of right and wrong and they can use this characteristic to make the right decisions for themselves. Parents can also help with this concept by allowing their children to choose a variety of types of friends and to celebrate differences.

Teaching Young Children About Peer Pressure

Larry the Lemming Helps His Friends Learn to Think for Themselves

Larry teaches the power of No.

Larry teaches the power of No.

Larry shows leadership in helping his friends make a good decision

Larry shows leadership in helping his friends make a good decision

Happy ending when everyone thinks for themselves

Happy ending when everyone thinks for themselves

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