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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Be Kind, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill. Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2018. $24.99 ages 3 and up

"Maybe it's paying attention.

Telling Desmond I like his
blue boots.

Asking the new girl to be
my partner.

Listening to Aunt Franny's
stories. ((Even the ones I've
heard before.)

Teaching about kindness for our children seems a worthy pursuit.  Being concerned for others should be an essential part of our every day lives. Paying attention to goodness should be at the heart of everything we do, shouldn't it? It is inspiring to see good will in little acts of courtesy. We get a response (or not) - either way it fills our hearts and makes us feel better. Most often, it inspires others to do the same. What a way to start each day! Be the first to generate a chain of unselfish acts that could go on, and on, and on ...

The child in this book thinks carefully about how being sympathetic and kind can have a lasting impact. When Tanisha spills grape juice on her brand new dress, she is heartbroken and runs from the classroom. As the day passes, Tanisha keeps to herself. Our narrator wonders what might be done to show her that she matters. 

"Should I have handed her my napkin?
Let her borrow my sweatshirt?
Spilled my juice so everyone stared at me instead?

What does it mean to be kind anyway?"

It is a good question to ask ourselves. As a child thinks about it, many things come to mind that would make another person's day better. It is surprising how long the list grows, and how fast. This is a book to help children begin the conversation and generate a list of the many acts of goodness that can be part of our days.

It matters in our schools, our communities, and around the world. And, it comes back to us with purpose. The detailed artwork and colorful images provide thoughtful contemplation. The children are as culturally diverse as the ideas for showing kindness.

If you are interested in other picture books to inspire kind acts in your homes and classrooms, here is a short list of books you might read.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Philip Stead)
Those Shoes and A Bike Like Sergio's (Maribeth Boelts)
Last Stop on Market Street (Matt de la Pena)
Each Kindness (Jacqueline Woodson)
Wolf in the Snow (Matthew Cordell)
The Invisible Boy (Trudy Ludwig)
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade (Justin Roberts)
The Three Questions (Jon J Muth)
Strictly No Elephants (Lisa Mantchev)
The Giving Tree (Shel Silverstein)
Because Amelia Smiled (David Ezra Stein)
Shelter (Celine Claire)

and many more. Aren't we lucky?


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