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Monday, November 21, 2022

KINDergarten: where kindness matters every day. Written by Vera Ahiyya and illustrated by Joey Chou. Random House Studio, Penguin Random House. 2022. $19.95 ages 4 and up


"The gym is the biggest room by far! PE 
teacher Ms. Lauren has a question for the 
class. "Does anyone have any ideas about 
ways we can show kindness in PE class?"
Many hands fly into the air.

Leo is a very quiet boy who is happy talking with the members of his family, but not with anyone else. So kindergarten presents a problem for him. He is worried when a letter arrives addressed to him. It's from his teacher and invites all students to come prepared to talk about ways to be kind as they start the school year. 

Two weeks later, Leo is still concerned about what he will say. When he meets her, his teacher understands that he might be scared. She is quick to let him know she will be there for him. Leo likes that, but he continues to worry. Meeting new friends and working on a Kindness Pledge is a big part of the first day. Everyone is invited to add ideas about kindness to a chart. Leo worries that he will be asked what he thinks, and he is not sure what he knows about being kind to others. 

He is happy when the class heads off on a trip around the school. The class visits the nurse's office, the library, the gym, and the playground where he spends time with some of the quieter kids in his class. As the day passes, Leo remains uncertain about sharing his ideas. As the conversation continues before they leave for the day, the other children begin to talk about the kind things Leo has quietly done throughout this first day. No words needed. 

When his dad arrives to pick him up, Leo is feeling fully ready to return for day two of KINDergarten! Although this book is meant to be read on the first day of school, it can be shared at any time during the year. A Kindness Pledge should be a work in progress all year long. 

Digital illustrations are bright and rife with familiar school activities. They add context to the first day for Leo as he becomes more comfortable. A Kindness Pledge chart is included, as well as an author's note and additional suggestions for creating a kind classroom.  

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