No act of kindness is ever wasted…Wherever there is a human being; there is an opportunity to be kind…Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless…A little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine into someone’s day…Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always…
Reminding ourselves and teaching our kids kindness is more important than ever. Google ‘kindness quotes’ and you’ll find pages and pages of inspiration. Open the doors to your bookstore or library and again you’ll find pages and pages that will uplift, encourage and share powerful examples of kindness our kids can emulate—like those in our collection of kindness books listed below. Kindness is contagious…Kindness is free. Let’s sprinkle that stuff everywhere!
Amos McGee was always there for his friends at the zoo. Although he had many jobs to do, he’d always make time for them. We get the sense that this has been the case for years. Every day he would rise early and get ready for work. Every day he waited for the number five bus. Every day he would play chess with the elephant and race the tortoise. Every day he would be a friend to the shy penguin, care for the rhinoceros, and read stories to the owl. Until—one day Amos awoke with the sniffles.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead
The subtleties and softness in A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead, are what make this book a treasure. The concept of the story is simple, yet leaves an indelible impression. Friendship is being there for one another, showing kindness, and making the dull days bright.
Wonder—you know it, you love it, and I bet you’re head over heels in love with the picture book—We’re All Wonders. A new story with Auggie and his dog Daisy, emanating the Wonderment of the novel, its message, its beauty. Older readers have marvelled over Auggie’s story, and now it’s accessible for a younger generation. Like Wonder, We’re All Wonders encourages children to choose kind. It’s a very simple choice to make, but the what wonders can follow.
We’re All Wonders, by R.J. Palacio
“Look with kindness and you will always find wonder.” —R. J. Palacio, We’re All Wonders.
Auggie is aware he’s different. He knows he’s not like other kids. He plays ball like other kids, rides his bike and eats ice cream like other kids, but he doesn’t look like other kids. Born with a facial deformity, Auggie has endured people staring, pointing and laughing at him. He’s endured sorrow and escapes into his imagination. Through the story, we are made aware that Auggie wants to feel accepted, he wants people to look beyond his difference and look inward. He wants people to see the wonder he truly is and he has hope that they will, because in our world there are “people of all different colors. People who walk and talk differently. People who look different.” We’re all different and we’re all wonders.
“Once there was a tree and she loved a little boy.” This love was unconditional, without judgement, and continuously given. The tree gave all that she had for the boy—her leaves, her branches, her trunk. Even as a mere stump, she kept on giving.
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
The simplicity of text and illustration turns your mind to the moral of this tale, and bear in mind that our reading and yours can be completely different. This book can be interpreted in many different ways. Sure, the boy needs to learn some charity. It might be nice if he showed a little gratitude. Grew some trees instead of draining the one he has of its resources. But I want to focus on the tree alone. While I’m incapable of having her complete selflessness right now, I can start small, give where I can.
“We give service when we don’t criticize, when we refuse to gossip, when we don’t judge, when we smile, when we say thank you, and when we are patient and kind.” —Cheryl A. Esplin.
The Invisible Boy, by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton
“Nathan has a problem with what Mrs. Carlotti calls volume control. He uses his outside voice inside too much. Sophie whines and complains when she doesn’t get her way. Nathan and Sophie take up a lot of space. Brian doesn’t.”
Brian lives out his days as the invisible boy. It’s not as exciting as one may think—being invisible. Brian is often left waiting and hoping, that someone will pick him to play, that someone will invite him to their party, that someone will talk to him at lunch. All it takes is one—one Hi—one act of kindness—one person to be an example and include another who is alone. Brian is represented in grayscale at the beginning of the story. His colour grows along with his confidence and joy as one act of kindness inspires more. Brian is able to share his talents and shine brightly.
I recently re-read an article that asked these two questions… “Can we, with love and high hopes, look for and embrace the beauty in others, allowing and encouraging progress? Can we rejoice in the accomplishments of others while continuing to work toward our own improvement?” The reason I went back to it, is because of our story time during which we read this playful and enchanting read, Hiding Heidi.
Hiding Heidi, by Fiona Woodcock
Heidi has a talent for hiding. Like a chameleon, she merges in with her environment and is very hard to spot. “She’s a natural,” so good, that at her birthday party, when playing a game of hide and seek, she isn’t found until her friends are about to leave. This understandably makes Heidi sad. The next day, instead of playing hide and seek yet again, Heidi wants to play games that her friends excel at.
Another theme which comes across superbly is—celebrating the talents of others. Heidi, the gentle heart that she is, looked for and embraced the beauty of others, allowing and encouraging them to shine at their talents. She rejoiced in their accomplishments. Spirits were lifted, friendships were strengthened, all because Heidi was kind and thought of others.
There’s something magical about David Litchfield’s work. Colours are more often deep in tone, yet his illustrations appear to radiate from the page, flicker, sparkle. They don’t, however, outshine the storyline of Grandad’s Secret Giant, as both are equally spellbinding.
The town of Gableview are in the midst of painting a happy mural on a high wall, but they’re in a pickle because no one can reach the top to finish it. Grandad says that he knows someone who can, someone who frequently helps the town when jobs are too large for others. He’s fixed the town clock, stopped the big oak from falling in a storm, rescued Murphy the dog from the roof. All of this was done in secret, because the mysterious helper is a GIANT. Billy wonders why his grandad keeps the giant a secret and Grandad explains, “Because people are scared of things that are different…When people see the giant, they scream and run away. It makes him sad.”
Grandad’s Secret Giant, by David Litchfield
Litchfield’s message of acceptance and kindness is subtle yet powerful. He embraces serious subjects, those that may cause sorrow, and somehow makes them not only uncomplicated but delightful. We the readers are aware of the giant. Kids can find him on each page. Mistakes are made. They’re corrected. There’s sooooooo much goodness in this book. A beautiful allegory. A pleasurable read.
It’s Heidi’s first day at Bug School, which is “abuzz with hundreds of shiny, scurrying shapes,” young bugs eager to learn and discover. But no one notices the new girl, because Heidi is a stick insect—mistaken for foliage, a hat stand, a twig amongst other twigs left on the ground. “I’m NOT a twig! I’m me! I’m Heidi!” she exclaims.
Twig, by Aura Parker
Social ostracism is a sad reality that many children will face. We all want to feel that we belong, that our existence matters, and if we’re put into a position of isolation and loneliness, whether on purpose or unconsciously done, it can be psychologically AND physically damaging, deep-set and long-lasting. If The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton warmed your heart, you’ll love Twig. Both teach compassion, kindness, and resilience. Heidi’s fellow students and her teacher, Miss Orb, are very apologetic. They didn’t knowingly ignore Heidi, and make her feel welcome, included—they weave Heidi a scarf, which she wears always, unless playing her favourite game of hide-n-seek.
Twig is a charming story with an inspiring message. Touching and tender. Parker’s illustrations are beautiful, clever (the math page in particular), and the seek and find endpapers are fun. Kids will love the kind, happy characters.
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, by Justin Roberts and Christian Robinson
I was once the smallest girl in the smallest grade, and haven’t grown much bigger since. But—no matter how small, no matter how big, your voice can be a powerful tool to bring attention to what matters. Sally McCabe, the smallest girl in the smallest grade, did exactly that. The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, by Justin Roberts and Christian Robinson, is a sweet story with valuable messages of kindness, observance, courage, friendship, and standing up for what’s right.
Wildflowers are dreamy. Mischievous. They’re survivors. They bring life to dreary sidewalks. And the little girl from our story not only notices their beauty but shares this beauty with others.
Wearing a bright red hooded coat, and set against black and white illustrations (in the beginning), she stands out in every scene, whether full-page spread or boxed panel. More colour is slowly introduced as we join her and her father on their walk home. The girl’s father takes quick glimpses here and there at the wonder around him, but for the most part, is occupied. The girl, on the other hand, is deeply engaged in her surroundings. She watches the birds fly above, spies another on a man’s tattooed sleeve. She spots two yellow dandelions growing by a lamp post, and picks one. Citrus tones brighten the pages. Every time she picks a sidewalk flower, more colours appear. Her father waits for her at one point, and at another, she hurries to catch up. Both relatable and adorable moments.
Sidewalk Flowers, by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith
Halfway through, colour is still limited—until the little girl gives these flowers to others. A dead sparrow on the sidewalk. A man asleep on a park bench. A dog out on a walk. Her mother, and siblings. Colour blooms in all shades and tones. Her kindness spreads—a handshake, a wave, a cuddle. Lovely illustrations. A charming story. We all know how a smile is infectious. Kindness is too. Whether acknowledged or not, it brightens the day.
Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson
Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson, is an inspiring story of hope and kindness. Radiant illustrations and radiant words from a nana who, “always found beautiful” where most never think to look. “How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?” CJ asks his nana. Her reply, “Trees get thirsty, too.” There are plenty more moments like this in which nana encourages CJ to show gratitude and focus on the positive. “How come it’s always so dirty over here?” CJ asks. Nana smiles and points to the sky at a rainbow above them. “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.”
“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” —Camille Pissarro.
Happy reading and happy World Kindness Day!