When I read this picture book, Each Kindness, I was reminded of what my daughter endured when we switched her from Montessori to public school in third grade.
Having the course materials taught in a new way barely slowed her down. Having a locker instead of a hook seemed to please her. Having an assigned desk to sit at instead of a random place on the carpet cheered her. And even the incredible number of weekly tests didn’t bother her.
Still, with all of these good changes, our daughter went from happy to sad. She rarely smiled and barely talked about school. Each time I asked how school was, she said it was fine.
Months without change slid by. She started getting stomach aches before school. Nothing I said or tried made a difference. She insisted school was fine. The stomach aches persisted as did the doctor visits and one visit to the hospital. I begged my daughter to tell me what was bothering her. This time, she started crying and the truth tumbled out.
Her classmates didn’t like having a new kid in their class and were punishing her with silence. No one wanted to sit with her in the cafeteria, so she ate her lunch alone, trying to look like she didn’t care. On the playground when no one would include her in their games, she sat beside the school and counted pebbles until the bell rang. I cried with her.
After long talks with her teachers, the principal, and the school counselor, life changed. The staff worked hard to match our daughter up for activities with other students they felt would be good friends for her. If she was alone in the cafeteria or on the playground, a supervisor made sure to help her join others and stayed long enough to help her break the ice. Now, two years later, my little girl loves school again.
Now, I’ll share with you today’s PPBF book, Each Kindness, in which the author takes the reader by the hand and helps them to understand the consequences to the new kid in the classroom when kindness is never offered or reciprocated.
Title – Each Kindness – view on Amazon HERE.
Written by – Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by – E.B. Lewis
Published by – Nancy Paulsen Books – 2012
Suitable for ages – 4-8
Topics/Theme – Kindness, understanding, and friendship.
That winter, snow fell on everything, turning the world a brilliant white.
One morning, as we settled into our seats, the classroom door opened and the principal came in. she had a girl with her, and she said to us,
This is Maya.
Maya looked down at the floor. I think I heard her whisper
We all stared at her. Her coat was open and the clothes beneath it looked old and ragged. Her shoes were spring shoes, not meant for the snow. A strap on one of them had broken.
Amazon Review – Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually, Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.
Why do I like this book? The Amazon review is a bit of a spoiler, and I must admit, so is what I’m about to say… When I finished reading the story, the ending hit me harder than I anticipated. When the new girl, Maya, moved away, all of Chloe’s chances left for apologizing or starting fresh. I kept hoping as that last page came closer and closer that maybe Maya would return to school, and every student would see her return as an opportunity to befriend her. But that didn’t happen. After letting the story simmer in my mind, I realized the ending is perfect, powerful, and completely memorable. This is one of those rare books that stays with the reader forever as a continual reminder to take every opportunity granted to offer kindness.
Learn about Jacqueline Woodson HERE.
Learn about E.B. Lewis HERE.
Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.
20 Acts of Kindness for Children
Pick up something that someone dropped. Hold open a door for the person behind you. Leave a kind note in a library book. Let someone go ahead of you in line. Complement a friend. Donated clothes you’ve grown out of. Do your chores without being reminded. Set the table for dinner. Call your grandparents and ask them to share their favorite childhood memories with you. Talk to someone new at school. Bring flowers to your teacher. Clean up your toys without being asked. Take the dog for a walk. Offer to walk your neighbor’s dog. Make a thank you note for someone special. Help a younger sibling with their chores or homework. Plant flowers. Make hug coupons for family and friends. Donate toys you no longer play with. And the simplest kindness of all… a smile (this one goes miles).
If you have other ideas for simple acts of kindness, I hope you’ll share them in the comments.