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Humane Educator’s Toolbox: Each Kindness

Written by Marsha Rakestraw | Published on June 12, 2013 | Filed under Humane Connection
The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2013/06/12/humane-educators-toolbox-kindness/

Book cover: Each Kindness

“Ms. Albert had brought a big bowl into class and filled it with water. We all gathered around her desk and watched her drop a small stone into it. Tiny waves rippled out, away from the stone. This is what kindness does, Ms. Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”

Filled with gorgeous watercolor illustrations, Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson (2012, grades K-3), offers a simple, beautiful and powerful message about kindness and regret.

New girl, Maya, comes to school and tries to befriend Chloe. But Maya’s clothes are shabby and her habits are a little strange, so Chloe continually rejects Maya’s attempts at friendship; Chloe and her friends even make fun of Maya.

When Ms. Albert teaches a lesson about kindness, Chloe realizes she has been cruel to Maya. But Maya’s family has moved away, and Chloe is left feeling shame and sorrow that she will never have a chance to show Maya kindness.

There are numerous children’s books about kindness, but most of them offer a happy ending, rather than this simple, powerful reminder that we only have so many chances to do the right thing. As Ms. Woodson said about her book, “I think too often we believe we’ll have a second chance at kindness – and sometimes we don’t.”

Each Kindness recently won the Jane Addams Book Award, recognizing children’s books “that engage young people in thinking creatively about peace, social justice, world community, and racial and gender equity.”

~ Marsha

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