Author: Jacqueline Woodson Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
Age Level: 7-10 years
Publishers: Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin Group)
An honest look at the regrets children feel as they learn to question their own actions and motivations. We teach children to be kind to others, to give, and to share. Most children see themselves as being kind because they share or give to others. Kindness is also about acknowledging and including someone, someone who may be very different from us. Quite often children isolate and make fun of others without recognizing their behavior for what it is-unkindness.
Each Kindness is the story of one young girl who joins her friends to isolate the new girl in class who wears ill-fitting clothes and shoes. Maya the new girl sits next to Chloe and reaches out to her. Chloe turns her back on Maya’s attempts to befriend her and to be a part of the group. When she realizes that the others are not going to include her Maya learns to play by herself.
One morning, their teacher makes the class think about how a single act of kindness can have a positive effect on many people. The students each share an act of kindness they did but when it is Chloe’s turn she is unable to share anything. All she can think about is her unkindness to Maya.
Maya is absent from school that day. Chloe promises herself that when Maya returns to school she will make it up to her. Days pass without any sign of Maya until one day the principal announces that she will not be coming back. Chloe is filled with regret over missed opportunities and at her own behavior.
This book doesn’t share much on how the teacher handled the interactions before the lesson on kindness. But it opens up the discussion on how Chloe’s unkindness affects both Maya and Chloe. That is a powerful lesson for kids.
Children’s books on kindness almost always have a happy ending. In real life restitution is not always possible. This story leaves children with a greater sense of understanding—about themselves and why it is important to be kind even when something about the other person turns us away.
The illustrations are haunting and perfectly match the tone of the story. This book won the following awards:
Coretta Scott King Honor Book
2013 Jane Addams Peace Award
2013 Charlotte Zolotow Award
Best Book of 2012 – School Library Journal
Here’s a read aloud of this unforgettable story: