As I think about the horrible mass shooting in Orlando last week, and the mass shootings in San Bernardino, and Sandy Hook, and the one before that and so on, I think of all the lives that now cannot dream, grow, achieve, create, love and be a part of our society. I stumble over the rhyme and reason for such violence we humans commit toward our own species and toward the environment. I don’t have any easy solutions, but I have a small suggestion for a simple beginning. Teach compassion to our children, model compassion for our children, and be mentors for children without compassionate role models at home. Books can help us do this.
One of my favorite picture books that tugs at my heart and unearths those times I wasn’t kind from the recesses of my mind is Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Nancy Paulson Books, 2012). I feel sad when I empathize with Maya. That is why this book is good. I feel uncomfortable remembering times I acted like the main character, Chloe. That is why this book is valuable. I feel hopeful when I realize that any reader could read this book and relate to Chloe or Maya (exchange poverty for race, sex, gender, , religion, age, weight, and ability or any of the ways people find to judge others I’ve not included). That is why this book is powerful.
We need more diverse books that allow the reader, the judged child, to feel less alone, to know there are others out there like him or her. Of course, mentoring young children will not eliminate all the violence in our lives, but it is an important start. I really believe that. Hate is taught. But so is love. Each Kindness is a bittersweet way to start a practice of teaching and modeling compassion, and a reminder that we all can be better at being kind.