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Book: Be Kind: You Can Make the World a Happier Place! 125 Kind Things to Say & Do
Author: Naomi Shulman
Illustrator: Hsinping Pan
Published: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Genre: Picture Book
Source: Received for review from Thomas Allen & Son
In a world where people spend more time engaging through screens than in real-life interaction, showing basic human kindness can feel like a lost art. Be Kind offers children aged 5 and up simple, actionable things they can do in their daily lives that help them cultivate kindness toward others and grow into people with the capacity to make the world a kinder place.
In Be Kind, kids learn that kindness is a quality that can be expressed in ways other than merely being “nice,” including standing up for someone or something, engaging in a community, showing compassion toward other beings, and expressing gratitude. With joyful illustrations and kid-friendly writing, this idea book serves as a delightful, easy-to-read collection of 100 concrete activities kids and their families can pick and choose from and act out in their daily lives, whether it’s being the first person to say good morning, offering compliments, shoveling an elderly neighbor’s driveway, learning to say hello in different languages, or sending a card to someone — no special occasion required. On every page, Be Kind empowers kids to make the world a better, kinder place, one action at a time. (Goodreads)
This book has a ton of great ideas to brighten someone’s day. Things like offering hugs (and waiting until someone says yes before hugging them – yay consent!), putting a nice note in a friend’s backpack for them to discover, simply smiling at people, drawing a picture and putting it face-out in your window, and more. Many of the ideas felt fresh rather than stale like the usual hold the door for someone or help someone carry their groceries. My favourite idea, by far, brings back memories of the power of getting a sticker. The idea is to bring a pack of gold star stickers to school (or work!) and give one to everyone you see, kids and adults alike, to tell them they’re doing a great job today. Who doesn’t recall the pure joy and self-esteem boost of getting a gold-star sticker?! (While this book is aimed at kids, many of the ideas will definitely bring joy to adults too and can be carried out by us grown-ups who also can help make the world a better place.)
Most of the ideas cost nothing but effort and are easy for kids to understand and do. However, there are a few ideas listed that should have a caveat on the page along the lines of “ask your parents” or “with your parents”. Things like buying a toy or gift for someone, buying food for the food bank, and fostering a rescue dog cost anywhere from a few dollars to a lot of dollars. The book has a voice of “these are simple things you as a kid can do” but those examples are definitely not things elementary-aged children can do on their own.
The illustrations made this book for me. The style of the pictures is nostalgic for me and makes me feel like a kid again. It felt very 1980s, in a really good way. Bright, colourful, all-over-the-page retro illustrations bring each idea to life.
All in all, Be Kind: You Can Make the World a Happier Place! 125 Kind Things to Say & Do would be a rad addition to any elementary school classroom. I’d love to hear of a teacher encouraging students to pick an idea from it each week to try to make their school or community a kinder, happier place.