Sunday, August 26, 2018

Small Acts: Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller

Tanisha spilled grape juice yesterday. All over her new dress.

Everyone laughed.

Mom always tells me to be kind. So I tried.

I don't think it helped.

Parents and teachers and authors are always telling kids to be kind. But what does being kind actually look like? And what do you do when what you do doesn't seem to work?

Our girl rushes in to help dry Tanisha's dress and wipe up the spilled juice, but the Tanisha only dashes into the hall.

At art time our girl arranges her easel close to Tanisha, paints lots of purple splotches, and wonders if she should tell Tanisha that purple is her favorite color. It is, but what if Tanisha now hates purple? Should she offer Tanisha her extra sweat shirt to cover the purple stain? Should she spill something so that the others will laugh at her? Does misery always love company? Or would Tanisha just rather to have everyone forget about her spill as soon as possible?

"What does it mean to be kind?

It's not always easy to know how to be kind.

Some things seem like sure things. Putting dirty dishes in the sink and listening to her Aunt Franny tell the same old stories over and over again seem to be a easy choice.. Picking up litter, saying "thank you," and " bless you" to a sneezer seem safe. But sometimes...

Being kind can be hard, too.

It takes paying attention. Sometimes what seems like a good thing can be the wrong thing to do.

Maybe I can only do small things.

Pat Zietlow Miller's New York Times best-selling Be Kind (Roaring Brook Press, 2018) gets into the nitty-gritty of being kind in our daily life, while still affirming that small, sometimes random acts of kindness can create a chain reaction among people. Artist Jen Hill's sensitive illustrations extend Zietlow's text, picturing possible outcomes of the impulses to show kindliness as traveling far beyond our girl's actual daily life. "[A] lovely exploration of empathy and thoughtfulness," says School Library Journal's starred review.

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