William Penn's words nicely convey the theme of Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, and illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Woodson says essentially this on her website about why she wrote Each Kindness:
At some point in our lives, we are all unkind. At some point, we are all treated unkindly. I wanted to understand this more. I think too often we believe we’ll have a second chance at kindness – and sometimes we don’t.
This lyrically written picture book tells the story of Maya, a new girl at school, whom Ms. Albert, the teacher sits next to our first-person narrator, Chloe. Now Chloe must decide whether or not to treat Maya with kindness, to treat Maya as a friend. Chloe has many opportunities to choose kindness in the classroom, on the playground, at lunch.
It's the choices Chloe makes and that she describes that leads to the realization that we don't always have a second, third, fourth chance to be kind.
In this important work, Chloe has agency. Maya does not. She is the equivalent of a marginalize other, one without a voice. For the reader never hears from Maya. We only learn what she must feel through Chloe's filter.
Typically, picture books and children's literature in general holds little appeal for me. The offerings today have a much different feel than the Little Golden Books on which I cut my reading teeth. Each Kindness is among the most significant picture books I have read, and it's a book I can see finding a place in any classroom, even on the shelves in my classroom where seniors will indulge in its lyrical truths. It's a book I'll pull from the shelf and share when I teach To Kill a Mockingbird or Kindred or any work of literature with similar themes. It's a book I'll invite students to read when I witness someone not choosing kindness.
Awards: Best Book of 2012, School Library Journal
Nerdie: Best Picture Book of 2012, The Nerdy Book Club
Meet the Author: