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Doing Our Best to Be Kind
What better inspiration could come from a message as simple as “be kind?” Well, Pat Zietlow Miller and Jen Hill have created such a book, Be Kind, and show that achieving such a thing at a very young age might not be as simple as it sounds.
As writer, Miller creates a scenario in which a girl in school spills her grape juice all over her clothes. In that very moment, almost everyone else in class laughs, except for one other girl. We see the impact of that laughter and how upset or embarrassed that young little girl is after the accident. Miller highlights many ways that being kind is easy, whether it be helping people, doing something nice for someone else, or simply sticking around to listen to someone else tell their favorite stories.
There are also exceptions to being kind, because sometimes it might be difficult to be patient with a frustrating situation. Or maybe little kids might not know how to handle seeing someone else being made fun of or bullied. What is a kid supposed to do when they know deep down what to do, but they’re just not sure how to handle it in the moment?
Be Kind is a Singularly Important Message
Miller, along with illustrator Hill, create a wonderful glimpse into the world of children, and how the many different interactions each day might provide a different response. In every instant imaginable, we hope that our kids will be kind and show compassion when others encounter difficult or sad situations. This is the type of story that resonates well with children, and above all else, highlights that kids are capable of being thoughtful and caring of others.
Be Kind represents the old adage of where treating others how you want to be treated is a fundamental basis for being a good friend. Children have the capacity to be empathetic and this story highlights all of the thoughts that race through a child’s mind. Miller creates a world where one action generates great mindfulness in a child, all in the hopes of making her friend feel better. The illustrations by Hill are fun and colorful, while also wonderfully highlighting uncertainty with distressed facial expressions and dark shadows, indicating the struggles associated with patience and nervousness.
Be Kind is a story our kids read early and often as soon as it entered our home. It’s also a story that Meghan, a pre-K teacher, regularly uses in her own teachings. If you’re looking for a story that articulates the notion of kindness, while also addressing unsettling feelings associated with nervousness and doing the right thing, Be Kind is a fantastic book to pick up.