After the shocking tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I was thrilled to see a new kindness movement rapidly take hold across the country. Spurred on by Ann Curry’s 26 Acts of Kindness campaign, people all over started making their own pledges to do 26 kind acts for others in memorial for the victims of the shooting. It’s been a pleasure to follow these stories and to see how even small kindnesses can have a large impact. In a hopeful sign, this movement continues on post-holiday, and it seems like many are choosing to continue their own kindness pledges as part of their 2013 resolutions.
We’ve raved about the book Wonder by RJ Palacio many times before on this blog (here), but almost a year after I first read the heartwarming and heartbreaking story of Auggie Pullman, I find myself wanting to read it again. My children are too young for the book, but I look forward to the day when I can share it with them, and we can discuss its messages of kindness and tolerance. There are so many beautiful books written each year, but it’s a special book that helps promote such a terrific message. So often when I visit a bookstore account, a staff member will mention sharing Wonder with a teacher or librarian they know who went on to insist the entire school read and discuss the book. We all have a responsibility, as parents, educators and members of a larger community, to teach our children to treat themselves and each other with gentle kindness.
I wanted to share this note that just came in to our New York office about Wonder. It was written by a grandparent and epitomizes what I also feel:
I sent the email below to RJ. Thought you might want to know as well. While I’m only one person…
I just finished your incredible book, WONDER, and wanted to thank you so much for writing it. It truly is a celebration of kindness.
I am a 69-year-old grandpa and even though the story is aimed at middle-grade/YA, I would recommend this book to anyone. I know the kids of the world are loving Wonder, and I can only hope and pray that adults will embrace it as fervently. Our entire world needs this story so very much right now.
All the best.
There is a tumblr associated with the book, and on it is a form where adults and kids can pledge to “Choose Kind” this year. It’s kind of amazing to look at the names and locations of the people who have already made the pledge; I loved seeing so many school names as well as people who simply wrote things like “inspired mama.”
When you work in the world of children’s books, you want to do your best for every single book that will eventually become beloved and important to some child, that will help lay the foundation for a life full of learning and literacy. But something about this book has always felt more like a mission to me, a drive to get it into the hands of kids who are being bullied, or who are themselves unkind to others. I hope that you feel inspired this year to choose kindness in your own lives, and to share it however you can.
If you have suggestions for other books that deal with this topic sensitively for kids of any age, we’d love to hear them in our comment section. One older post we wrote for National Bullying Prevention Month lists a few of our favorites to recommend.