That’s good medicine, anyway you look at it.
One brief glance at the news over the last several years could cause young and old alike to wonder if there is any kindness in the world anymore. Teaching children to be kind is as essential as it’s ever been; kindness makes the world a better place for everyone.
While there are many ways to teach kindness to children, an often overlooked avenue toward that pursuit is one that’s really easy and powerfully effective: Read the right books to kids.
That’s what the books reviewed below are all about, different ways to express kindness. That’s good medicine, anyway you look at it.
Books to borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
“The Tenth Good Thing About Barney” by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Erik Blegvad, Atheneum, 25 pages
Read aloud: age 3 and older.
Read yourself: ages 7-8.
There once was a little boy who had a cat named Barney, and he loved his cat very much. When Barney died, the little boy was very sad and cried a lot. On the evening of Barney’s death, the boy’s mother told him they would have a funeral for Barney the next day, and she told her son to think of 10 good things about Barney so he could tell them at the funeral.
In the morning, the boy, his mom and dad and the boy’s friend from next door, Annie, all attended the funeral. They buried Barney in the ground by a tree in the yard. The boy then told everyone the good things about Barney, but he only think of nine. Later, while talking with his father, the boy discovered what the 10th good thing about Barney was, and he began to understand the cycle of life.
First published in 1971, this kind, compassionate, sensitive story is timeless.
Library: Fleetwood Area Public Library, 110 W. Arch St., Suite 209, Fleetwood.
Library director: Stephanie D. Williams.
Children’s program assistant: Marie Richdale.
Choices this week: “Otis & the Puppy” by Loren Long; “Splendid Friend Indeed” by Suzanne Bloom; “Duck & Goose Go to the Beach” by Tad Hills.
Books to buy
The following books are available at favorite bookstores.
“A Drop of Hope” by Keith Calabrese, Scholastic, 2019, 309 pages, $16.99 hardcover.
Read aloud: ages 8-12.
Read yourself: ages 9-12.
In the small town of Cliffs Donnelly, Ohio, jobs are shriveling up, times are hard, and it seems as if there isn’t any hope of much good on the horizon. When sixth-grade students learn of a local old well that, according to town legend, has the power to grant wishes, it sets into motion a series of events that would seem unlikely.
Ernest believes that good deeds will yield magical events. Ryan has his own problems to focus on and prefers to keep a low profile. Lizzy looks at life from a factual point of view, not wishful imaginings. And while the three become friends, other friendships are forged that no one could have imagined.
Further, wishes come true, time and time again. Could the wishing well be that powerful, or is something greater causing these miracles, like small acts of kindness from one person to another?
An extraordinary and important book in every capacity, “A Drop of Hope” inspires readers to realize that hope and simple acts of kindness are powerful and magical in their own way; they can change individuals, a community and the world.
“The Remember Balloons” by Jessie Oliveros, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte, Simon & Schuster, 2018, 44 pages, $17.99 hardcover.
Read aloud: ages 5-9.
Read yourself: ages 7-9.
Young James has lots and lots of balloons; they are where his memories are stored. Grandpa has more memory balloons than anyone in the family because he has lived a long time. James enjoys thinking about his own memories, but he especially loves hearing about Grandpa’s memories and the great stories he weaves from them. And because they share their memories with one another, those memories become intertwined.
One day Grandpa begins to have trouble with his memory balloons. Sometimes they get tangled and Grandpa will repeat the same memory over and over.
What’s worse is that Grandpa’s balloons start floating away until they are all gone. This frustrates James at first until he realizes that Grandpa’s balloons haven’t vanished: James has them. At that moment, James knows just what to do for Grandpa.
A tender, allegorical tale of love and kindness, “The Remember Balloons” is delightful in every way.
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