2020 has been a tough year for so many of us. We are living in a time when even the smallest acts of kindness, however ordinary they may seem, can have an extraordinary impact. And so, I wanted to highlight five brilliant picture books and board books on the theme of kindness, that have been published during this pandemic.
I Like to Be Kind by Campbell Books, illustrated by Marie Paruit
First up is this delightful board book which is a lovely introduction for babies and toddlers on what it means to be kind. Marie’s illustrations are bright and expressive. It is fantastic to see a little girl of colour on the front of this book. Our favourite page was the umbrella flap where Amara keeps Ruby from getting wet. Just in time for autumn rain!
My girls loved the flaps, tabs and spinning wheel. My three-year-old particularly liked the final page which has a slide where you can count how many kind things you’ve done that day.
Publisher: Campbell Books
Publication date: 23 July 2020
Extraordinary Ordinary Ella by Amber Hendricks and Luciana Navarro Powell
I couldn’t write a post about kindness without including this book.Ella is extraordinary ordinary. She is not graceful dancer like her sister, nor is she musical like her cousin. Everyone at her school seems to have a special talent except for her. Nevertheless, Ella is determined to do well at the school talent show. She tries and tries, but all her attempts to find a talent end in disaster. Or do they? Through Luciana’s illustrations we begin to see that while Ella may not be mastering the talents, she is showing kindness to others.
Read my full review here.
Publisher: Amicus Ink
Publication date: 25 February 2020
Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jen Hill
This New York Times bestseller has just been published in paperback in the UK. When Tanisha spills a purple drink down herself, her classmate wants to show her kindness. But what does it mean to be kind?
Told in first person from the point of view of the classmate, we go on a journey with this little girl to see all the ways we can show kindness, from saying hello to someone, to standing up for someone being bullied.
This is a fabulous book exploring what it really means to be kind. Children learn that it’s not always easy to be kind, and can even be scary sometimes, but every act of kindness, big or small, can make a difference and spread throughout the world. I think this would be a great book to share with KS1 classes and also open up conversations about kindness at home. Whilst reading this book, I asked my three-year-old how she could be kind. She said: “I use gentle hands and I make people feel better when they are sad.”
Publication date: 23 July 2020
The Little War Cat by Hiba Noor Khan and Laura Chamberlain
My next pick is inspired by the true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, from Syria. During the war, he drove ambulances to help the injured and after the war, he stayed to set up a sanctuary which became home to hundreds of cats. There is a page a the back of the book telling his story and posing questions for children to think about.
The picture book follows the story of a little grey cat who finds her home of Aleppo unrecognisable after the humans in boots come crashing in. She roams the unfriendly streets looking for food and shelter when an unlikely friend appears. A man shows her that kindness is still there when you look for it.
Publication date: 17 September 2020
How Selfish! By Clare Helen Welsh and Olivier Tallec
My last choice might seem like an unlikely title for a post on “kindness themed picture books”, but that’s why I love it! It shows what happens when we are not kind to our friends and reveals the joy that can be found in being kind to one another. When Duck suggests turning a stick into a flag, Dot (selfishly) grabs the stick and declares it is a sword. In fact, (very selfishly) Dot wants ALL the toys for herself. Then Duck comes up with a selfish trick…
What I love most about this book, is that we’ve all seen the joy a simple stick found in the garden or the park can bring a child. And I’m betting a fair few of us have also seen the tears that can be caused by children not wanting to share their shiny new toy! How Selfish taps into these fundamental emotions of young children, and through humour and simplicity show us the importance of sharing and friendship and kindness.
Check out my interview with Clare here.
Publisher: Words & Pictures, Quarto Publishing
Publication date: 21 April 2020
I am very grateful to the authors and publishers for providing me with a complimentary copies of these titles. This voluntary review contains my honest opinion.