Wonderful books on kindness

Books can help teach kids about kindness, generosity

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We cannot help but be affected by our life experiences – the actions of people we know or observe, the words we hear, the books we read, the friendships we forge and so on. Each leaves an impression on us, and often we imitate what we’ve experienced.


As with so many things we could think of, compassion and kindness are cultivated through observing them from those who are important to us, others we may not know but read or hear about and a home environment that embodies those concepts.


Today’s reviewed books touch on kindness and compassion in three distinct ways. What a good use of time teaching children to be kind and generous of heart.


Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries:


Joseph: 1861 – A Rumble of War by Bonnie Pryor and illustrated by Bert Dodson (Morrow Junior Books, 170 pages)


Read aloud: ages 8 and older


Read yourself: age 9 and older


With the nation on the verge of Civil War, Joseph Byers and his hometown in Kentucky seem caught in the middle. Most people in his town favor the South. But Joseph’s stepfather is against slavery, and that causes problems for the whole family, especially with Joseph’s classmates in school.


Joseph’s father had owned slaves when he was alive, and Joseph was raised believing slavery was right. Now Joseph begins to question his own views, wondering if his stepfather is right and if people have forgotten how bad it really is. As the events unfold that force the nation to its knees and Civil War, Joseph finds that he, too, must decide what he truly believes, for several lives depend on him.


A genuine page-turner, this fast-paced historical novel is rich with important life lessons.


Librarian’s choice

Library: Heritage Public Library, 52 Fourth St., McDonald


Choices this week: “Owen & Mzee” by Isabella Hatkoff; “Amos and Boris” by William Steig; “Dovey Coe” by Frances O’Roarke Dowell


Books to buy

The following books are available at many bookstores:


My Heart Will Not Sit Down by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Ann Tanksley (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012, 36 pages, $17.99 hardcover)


Read aloud: ages 5 and older


Read yourself: ages 7 to 8


Young Kedi lives in a small village in Cameroon, Africa. One day at school, Kedi’s teacher tells his students of bad news in America: the Great Depression is getting worse and many people, including children, have nothing to eat. The news of children starving troubled Kedi. Life in her own village was hard, and she knew what it was like to be hungry, but the thought of having no food at all seemed overwhelming. Yet Kedi’s heart would not sit down until she found a way to help.


Inspired by a true event, this beautifully written story with its lovely, colorful illustrations demonstrates the generosity of people toward others. Make certain to read the “Author’s Note” at the back of the book for further information and inspiration of the goodness of humanity.


Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia (Putnam, 2013, 36 pages, $16.99 hardcover)


Read aloud: ages 5 and older


Read yourself: ages 7 to 8


Like so many fathers, Mickey’s dad left home to fight far away during World War I. Mickey had wanted to go with him, and since that wasn’t possible, he wanted to do something important to help his dad and other soldiers. When Mickey’s teacher suggested that her students enter the Central Park Knitting Bee to benefit the soldiers, Mickey and the boys scoffed at the idea; boys don’t knit! But when the girls dared them to enter, the competition was on.


“Knit Your Bit” is a fun and heartfelt story based on the three-day event that was held in Central Park in the summer of 1918. This slice of history is both fascinating and provides a look at the compassion of those across our nation, young and old, male and female alike, who knit their bit to help soldiers during wartime.



Kendal Rautzhan can be reached at www.greatestbooksforkids.com


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