"Each Kindness," by the prolific author Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by the incredibly talented E. B. Lewis, is a book that should be required reading for all elementary students. Every year. Without fail.
What book could possibly be that important, that profound that every child should read it? In "Each Kindness," Woodson presents two girls, one who is gentle and reaches out to others and the other who, with her friends, rebuffs that offering of friendship and is cruel. It's bullying at its best (or worst).
Woodson explains that she wrote the story because she had witnessed simple acts of unkindness in her daughter's third grade classroom. After seeing the unthinking cruelty that young children can perpetrate on others, she felt this was a book that needed to be written.
Woodson also goes on to state that this story should make each and every one of us look inside. We all are both Chloe, the mean girl, and Maya, the object of the cruelty. And although this book is written about girls, boys of almost any age should be able to relate to the story as well.
As an elementary school teacher, I see children who are both Chloe and Maya on a daily basis. If sharing this book causes even one child to stop and think before acting cruelly, then it has served a noble cause.
Every teacher should have this book on his or her bookshelf. It should be read aloud, often, and discussed. Chloe, the mean girl, learns that her actions have a ripple effect. And the final thought? That once missed, a chance to be kind is gone, just like the ripples. The time to be kind is now.
School Library Journal gave this the "Best Book of 2012" award. With good reason.
Also, each illustration in the book is a work of art. E. B. Lewis is a supremely talented watercolor painter, and his touching illustrations add another dimension to this marvelous piece of work.
Please note: This review is based on an final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, for review purposes.
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