Friday, May 20, 2011
In the Kindness of StrangersIndulge me a moment, if you will, to share my personal story that inspired this week’s book selection. Earlier this year, we made a trip to visit a “Day Out With Thomas” event. B has long been a fan of trains, Thomas included, and the trip was a fun-packed day. Of course, there was a merchandise tent, mostly full of things I felt were either not toddler appropriate/sturdy enough/well-made or easy enough to find on Amazon and pay less for. However, I did see a display for a train car with the Day Out With Thomas logo and the year 2011. Being a sucker for all things sentimental, this is the souvenir I wanted. Which they were, of course, out of. Initially undeterred, I assumed that a merchandising powerhouse like Thomas would have memorabilia available online. Not the case. Finding this boxcar, which B never even saw on the display or realized I was after, became a mission. I can recognize the lunacy of it, but that recognition did not diminish my desire to acquire it. I looked up Thomas’ schedule and learned he’d be visiting Wales West Railway in Alabama this month. I’m a private enough person that I don’t share my hometown on my blog, but it’s not anywhere near Alabama – I wasn’t crazy enough to consider making a trip there, but I did a little website investigation and decided to take a shot at asking a stranger for a favor. I found some contact info for their staff party-planner (a party-planner must have a soft spot for kids, right?) and described my mission in an email. Shelby became my hero when she agreed to shop-for, purchase, and mail my souvenir without ever having met me or spoken to me in person. Her kindness continues to make me smile as I tell the story, and I’m just itching to be able to pass on a similar kindness to someone else! (By the way – if you live near or ever visit the Wales West Railway, please hug Shelby for me!)
A Pay it Forward Attitude
Ok, so my indulgence lasted more than a moment – my stories are long-winded – on to this week’s book. How Kind! by Mary Murphy was originally a library find but became one I wanted to revisit again and again. In simple yet bright text and illustrations, Murphy showcases farm animals passing along one kindness after another. A pig who is tickled by the kindness of a hen pays-it-forward, causing a chain reaction of kindness that includes carrots, flowers, and back-scratching! Each action is accompanied by the title phrase, “How Kind!” It is puzzling that the hen begins by giving away her egg to the pig, then is delighted when he returns her newly hatched chick, but it does give the story a pleasant circular feeling. I really like the concept that one kindness begets another, but it isn’t necessarily a trade-off or a give-and-take. The kindness spreads throughout the farm rather than passing just between two friends. I also appreciate that some of the kindnesses are material and some are intangible. Entertaining and encouraging for little ones like T, discussion worthy for bigger boys like B, How Kind is a great way to illustrate or expand upon the Golden Rule.
Appropriate for: babies, toddlers, preschoolers.
Have your come across any great books for teaching kindness and compassion? I’d love to hear about them – or any other good stuff you’re reading!