On Kindness in Dark Times

“There are three ways to ultimate success:
The first way is to be kind.
The second way is to be kind.
The third way is to be kind.”

-Mister Rogers


I’ll not mince words here: I supported and voted for Hillary Clinton because she was, to me, the only (and historically the most) qualified candidate. She had devoted her entire adult life to serving others. And above all else, she showed incredible poise and compassion in the face of some of the vilest hatred and bigotry. And yes, she is a woman who almost had that ultimate glass ceiling shattered.

I was heartbroken by the results of the election. But I know that despair does nothing for anyone. It’s paralyzing. And I know that all the hand-wringing, saftey-pin wearing, and blog post writing is not going to help. That’s why I’m pledging to hold my elected officials responsible–keep calling them, keep writing them. And to keep donating to and volunteering with causes that are on the side of justice and equality.

On Thursdays at Avid Bookshop, I do storytime, and this week’s was so poignant. I read books on belonging and acceptance. And as I looked at all of those little faces, I felt a little spark of hope.

Yesterday, I got an email from the Clinton campaign, reminding me that one of the ways I can keep up the good work is to “promote love and kindness where [I] live.” And today, World Kindness Day, seems an apt time to share a few of my favorite children’s books that promote love and kindness. You can bet I’ll be recommending these at the shop, hoping that the kids who read these will grow into adults full of empathy, compassion, and love for one another.


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, pictures by Christian Robinson

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This one is my always-favorite for finding magic in the everyday–a key to being kind. Every person has a gift and a story, and like Nana, we just need to find “the beautiful where [others] never even [think] to look.”

My review.

Buy | Borrow

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

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The message throughout the book that “you must do something to make the world more beautiful” is a clarion call. And it is all the more urgent now.

My review.

Buy | Borrow

Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead

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This is one of the books I read for storytime this week. From the dedication “to anyone who is having a bad day” to Samson’s decision that it is “better to walk than to worry,” the deliberate acts of kindness that fill this book had me nearly weeping. Honestly, pick up any book written by Stead, and you’ll find kindness, friendship, and gentleness within–it was hard to pick a favorite, but this one has my heart right now.

My review.

Buy | Borrow

Zen Ties by Jon J Muth

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Sometimes being kind to those who have a tough exterior can reveal a light within–leading to unexpected friendships. Let Stillwater show you the way.

Buy | Borrow

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk

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When anger has its reigns on us, it is destructive. But if we can learn to transform it into compassion, we can bring light into the world. A necessary book for these dark times–and you can take a pledge to “Live Your Life as Light.”

My review.

Buy | Borrow

The Moomins and the Great Flood by Tove Jansson

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This one in particular, but really–the entire Moomin series is full of inclusiveness and little kindnesses. From author Kyo Maclear’s blog:

The Moomins and the Great Flood may be a story about a terrible disaster but it is also a story about the formation of an extended family where misfits and orphans are always welcome, where ‘making kin and making kind,’ in the sense Donna Haraway has proposed, can ‘stretch the imagination and can change the story.’

“….If there is a ‘take-away’ from the Moomin stories it is that closed system thinking cannot help us. Rather than retreat into a private world of grief or flummoxed passivity, we need to find ways of treating our  vulnerability as an open window. Faced with ecological disasters, brutal wars, and the threat of destruction looming over the future of their world, the Moomins practice an insistent openness. We must too.”

See more of her comments about this book and it’s relevance to the times here.

Buy | Borrow

 

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