The R.J. Palacio children’s book Wonder made kindness a mantra when it appeared on our bookshelves nine years ago. Almost a decade (and one movie) later, the clarion call of its “Choose Kind” manifesto continues to ring loud. In fact, you could say that this conscious, intentional choice to be kind is even more crucial in our world today.
“When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” — R.J. Palacio, Wonder
With this in mind — and to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day this 17 February 2021 — we started to look for books that encourage kids to be kind. Books are a good way of teaching young children values like kindness, says Chen Wanying, Deputy Head (Early Literacy) of the National Library Board (NLB), as the plots and illustrations in the stories help instil in children the importance of positive behaviour, and enable them to apply the appropriate actions in everyday life.
“Picture books also help to equip children with ways to handle various situations, especially in new and unfamiliar circumstances, and reiterate the values through the characters and narratives of the stories,” she adds.
We found many such books on overseas websites. But we wanted stories closer to us, books set right here in Singapore, to let our little ones know that kindness starts from home. So we asked #kidlit experts in Singapore for their recommendations, and this is what they shared.
My Colouring Book is Ruined!
Claire is horrified that her colouring book has been scribbled on by her sister Kate, who has special needs. Kate doesn’t just colour badly. The list of things she can’t do well is long. But as Claire and the rest of the family talk more about Kate, they realise she has her own unique abilities, and Claire learns to accept Kate for who she is. This is a story about seeing beyond a person’s inabilities, and instead, imagining their possibilities. — Chen Wanying, NLB | Call Number: Children Singapore English LIM
Uncles At Work
Have you ever wondered who works behind those signs that say “Danger, do not enter’? One little curious boy did. Join him on his adventure as he gains more than he expected — not just answers, but friendship and a heart of gratitude. This is part of a series called ‘The Invisible People’ which highlights some of the people in our society whom we see around us, but do not often acknowledge or appreciate, people like domestic workers, construction workers, and bus drivers.— Chen Wanying, NLB | Call Number: Children Singapore English 690 CHE
The Bus Driver
Do you take the same bus to school every morning? Can you recall what the driver looks like? Find out how one student tries to save the job of his favourite bus driver. The Bus Driver is the story of how something as simple as the bus trip to school and the interaction with the bus driver can inspire and impact one’s growing-up years. This story and others in the series remind us that these workers are people who have the same needs and dreams that we do. They demonstrate how seemingly simple acts of kindness can make a world of difference, both to the workers who receive and the child who gives. — Woods In The Books | Find it online
Aunty Goes Home
Aunty Goes Home depicts how a family helps their domestic worker discover her passion for cooking during her time with them. They empower her to achieve her dreams when it is time for her to return home. — Woods In The Books | Find it online
(See also: Teaching Kids to be Kind: the Hows and the Whys)
:: GIVEAWAY ::
3 sets of The Invisible People series
The Invisible People series is made up of three beautifully illustrated heartfelt stories that encourage children to appreciate the unsung heroes in our society. Each set comprises three books — Uncles At Work, The Bus Driver, and Aunty Goes Home — written by Ames Chen, and illustrated by Jayl Chen. We have three sets of The Invisible People series to give away, and you can win one of them. Here’s how:
- Like and share the article post on Facebook
- Tell us what kindness means to you in the comments
- Tag your kindest friend (or friends)!
Closing date: 12pm, 23 February 2021
Tibby and Scaredy Snout
Tibby is an orange-and-black striped rabbit with long floppy ears, and a short puffy tail. He can hop, but he can also pounce and roar like a tiger! One day he meets a young boar called Scaredy Snout who, as his name suggests, is scared of everything and anything. Snout has no friends because he is afraid to do what boars naturally do. Tibby befriends him and helps him to overcome his fears and discover that things are not that scary after all. — Chen Wanying, NLB | Find it on Overdrive
P/S: Borrow this book with the NLB mobile app, and get more book recommendations for your kids. Don’t have it? You can download the NLB Mobile app here
The Marvellous Sugee Cake
It’s Simon’s seventh birthday. His mum has baked his favourite sugee cake and packed it in his bag for him. But Simon has to rush off to his swim class. Along the way he meets his friends, and gives each of them a slice of his cake. There’s not much left by the time Simon gets a chance to sit down to eat, but unbeknownst to him, his friends have been planning a birthday surprise for him — baking him a marvellous sugee cake! — Chen Wanying, NLB | Find it online | Call Number: Children Singapore English QUE