June 11, 2015 §
“Kindness” has become a buzz word across parenting literature of late. Are we teaching our children to be kind? How do we go about raising kind children? How can we prevent “bullying” on the playground or “mean girls” at play dates?
And yet, for all the lip service we keep giving to the importance of kindness, a recent study found that as many as 80% of youth reported that their parents seemed “more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others.”
I find reports like this deeply unsettling, although they’re not entirely unsurprising. After all, kindness can be really hard stuff. It’s one thing to remember a relative’s birthday; to hold the door open for a stranger; to put an arm around a friend who is crying. Undeniably, these are all kind gestures. But it is quite a different thing to put someone’s deepest needs before our own; to step outside our comfort zone; to imagine ourselves in another’s shoes and, in the process, open up our hearts to the potential for understanding, connection, and forgiveness. Stretching the limits of kindness—this is when the real magic happens.
In his gorgeously illustrated and deeply feeling new picture book, The Song of Delphine (Ages 4-8), Kenneth Kraegel tells an unforgettable story of a child’s courageous act of kindness in the face of adversity. It’s an act that not only dramatically changes the course of the two lives in the book, but has the power to transform the reader as well. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 7, 2012 Comments Off on Curious George: Every Story Has a Beginning (Part 2)
A continuation of yesterday’s post…
H.A. Rey, the German-born creator of Curious George more than 100 years ago, was a master of episodic storytelling, and his original books possess a level of wit, ingenuity, and “meatiness” that the derivative stories published in the last 10 years don’t quite match, even if the illustrations give them a very close look and feel (I’m referring to the stories included in such newer anthologies as A Treasury of Curious George).
Every story has a beginning, and many don’t know that H.A. Rey’s very first book about Curious George was titled Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys (Ages 2.5-5). It’s a story about how George, still living in Africa with his brothers and sisters, came to live with (and befriend) a lonely giraffe named Cecily G. (who, incidentally, bears a striking similarity to the “Sophie the Giraffe” rattle that’s become something of a fashion accessory to today’s urban baby set). It turns out that when you’re a monkey, playing with a giraffe affords all kinds of unusual delights: you can ski down her neck, parachute off her head with an umbrella, and even sail on her back.
« Read the rest of this entry »