Earlier this week I looked at resources speaking to the kinds of suffering many children face.
Today I’m focusing on the good that thrives even in tough times,
even in a year like 2020.
I’ve been reminded that…
…quarantine and shut downs have provided for added stillness, creative making do, centered living.
…lives lost unjustly exposed inequities needing attention, moved masses of people to cry out for justice.
…risks taken by ordinary workers highlighted their often under-appreciated value.
Suffering set in motion community, compassion, provision.
Without minimizing pain, we can acknowledge that in dark times, light appears brighter.
Today’s list shines a light on kindness, community, friendship, generosity
via an entire alphabet of warmhearted stories, stories that display the best of human nature.
I hope they are a balm to your hearts and souls as we move through the days and weeks ahead, and a beckoning to pathways of love.
From the grande dame of children’s literature comes this classic story of one little boy reaching out to comfort and befriend a child having a bit of a hard time at a birthday party. A Swanson family favorite, for ages 3 and up.
Two best buddies make room for a newcomer to forge a solid trio. Honest, tenderhearted, endearing. Ages 4 and up.
A brilliant, classic story about a family who loses their belongings in a fire, the community who helps set them on their feet again, and the patient, long road to earn a longed-for piece of home, the perfect, comfy chair. Ages 4 and up.
LouAnn the bear is a generous baker, so generous that the dozens of doughnuts she makes for her pre-hibernation feast all get eaten up by her friends. But don’t worry. Those good friends notice and surprise LouAnn in the end. Jolly and scrumptious for ages 3 and up.
The Great Depression called forth courage and neighborliness. This is the story of one five-year-old’s stouthearted trek across the holler to deliver milk to some needy folk. Plucky, goodhearted, lovely. Ages 4 and up.
A poignant story of one lonely girl, the black caregiver who provides her with love and companionship, and in the end, literally saves her life. Powerful, deeply emotional, for ages 7 and up.
These two ridiculous hippos have been loved for generations. Despite the tetchy tiffs that sometimes pester even BFFs, George and Martha are always there for each other in the end. Silly, lovable, guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of kids ages 3 and up.
Mrs. Goldman is an epic knitter, knitting cozy hats for everyone in the neighborhood. Sophia makes the pompoms. When Sophia realizes that Mrs. Goldman has no hat of her own, she sets out to make things right. One of my very favorite, kindhearted, can-do stories. Ages 4 and up.
If you plant a carrot seed, you get a carrot. If you plant selfishness, you get a scratchy kerfuffle. What happens if you plant kindness? Gorgeous illustrations by Kadir Nelson demonstrate the joyous results. Ages 3 and up.
Julia’s magical house plunks her down in a lonely location, so she invites any ol’ lost creature to move in. Her hospitality is lovely, though there are some definite kinks to work out when so many different sorts of persons live together! Imaginative, fantastical, and joyous. Ages 4 and up.
An extraordinary account of a newcomer, a young Italian boy, overwhelmed by the loneliness and strangeness of his new homeland, and a kind old man who welcomes him onto a team-of-two in the annual pigeon race. Stunning in word and image, for ages 5 and up.
In a powerful sequence of images, we witness the arrest and solitary confinement of a peaceful protester by a harsh regime, and the way letters from perfect strangers bring him hope and freedom. A rich testimony inspired by Amnesty International’s letter writing campaigns. Ages 6 and up.
Mr. Putter has come down with a whizbanger of a cold. His dear friend and neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, along with her good dog, Zeke, come up with a dynamite way to deliver tender loving care. Perfect for new readers or for reading aloud to kids ages 4 and up.
An absolutely stunning book unfolding the mysterious workings of a night-time gardener who gradually brings immense beauty and community spirit to a bleak neighborhood. This story can be enjoyed for its artful fantasy by the very young, yet offers a great deal more to reflect on for older readers. Ages 4 to adult.
Otto has arrived in the far north after an epic bicycle trip undertaken with one goal in mind: to paint the northern lights. Lisa and Nils generously take him in and selflessly provide the warm sweater Otto needs to survive in their cold homeland. Quirky and monumentally friendly, for ages 4 and up.
Sam loves playing pirate in the branches of a tree near her home. One day a newcomer shows up wanting to play. His name is Agu and he’s just moved into the neighborhood from Nigeria. Sam tentatively accepts Agu into her imaginative world, and discovers a first-rate friend. Imaginative and welcoming, for ages 4 and up.
Fox and Chick are good, though unlikely friends. Join them on three adventures and discover the fun that can be had, even when two such opposite personalities have to work through some differences of opinion. Silly, warm, delightful. A great choice for new readers or for reading aloud to children ages 3 and up.
This will be the toughest book to find on today’s list but I could not resist including it. It’s a wildly-absurd tale of one rainy morning when Mr. and Mrs. Submarine take pity on an ever-increasing string of wet folks, inviting them all in for a nice breakfast of tea and muffins. An outlandish, neon-bright, frolic for ages 3 and up.
Captain Swashby is a cantankerous old retired sailor who prefers to be left alone, thank you very much. When a young gal and her granny move in next door, their joyful, convivial living initially vexes Swashby, but little by little, his heart opens to them and a dear friendship results. Clever, vibrant, endearing. Ages 4 and up.
Omu is cooking a fragrant pot of tasty red stew in her apartment, looking forward to a scrumptious dinner later on. The aromas of her cooking, though, draw one passer-by after another, and as Omu ladles out portions for all who ask, her own dinner dwindles to nothing. The joy of giving and the bounty of community star in this gem. Ages 4 and up.
A rainy day brings out the grumpies for one curmudgeonly fellow, while simultaneously a lemon-yellow bakery window lined with tempting fancies entices a little boy. When a gust of wind whooshes these two people together, the result is a smile, a kind gesture, a spilling over of sweetness. Delicious, razzle-dazzle gladness for ages 3 and up.
Bear and Mouse are two friends who never fail to make me smile. Bear is such a stodgy old grumpus, and Mouse a bright-eyed, forever persistent fellow who will be Bear’s friend, no matter how many forays it takes. Laugh along as these two become friends despite all odds in this story perfect for beginning readers or for reading aloud to ages 4 and up.
This poignant story set in the snowy north strikingly conveys the anchoring love of family and the sacrificial love of a stranger. So much is crammed into this stunning account, including beauty, courage, kindness, the warmth of home, and what it looks like to put another’s needs ahead of our own. Brilliant for ages 3 to adult.
Here’s an extraordinary fantasy about young Annabelle who stumbles across a box of magical yarn and proceeds to knit gorgeous, fantastical sweaters for every creature, even transforming the whole neighborhood. But a greedy archduke spies all that loveliness and steals the yarn for himself! A fairy tale lighting up the glories of kindness for ages 4 and up.
Ah, I love this book. In spare prose we simply encounter the ways in which we bless one another, love one another, hold each other up. Gorgeous illustration work with a First Nation flavor makes every page a joy. Ages 2 and up.
Last but not least, this immensely funny story about a Moose who does not want to wait his turn in the alphabetical revue. Fall in love with an overly-excited moose and witness the wisdom of the guy in charge, Zebra, who comes up with a gracious and comforting solution to the mayhem. A blast for ages 4 and up.
That’s it! I hope you can find a few of these gems and feast your hearts on the kindness and friendliness within them.
Love is the answer, friends.