Books that direct our attention to important issues, like kindness | NevadaAppeal.com
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Books that direct our attention to important issues, like kindness

Kendal Rautzhan
kendal@sunlink.net

Humans should be kind and caring, but we know that’s not always the case. Our daily news is fraught with stories about one bad person after another. All of us, both young and old, have had personal experiences with people who were not kind or caring. I’d like to think that these people weren’t always unkind, but what I’d like to know is what changed them. Was it too many lousy experiences or sour life training that left them wounded and bitter? People aren’t born unkind, so what happened?

Books can serve to be gentle reminders and often strong teachers in helping children (and the adults reading the books to the children) remember how vitally important it is to remain connected to all living creatures in a kind, caring, and empathetic way. The books reviewed today carry this theme. I think it’s a good place to start. I’d like to know what you think.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“From Me to You” by Anthony France, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, Candlewick, 32 pages

Read aloud: age 3Ð4 and older.

Read yourself: age 7 and older.

Rat was in the dumps. Day and night he moped around feeling sorry for himself. His friends hadn’t visited him in a long time, and “doing nothing with no one is no fun at all.” Then a letter arrived telling Rat that he was a very special and wonderful friend, but the sender didn’t sign it. Suddenly Rat’s life took on new meaning, in a lot of different ways.

Cheerfully illustrated and masterfully written, “From Me to You” is a perfectly rendered story of the reciprocal nature of love, friendship, and selfless acts of kindness.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Carson City Library, 900 North Roop St.

Library Director: Sally Edwards

Youth Services Librarian: Cory King

Choices this week: “Chicken Sunday” by Patricia Polacco; “The Stranger Next Door” by Peg Kehert; “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Patterson

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“This Is the Dream” by Diane Shore and Jessica Alexander, illustrated by James Ransome, Amistad/HarperCollins, 2006, 36 pages, $15.99 hardcover

Read aloud: all ages.

Read yourself: age 7 and older.

Relationships can blossom between many diverse people, cultures, races and religions. This wasn’t always the case in the U.S., and although America and Americans have made great progress in that regard, we still have far to go. “This Is the Dream” helps readers of all ages understand the emotional impact of racial injustice by featuring the civil rights era – before it began, during the struggle, and how things have changed today.

Through simple yet powerful text and extraordinary illustrations, the sum total of this selection is nothing less than outstanding and a “must read” for everyone in this nation and beyond.

“Broken Beaks” by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, illustrated by Robert Ingpen, Michelle Anderson Publishing, 2003 (distributed in the USA by CDS Books, January 2006; ISBN # 0-85572-335-1), 32 pages, $15.95 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 and older.

Read yourself: age 7 and older.

When a young and healthy sparrow awakens to find that his beak is broken for no known reason, he is sad and frightened. Following his friends to their usual feeding spot – a nearby outdoor café, the little sparrow with the broken beak can’t pick up any crumbs that fall from the people’s plates. His fellow sparrows don’t help him, and soon the young sparrow grows thin, weak and unable to care for himself. Hungry and homeless, the young sparrow deteriorates until finally he doesn’t much resemble a sparrow at all.

One day, searching for a morsel to eat, the young sparrow sees a large piece of fresh bread on the ground. Wobbling toward it, a hand reaches down and picks up the bread. The hand belongs to a man that resembles the sparrow – thin and dirty and somehow broken. The man sees the sparrow and with tenderness and compassion, shares that discarded bread with his new little friend.

Masterfully written and tenderly illustrated, this exceptional book conveys important messages on several levels that everyone, young and old, should read time and time again.

• Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature and may be e-mailed at kendal@sunlink.net