Title: Each Kindness
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
Plot: A little girl named Maya moves to the narrator’s school. The only seat left is next to the narrator, and when Maya sits down, she smiles. The narrator (another little girl) does not smile back. The narrator and her friends instead shun Maya and call her “Never new” because of the second-hand clothing she wears. On the same day that Maya disappears from school, the teacher tells the class about kindness and tells them that kindness is like a stone dropped into the water-it creates a ripple effect that touches others and keeps reaching out. Each student takes a turn dropping a stone into the water and saying one kind thing they have done, but the narrator cannot think of anything. She instead thinks of the way that she treated Maya and regrets it. Unfortunately, Maya and her family have moved away and the narrator never gets the chance to make things right.
Connection: This would be great for a lesson about not bullying. I have heard of an activity where students crumple up a paper and then try to smooth it back out. The fact that the wrinkles remain shows students that their actions have consequences. I would probably do the activity first and then read the story to cement the concept. Students could also draw the name of a classmate and fill out a sheet of paper that says, “The best thing about _____ is _____.” We did this in high school for part of a project at the end of the year called “The Most Important Book”. In the book we wrote kind blurbs about our classmates and the whole class got to come up with a comic story about each student’s future after high school. While this might be a little too complex, older students might be able to craft a paragraph about a classmate following the template “The most important thing about ______ is ______. [at least three filler sentences with other good qualities.] But remember, the most important thing about ______ is ______.”