Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

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 ┬ácomic 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 ______.”

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, Ill by Sophie Blackall

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, Ill by Sophie Blackall

Publishing: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2010

Description: Gia is not looking forward to the birth of her new sibling, which she constantly refers to as “that ding-dang baby.” The illustrations are bright but realistic, and dialogue bubbles merge with narrative text. This is a story many to-be siblings will appreciate. Oh, and the title comes from the fact that Gia’s mother says that the baby craves pecan pie, just like the two of them.

Programming: With students of a certain age, many of them will already have siblings and some might be in Gia’s situation. Have students share stories about how they felt before their siblings were born or how they feel waiting for their sibling. Have those with siblings share their favorite thing about their little brother or sister.