I usually post chapter books on Fridays, but on this one week anniversary of the horrific Mosque attacks in New Zealand, my fragile heart is being kept together by the pictures and notes shared on social media about the kindness people are bestowing on one another. Company’s setting up prayer spaces for Muslim employees, communities standing guard outside masjids, friends leaving flowers for their Muslim acquaintances, strangers donning hijabs in solidarity, individuals carrying signs of welcome and unity, truly the list goes on and on. Muslims and non-Muslims reaching out to one another, Kiwis and the rest of the world coming together. And yet I know so many people are at a loss at what to do, and how to respond to their feelings in an appropriate manner. I know I often am. Thats why books like this one are so important for children to learn how to be kind. We often tell them to be nice or kind, but what does that mean? What does that look like? How do we know if it worked? As adults we often don’t know, so while this book isn’t written or illustrated by a Muslim, there are Muslims in it, and that is why after seeing another blogger a few weeks ago mention it, I want to share it with all of you. The illustrations show a little girl saying hi to a desi garbed man named Omar, and two hijab clad girls in her view of the world, amongst so many other diverse faces and characters, because that’s the point right? We are one, each of us responsible to one another to be kind.
The book starts off with Tanisha spilling grape juice all over her new dress and a classmate being at a loss as to how to console her. She makes what she thinks is a reassuring comment to Tanisha, but it isn’t received that way, and the little girl ponders and reevaluates what it will take to be kind to Tanisha and what kindness is in general.
As she works to unravel what kindness is, she explores also what it can look like. I love that it is seen in terms of action, giving ideas to stay with the reader. It discusses that sometimes it is easy like saying hello, or not littering, and how important just using a persons name can make someone feel.
But, it also talks about how sometimes kindness can be hard, requiring patience and a little bravery. I can only imagine how brave people had to be to enter a mosque for the first time and step out of their comfort zones to offer their support.
The book then takes an important pause when it acknowledges that maybe all this little girl can do to help Tanisha is to sit by her. I think Muslims around the world are in awe of the Prime Minister of New Zealand for all she is doing, but also for just showing up and hugging people and listening. A rare gift in todays wold of soundbites.
The little girl then imagines her small acts of kindness joining others and making the world a better place. My favorite part is actually the end. Tanisha never smiles and tells the little girl thank you, there is no big praise for being kind. In fact, I bet the little girl doesn’t even know the power her actions had on the little girl. We the reader know because we see Tanisha hanging the picture up in her room. But, that let down is real life. We can’t be kind because of the reward, we must learn to be kind because it is the right thing to do. And often when people are kind to us, the effect isn’t instantaneous, its weight manifests in the dark when we are looking for hope and reassurance and for this book to contain all of that, in 32 pages with only few words (AR 2.2) is truly amazing.
The illustrations are gorgeous and engaging. The hardback 9×10 format makes this book a great addition to any library and should be read regularly. It isn’t enough to not be mean, action and intention need to be taught so that we all might be more kind, inshaAllah.