I was half way through writing today’s post when I discovered it is 143 Day. Immediately, I stopped, saved the draft and decided to return to that one another day. I simply must celebrate 143 Day with my blog neighbors.
If you don’t know what 143 Day is, reader, don’t feel bad. It probably just means that you aren’t quite a big Mr. Rogers fan as I am. Today, May 22nd is the 143rd day of 2020. And because 143 was Mr. Rogers’s favorite number (he said it meant I love you), the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has declared today as an official Day of Kindness.
If ever there was a year that we needed to remember and celebrate love and kindness it is 2020.
Step one when I decided to write this post was pull my copy of The World According to Mr. Rogers off the shelf to get some inspiration. This volume is full of wise quotes from our television neighbor and there is a whole section on understanding love. As I expected there were some gems. My favorite is one that I am fairly confident I remember hearing him say on more than one occasion on his show:
If Mr. R was correct… and I think he usually was… than we as caregivers of children are in a prime position to do Great Things. Childhood is the best (and easiest) time to lay the foundation so our children will grow up confident in both their lovability and their ability to be loving. Personally, I am placing a whole lot of faith in the ability of stories and books to help me plant these seeds in my own kiddos.
We have celebrated Kindness Day a few different ways today. We wrote chalk messages on the cement outside our home for our neighbors. One of my kids surprised another child with a special Lego creation and we watered a neighbor’s plants while she was work. Before bed we’ll watch an episode of Mr. Rogers. Plus, we… wait for it… read books.
Here are just a few of my favorite books about kindness, perfect for sharing on 143 Day.
Spiffiest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson. I know, I know I already wrote about this book. But if you plan to be a regular blog reader, you probably better get used to it because I am sure I will have George’s tale on any number of lists. But really, it is the best book on kindness I have read to my kids or read myself for that matter. This humble giant cheerfully and creatively parts with his newly purchased clothes as he encounters animals in need of help. In the end, he is content to slip back into his old clothes, but he has a new accessory… a crown for the Kindest Giant in Town.
Listening with My Heart by Gabi Garcia. This is an aptly named story for the day since according to Mr. Rogers love starts with listening. The young Latina protagonist of this story is good at listening to others and being kind to her schoolmates, neighbors and animals. Esperanza discovers the importance of another type of kindness when she flubs her part int he school play… kindness to yourself.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora. It was a stroke of luck that this was one of the books we had checked out of our local library when the pandemic hit and the library stopped accepting book returns. That means we’ve had it for over two months. I am making the most of it by reading it at every opportunity. Mora’s gorgeous cut paper pictures wonderfully complement this story, which has won a Caldecott Honor, the Coretta Scott King award and the Anna Dewdney Read Together award. I don’t always agree with award committees, but this time, they got it right. Omu (which means “queen”) is cooking a stew that for her supper and the delicious scent lures her neighbors in. Omu generously shares from her big pot with everyone from a little boy down the hall to the Mayor. When she goes to enjoy her own creation, however, she finds her pot empty. Yet she doesn’t stay hungry for long. This is a charming illustration of the power of kindness and sharing to build community. I find the whole thing incredibly joyful to read and share.
Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass. My kiddos love Herb. This sweet herbivorous dragon is the only one of his kind who doesn’t devour wild boar meat, crispy knights and sweet princesses. When the knights of Nogard go on a dragon hunt to rid their kingdom of the murderous dragons, Herb is the only one captured. Things get tense for Herb, but by remaining true to himself he ends up bringing peace to the whole kingdom. You can also share Herb’s story in Spanish.
Since I am getting this post out in the evening instead of the morning, it may be too late to properly celebrate Kindness Day today. But I am confident in saying that Mr. Rogers would happily give you permission to celebrate kindness another day. Or even better, everyday.
Your turn. What are your favorite books about kindness? How have you and your kids shown kindness to yourselves or others lately?