Henry is Kind: A Story of Mindfulness, by Linda Ryden/Illustrated by Shearry Malone, (Oct. 2018, Tilbury House Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 9780884486619
Henry is a young boy whose teacher, Mrs. Snowden, assigns a Kindness Project. The students have to illustrate a kind act they’ve done for someone – or something – that week. Henry’s friends all do wonderful things, like cleaning up litter, setting the table, and giving balloons to siblings, but Henry is upset because he can’t think of a single kind thing he’s done. Luckily, his friends are all there to remind him about the kind things he’s done for them, like reaching books on high shelves, sharing snacks, and talking to a new student. Mindfulness and heartfulness educator Linda Ryden’s story speaks to younger kids that may not always recognize the everyday ways they demonstrate kindness to one another. Henry is Kind encourages kids to seek out ways to be mindful and kind to one another while recognizing that even the seemingly smallest acts are meaningful, remembered, and appreciated.
Shearry Malone’s illustrations are soft and expressive, featuring a comfortable classroom decorated with encouraging slogans like, “You could play with someone who looks lonely”, “Plant kindness and gather love”, and my favorite, “Don’t believe everything you think”. There is diversity among the kids and teacher.
An author note at the end offers ways to encourage mindfulness and heartfulness, and includes a list of additional resources to explore. It’s a bit word-heavy for younger independent readers, but this would be a nice mindfulness/kindness storytime selection or book discussion choice for a school-wide reading. Author Linda Ryden’s Peace of Mind website offers training for educators and caregivers and a Peace of Mind curriculum series. Videos help show kids how to engage in mindful breathing. Kiddie Matters has a free kindness scavenger hunt printable that lets kids check off acts of kindness as they complete them. With World Kindness Day happening on November 13, this is a great book and activity to keep in mind.