Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson is a powerful book about kindness and regret. This story is told in the first person perspective by a young girl named Chloe and her friends who treat the new girl in class with unkindness.
Each Kindness begins with the story of a girl named Maya, a new girl that has joined the class mid year. When Maya enters the room, her head is down and she speaks in a whisper. The other children noticed her ragged clothes and spring shoes that are not meant for the snow. When Maya sits down in a seat next to Chloe, “Maya turns to me and smiled. I did not smile back. I moved my chair, myself and my book a little farther away from her.” Each day Maya walked in the classroom, Chloe does not not smile back. Each day on the playground, Maya asks to play with Chloe and her best friends but every day they don’t play with her and Maya plays by herself. The girls in the class make fun of Maya because of her ragged clothes and begin teasing her by calling her “Never New”. Every day that passes by, Maya engages less and less with the girls until one day Maya is not in class anymore. On that particular day, the class gets an important lesson on kindness. Ms. Albert brings a big bowl into the class filled with water. She drops a small stone in the middle and shows the class the ripples that appear in the water. She explains “This is what kindness does. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.” When the teacher asks Chloe about any acts of recent kindness, she is not able to think of anything. All she can think about is how she treated Maya. Each day she waits for Maya to return so she can apologize, but Maya does not return because she has moved away.
Each Kindness should be a required read for all classrooms grades 2-5. I loved this book because it shows the impact of being unkind to others and how sometimes we don’t get to apologize due to life circumstances. Maya was left out and ostracized because of the way she dressed and how much money she had. The other children teased her and at the end of the story, the main character felt regret for the way she treated Maya. Unfortunately, she cannot apologize to Maya because she has moved away. Chloe learns a very important lesson in this book about treating others that should be shared.
This book can lead to important discussions about treating others and how we judge others on their appearance and other factors. What should Chloe have done? Why did Chloe and her friend treat Maya like that? Have you ever been teased or teased someone else? These are some starter questions that you can begin with when reading this book.
Are you a teacher? Check out this study guide written by Avery Woodard, student worker Dept. of Culture Recreation and Tourism and Angela Germany, Children and Teen Services Consultant State Library of Louisiana each-kindness-study-guide