Monday, February 12, 2007

Let's Be Kind

P.K. Hallinan is a prolific children's author and illustrator, and Let's Be Kind is just one of several offerings by the author that attempts to teach good behavior. "God hands me chances to simply be kind," the text says, then shows a young boy sharing with a little girl, helping an elderly woman carry her groceries, putting his toys away, going outside to make lots of noise, taking care of a sick sister, playing kindly with friends, always saying "hi" to strangers "when Mommy's nearby," bringing a neighbor some food, and gently petting a dog and a cat because the care of "God's entrusted to me and to you."

What I Like: Young children aren't necessarily kind or polite by nature; they need to be shown how to care for others. While watching their parents show kindness may be the best way for them to learn this, a book pointing out specific ways a young child can show kindness is a good idea, too. Hallinan's illustrations are, as always, bright and fun, and the text is written in catchy rhyme. It's difficult to write this kind of book without sounding preachy, but Hallinan mostly manages to avoid this by writing in first person, from the child's point of view: "I like to be kind; it's a nice thing to be. When I reach out to others, they reach out to me."

What I Dislike: Sometimes the text seems a bit forced and once or twice the rhythm is awkward or the rhyming isn't exact. In addition, toward the end, the author states that "God blesses kindness in so many ways, that the kindness I give out is always repaid." This may be true, but expecting someone to do a kindness back to you (as is implied by the accompanying illustration) is much too simplistic. Nevertheless, this may provide a great opportunity for parents to talk to their little ones about doing what's right in God's eyes just for the sake of obeying God.

Overall Rating: (On the lower end of) good.

Age Appeal: The publisher says infant to preschool, but I think toddlers and preschoolers are more likely to find interest in this title.

Publishing Info: Ideals Publications, 2003; ISBN 0824954777; board book; $7.95

Buy Now at Amazon for $7.95.

Special Info: Click here to read my review of Hallinan's (much better) My Grandma and I.

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