Each Kindness: An Analysis
Woodson, Jacqueline. Each Kindness. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Penguin/Paulsen, 2012. 32 pages.
This sad, yet realistic and educational, children’s book, written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. White, is written in the point of view of a young girl named Chloe. Chloe and her classmates are determined to avoid the new girl. The new girl is named Maya. Maya is different from every other child in the class. She plays with old-fashioned toys and she wears hand-me-downs. Chloe and her friends do not want to play or even be seen talking to Maya. At one point in the book, Chloe blatantly ignores Maya when she smiles to say “hi” to her. Maya also ends up playing by herself during recess. As the story continues, Maya is no longer showing up to school. After multiple days without her presence, the teacher educates the children about the importance of kindness and doing nice things for one another. Chloe and her friends begin to realize that what they made Maya go through was wrong, but it is too late to apologize to Maya because she has left the school for good.
“This is what kindness does, Ms.Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”
The unsatisfying ending is a taste of reality. You may never get the chance to apologize or say kind things to a person who you have hurt in some way. Not everything in life will have a fairy tale-like, happy ending. The book informs the readers to be kind to everyone they meet, so that they are not faced with the regret later on when they realize that they might not have the opportunity to apologize.
The illustrations in this children’s book seem to have deeper meanings. In the first pages of the book, the illustrations are drawn with snow on the ground and the author notes that it is indeed winter. The last few illustrations of the book are drawn with springtime elements and the author notes that spring has come. This change in weather over the course of the book is important. The changing of the seasons from winter to spring act as a metaphor comparing the cold-hearted Chloe who did not know about the importance of kindness to the now more aware Chloe who has melted her cold-heart and will begin make an effort at being kind.
The illustration on page 12 of the book is also important. This is because the reflections of the children in the bowl of water are children who are a variety of different races. This detail is significant because it allows the child, who is listening to or reading the book, to picture themselves in the reflection participating in the kindness activity. It helps the child to understand that this lesson that the book is teaching applies to them, no matter the race.
Each Kindness can teach children about philosophy. The Ethics branch is relevant in this book. The book addresses a topic that most people have been involved in in some way. After reading this book, children might wonder why people act the way they do. The children might wonder: Why was Chloe mean to Maya? Why did Chloe and her friends avoid Maya? What makes people dislike others who are different from themselves?
Overall, Each Kindness, written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. White, is a book that demonstrates to children the importance of being kind to someone when they have the opportunity to and the importance of doing something nice for a loved-one every day.