While this week may be Random Acts of Kindness Week, kindness can and should be practiced all year long. If you are looking for the perfect picture book to show even the youngest persons the power of kindness, look to When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith. Published just last year, this picture book highlights simple ways we can be kind, and how we are built up when kindness is received in return.
The book begins by naming ways young children in particular can be kind: helping one's family with household chores, sharing with friends, or taking the dog on an extra-long walk. After presenting ways to be kind, the book moves into how we feel when others are kind to us: happy when our friends share with us, comforted when the family cat snuggles close, and loved when Elders share stories.
The text is simple and straightforward, limited to one sentence on each page. It lends itself well to a large group read-aloud, or to a cuddly bedtime read. Its use of repetition makes it accessible preschoolers and even younger children.
The illustrations also take up full pages, with bold colors and an uncluttered composition. Artist Nicole Neidhardt gives the reader a diverse cast of characters practicing kindness, but particularly centers Native children and families. Both the author and illustrator are of Indigenous background; Gray Smith is Cree and Lakota, while Neidhardt is Diné (Navajo). When We Are Kind is an #OwnVoices text that presents an universal story of kindness: to each other, the earth, and ourselves.