In 1976 my family left our home in war-torn Lebanon and we traveled, on a freight ship, to the island of Cyprus. Like so many refugees, we had very little when we got to our destination. When you are fleeing a country you don't have time to pack up much. The first few months were hard, but what made them easier was the fact that people who barely knew us reached out to us. The people we met in Cyprus knew what it was like to be refugees, and they helped us as much as they could. Their kindness and compassion made a great deal of difference to us.
Today's poetry title explores the many ways in which people help one another. Even the smallest acts of kindness can have a huge impact.
Lend a Hand
Illustrated by London Ladd
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Lee and Low Books, 2014, 978-1-60060-970-1
Many people are eager to do something big with their lives, to make a noticeable difference in the world. What they sometimes forget is that they can have a meaningful impact by doing small acts of kindness every day. Doing these kinds of things are the “first steps to changing the world.”
In this book we see the kinds of compassionate things people do for one another as they go about their day. Beautifully written poems capture these moments, showing readers how powerful such actions can be, both for the person who receives the gift of kindness and the person who gives it.
We see how a child shares her sandwich with a new girl at school, who is sitting alone and lunch-less nearby. We meet a little boy whose is caring for a little puppy, a puppy whom he adores. In the not too distant future the boy will have to give the puppy away because the dog is going to be “someone’s eyes / one day.”
Then there is the girl who has her long beautiful hair cut off so that it can be sent away “to be part of a wavy wig / worn by someone / whose hair / sickness stole.” Another young person reaches out to a stranger by writing to a soldier who is serving his country many miles away. The boy reassures the soldier that no matter what happens he will not forget the soldier or his service.
Sometimes an act of kindness can be as simple as helping a boy make his bike work “as good as new” without charging him for the time it took to test the wheels and tighten a bolt here and there. It can be as simple as that same boy helping a woman load her grocery bags into her car and refusing to take any money for his time. It can be as simple as a kindness being handed on from person to person, on and on.
In this empowering and meaningful poetry collection we see how simple it is to reach out and connect with others. It does not matter if we know them or not. It does not matter if we never even meet them. Our acts make the world a better place, one simple kindness at a time.