Not-So-Random Reads of Kindness
Since I first saw Disney’s Cinderella animated movie - as a three-year-old with a vivid imagination in an old theater with a sweeping red carpeted staircase - I have loved the story. As a child, I just embraced it at face value; as an adult, I have come to embrace it even more for the deeper spiritual applications I’ve gleaned from it. And while I’m not a fan of the recent live-action Cinderella, I am a fan of the message: Have courage and be kind.
In today’s reactionary, polarized world - where anyone and everyone can share an opinion before the masses and then be crucified for it, thanks to social media - kindness does take courage. Increasingly so. And yet it’s what we crave, as evidenced by the ‘random acts of kindness’ movement which continues to to gain traction.
Today’s book roundup is focused on books that promote this message of kindness - for children and adults, from fiction to nonfiction.
The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional by Kristin Demery, Kendra Roehl, and Julie Fisk (Tyndale, October 2017) - First, that cover just beckons, doesn’t it? Inside the pages you’ll find 365 days of Scripture, personal stories and ideas for making kindness part of your everyday life. READ AN EXCERPT
Kind is the New Classy by Candace Cameron Bure (Zondervan, April 2018) - Bure has learned the secret of kindness - from her seat at The View’s feisty table of hot topics to her acting work on Fuller House and the Hallmark Channel - and she lets us in on her thought processes and practices that enable her to live graciously in a culture that often isn’t. READ AN EXCERPT
Love Kindness by Barry H. Corey (Tyndale, February 2019) - This upcoming rerelease of Corey’s book on kindness is full of stories from his travels and a reminder that God has asked us to ‘love kindness’. Rather than being a sign of weakness, Corey asserts that kindness is brave and daring and even revolutionary. READ AN EXCERPT
Tucky Jo and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco (Simon and Schuster, August 2015) - Polacco is well known for her diverse books that teach kindness and empathy. In Tucky Jo and Little Heart, Polacco takes readers from Kentucky to the Pacific Front of WW2 with a message that kindness and friendship transcend language barriers - and comes back around when we need it most. BROWSE INSIDE
Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Jen Hill (Roaring Brook Press, February 2018) - The illustrations and the text go beautifully hand-in-hand in this sweet story about how even the smallest acts of kindness do make a difference. One of my favorite things about this story is that the main character stops herself from reacting the way everyone else was because her mom has taught her to be kind. Great reinforcement for parents doing the same thing. BROWSE INSIDE
The Gift That I Can Give by Kathie Lee Gifford; illustrated by Julia Seal (Thomas Nelson, October 2018) - This may be my fave children’s book released this year. It’s adorable in every way - from the darling illustrations to the tender message of the story itself. Not only will children read that their unique talents and ideas have worth, but they will be encouraged to use those gifts to spread God’s love through kindness.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Knopf, February 2012) - Now a 'major motion picture’ starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, this touching story about a boy born with a severe facial difference shows the power of kindness in a world that struggles with differences. Its message appeals to a range of reading ages and spent 140 weeks at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. READ AN EXCERPT
Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, January 2018) - This YouTube personality’s debut novel is laugh-out-loud funny as well as poignantly compelling. More than an exploration of life with a visual impairment, the story explores how we interact with each other and the world around us. READ AN EXCERPT
In 27 Days by Alison Gervais (Blink, July 2017) - This was one of my personal favorite reads of 2017 - this story of a girl who has the chance to go back in time 27 days to stop a classmate’s suicide. In the process (with a healthy dose of wry humor and a touching look at grief), Hadley and Archer demonstrate the incredible difference that even just one person can make. READ AN EXCERPT
Fiction for adults
Hidden Places by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, July 2001) - This Christy Award winning novel is a stellar story in its own right, but the demonstration of kindness from various sources - and in various forms - is what has lingered with me all these years. The two protagonists as well as the aunt are just intrinsically kind people, as well as other supporting cast, but the nature of the plot is such that it’s not saccharine.
Winter’s End by Ruth Logan Herne (Love Inspired, February 2010) - A hospice nurse who embodies kindness, a hero struggling with his dad’s illness, and Ruth Logan Herne means this book is a hands-down choice for a kindness roundup. Don’t you want to live in that cover too?? Herne’s own compassionate heart always shines through in her written words so, really, any of her reads would be a good choice here. READ EXCERPT
Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine Books, October 2017) - Readers love Macomber’s Christmas reads for good reason, and she proves why in this heartwarming novel. The entire plot is built around the premise of heroine Julia’s mission to bring the Christmas spirit to her grinch-like neighbor Cain by killing him with kindness. Charming and romantic! READ AN EXCERPT
And…. because I’m a fiction lover at heart, I can’t stop with those three titles. If you want to read some more great novels with a kindness theme (whether in the main plot or subthreads), make sure you check out Welcome to Wishing Bridge (also by Ruth Logan Herne), The Promise of Breeze Hill (Pam Hillman), The Accidental Guardian (Mary Connealy), Jaded by Varina Denman, The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson, A Spy’s Devotion by Melanie Dickerson and Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery. Want to meet some incredibly kind heroes? Check out Jessica Dotta’s Price of Privilege series and Pepper Basham’s The Thorn Healer and When You Look at Me.