Teaching Cultural Compassion

Whether you're a Kiwanian and saw the print version of Kiwanis Magazine's summer edition, or you're just interested in some other things I'm doing to promote compassion, you might be interested in this article.  Hardwired to Help was the feature story for which I was interviewed to talk about how important it is to instill the value of compassion in our kids so that they can grow to be compassionate adults.  There are also wonderful contributions from Dr. James Doty of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University and Thupten Jinpa, president of the Compassion Institute in Half Moon Bay, California.  Lots of great insights into how we can become a more compassionate society!

June 8, 2021

Picture books aren't just for kids!!!

It's getting really warm outside, but our insides are maybe not feeling the warm feelings right now.  As grownups, it's easy to watch the news and talk to people and feel a bit depressed about what's going on in the world.  In my opinion, this is exactly where picture books can help.

In a very short period of time, a picture book can make you laugh, smile, cry a little, feel hope and joy and remind you of a lot of the things you have forgotten--or never were taught in the first place: that most people are good, that you can do a lot as one person, that you are in charge of your own heart, that you matter, that you can indeed be fierce and take on the world.... and that's just my top five!!

So here are my top 10 picture book recommendations for adults to bring back some hope and do some self-care:

Most People by Michael Leannah and Jennifer E. Morris is a reminder that MOST PEOPLE want to be good and happy and loving.  When we watch the news, we really need this reminder.

The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts by Trudy Ludwig and Mike Curato needs few words to convey its beautiful reminder that it only takes one person to harm, but sometimes, it only takes one person to begin healing.

my heart by Corinna Luyken is a powerful poem reminding all of us that our hearts can be all kinds of ways, but ultimately are our own.  We can share or guard or grow how we choose, and it's ok.  It is our choice how to use our hearts.

You Matter by Christian Robinson reminds kids (and us) that no matter how big or small we are or what we look like or where we are, we matter to the world.   Sometimes we just need that reminder.  

I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong and Nidhi Chanani is the perfect book to have by your bed and read first thing every morning.  If this book doesn't get you moving and motivated, I'm not sure what will!

Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer and LeUyen Pham is based on the true story of a girl's first march.  She's not sure how she can make a difference in such a big crowd... but her mom keeps reminding her: love is powerful.

What Do You Do With A Chance? like the other books by the duo of Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom proposes a question--and reminds you the endless possibilities if you believe in yourself and follow through.

Ish is a book about never thinking you're good enough.... until you can start to see yourself through someone else's eyes.  Peter Reynolds has an amazing talent for helping us see our own inner child--and give it a pep talk!

I Am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah Bobo is a love song to your inner child--a reminder that you ARE enough.  If you want to hear the author read it herself, she's featured on Bookmarks by Netflix!

What's My Superpower? by Aviaq Johnston and Tim Mack tells us about a girl who sees how wonderful everyone else is... but what is her superpower?  Maybe you have the same one she does.  Look in the mirror!

And because there are just too many good books out there, I'll add a couple extras as honorable mentions.  Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story is a true story of Arun Gandhi's childhood and learning hard, but valuable lessons from his grandfather about how he could be the change he wished to see in the world.  If you need a little help with mindfulness practice, Breathe and Be by Kate Coombs and Anna Emilia Laitinen is just as good for adults as for kids!!

(And a new highlight--I have long wanted to support small, independent bookstores but wasn't sure how to do that.  Then I was pointed to bookshop.org which supports independent stores across the US.  By purchasing a book from the title links above, you can choose to support your local store or simply from bookshop itself and the proceeds of your purchase will benefit all of the bookstores who share in the group.  If you choose to purchase by using a link above, I will also be compensated a tiny amount for my referral.  As always, I will also try to link to any author or illustrator's personal website so that you can see all of the other remarkable things they are doing.)

Happy reading and take care of yourselves.  You are enough.


If you're looking for book suggestions for Pride, please refer to last year's list by clicking here.  I will add, however, that lots of new books representing the LGBTQIA+ community are being published all the time!!  Books like They She He Me: Free To Be! by Maya Gonzalez and Matthew Sg are taking on gender identity and explaining pronouns.  

If you want my latest top suggestions list, you can find it here!

May 2, 2021

Earth Day Everyday

Depending on your social circles, you either recognized Earth Day or maybe even Earth Month last month.  But many of you also know that climate change is real and that we as humans can do something about it.... if we pay attention.  In order to help you have those conversations with kiddos, I would love to suggest some of my current favorite books.

We Are Water Protectors  made history as a multi-award winning book, but mostly as the first Caldecott award won by an American Indian woman!  Its story of an Ojibwe girl fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the lesson about what it does to the land is truly inspiring.  Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade are the dream team to tell this story.

The Bear's Garden is based on the true story of how small actions can lead to big change -- in this case, a community garden in Brooklyn.  Based on a true story, author Marcie Colleen takes us on the adventure of a community who is brave enough to come together.  Illustrator Alison Oliver lends her endless whimsy to this tale to make it larger than life!

One Earth by Eileen Spinelli is a creative way to bring simple lessons to even the youngest audience.  By simply counting from one to ten and back again, Spinelli and illustrator Rogério Coelho remind us why our planet is so special on the way up and what we can do to keep it that way on the way back down!

Seeds of Change is the only biography on this list, but any conversation about starting small but making a huge impact for the world simply MUST include Wangari Maathai.  Sonia Lynn Sadler uses her scratchboard style to bring Jen Cullerton Johnson's words to life in the story of this Nobel Peace Prize Winning Kenyan female scientist!!

Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora Del Arcoiris is another story of how to help in your own community and start major change.  Through the story of a little girl in Guatemala who wants to weave like her mother, Linda Elovitz Marshall tells of a community who began to see beauty in the refuse around them.  Elisa Chavarri's innovative illustrations mix drawings with bits of real cloth to give a true sense of the beauty this community creates!

My Wounded Island is a story about the harsh reality of how climate change is already affecting some communities.  From the perspective of an Inuit girl, we learn about how the way of life for an entire community is disrupted by the rising water around them.  Jacques Pasquet and Marion Arbona are the perfect team to get to the true heart of this reality.

I hope that these books inspire you and give you language to discuss our beautiful planet with your little ones.  

We only have this one!  We'd better take care of it!

Looking for "Teaching Cultural Compassion in an era of righteous anger"?