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Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill

“Be Kind” ~ How often have you heard those words? How often have you said them? We spend hour after hour sharing the importance of being kind and trying to teach our students the value of kindness. But what does it mean to be kind?

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller takes the concept of kindness and brings it to the level of our readers. This is the story of how a classroom event causes one student to examine her behavior and the behaviors of her classmates, and the impact of those behaviors on her peers. 

What students said~

“This reminds me of when my friend spit chocolate milk on me in my picture day dress because she heard something funny and the whole table laughed.”

“I like how the girl was nice and painted a picture for the girl who spilled grape juice on herself at lunch.”

“I let someone sit with me at lunch.”

“The meaning of this book is to treat others the way you want to be treated.”

“This reminded me of when I felt scared to stick up for my friend.”

“I think this book is about how you should always be kind, even when it is hard.”

Teacher Thoughts~

As the year progresses, our classroom meeting topics change from “getting to know you” to building relationships.  This book is a must read. As the main character tries to define acts of kindness, she realizes that it can be hard and scary to be kind. As the main character shares, “And sticking up for someone when other kids aren’t kind is really hard. (And really scary.)”  What powerful words.

As a class we were able to frame many conversations around this topic, which allowed students to make connections to their own lives and to reexamine their behavior.  Some even admitted that they had laughed at students in similar situations, and didn’t realize that they may have hurt others feelings. We explored Tanisha’s feelings and students realized that when she removed herself from the group that it wasn’t because she wanted to be alone, but because she was embarrassed. 

Classroom Connections~

  • This is a great text to read during morning meeting time. It will launch many conversations as students make connections to the main character’s feelings about being kind and with the main character, Tanisha, and her embarrassment.
  • Consider introducing point of view with this story.  Be Kind is told from the point of view of one of the students in the class, however the narrator wasn’t given a name. The focus is on Tanisha. Fourth graders were able to think about the story’s point of view, and then partner retell this story from Tanisha’s point of view. 
  • This book got our students thinking about ways to be kind in school and to share acts of kindness within our school community.  A concept that is so needed today!

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