Back in the fall, I was invited to my daughter Lisa’s house for dinner. As might be expected, her family and I went around the table and each shared a tidbit about our day. Of course, we all paid special attention to six-year-old Joshua’s response because he had started first grade that morning, and we all had follow up questions for him. The one posed by his daddy was stunningly beautiful. My son-in-law asked, “How were you kind to another classmate today?”
I was wowed by this query! Just imagine if every family asked their children that question every day. Or better still, imagine if every adult focused on being kind daily. Louis Armstrong would certainly have cause to “think to [himself] what a wonderful world.”
The next day I called Lisa, fully intending to boast to her about her wonderful husband. But before I could gush on, she modestly stopped me and explained that the question was the direct result of a book that they were reading with their kids. The book is called El Deafo, by Cece Bell. It is a Newbery Honor book ©2014. This award is for “distinguished contributions to American literature for children.” The book is presented as a graphic novel which means that it is a hardbound comic book, in this case, 233 pages long. The story is autobiographical and tells of the author’s experiences as a deaf child in a hearing world. Early on in the story she writes, “Being different feels a lot like being alone.” If the young reader does not get the full impact of these words, the author then draws herself inside a circle, the “bubble of loneliness.” Bam! The concept is crystal clear!
Lisa encouraged me to buy the book to have on hand for all my grandkids to read and so I did – and I read it myself. It is full of meaty issues for parents and children to discuss. For instance, Cece longs for a friend, but when she finally gets one, the friend doesn’t treat her well. So, is she better off lonely or abused? Great question!
I loved this book and encourage people of all ages to read it. I also encourage everyone to focus on being kind daily. It’s easy to do. Imagine being at a mall or a restaurant or a concert. Certainly there is someone around who has great hair, or an elegant purse, or a beautiful smile. Tell them! Make their day! I promise it will make yours too, because kindness is contagious. Kindness is also free, so throw it around like confetti remembering always that kindness can touch everyone – it is a language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.