Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, a winner of a Coretta Scott King Honor, while browsing in the children's section of my local library. I expected a feel-good story about being kind. This is not a feel-good story - this is heartbreaking, but definitely worth reading, even as an adult.
The story is told by a little girl, maybe eight or nine years old. She shares how a new girl named Maya came to her class. She was different, poor, with clothes that were different and games that were different. Maya tried to be friends with the other kids, but they rejected her every time. The other girls called her "Never New" because all she owned was second-hand.
The teacher gives a lesson on kindness, on being the pebble in the water that sends out ripples. The narrator realizes that she has not been kind, but it is too late. Maya never returns to school. Her opportunity for kindness to the different new girl has passed, and she must live with that regret.
It's a powerful message. Yes, I'm sure on some level it is meant to be an anti-bullying book, but it is also a reminder for each of us who don't necessarily bully anybody, but who sometimes fail to be kind. Once that opportunity is wasted, it can never be reclaimed. Everybody can benefit from kindness. It is an important thing to remember and put into practice.