5 Books About Kindness - Recommended by Maria Dismondy
Maria Dismondy is an author, publisher and speaker who has penned ten books featuring topics ranging from anti-bullying to overcoming adversity to handling friendship trials and tribulations and beyond. Her books are read in classrooms and homes around the world. She is dedicated to empowering children, educators and parents through public speaking engagements across the United States. Maria is also the founder & CEO of Cardinal Rule Press, a traditional publishing house producing high-quality children’s literature that focuses on realistic fiction picture books that make a difference while reflecting modern-day diversity. We have asked Maria to pick her five favorite books about kindness.
Tell us a bit about your own work and the books you have written
I started writing children's picture books in 2006 with the first book published in 2008. All of my ten titles are realistic fiction and have important themes that teach essential skills.
What drew you to writing for children, about challenges that they face?
I was a classroom teacher for over a decade and I saw first hand what the children needed in books.
Why are stories so powerful when it comes to teaching kids about kindness?
Children read stories and those messages stick with them. It's a form of indirect teaching. A majority of children take it a step further and take what they learned in the book and apply it in their own life. So if you teach about kindness in your book, chances are, it will inspire children to be kind in their own ways!
Your first book is The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerrfeld. What drew you to this book?
This book is super simple which means the message can reach a three year old and a ten year old. The animals in the story want to help but the only one who actually makes a difference is the Rabbit who sat with the character and listened. Think about your own life. Those friends who listen truly make a difference don't they?
Why is listening so important in processing grief?
There are multiple stages an individual goes through when dealing with grief. There isn't a simple answer to fix those feelings, it's more of a process. Listening to someone dealing with something difficult gives them the chance to talk it through.
Your next pick is Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. Please tell us more about this book.
This book is about a lonely, old man who truly believes no one loves him. The art matches the mood of the story. It is very gray and sad as the author walks you through the characters daily routine. Then something amazing happens (no spoilers here!) and there is color in both the art and Mr. Hatch's life! The first time I read this book I honestly cried. It's beautiful.
This book centers around feeling loved. Why is this an interesting theme to explore with children?
Actions speak louder than words. We never know walking around town who is lonely and what sad stories there may be behind closed doors. I think it's powerful to teach children that by simply sharing kindness, such as smiling at your teacher, opening the door for a classmate and giving a high give to the child on your soccer team. All of these actions have the ability to make others feel loved.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts tackles consumer fads and how they affect children. Why did you pick this one?
I first picked this book up because I could relate! When I was in middle school, I wanted my mom to buy me a pair of Adidas Phantoms. They were the ugliest shoes ever, but everyone wore them. That was 20+ years ago. This message never gets old.
Wants and needs are very central in a child's world. What does this story aim teach them?
Some children are living day to day struggling to get their needs met, let alone what they want. It's important to open up eyes to our youth that the grass isn't always greener.
Next up is Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson. What appealed to you about this one?
Do you remember the movie Pay it Forward? This book reminded me of the boomerang effect that was highlighted in the movie. This book shows children how kids can do hard things! Kindness comes in many shapes and forms. Even the simplest deed can go a LONG way!
This book is 15 years old. Why is its story still relevant today?
Timeless topics in books will stand the test of time. This stands true for the first book I wrote, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun. It is still my bestselling title!
Tell us more about the last book on your list: I Walk with Vanessa
This book is a WORDLESS picture book. There is SO MUCH power in teaching children to "read" a book like this. It requires reading the pictures and paying attention to the actions and facial expressions of the characters. This is an excellent way to help a child develop empathy.
Bullying is a very sensitive topic for a lot of kids. What do you like about the way this book addresses it?
This book shows children to team together and help each other out in these tricky situations. Instead of standing by and watching bad things happen, be an "Upstander" and help a classmate out. The neat part about this is, even if you are scared to stand up to a bully, you don't have to do it alone. The more individuals standing up against the bully, the less power the bully has.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My books are sold online and at local bookstores. If you have a local bookstore, be sure to stop in for your book purchases and help support the book business! I spend most of my social media time on Instagram over @mariadismondybooks or @cardinalrulepress