This post was featured on TODAY Parenting Team‘s site.
When it comes to teaching children about kindness, the book Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler nails it. The story begins with five children misbehaving during class, so their teacher, Mrs. Ruler, sets out to teach them a lesson–but in a positive way. She explains that they were being mean to each other and asks them what is a cooler way to act? One student replies, “Kindness is cooler, Mrs. Ruler.”
Instead of punishing the children, she challenges them to complete five acts of kindness at home. She repeats throughout the story the memorable saying, “A slice of nice makes a mile of smile.” They will then have to share their experiences with the class during show and tell throughout the week. As each of these five children report on how they were helpful to their family, the rest of the class becomes so energized that they want to participate in the challenge as well.
This leads to a big class project and Mrs. Ruler writes all of their acts of kindness on paper hearts to display in the classroom. Each day more children speak excitedly about how they helped their family, friends, and even pets. Then they start doing acts of kindness around their school and throughout the community as well. They eventually reach 100 acts of kindness!
The most important message in the story is how the children encourage each other to be kind. There is one scene in which a boy is not sharing his cookies at lunchtime. Next thing you know, the other boys call him out on his behavior and suggest that he remember that being kind is cool. The boy ends up going home that afternoon and baking cookies to share with the entire class the next day. Kindness really is contagious.
A Perfect Kindness Project Example
What I love most about this book is that it provides the perfect blueprint for a simple kindness project that every classroom can follow. However, it is not just for schools. Families can easily adapt the project and enjoy doing acts of kindness together.
At the end of the book a list of all the acts of kindness mentioned in story is included, serving as a wonderful guideline for others to follow. Here are five examples from each category:
- Set the dinner table
- Take out the trash
- Play with a younger sibling
- Bring in the mail
- Give a family member a compliment
- Pick up trash on the playground
- Hold the door open for other students
- Invite a friend to eat lunch
- Take a friend to the nurse
- Smile at the crossing guard
- Collect canned food for a local charity
- Donate toys and clothes to those in need
- Write thank you notes to community helpers like police officers and the fire department
- Donate plants to a community garden project
- Run in a race to fundraise for a charity
Other Favorite Children’s Books About Kindness
What are your favorite books about kindness?