In The Kindness of Children, Vivian Gussin Paley, PhB47,
spins her narrative from the threads of childrens kind moments.
She begins with the story of Teddy, a multi-handicapped boy who
visits a London nursery school classroom. He sits in a wheelchair,
wearing a padded helmet, barely able to speak. Yet the other children
include Teddy in their play easily and naturally, responding to
him in a way, Paley suggests, that adults may not. Touched by the
instinctive kindness of children, Paley recounts such scenes to
students and teachers around the country, inspiring acts of compassion.
Interwoven among these stories are bits of wisdom passed along
to Paley by her mother. At one point, Paley listens to a non-English-speaking
fourth-grader recall the time she relied on a fellow classmate to
interpret a teachers words, and then compares the little girls
experience to that of her mother as a young, frightened immigrant.
Paley not only talks of kindness but also instructs children in
the art of compassion through role-playing and discussions of what
the stories mean to them. Throughout, Paley emphasizes how children
can shape their own values as well as each others by practicing
acts of kindness.J.P.