Henry is Kind: A Story of Mindfulness
Author: Linda Ryden
Illustrator: Shearry Malone
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, 2018
Ms. Snowden’s class takes their seats in order to practice mindfulness. They also practice heartfulness, a compassion meditation that increases feelings of empathy, happiness, and connection to others. Everyone enjoys the practice, but when Ms. Snowden starts The Kindness Project, Henry hits a snag. Each student is to make a picture of something kind they have done during the week and Henry can’t think of a single kind thing he has done. He is upset and yells, “Kindness is stupid!”
Luckily Henry has his fellow classmates to help. He has done plenty of kind actions, but he hasn’t been aware of them. When his friends point out all the kind things he has done – from sharing his snack to inviting a new student to join in a game – Henry realizes that he has been kind. He just needed to learn to recognize his actions. He realizes that helping others makes him feel good, too.
As she explains at the end of the story, Linda Ryden has been teaching mindfulness and heartfulness to her elementary students for the last fifteen years. These practices have contributed to a more caring classroom and a more positive school environment. There is plenty of research to back up her personal findings.
I am hearing about a lot of mindfulness and kindness practices popping up in schools. My own school has started a Kindness Club and some of the teachers practice Zen-day Wednesday (a practice I personally like so much I wish it happened every day). For anyone looking for ideas to start a mindfulness/heartfulness practice with their students (or, in fact, in any kind of a group), this book is an excellent starting point. With a story to share and tips and resources for the leader, it’s a great beginning.
*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.