February and March are Read Across Lawrence months at Lawrence Public Library. The goal is to get everyone in the community on the same page by reading the same book at the same time; this year, we tried a grand experiment: one book for all ages.
Wonder by RJ Palacio was the perfect choice. Its central lesson, “If you have a choice between being right and being kind, choose kind" resonates with readers of any age.
In the spirit of Wonder, we’ve put together this short list of inspirational reads that focus on the universal themes of kindness and the power of friendship. All are available at your public library.
In Dare to Be Kind, author Lizzie Velasquez shares her remarkable personal story. Born with a rare genetic condition, Velasquez came across a viral video when she was 17 years old labeling her as "The World's Ugliest Woman." Instead of retreating, she decided to stand up and become an advocate for victims of bullying the world over.
Dare to Be Kind chronicles Velasquez’s personal experiences of being bullied and reveals her own battles with anxiety and coping with disappointment. She shares uplifting advice on how we all have the power to overcome obstacles and move forward with greater positivity.
Velasquez will deliver the 2018 Read Across Lawrence keynote address on Sunday, March 11th at 3:30 pm at the Lied Center. Her message of self-acceptance aligns beautifully with the themes in Wonder. We encourage you to bring your entire family to hear Lizzie’s inspirational message of kindness and acceptance.
For readers interested in the science of kindness, Dacher Keltner’s Born to Be Good delves into the science of positive psychology to explain the evolutionary origins of human emotions. Keltner is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he directs the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab. His book is based on his postgraduate research examining the science of facial expressions.
Keltner proposes that perhaps survival is not a matter of who is the fittest, but who is the kindest. Born to be Good is a thought provoking book about how positive emotions, such as love, compassion, and awe, lie at the core of human nature and shape our everyday behavior.
Kindness Boomerang by Orly Wahba will help you put kindness into action. Her premise that “when kindness is shared, it grows. And every bit of kindness we put into the world comes back in some way. That is the kindness boomerang.”
Wahba began her career in as a middle school educator, where taught her students to build their self-esteem and to use the power they have to influence the world for good. In 2011, she founded Life Vest Inside, an organization that encourages people to embrace the incredible power of giving and recognize that in times of hardship, kindness, like a life vest, keeps the world afloat.
Readers are challenged to practice kindness in relationships, kindness with themselves, kindness with nature, and kindness in many other forms. The book recommends specific daily acts of kindness, along with inspirational quotes and reflections. Wahba’s book is a call to action for anyone who wants to live a more connected and fulfilling life.
So what are you waiting for? Get to the library, check these out, and choose kind.
-Kathleen Morgan is Lawrence Public Library’s Director of Development and Community Partnerships.