Jacqueline Woodson is one of Cultured Kids’ favorite children’s book authors. I will openly claim a bias. However, regardless of our preferences, I do believe many children’s literature professionals would agree with me.
Woodson’s skill as a writer has proven itself through the extensive collection she has produced for all ages. Although, it is not her skill per se that causes us to use her literature in our programs and curricula.
Jacqueline Woodson’s work has a depth to it that is hard to find. Her soulful work reaches out of the book pages and grabs ahold of children’s hearts.
Cultured Kids uses literature as a tool to support positive identity development, empathy, and sense of belonging. We search for these themes in books. Our goal is not to teach children what they mean, but to help children internalize and exemplify them in their own lives. Woodson’s books transform the reader, and quite simply, expand our impact.
In Each Kindness, illustrated by EB Lewis, Woodson challenges children to evaluate two critical characteristics within themselves:
While there are many quotable words in this book, one short phrase tugs at me: Never New.
"Never New" became a nickname Chloe gave Maya in the book because Maya never came to school with new clothes or toys. I cannot be sure that the author’s intent goes deeper than its literal meaning. However, I have drawn deeper meaning from it. We also encourage our learners to seek deeper meaning in her work as well.
Cultured Kids believes picture books are for all ages. We use Each Kindness in our Art & Storytelling Book Club curriculum for 4th-6th graders. In this program, children discover their individual strengths and are challenged to use those strengths for good. We teach each child that they WILL impact this world. But, it is up to them whether this impact is positive or negative.
In this short, and beautifully illustrated book, there are many nuggets of wisdom. When considering our effort to support empathy development, this book is at the top of our list.
If you are also a Jacqueline Woodson fan, we have a surprise for you! She is the new artist in residence at the The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and we are right next door!
We are creating special content to share our experiences throughout Woodson's year at the Kennedy Center. We will be hosting group events, giving away free mini-libraries, and sharing activities and resources that connect to her books. Follow us on Facebook to get up to date information about our Journey with Jacqueline!