★★★★★ Kindness in a Scary World, written by Rebecca J. Hubbard and illustrated by Becca Johnson, is a children’s book that serves as a conversation starter with kids about tragic events like terrorist attacks and mass shootings. The story follows a child who observes his parents’ reaction to live news footage of a shooting, and witnesses some of that footage himself. This draws parents and child into a discussion about the causes and effects of tragedies such as the one they watched play out on the television that very evening, and whether there is anything the family can do to help make the situation better. Ultimately, the child’s parents tell him, many of us are only able to contribute in small ways, like sending money or thoughtful letters. But even these small instances of kindness can add up to make large differences in the lives of people affected by tragedy.
This certainly is not an easy book to recommend, nor is it one that parents will desire to reach for when their children ask for a story. But—and we cannot stress this enough—Kindness in a Scary World will be the book your family turns to when tragedy rears its head once again. Hubbard’s book sings with human compassion and provides a safe starting point for difficult conversations with children. Parents will also find the discussion guide at the back of the book to be useful, as it addresses some of the common questions children have when they are exposed to topics like death and violence, and how best to respond to those questions. With this story, Hubbard shows how books can build bridges between people and allow us to connect with each other when it matters most.