Human Kindness by John Francis

Illustrated by Josy Bloggs.

Published by What on Earth Books, 2022.

Human Kindness, True Stories of Compassion and Generosity that Changed the World is a very special picture book. It explores in depth the notion of kindness and gives some substance and context to human compassion (which has recently been rendered a bit bland and meaningless by the Be Kind movement). The book is nuanced and thoughtful, considering the many aspects of what it means to be kind. There’s a fascinating historical perspective, an exploration of acts of kindness around the world, and suggestions of ways we can commit to an act of kindness each day. The book also looks at how we can be kind to the planet, and how we can practice self-care and self-compassion (something we often overlook). There’s a really fascinating comparison of different faiths’ attitudes to kindness and it’s eye-opening to see just how closely aligned different religions are in this regard.

The book is written by John Francis, ‘The Planetwalker’ and gives us an insight into his personal journey and his own reflections on kindness. After witnessing the collision of two oil tankers, Francis took a vow of silence for 17 years as a form of peaceful protest against environmental devastation. He also gave up using any kind of motorized vehicle, choosing instead to walk everywhere, earning himself the nickname the ‘Planetwalker.’

In reading the book, we also learn about peaceful protests that helped make the world a better place; inventions which have improved people’s lives or helped the planet; and the value of speaking up for others. There are quotes from inspirational people as diverse as Maya Angelou, Dolly Parton and Lady Gaga. There are acts of kindness on a grand scale: Harriet Tubman fighting against slavery, Marcus Rashford campaigning against food poverty, and Wangari Maathai leading the Green Belt Movement, and there are small acts of kindness such as a suspended coffee or paying someone a compliment.

Human Kindness provides fascinating food for thought and is a positive and uplifting read.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to What on Earth Books for sending me this book to review and to the Federation of Children’s BookGroups for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

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