Extra Yarn and Being Kind
We finished reading Wonder yesterday, which meant that I had to pick something new to read to my class today. I wasn’t going to start a new chapter book on a Friday, so I decided to select one of my many picture books that would go along with the theme of choosing kind that we’ve been discussing as we read Wonder. I initially thought I could use Every Kindness by Jacqueline Woods and E.B. Lewis, but then I remembered that my student teacher borrowed it for an assignment. So I decided to use a book that many not, on the surface, appear to be about being kind but, once you start thinking about it, you realise it really is.
The story was one I picked up at the bookstore last year after seeing the names of the author and illustrator. I had recently read a book by Mac Barnett (co-authored by Jon Sciezska) and I have long admired the work of author/illustrator Jon Klassen. Additionally, the book was a Caldecott Honor recipient. The story was Extra Yarn.
I loved this book as soon as I read it. It is a story about a young girl who finds a box of yarn one day and uses it to knit herself a sweater. Then she realises there is still more yarn, so she makes a sweater for her dog. She still has extra yarn and she ends up transforming her entire community, knitting sweaters for everyone, all of the animals, and things that don’t need sweaters, like a pickup truck. Then an archduke “who was very fond of clothes” comes and tries to buy the box of yarn from her. The girl turns down his offers of one million, two million, and even ten million dollars! The archduke arranges to have the yarn stolen, hoping to keep it for himself. When he opens the box, he finds it is empty. In anger, he throws it into the ocean and curses the girls with unhappiness. She finds the box again and discovers that she still has extra yarn, and so she is still happy.
What does this have to do with Wonder? To me, it is the fact that kindness begets more kindness. Kindness is something we can always give to others and always have more to give. When we look for ways to be kind, especially to those who may not be kind to us, we can find the world transformed. It is a theme that I hope my students and I will be able to return to again and again this year. To be kinder than is necessary and to exercise that unique human capability to choose to be kind is the greatest of character traits. A person who is kind will treat others with respect, will be responsible in their duties, and will always strive to be safe. A person who is kind can truly make a difference in the lives of others.
Even if it is just knitting a sweater or a hat.