Cover image for The kindness of children
The kindness of children
Paley, Vivian Gussin, 1929-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
129 pages ; 20 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BJ1533.K5 P34 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Visiting a London nursery school, Vivian Paley observes the schoolchildren's reception of another visitor, a handicapped boy named Teddy, who is strapped into a wheelchair, wearing a helmet, and barely able to speak. A predicament arises, and the children's response--simple and immediate--offers Paley the purest evidence of kindness she has ever seen. In subsequent encounters, "the Teddy story" draws forth other tales of impulsive goodness from Paley's listeners. Just so, it resonates through this book as one story leads to another--taking surprising turns, intersecting with the narrative unfolding before us, and illuminating the moral meanings that children may be learning to create among themselves. Paley's journey takes us into the different worlds of urban London, Chicago, Oakland, and New York City, and to a close-knit small town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Her own story connects those of children from nursery school to high school, and circles back to her elderly mother, whose experiences as a frightened immigrant girl, helped through a strange school and a new language by another child, reappear in the story of a young Mexican American girl. Thus the book quietly brings together the moral life of the very young and the very old. With her characteristic unpretentious charm, Paley lets her listeners and storytellers take us down unexpected paths, where the meeting of story and real life make us wonder: Are children wiser about the nature of kindness than we think they are?

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Paley, a career teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, is the creator of a teaching style based on storytelling; her compelling books on this subject have earned her a MacArthur "genius" award. Paley's latest describes her further explorations of children's storytelling, but the scope of this book has been extended to include high school as well as elementary classrooms. It illustrates the different cultural worlds of urban London, Chicago, New York City, Oakland, and a small, close-knit town on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Paley touches upon the way storytelling can be morally enlightening and explores a topic, spiritual education, on which she has not written before. She also connects childhood and the stories children tell with old age and the stories of the elderly. One story leads to another, gently bringing together the moral life of the very young and the very old. Recommended for readers interested in children, children's education and welfare, and storytelling.√ĄSamuel T. Huang, Northern Illinois Univ., DeKalb (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.