"Each of us in our own way can try to spread compassion into people’s hearts. Modern civilization places great importance on filling the human brain with knowledge, but no one seems to care about filling the human heart with compassion.Compassion is not religious, it is human. It is not a luxury, it is essential for our emotional and mental stability and for human peace and survival."
- Dalai Lama
I just finished reading the Dalai Lama's book "Beyond Religion," where he argues that ethics and compassion transcend all religious/secular beliefs, and that they are in fact the basis not only to a more humane world but also to individual human happiness. I agree completely with the Dalai Lama. If we can teach our kids to be kind, empathetic, compassionate, and calm, we will be doing the best job possible as parents and teachers. And research increasingly suggests that character can be taught. Here's an older post I wrote: Can Empathy Be Taught, which offers some specific tools for parents and educators to use.
And here are some fantastic picture books for kids (ages 4 to 8) that teach empathy and compassion. They're my favorites -- artistic masterpieces in every sense of the word! These books will foster deep and thoughtful discussions about kindness, compassion, empathy, and managing our emotions. I can't recommend the books below highly enough. And if you're looking for multicultural literature, this list offers a very diverse selection.
The Last Kappa of Old Japan, by Sunny Seiki
Silent Lotus, by Jeanne Lee
Grandfather Gandhi, by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus
Fly Free, by Roseanne Thong
How Full is Your Bucket, by Tom Rath
Kali and the Rat Snake, by Zai Whitaker
Zen Ties, by John J. Muth
Each Kindness, by Jaqueline Wilson