Race to Kindness – Orion Jean and Darshika Varma

Race to Kindness by Orion Jean
Published by Zonderkidz on May 7, 2024
Genres: Children's
Buy on Amazon

Come join our great race where kindness begins,

Where everyone’s welcome and everyone wins!

This inspiring picture book, written by TIME 2021 Kid of the Year Orion Jean, invites readers to join in the kindness movement, because when we dream big and work together, we can change the world.

From giving meaningful compliments to sharing your snack to donating used clothes, there are so many ways to be kind that it can be tough to know where to start! Luckily, author and fellow kid Orion Jean has some simple steps we can all take to make the world a better place.

Race to Kindness shows children ages 4-8:

Many different ways to show kindness
How much fun taking action can be
That even small acts of kindness can have a big impact
You’re never too young to make a difference
Orion’s journey from getting involved with his local community to having a nation-wide impact, giving readers a real-life role model?

With rhyming, lyrical text, Race to Kindness is the perfect read-aloud book for:

Parents and grandparents
Teachers and educators
Librarians and book events
Nonprofits and charities

Orion has donated over half a million books to date, but he knows firsthand that even the smallest kind gesture can have a big impact. So lace up your sneakers and join the race to kindness!

There are lots of picture books about the concept of kindness, but it can be difficult to find ones that are actually good. Kindness books are often boring, schmaltzy, or overly metaphorical, and sometimes they’re all three. Also, even when a kindness book does have real substance, it might tug on adult heartstrings without also holding a young child’s attention. Race to Kindness is a pleasant surprise, because it is genuinely kid-friendly, gives concrete examples of kind behaviors, and shares a positive message without feeling too didactic.

What makes this book even more impressive is that a kid wrote it. When he was eleven, Orion Jean became the Time 2021 kid of the year, due to his impressive philanthropic achievements. As the note at the end of the book explains, he has coordinated drives to collect over 100,000 meals for the food insecure, and over 500,000 books for school districts and literacy initiatives. His personal example is inspiring for people of all ages, and this book shares a simple message of kindness in a way that can motivate kids to make a difference in their social circles and broader communities.

This book uses “KIND” as an acronym, reminding kids to keep their eyes open, include others, remember that nothing is too small, and do something about the problems they see. The rhyming text flows smoothly, and the book has a good sense of rhythm for reading aloud. Also, the author doesn’t just talk about why kindness matters, but gives specific examples of ways to care for and help others. The bright, colorful illustrations from Darshika Varma are also very appealing, with some full-page illustrations and some smaller vignettes that illustrate an example of kindness from the text. The illustrations are cute and fun, and they reflect diverse appearances and abilities.

Race to Kindness is a great book that will appeal to many people. The author’s accomplishments at such a young age will inspire readers to know that they can also make a difference, and the book encourages readers to recognize opportunities for kindness all around them in their everyday lives. I recommend this book to parents, teachers, and librarians who want to teach kids about kindness, since it shares its message in a detailed, effective way while also being a great read-aloud with genuine kid appeal.