During this unprecedented time of stress and worry, a gentle reminder of the power of compassion may be just what we need. Thankfully, there’s a new picture book releasing next week written by and about a world expert in that practice.
Title: The Seed of Compassion: Lessons from the Life and Teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Written By: His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Illustrated By: Bao Luu
Publisher/Date: Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Random House/March 2020
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: compassion, peace, Tibet, autobiography, Buddhism
I was born in Taktser, in the Amdo province of northeastern Tibet. It was a place of tall mountains, clear streams, blue skies, and many animals—mastiffs, sheep, horses, yaks, scorpions, chickens, and cows.
Our home was in the shadow of the Ami-chiri, The Mountain That Pierces the Sky.
Brief Synopsis: Written by His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, The Seed of Compassion recounts early memories with his mother who planted the seed of compassion within him and includes ideas for children to help nurture compassion and improve the world.
Links to Resources:
- Learn about the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and read some fun facts about him. There’s also a timeline of his life in back matter, as well as a note to readers at the front of this book;
- Discover Tibet;
- Learn about Buddhism and try some activities that help you become more aware of the natural sights and sounds that surround you;
- How can you nurture the seed of compassion and inclusivity in your school, at the playground, or in your family?
- Listen to a sample reading of The Seed of Compassion (found near the bottom of the page).
Why I Like this Book:
In straightforward language, His Holiness the Dalai Lama shares scenes from his rural childhood during which his mother showed him by example the importance of kindness towards others. I love the analogy to planting a seed that will grow, something that I think kids will relate to and understand.
I also appreciate that His Holiness addresses children directly and with respect in the latter part of the book, recognizing that they have within themselves the seed which can grow into compassion, for their peers and the world. As an example, he rhetorically asks children whether they would rather approach a smiling group or a scowling group on the playground. Of course, they would rather approach the smiling, welcoming group. The leap to becoming one who shares a smile is obvious. From there, His Holiness states, “When you approach someone with true warmheartedness, they can feel it. Doing so only brings more joy to you and them.”
And with practice, like with a sport or musical instrument, His Holiness assures children that compassion will grow.
Golden tones run through this picture book, tying His Holiness’ early life to his later ministry. I think caregivers and teachers will appreciate the diversity of children presented, including in a final scene showing His Holiness part of a circle of multicultural children.
A Note about Craft:
I’ve already mentioned a few of the tools that His Holiness utilizes to share his message, the seed and growing analogy and addressing children directly. These techniques, I believe, encourage children to believe that they have the power within themselves to practice compassion. Perhaps as importantly, His Holiness also reminds these children that if they slip and fail to act compassionately, tomorrow is another opportunity to “try again.”
A relatively new imprint of Penguin Random House, “Kokila (pronounced KO-ki-la) brings together an inclusive community of authors and illustrators, publishing professionals, and readers to examine and celebrate stories that reflect the richness of our world.”
I reviewed an electronic review copy of this book, downloaded from Edelweiss+.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!