Award-Winning Books Early Readers Features Genre Joy and Peace in Literature Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Building Joy and Peace by Planting Seeds Of Compassion

Lessons from the Life and Teachings Of His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Myra here.

We are not very certain yet whether Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy would still host her usual Nonfiction Picture Book challenge. At any rate, we are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

The Seed Of Compassion by the Dalai Lama and Illustrations by Bao Luu (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama Illustrated by Bao Luu
Published by Kokila (2020)
ISBN: 0525555145 (ISBN13: 9780525555148) Literary Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2020). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since I chanced upon it via Overdrive early last year. Given our theme on peace and survival stories, this seems like the perfect nonfiction title to feature as we launch our theme on Joymakers and Peacebuilders – and #SurvivalStories2021.

In this picturebook, His Holiness the Dalai Lama tells his story to young readers, beginning with his birth in Taktser (an Amdo province of Northeastern Tibet), and his childhood, particularly his close relationship with his mother.

Told in the voice of His Holiness, I never felt that he was talking down to his young readers. And while he was ostensibly sharing life lessons on compassion and kindness, I did not feel that the story was particularly preachy nor didactic, even though of course it had that moral intent to teach virtues. I cannot quite put my finger on what it was that made the narrative work for me. Perhaps it was the quiet inviting tone, or the grandfatherly way that the Dalai Lama told his story with a sly mischief, or just the genuineness of the message that is deeply needed in our world (not to mention the current “cancel culture”) that seems to easily drown out connection and compassion.

I was also especially intrigued by how he became the Dalai Lama – and how he attributed his desire to free unjustly imprisoned peoples to the seeds of compassion planted by his mother. There is such care and fondness in the way that he almost beheld his mother in his storytelling that moved me deeply.

There were also very helpful strategies mentioned towards the end on how young people can begin treating other people with kindness and compassion. I thought it was a message that should echo across all people regardless of where they are, across generations, across time. This is a lovely story. I hope it finds you soon.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 4 out of target 100 (the Dalai Lama is from Tibet, Bao Luu is from Vietnam)

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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