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)