Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community Book Poster Image
Lady Gaga's solid collection spotlights acts of compassion.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers learn about diverse life experiences of young people, including death of a parent, depression, anxiety, suicide, immigration, sexual assault, bullying, being transgender, coming out as gay, etc.

Positive Messages

Sharing personal stories is one of the kindest, most generous acts we can perform. Who you truly are is never wrong. Kindness makes a difference for those who receive it, but it can also help and heal those who give it. When you practice giving and receiving kindness, you learn that you are never really alone.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young people portrayed are admirable activists, community builders, everyday helpers, founders of service organizations, writers, business owners, etc. They model perseverance, resilience, compassion, personal growth, joy, dedication, etc., and represent a wide spectrum of humanity: different genders, sexualities, skin colors, economic statuses, and physical and intellectual abilities.

Violence

References to self-harm with knives, sexual assault, and murder of a college student who was beaten to death by her boyfriend. None is described in detail.

Sex

Becoming physically intimate with a partner is mentioned in one story, but no detail provided.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness & Community, by Born This Way Foundation reporters and Lady Gaga, is a collection of 51 stories about acts of kindness big and small. From witnessing a man buy a nervous woman a cup of tea to watching a 9-year-old save an adult's life, these stories showcase young people who are community builders, everyday helpers, writers, youth workers, business owners, and more. Lightly educational in terms of exposure to diverse life experiences, essays detail kind acts that helped young people move through grief, depression, anxiety, suicide, sexual assault, bullying, transitioning, and coming out as gay. Positive messages encourage readers to love themselves, show compassion, and connect with others through sharing. Some stories refer to past sexual assault, self-harm, and one murder, though none is described in any detail. There's no swearing or sex described. Becoming physically intimate with a partner is mentioned in one story, but no detail is provided.

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What's the story?

Lady Gaga opens CHANNEL KINDNESS: STORIES OF KINDNESS & COMMUNITY with a revealing introduction about her life, including being bullied, battling mental illness, and experiencing sexual assault, and lays out her theories about the power of kindness in a world that can be quite punishing, even to famous celebrities. Fifty-one stories follow, written by Born This Way Foundation reporters, ages 16-24, about young people who survived a variety of challenging circumstances by giving or receiving kindness (or both). Lady Gaga adds a short note to each selection, commenting on the story and offering resources that readers can check out for more information. End pages include a section titled "Continuing On," a resources list, the history of Channel Kindness, and acknowledgments.

Is it any good?

This heartfelt collection of stories, an outgrowth of the Channel Kindness website, aims to promote compassion and positivity in our world, where negativity often gets the limelight. Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness & Community will certainly be enjoyed by Gaga fans, but even non-fans might be charmed by these heartwarming stories. The young people featured are not extraordinary; they are sisters, friends, daughters and sons, students, teachers, and social workers who saw a need and rushed to fill it. And that's the power of this book: Readers are likely to be inspired to do the same.

It's a visually attractive book with a magazine-like layout. Offset columns, ample white space and colorful, geometric backgrounds add depth while photographs personalize the stories. However, the selections are not organized thematically or in any other obvious way, so reading can feel somewhat aimless, and photographs are not captioned, so who is who can be confusing. The writing is generally clear and engaging enough, but this isn't a stay-up-all-night page-turner. On the whole, it's a solid choice for teens in need of an uplifting read.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of the kind acts described in Channel Kindness. How did receiving kindness and compassion affect those who were being helped? How did being kind and compassionate toward others affect the "givers"?

  • What stories have stuck with you? Why do you think these affected you?

  • What acts of kindness can you commit to in the next day? Month? Year?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of empathy

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