The Children's Bookshelf: Counting Kindness

Dec 7, 2020

COUNTING KINDNESS: Ten Ways to Welcome Refugee Children written by Hollis Kurman and illustrated by Barroux is a touching and beautifully designed counting book that also puts forth ten important ways grownups and children can make children from faraway places feel a sense of belonging.


The story starts with the decision that a mother makes to flee their home country as war closes in on them. The illustration pictures her, a babe in arms and two small children as they begin the hard journey with only those things that they can carry.

The power of the book’s elegance is found in the simplicity of its words and pictures. The double page illustrations, rendered in watercolor, support the primary thought. For instance, the words attached to the number one say, “One boat helping us on our way.” The illustration shows lots of deep blue water and one small boat coming to pick them up. The words attached to the number two say, “Two hands lifting us to safety.” The illustration here shows Mama lifting her baby up toward two hands reaching out from the rescue boat.
As this counting book works its way through to the number ten young children will identify with three meals, four beds, five wishes, six books, seven days, eight gifts, nine hearts that are strung up across their new classroom to welcome them and ten friends.

The children with white skin and the children with brown skin are adorable as they are shown doing what all kids do----playing together.

COUNTING KINDNESS: Ten Ways to Welcome Refugee Children written by Hollis Kurman and illustrated by Barroux is perfect for children 3-5 years of age (Charlesbridge, 2020).

Activity Questions for Counting Kindness

Play this I SPY game by finding the following things in the book’s illustrations:  a framed picture of a bear, a box of toys, a toy turtle, a shooting star, the sixth book, four paint brushes, a red scarf, a white teddy bear, a white scarf and a pair of yellow shoes. Happy spying!

The illustration for the number nine is full of possible communications. Study this illustration and think about the following questions: What do you think the teacher will say to the new children? What do you think the two new children are thinking as they walk toward their new classroom and teacher? How do you think the nine hearts strung across the classroom make the new students feel? What do you think the three children peaking over the windowsill will do when the new children join the class? Why?

Take a look at the seagull on the title page of this book. He is shown seven times within this picture book. Can you find him seven times? Have you ever heard a seagull squawk?  Go online (parents can help) to find a recording of a squawking seagull. Try it out. Be the squawking seagull soaring over the water and then landing on a beach. Go ahead. Have fun!