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Inspired by a medieval legend about the Jewish poet Samuel Ha-Nagid, “never say a Mean Word Again” by Jacqueline Jules, and Durga Yael Bernhard, is a wonderfully crafted story about two little boys, one Jewish and one Muslim, who try to settle their differences.
This light-hearted look at a very serious problem of name calling. After a series of accidental events, Hamza (the muslim boy), calls Saumuel, (the jewish boy) some very unkind names.
Samuel’s father, the grand vizier, noticed this and mentioned that Hama said some very unkind things. Samuel wanted his father to punish Hamza but the wise Vizier said, “No, I’ll let you punish him yourself. Make sure he never says a mean word to you again.”
As Samuel laid in his bed he thought of several very unkind things he could do to Hamza to punish him for his unkind words.
Settling on one punishment in particular, Samuel arrives at Hamza’s door with a lemon. Mahza thinking Samuel had come to help clean his shirt clearly stated that the lemon wouldn’t help so they ended up playing catch with it instead.
The next day Samuel arrived at Hamza’s house with a pen and paper. He would make him write a formal apology then he would have something to show his father the Vizier. But then they just ended up coloring instead.
Day after day this continued. Each time Samuel thought up a “new punishment”, the ended up playing together. This created a great dilemma for Samuel. What was he going to do to show his father that he had punished Hamza and that he would never say a mean word to him again ?
The entire story as well as the ending of this book is completely charming and engaging on many levels. The art is beautiful and deepens the story with it’s beautiful colors. The print is big and easy to follow and the whole feel of the book is welcoming. The best thing of this book is it’s message. Though the intention to do something unkind to Hamza to return his unkindness was clearly there, Hamza never say any unkindness coming towards him. He only say a new friend instead. It is a beautiful story of conflict resolution perfectly told. This book is out on the coffee table where it is picked up often by family and visitors alike. I’m so glad this book exist. It is an invaluable tool to teaching children how to deal with conflict in kind ways.
Something to Do:
The problem starts when Hamza views Samuel’s clumsy actions as mean intended. So to return Samuel’s unkindness, Hamza calls him mean names. Samuel then feels its his turn to show unkindness but it always unfolds into kindness. How can we do this in our own lives? How can we turn unkindness into kindness.
Let’s start with the way we speak. Here’s a few nice things to say to people whenever you should encounter them.
- Hi my name is______ what’s yours?
- Can I help you?
- What’s your favorite color?
- Say thank-you
- I’m sorry.
- I forgive you
- I’m glad you’re my friend.
- You’re awesome
- I like you
- That’s Incredible !!
- Want to play?
- Want to play: Charades, hop scotch,board game, cards, Hide & Seek, Simon Says, 20 questions, I spy, Catch?
Along with kind words, we can also choose not to view someone’s unkindness as unkindness but an invitation to play. If someone should say something unkind, compliment them on something and then include them in an activity.
Please note that I’m referring to simple childhood disagreements and not full on bullying which is a much bigger problem and is dealt with differently. It’s my hope that simple kind actions when children are small will provide them with the tools they need to deal with conflicts in a kind way as they grow as opposed to aggression.
Along the same lines of this whole post is a free gift I would like to offer my readers! “Conditions of the Heart” is a FREE kids activity book filled with fun activities & crafts that teaches values and conduct. Grab your copy HERE:
Need gift ideas for Christmas? Give the gift of education and guidance with Donna Ashton’s The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook Now available through Audrey Press Books!