Most People by Michael Leannah, illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris
Most People by Michael Leannah,
illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris
Purchased for my school library with grant funding
Most People is a simple, gentle, necessary reminder that "most people are very good people." In his author's note, Leannah, a longtime elementary school teacher, father and grandfather, makes the important point that children - through overhearing adults talking, hearing the television or radio, (or even through their own explorations on the internet) - can be left "thinking that the world is a place full of dangers and bad feelings." Add to this the now common and necessary lockdown drills that schools regularly have, and it's hard to ignore that kids today are exposed to a lot of information and experiences that understandably generates anxiety and fear. Leannah, with his gently reassuring text, reminds readers of a common truth - most people are good. What makes Most People a truly stand out, invaluable book that should be in every classroom in America, are Morris's diverse illustrations.
As the narrator tells readers that, "Most people love to see other people smile and laugh," and most people want to help when they see someone who is crying or someone in trouble, Morris begins her visual story with a two families (one brown, one white) having breakfast. Each illustration shows people of all colors and abilities being kind, being friendly and being good to each other. Yes, some people do bad things, "yell bad words," and lie, steal, bully, hurt and destroy, "But most people don't do those things." In a wonderfully illustrative spread that will resonate with little listeners, the narrator tells readers that, "if you could line up all the people who want to be good," they would stretch from here to the tallest mountain while the people who want to be bad would "crowd together in a dark and gloomy room."
Even people who do bad things can change because, "there is a seed of goodness inside them waiting to sprout." Compassion and empathy are on every page, and every page is a starting point for rich conversation with kids of all ages. Yes, the words can be didactic at times, but we now live in a world, or at least a country, where we need to keep teaching kids that, despite the words and actions of the leader of our country, most people are good...