In Kiki’s Hats by Warren Hanson, bright, colorful knitted caps make visible all the good that small acts of kindness can bring, and in addition the author shows us an older character to inspire all ages. Yes, Kiki loves to sit and knit, but despite her hobby, her cozy figure, her gray hair and glasses, she is not merely a stereotype.
She knits only hats—hats that draw children in faster than fresh baked cookies and they are given away freely, but with the stipulation they must each take two.
“Keep one. And give the other one. Then come and tell me what you’ve done.”
Kiki actively mentors the children in this picture book (for ages 4 and up from Tristan Publishing) teaching the simple joy of giving. The kids glow with pleasure as each returns with excited tales of their experiences giving away their hats—to chilly little puppies, and to individuals and families in many sad circumstances.
Kiki’s pile of hats grows exponentially along with the children’s enthusiasm for giving. Soon the giving spirit spreads to moms and dads, to others in their community both young and old, and before long Kiki’s hats are circling the globe. News reporters come looking for stories and find Kiki laughing atop a mountain of hats.
“Hats raised money for the poor…
And more, and more and more and more…
Wherever people needed care, Kiki’s hats were given there.”
Warren Hanson both wrote and illustrated this powerful picture book—perfect for instilling a spirit of generosity as we approach the holiday “season of commercialization.” This gifted author/illustrator also gave us PEEF the Christmas Bear, The Next Place—a bestselling bereavement book for children, and Older Love, celebrating a long marriage. He illustrated the long time classic, A Cup of Christmas Tea, that was written by Tom Hegg. All from Tristan Publishing.
Next Steps in Challenging Ageism
The themes of mentoring and leaving a legacy shine brightly in Kiki’s Hats. Mentoring is defined as “…the art of intergenerational bestowal by which elders pass on to younger people the living flame of their wisdom” in From Age-ing to Sage-ing: a Profound New Vision of Growing Older. According to author Zalman Schacter-Shalomi,
“…if you don’t ‘save’ your life experience through mentoring and through leaving legacies, the wisdom you have synthesized through decades of difficult learning will disappear….”
The author elaborates—a mentor appreciates those younger than they, and teaches them with respect, just as Kiki does when she sends her young friends off with a new enthusiasm for giving.
Tell kids there is truly a REAL Kiki and point out that the world is filled with older adults helping others and sharing what they’ve learned. Many volunteer hundreds of hours, perhaps rebuilding homes after an earthquake or teaching young children to read.
On occasion older adults may need us, but connected by caring, we are all interdependent—sometimes we’re the ones who need a little help and sometimes we’re the helpers.
In Kiki’s Hats we see Kiki lifted up to heaven by her mountainous pile of knitted caps. We can quietly amplify the power of this book if we also show children that Kiki is teaching what she has learned over a long lifetime and leaving her legacy of kindness.
See “Older Adults as Elder Activists” for more examples of elders making a difference.
See www.kikishats.com to meet the REAL Kiki. “She knits hats, but she gives joy.”
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book. I was not required to write a review and I received no payment for this post. Photos courtesy of the publisher.