Every year, I read this little book to my class on the first day of school. It is such a beautiful book that I think every teacher, and perhaps every adult, should read it to the children they know.
It tells the story of Chibi, a boy from the countryside of Japan who walks to school every day no matter what the weather may be. He is small, and so intimidated by the boys who tease him that he withdraws into himself. Soon, he becomes so preoccupied with his desk, or the scene outside the classroom windows, that he is unable to learn anything at all. And everyone accepts that he is ignorant.
But, one day, he has a new teacher. A teacher who smiles at him. Who listens to him. Who reaches down into Chibi and pulls out all the beautiful and wonderful parts that make up this boy who has hidden himself from his classmates.
We learn that Chibi is able to make every sound a crow can make: the voices of newly hatched crows, the mother crow’s voice, the father crow’s voice, the crows’ cry from early in the morning, or their cry when the village people have some unhappy accident. How has he learned these caws? By walking to school every day for six years, not missing even one day.
We are awed by his stamina, by his gifts, and by our own insensitivity to those around us whom we haven’t cared enough to fully know.
It is a powerful lesson for everyone.