Last week I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing NelliRose Farella, the author of Nella’s Kindness Kicks. NelliRose and I met through Instagram with the help of Kaitlin at KindCotton. NelliRose is on a mission to spread kindness and teach kindness to young children through her book.
The question I seem to have for other authors is, “Where did your book inspiration come from? Before I share NelliRose’s inspiration, let me tell her you about her book.
Nella’s Kindness Kicks takes place in a school with a beautiful and diverse group of characters. Nella finds that when she is unkind, she is stuck in place. To become unstuck, she takes a minute to pause, think about her actions and then makes a kind choice. As the story progresses, Nella finds herself remaining stuck at one point, even after she tries to right a wrong. She learns that it is important to do more than just say sorry. This concept of stopping in your tracks, pausing to think about your words and actions and then learning to repair is a beautiful concept. NelliRose said an alternative title for this book could have simply been PAUSE. The illustrations are clear and allow for further discussion as you can ask children how characters feel in the story by looking at their facial expressions and body language.
NelliRose has a background in education as she taught math, spanish, enrichment and then later instructional coaching. The last school she worked in provided her with the inspiration for Nella’s Kindness Kicks. The school focused on restorative justice. The concept behind restorative justice is to take the time to identify a problem, allowing students to be heard and then finding a way to repair it. Instead of jumping to a conclusion, you allow for a discussion and then a plan on how to repair the situation to avoid repeat situations in the future. NelliRose said that when you create a judgment free space, allow students to be heard and are patient, students feel empowered and that’s when you see real change. She said that the school focused on four main questions whenever a behavior issue come up:
1. What happened?
2. Who was affected?
3. What needs to be done to repair the situation?
4. What can you do in the future to help situations like this?
NelliRose explained that the school saw a positive change and difference in the school environment. She explained that teachers have an ability to simply look at a student and know what they are feeling. When you stand at your classroom door to welcome your students each day, you have that superpower to see how their morning started without saying/hearing a word. Taking time to check in with your students and build a positive connection is a gift teachers have. Each character in her book was inspired by real students or a combination of students. The principal, Ms. Jay, was inspired by the principal she worked with. She explained that everyone knew and loved Ms. Jay and that she was well respected. She said Ms. Jay was known for her ability to connect with her students. Even the details down to why the kindness kicks are green in the story was taken into consideration. Green represents balance, harmony, restoration, growth and renewal.
NelliRose has plans for a second book and I will certainly keep my audience up to date on that next book. For now, I highly encourage you to show your support to NelliRose by following her on Instagram or purchasing her book for your home library, classroom library or special gift idea. Thank you NelliRose for allowing me to interview you and learn about your inspiration. You are making a beautiful difference.
Follow NelliRose on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/hearmywhy.childrens.stories/
Purchase her book here: https://hearmywhy.com/products/nellas-kindness-kicks-1