Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day!

No matter how you came to this blog post today, by chance,
by intention,
or simply by Good Luck,
may I be the first to wish you Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day!
Yes, you read that right: February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day.

Not to worry if you didn’t know this fact.
I know I didn’t, until I turned to today’s date in my copy of Eileen and Jerry Spinelli’s newest book, today I will (Knopf, 2009).
I’d been savoring the moment (translate: assigned blog posting date and subject matter) to kindly share this newly-published small but useful and inspiring book with TeachingAuthors readers and writers.
Today’s post became that random moment.
How perfect is that!

I ardently believe in Paying Kindness Forward.
I practice it daily.
I believe in Good Karma.
So consider this introduction to the Spinellis’ book my February 17 Act of Kindness.

FYI: February 15 through 20 has been designated Random Acts of Kindness Week!
Googling left me thinking the Acts of Kindness Foundation was behind the designation.
No matter the Who, though, or even the How. I’m smiling and paying kindness forward to you.

I’d purchased the Spinellis’ book fully intending to use it as a journal-writing tool with my Young Writers.
The review blurb highlighted the book’s simplicity. In a single page entry for each day of the year, the Spinellis
(1) share a quote from a children’s book, referencing the title and author;
(2) reflect meaningfully on the quote;
(3) make a “today I will….” promise that relates to that reflection.
The February 17th quote?
“Kindness comes with no price” from Tongues of Jade by Laurence Yep.
The Spinellis’ reflection?
Talk is cheap but kindness is free. Why isn’t there more of it?!
Their promise?
"I’ll make sure February 17th lives up to its name. And it won’t cost me a penny!”

I love that the Spinellis used children’s books as their source of thought-provoking, heart-grabbing journal prompts.
The middle-page responses make perfect practice for students boning up for the reflective reading passages in any and all state achievement tests.
The “today I will…” promise makes the reader sit up straight, indeed stand up tall, to claim his reflection and translate it into action.
The quotes offer a wide sample of titles, from Alice Dalgliesh’s The Courage of Sarah Noble and Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting to Sarah Dessen’s Keep the Moon and Carolyn Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things.
The Big and Small topics range from Fear and Failure and Thinking about Others to Hope and Choices and Asking for Help.

The book’s turquoise back cover says it all:
“…look inside. Turn to today. And make a promise to yourself.”
Being kind to yourself is now downright doable, daily if not randomly, thanks to this small book.
And passing word of this Important Truth on to you, our readers?
I’m simply paying it forward…hoping you will do the same.

Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day!
Esther Hershenhorn

Writing Workout

Copying is the supreme compliment, yes?
So, why not create your own book of quotes, notes and promises to yourself!
Any book or writing vessel will do: a commercially-sold composition book or a purchased blank journal or diary, books with folded and gathered, pull-out or accordion-style pages. Leaf books. Shape books. Scroll books.
  • At the top of each page, copy a favorite quote from a children’s book. Include the title, author, perhaps the character who spoke the words.
  • In the middle of the page, respond thoughtfully to the quote. Why did it touch you? How did it speak to you? What do the words mean to who you are now? Do they inspire, encourage, comfort, acknowledge, advise, recommend, illuminate, give hope. You choose the verb and the accompanying emotion and memory.
  • At the bottom of the page, make a real-and-doable promise based on your reflection. Now I will….
  • Decorate front and back covers and/or personalize each page with an image or symbol.
  • Gift yourself. Or gift another.
          Either way, it’s an act of kindness.


mary ann rodman said...

Esther--I hadn't heard of the Spinelli's book, so I plan
to check into it immediately.
I know from experience that random acts of kindness (either given or received) turn your day on it's ear, and lead you to unexpected places in your mind. I have to take my daughter to DMV this afternoon for her learner's permit. What a perfect place to practice random kindness!

Michelle Sussman said...

What a fantastic post! I told my daughter before she went to school about this special day and encouraged her to practice random acts of kindness at school. I hope she remembers. :)

As for favorite quotes - my favorite comes from my dad. I grew up on a farm, where there was little racial diversity and a lot of prejudice. He always told me, "It's not the color of someone's skin that matters. It's the color of their heart."

I've lived these wise words every day of my life. Even though he's not an author, he's a farmer and tax accountant, I hold that as one of my favorite quotes of all time. :)

Carmela Martino said...

Good luck at the DMV today, Mary Ann.
Great quote, Michelle.
Esther, I didn't know about Random Acts of Kindness Day until I read your post. I was actually the recipient of a random act of kindness yesterday, by way of my husband. He stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up a few things and they were giving away bouquets of red roses, as in FREE! I smile each time I look at the dozen roses sitting on my kitchen table.
My way of "paying it forward" today: I've shared your post on Facebook. :-)

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Oh, I'm so glad this post is connecting with readers!
Thanks for sharing.
My standard response, when someone thanks me for shared time, advice, guidance, direction, or even a Kind Word: simply do as I'm doing and pay it forward!
Michelle's father's insightful words bring to mind a Richard Peck/Grandma Dowdel quote the Spinellis included: "She had eyes in the back of her heart!"

Anonymous said...

wow! I loved this post. Thanks! I'm going to have my kids make a journal like this. Very cool.

Zoe @ Playing by the book said...

This books sounds really great, and I love your idea for us to make our own versions of the book. My grandma was the person who taught me about the notion of paying it forward - never in words, but simply through her actions. It was only when I started blogging that I came across the term "pay it forward", and it's certainly something I try to do whenever I can.