As I sit in my kitchen, looking out the window at yet another snow covered morning, I am reminded that even on the coldest, dreariest of days I have a choice in my mindset. Even Eeyore, the beloved, pessimistic sidekick of Winnie-the-Pooh, could reach down deep and find something good in the muck and mire.
It’s all about perspective.
I love the impact of words. Words people say; words people write. With just a few letters pushed together, one has the ability to change perspectives. Inspire. Empower. Simply amazing.
The past two months I’ve been reading a multitude of books, articles, and research journals focused on how young children learn. As I put the finishing touches on my keynote presentation for tomorrow’s early childhood conference, I’m reminded of the wonderful authors who have invited me into their world of words. From the silly stanzas of Shel Silverstein to the social struggles of Judy Blume, my childhood was filled with words. I can still remember the moment as a teenager when I finished reading my first “adult book”, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. It was the longest book I had ever read (368 pages) and there was a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as I turned that final page to close the book.
I have been blessed over the years to receive books from friends as gifts and to have the luxury of purchasing my own. Even in this digital age where it’s easier (and cheaper!) to download an e-book to read on your device, there is something powerful about holding a paper-bound book in your hands.
To have a book signed by the actual author, with a personal message inscribed inside, creates a connection that continues long after the book is done. One of the first autographed books I received was written by the assistant superintendent of my district who invited me to detail one of my teaching units to be included in her manuscript. Talk about a thrill indeed!
This past year, I was delighted to receive two autographed books, generously donated to me by kindred spirits who believe in the power of doing good in this world. Oh, the delight in receiving an unexpected package in the mail, with something new to read!
I wanted to pay-it-forward, to share this joy of words with others, so I decided to do a little “Book Buddy” RAK of my own. My friend, Jen, had donated several children’s books to me a while back and they had been sitting in my closet just waiting for a new home. I packaged the books in a blue, plastic tote, put them in my car, and started to drive.
My drive was short; only about 15 minutes away, but in a location I rarely visit. From a quick view driving by you might miss it, a tiny daycare center sandwiched in a small retail space beside a tattoo parlor.
The lights were dim and the door locked; I almost turned away thinking the child care center was closed. As I peered through the dark windows, I saw the faint outline of someone walking towards the door. I could hear a key jostling the metal lock as the heavy door creaked open.
“Can I help you?”
I was greeted with a warm, but guarded smile, as a woman’s face appeared out of the shadows. I introduced myself and handed her the bucket of books. “I know the power of books, and I wanted to bless the children in your center with some free books to read. You can pass them along to your teachers to use in their classes or let the kids take them home! Whatever you like!”
Her smile widened as she turned to the side, allowing me a small glimpse of the many children playing with blocks and cars on the floor. “What a sure nice thing for you to do!” she replied as she accepted the books into her arms. She turned her head to several young women in the background, and explained why I was there. “She’s gonna give us some books for the kids! That’s just nice!”
I told her a little about Renee, the first grade teacher at my school who passed away, and sprinkled a little bit of her sparkle along the way. Our exchange lasted less than two minutes; I smiled all the way back to my car. As I drove home, I kept thinking about those children, who might be receiving a book of their own for the very first time. WOW. Talk about the power of a gift!
The next time you are cleaning out your children’s bookshelves, or happen to see some books at a yard sale, you might consider paying-it-forward to bless someone else. A “new to me” book can be just as treasured as one with an autograph inside! Embrace the power of words and make someone smile today. 🙂