Today I woke up with a happy heart because of a Family Literacy Night I got to participate in last night. Here’s how our evening began, with a student-drawn sign reserving a parking spot outside of the Family Center, where we’d enjoy dinner with the volunteers before the inaugural event started. It totally made the Friday afternoon traffic jam we had endured to get across town worth it; SO thoughtful.
After a yummy dinner, I set up my author table, then headed into the Sanctuary, where I got a a few minutes with the students and their families for a pep talk, Listen Up: Character Speaks!. It focused on using our five senses to listen to, connect with, show empathy for, and love people. ALL people. I found a brave first-grade friend to join me in front and offered her a gift bag, asking her before opening it to describe how it looks, what it sounds like, how the flowers on the bag might smell, how the package feels. Then I asked if she wanted to open it or leave it wrapped, and how she’d feel if it were empty. After she answered my questions to pique the curiosity of the crowd, she opened the bag to find a key, which she told us would be useful for opening doors.
I reminded her that we all hold the key to kindness, and that her empathy and compassion will always unlock doors. She helped me teach the Empathy Switch before she sat back down with her dad.
We then talked about how every day is a gift and that each day we can choose to open it or leave it wrapped up. And how every choice we makes gives us another opportunity to grow physically, emotionally and spiritually so that we’re our healthiest selves to serve others, head, heart, and hands.
After a first-grade class recited three adorable poems for Poetry Month, two more authors spoke and my friend Margaret, who organized the entire event, shared with participants how they can get a library card to keep sharpening their reading skills even over the summertime months, it was time to return to and reconnect in the Commons.
We were accompanied there by our 8th-grade Ambassadors for snacks and an expo-type setting with tables that the families could swing by, learn more, and maybe even get a memento, like these antique keys. I loved sitting next to Ianna and learning all about about her as I answered participants’ questions about being an author and encouraged the kids to keep on writing.
My favorite moment was probably with Ella, whose smile was like sunshine for my soul. I asked her how it was that we connected in that big crowd and she said it was because she loved and agreed with what I was saying about kindness and keys and that even though she didn’t totally understand everything I was saying, she thought that it was really special and nice. She came by my table three times, each time with a smile bigger than before, the last time for a huge hug.
I even got to sign a Spanish version of our book for a student from Mexico, the cherry to top off this sweet event. If a Family Night like this is in your plans for the next school year, please keep me in mind; I’d love to be a part of it.