Inkspokes Kindness Stories: Indies Heart Kindness
Inkspokes Kindness Stories: In the children’s literature world we often think of ourselves as boosters for imagination. But we don’t always stop and ask ourselves why imagination is important. One reason imagination is meaningful to me as a children’s author and publisher is that I think it teaches us to be kind. Imagination is in part about seeing the world from odd angles, from the eyes of another, being able to step outside of ourselves and walk in another person’s (or creature’s) shoes. And that process of being able to see ourselves in someone else I believe helps foster kindness.
And kindness, as they say, matters. I’d rather my children live in a world that is kind than not. All around me, I have noticed that children’s authors and other creatives working in the world of independent children’s publishing are seemingly more and more engaged in kindness projects. Perhaps it is part of their passion or part of their faith. We thought we would showcase, and yes celebrate, some of these works of the heart and bring you some of these inspiring kindness stories.
In this feature, we talk to children’s author Rhonda Paglia, affectionately known by her fans as Grammy Pags. Rhonda is a retired elementary school teacher who lives in Hermitage, Pennsylvania. She is the author of numerous children’s books, some of which began as stories she told to her grandchildren.
Among Rhonda’s children’s books are the series Meeda and Me and Three Little Gnomes and a Boy Named Orion (the latter book has received the Inkspokes Select Book Award). She is also the illustrator for many of her books and often visits schools to tell young students her stories and engage them with her imaginative characters.
Among the special projects that Rhonda has worked on is a book titled The Little Lambs and the Very Special Mission that she put together after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. She donates all profits from that book to the Angels in Charge Scholarship Award that goes to students in Newtown, Connecticut who are planning a career in education.
This year, Rhonda is organizing and sponsoring a special kids’ kindness project. She is inviting children from ages 4 to 17 to submit original drawings, photos, poems or short stories or a combination of these on the theme of kindness. They are to complete the thought: “I show kindness when I …” She will select a number of these for a Kindness Kids Book.
We were able to catch up with Rhonda in the midst of her busy schedule and chat with her about this kindness project. As ever, she was generous with her time and wisdom.
NS: Rhonda, can you tell us a little about your Kindness Kids project?
RP: I’m asking kids from all over the U.S. and the world to share their ideas about kindness through their original artwork and words. I will compile the best submissions (examples, ideas, art) and then put them together as “The Kindness Kids Project” book.
The project is for kids only – ages 4 – 17 – and they must complete this thought: “I show kindness when I . . .”
My plan is that every child will receive a “Kindness Kid” certificate. If there are classrooms that participate, the class will receive a “Kindness Class” certificate, and if a school participates, they will also receive a certificate. Once the project book is completed and available, I’m planning to donate a portion of the profits to a children’s charity.
NS: What inspired you to start this?
RP: The project idea came to me after a school visit. The teachers, the students, the administration, just everyone at the school, were so kind to me. They made me feel very special – like a rock star! Ha ha! I did an activity with the kids where they had to share their thoughts, through writing and art, about one of my grumpy characters – the Woozler.
The Woozler is a big old grouchy-grouch. He doesn’t like people and he doesn’t have good manners. The kids seemed to love the Woozler. They had great suggestions on how to train the Woozler, how to help teach him some manners, and help him understand a little about friendship and kindness.
I just thought a Kindness Project for kids would be a great idea. I love the way kids think, they can be very wise. And there is nothing like art by kids. It’s the best! So I will be choosing the best ideas and samples of art from kids ages 4 – 17 for the “Kindness Kids Book”.
By the way, I was so delighted with the kids’ work at that school, I put together a book for them and donated copies to their library.
NS: What does kindness mean to you? Why is this important?
RP: There can never be too much kindness! I must admit, that I do slip up, and I do get grouchy once in a while, however, it’s pretty rare. It’s not my style. I believe that if everyone treated each other with kindness – and respect – the whole world would be a better place. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we were all nice and respectful to each other? Wow!
I’ve always felt that every person has been born with at least one special gift or talent. Some people are super smart – they can give the gift of their intelligence to the world through science, technology, medicine, and ideas. Others have a gift of art – and share their talents through painting or music or dance. Some have the gift of patience. Maybe they are the ones who work with the elderly or the sick. And others, maybe their gift is to work with the earth to produce crops that help feed the hungry. So many gifts, so many ways to use them.
What makes me sad is when people use their “gifts” and their intellect to harm others through bullying, or creating weapons, or by using hurtful words. So my hope is, that kids and adults, will not only learn some wisdom from the Kindness Kids, but maybe some of this wonderful kindness will help tip the balance, and our world will become more kind and loving place for everyone.
NS: Thank you, Rhonda, for taking the time to chat and for your sweet thoughts and good luck with the kindness project.
More information on (and entry guidelines for) Grammy Pags’ Kindness Kids Book Project may be found on Rhonda Paglia’s author page. Deadline is June 30, 2017, so there’s still time to get involved!