Last weekend, like many of you, I was heartbroken to read Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s devastating essay in the New York Times, “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” Amy is dying of ovarian cancer, and this essay is a love letter to her husband and her wish for his future.
I am a longtime fan of Rosenthal’s wildly creative and imaginative picture books, including Duck, Rabbit and Exclamation Mark (!). Amy’s wisdom and humor are on full display in her TED talks and short videos. I love them all, but I think “Book-Filled House” and “Kindness Thought Bubble” are my favorites.
In “Thought Bubble: Kindness,” Amy asks viewers, “What have you filled the world with?” She reminds us that “more positive human interactions is central to a meaningful life.” It’s a reminder worth repeating and sharing.
With these words in my mind, I went searching for my copy of the completely charming Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons (HarperCollins, 2006). These lessons arise out of the steps of making and sharing a batch of cookies. Every negative impulse is balanced by a positive response, and in the end readers are filled up with love and wisdom.
And so it was that this book was sitting on my desk this morning when a first grade student arrived in my room with a very long face. He has struggled and made slow progress since the beginning of the year. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He explained that he’d had a run in with another student during P.E, and had gotten in trouble. I knew my lesson would be wasted if I just went ahead. So I pulled out Cookies and began reading. By the time we got to this page, he was smiling and agreed it would be better to be optimistic than pessimistic.
We finished the book and he was ready to learn. He worked hard and had fun reading the poem and book I had chosen for the day. A serving of kindness was just what he needed.
Thank you, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, for this and all your lovely book, and thank you for filling the world with your love and light.
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, Lisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.