Today was Read Across America Day, and I had signed up to read to the second-grade class across the hall during my planning time. As soon as I dropped my students off at P.E., I hurried back to my classroom to grab my book choice for the read-aloud: One Smile.
I walked into the classroom and found second-grade readers sprawled out all over the classroom, lounging on blankets and looking cozy in their pajamas. It was Dr. Seuss reading time. Some students read independently, chuckling over funny parts of their stories, and other read with partners or small groups. The love of books and excitement for the day emanated from every corner of the classroom.
“Learners, finish up your book and come to the carpet for our next guest reader,” the teacher said. Students began gathering up their blankets, setting their books aside, and settling in at the carpet. I showed them the cover of the book One Smile and explained why I had chosen it for the read-aloud.
“It’s one of my favorite books because it reminds of the importance of kindness, just like we’ve been hearing about in our morning PEP talks all year long,” I said as I introduced the text. The dedication echoed the theme of passing kindness along. At the beginning of the text, a young girl named Katie smiles at a man who looks sad. From there, you can see the characters in the book change as the smile and kindness get shared from one person to another.
The second-graders started counting the number of people the one smile had impacted; I paused part of the way through the book to give them a chance to turn and talk about the big things they were noticing so far. “They’re all starting to smile,” commented one learner. “Yeah, they’re all happier now,” said another.
We continued to read the book, and after we finished the last page, I asked students to stop and think about the big life lesson they had learned. When they turned to share with a neighbor, I listened in to their thinking:
- We need to notice when people are sad.
- Even a smile can change people’s day.
- It’s like a kindness boomerang!
- The kindness was passed along.
- We should care about others.
- If someone is sad, we can cheer them up.
What a beautiful way to spend 15 minutes of my planning time…reflecting with younger learners on the idea of kindness and making a difference in the world, even if it seems small and insignificant.
Because even one smile can brighten someone’s day.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post each day in March. Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating a place for writers to share their work all month long and hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!