Since Second Star to the Right Children's Bookstore, Denver, Colo., opened in 2014, co-owners Marc and Dea Lavoie "have worked to create a safe and nurturing place for all of their customers." Thus, in response to the tension currently being felt by many people in the U.S., the bookshop chose to celebrate Kindness Month in February "to remind everyone who entered the Tennyson Street store of the value of being kind to one another."
The initiative kicked off February 3 with a "Spread Smiles" event in conjunction with Tennyson Street's First Friday activities. Bookshop staff decorated a wall in the store's Rumpus Room with kind and encouraging sticky notes for visitors to read, take or even add kind wishes and positive thoughts of their own if they wished. Staff and visitors also wrote kind letters to strangers and took one of their own for a little extra encouragement.
For daily story time in February, the theme of kindness was celebrated at multiple events, including a special random of act of kindness reading, a visit from Denver Police Officer Robbie, a puppy adoption event and Senior-Tot story time with a visitor from senior organization A Little Help. The month also included a Snow White Tea Party, where kids learned about etiquette and manners while dining on tea and cookies with the Disney character.
The bookstore noted that "although Kindness Month is now complete, Second Star plans to continue sharing the value of kindness, love and acceptance daily and show their customers of all ages that they are perfect just the way they are."
"Concerned about the divisive 2016 election season and its impact on children," Diane Capriola, owner of Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga., launched the Year of Kindness project, which "uses monthly themed book clubs and events to help kids and their parents explore ideas of community and compassion through literature," Bookselling This Week reported. Monthly topics have included the refugee experience in January, race in February and women's rights and gender equality in March. Upcoming topics are understanding ourselves and others through poetry in April, and veterans and the military in May.
"Kids were recognizing a lot of bullying behavior going on during the election with some of the things that were cropping up on the news, and, suddenly, parents found themselves having to explain what was going on," said store manager Justin Colussy-Estes. "In part, the idea for this project came from this protective sense of how do we ensure that our children are broadminded, inclusive, and understanding, and how do we help them hold on to those values?"
For the program, the bookstore "came up with a schedule for the year by looking at diverse aspects of the community in Decatur that we wanted to highlight and make sure were part of the conversation," he added. "We reached out to authors with new books coming out who might be on tour, or if they were already coming, we asked if they would like their book to be highlighted as part of the Kindness Project." The bookshop also hosts a Kindness Project story time every month.