This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week. Fitting, I suppose, that this week ends with Valentine’s Day.
So, in an effort to get into the spirit of the week, I sat down to think up a short list of random acts of literary kindness (this is a book blog after all). The list below is what I’ve come up with. They may not all fall under the ‘random’ category, but they are most definitely examples of literary kindness that anyone could perform. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. If you have any additional thoughts, ideas, or suggestions please post them in the comments section. I would love to hear what other people think and do!
1. Read to someone, or with someone: There are many ways you can do this, and so many people who would love and appreciate it. One way is to contact your local elementary or grammar school and make arrangements to be a reading buddy, or to visit a class and read to them. Many schools have programs for volunteers who want to read with kids. They can work in different ways. For example, you can read to them, or listen and help as they read to you. This is great for the kids, especially if they are struggling readers. If kids just aren’t your forte, you can head toward the opposite end of the spectrum and swing by your neighborhood nursing home or assisted living facility. Many residents there love and need visitors, and with failing senses sometimes it is hard for them to read on their own. Read to them, even if it is just the local paper. The staff can direct you towards the people who would most benefit from your visit. The same applies to local hospitals and care centers. There are people everywhere who can benefit from conversation and shared reading. I suppose, if you are the flamboyant type, you can always pick some choice passages, perhaps something from Shakespeare, and set up shop on a street corner. However, this may not be considered a ‘kindness’ by everyone.
2. Donate things worth reading: The first thought many of us have when we talk about donating, is to gather up all those books and magazines that we’ve already read, or have no intention of reading, and lug them down to the local library or school for donation. Another approach would be, if you know of shut-ins and people who like to read but don’t have the means to own many of their own books, swing by with your donations and let them select a few. As a kid my parents did not spend money on books. We went to the library frequently, but I did not own many books of my own. The few I did have were greatly treasured. If you are blessed enough to have an option of spending a little bit of money for your act of kindness, you could donate to local libraries and bookmobiles. Adopt a class at the local elementary or junior high school and purchase a book for each student. For example, get everyone in Mrs. Smiths 1st grade a copy of Love Monster by Rachel Bright, or any other book that suits your fancy. Many elderly aren’t interested in reading on tablets, but can’t read regular print any longer, so donating some large print books to the library or nursing home would be another option.
3. Write: In our technology laden world the hand-written word is hard to come by. Often, even a thoughtfully typed word is hard to come by. Get some cute cards or stationary and write a note of love, appreciation, or just something uplifting for those you encounter during your day. For those you know well, write an amusing or uplifting couplet that is geared towards what is going on in their lives. Write a haiku for your neighbor with the lovely roses, or a limerick for the boy who mows your lawn in the summer and never seems to dress appropriately for the weather. They don’t have to be good, or even properly written. Trust me, just the thought that you took some time to do it will be appreciated, or at least amusing; that can be just a good. Write some nice thoughts and quotes on your cards and hand them out at the coffee shop or while you are shopping at Wal-mart. Most importantly, target people who seem to be having a bad day, or are clearly in a bad mood. They, probably need kindness the most, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
Go forth and be kind.