5 Lessons We've Learned One-Book-at-a-Time

5 reasons to practice kindness with one amazing, book-loving project.

Two years ago, my family discovered the perfect service project for a busy schedule. One that lives in a regular place on our calendar. One that won’t be shoved aside when school activities and the piano recital demand more than their fair share of time. 

Family-to-Family’s  One Book at a Time Program enables us to truly help others, plus it creates meaningful opportunities for my own family to learn and grow.

Each month we send a book and a letter to a little girl across the country. And each month, she sends a letter back.

She’s become our book friend and our pen pal. She’s the person my daughters think of when they discover a great new series of books.

In fact, the only down side is this: there are more great books than months to send them. (shhhh, sometimes we send two when we just can’t choose!)

Feed Hungry Minds with a project that is one part pen pal and one part monthly family volunteer opportunity!

Because One Book at a Time is this month's project of the month, I’ve had some time to reflect on what my family has learned by participating in this project. I’ve boiled it down to 5 distinct lessons:

1.      Book enthusiasts love to share, at every age. If you love to read, you’re bound to love passing on a good book, making this the perfect kindness commitment for book lovers.

We joined this program when my oldest was seven and just beginning to read voraciously. She takes her role as book scout very seriously!

2.      This project inspires beginning readers: My younger daughter has been asking for her own book friend, someone her age. I told her as soon as she was able to read and pick out chapter books, we’d talk about it. Guess what she told me when she finished her first chapter book? “I need a book friend to send this to!”

3.      Kids learn a great deal from a regular opportunity to discuss need and disparity. Once a month, we take time to consider the reality that books are a precious luxury we are fortunate to be able to share. Each month, my girls ask different questions as we prepare to send goodies to our book friend. Concerns they had many months ago often resurface with a new twist or a personal observation from our own community. Sometimes these conversations are difficult, but they’re always worthwhile.

And I’m always thankful for the reflection tips available at Doing Good Together™.

4.      Making a monthly commitment makes it easier to be a giving family. It’s already on the calendar! That’s no small success. Check out Family-to-Family’s other amazing, monthly opportunity: Sponsor a Family.

5.      Generosity begets generosity. Each month, my girls like to slide a few extras into our book package, stickers or Olaf tattoos or an eraser they won at school. And they take that generosity out into the world with them.

This week I noticed my first-grader stuffing her backpack with small paperback books, most of which she’s read so many times they’re barely hanging together. When I asked her where the books were headed, she told me she had some friends who needed a good book. 

Our monthly One Book at a Time commitment has become a wonderful, recurring moment for my family. If you're looking for a regular kindness project for 2015, I highly recommend it!