Monday, March 13, 2017

To Amy Krouse Rosenthal- Your Mark On The World & My World

Today our world lost someone important- a beautiful author, filmmaker, do-gooder, joy spreader...

To me, her impact was oh so great- both in my teaching and in the growing and cultivating of life-long readers in my sons.  They- my students and my boys- LOVE her books. 
See her books here . Check them out!

You may have read the dating profile she wrote about  her husband that was posted in the New York Times ten days ago.  If not, read it here.

I read it myself ten days ago and was immediately filled with great sadness and regret.  Here I was, being a huge fan of hers, and I no idea she was even sick- certainly no idea she was dying.  I had also always wanted to thank her for the amazing impact her work has made on me and especially our son, Judah.  I meant to write her a letter or try to send her an email, but I never did.  Tears rolled down my face for most of that morning- out of grief, out of sadness, connecting the love she clearly has for her husband to the love I have for Josh.  

I cried for how much cancer sucks, for how beautifully Amy always lived out her passions and dreams and I cried tears wondering if I was doing the same.  Are my priorities in line?  Do I give enough of my energy, time, and love to causes and people that matter most?  Am I doing enough?  Am I spreading enough joy, hope, love, kindness, compassion?  

I also decided that I need to reach out to her in case there was still time!  I composed a letter and sent it out that very day.  I wanted to share it...

To one of my family’s favorite authors:
I wanted to hand-write this as a hand-written letter is so underrated, but I just have too much to say…

My name is Kristin Hundt and I live and teach in Michigan.  I am a sixth grade educator and my teaching partner Katie (you actually got to meet her and her two sons as you were signing books in Chicago a year ago), have been reading picture books to our students almost every day.  We stumbled upon the Global Read Aloud in 2015 and joined being SO excited for to do the author study, which was you J Studying picture books had already been a part of what we do so it fit perfectly. 

We fell in love with your books right away!  Having our students write about things that aren’t fair or having a deeply globally connected discussion about perspective after reading Duck! Rabbit! added so much value to our classroom.  Our eleven and twelve-year-olds LOVED your books.  Although this experience was important and worth mentioning, that’s actually not why I’m writing to you.

Because we shared your work in our classroom, I also shared your picture books at home with my three little boys.  I have twins, Nolan and Judah, that are now 3.5 years old and another little guy, Carter, who’s 1.5 years old.  They- with their wild imagination, wonderment of the world, and love for reading, also fell in love with your books.  We have basically read your entire library!  Yes Day is a favorite as well as Plant a Kiss, Little Pea, Spoon, and Exclamation Mark

One of my twins, Judah, struggles with his speech.  When we were doing the Global Read Aloud in the fall of 2015 (my twins were a little over two years old at the time), it was one of the most difficult parts his journey- we were talking to his pediatrician about concerns and at home, he was reluctant to try new words.  He was getting angry and frustrated not being able to communicate the way he wanted to. 

One night, we were reading Exclamation Mark.  It was affectionately known in my house as the “yellow book” because Judah loves the color yellow so much.  As I was reading, we came to the page where the exclamation mark is trying out all these new words like “Wow!” or “Boo!” or “Congratulations!”  As usual, I paused hoping the twins would try out those words.  To my surprise and delight, Judah began attempting each and every word.  My eyes filled with tears.  After putting the twins to bed, I walked down the stairs where my husband was doing dishes and the tears continued as I shared with him what had happened. 

I’ve always known that books are amazing and powerful; I’ve loved them all my life.  That day, though, through your words, books took on an entirely different meaning for me as a mother.  I will never, ever forget the moment when my son stepped out of his comfort zone and took some courageous risks with words because he loved a book… your book.  Exclamation Mark will always be so special to me.

Thank you for the work that you do.  Your words have made a mark on this world and a mark on our family and I needed you to know that.

Sending you prayers, hugs, and peace,

The Hundt Family- Josh, Kristin, Nolan, Judah, and Carter

Maybe she was able to get this letter in time and read these words herself.... maybe her husband will see it to know how her spirit will live on and what a great impact her work has had on our world.  

I am so reminded of how precious life is, how precious time is, how important books and written words are, and how important it is to find what you love and do what you love.

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