Every year I spend some time thinking about what I want my life to look like in the New Year. I know that my life is better when I spend time on the things that are meaningful to me. That’s why I make it a goal to write five days a week, why I try to read a bit each day, and why I carve out time to volunteer for causes I believe in.
The little things add up. This year I wrote more than ever before. I’m on target to read 500 books for the 3rd year in a row. And I’m proud of how much the charities I support were able to achieve.
Those little habits can be just as powerful for making positive changes in the world.
My local food cooperative, Common Ground, allows you to round up your purchase to the nearest dollar and donate the change to a monthly charity. The pennies add up. Even in our small community, we routinely raise thousands of dollars each month for community charities.
Money is easy to measure. It’s harder to quantify the small acts of kindness. A friendly smile to someone who is lonely, a willing ear for someone who is hurt, a hug for a child who is struggling – we can’t know the exact impact of these things. But these things are no less important.
Small acts of kindness, done thoughtfully and consistently, can have big impacts.
So I have been thinking: how can I harness this power of the small habits to create the kind of world I want to live in? I’ve been thinking about this in all aspects of my life. Here, I will talk about how this relates to writing.
I love to read. That’s not news, nor is it news that I am passionate about children’s literature.
Books also have powerful effects on growing minds. Children can become more compassionate just by reading books. They slip into a character’s skin and get a view of the world from a different point of view. All while exercising their minds and having a good time.
In the last few years, I have taken time to recommend many books that I truly believe in. In true fangirl fashion, when I find something I love I just can’t help but gush about it. But it’s also one small way that I can help adults and kids connect with some of the amazing stories out there.
It’s also been a way for me to highlight overlooked books. These are excellent books but, for whatever reason, they haven’t gotten as much attention as they deserve.
In 2018, I want to take it a step further.
A good review is like a love letter to the author and illustrator. We rarely get direct feedback on our writing. We don’t speak to the people buying our books or see how they affect the lives of our readers, so we don’t get to see their impact. Unprompted, honest support of our work can mean the world to an author.
Reviews also have tangible positive effects for authors and illustrators. Leaving reviews on Amazon and Goodreads is one of the best ways to support authors. Books with more honest, positive feedback will show up higher in search results. They are more likely to be suggested as additional purchases or “books you may like.” That translates into more sales.
I’m already reading lots of books. I’m already evangelizing about great kidlit. But I’m not taking the small next step of posting the reviews. I’m not reviewing in a way that will best help readers reach those books. And I’m not sending my love and appreciation to the authors and illustrators who worked so hard to create those books.
I’m going to fix that.
The Kidlit Karma challenge: Every month in 2018, I will leave an honest, positive review on Amazon and Goodreads for a book I love.
The nitty gritty:
- Once each calendar month I will review a book on Amazon and Goodreads.
- I will only review books that I can honestly rate with 4 or 5 stars.
- I will leave at least one paragraph explaining why I love this book.
- To increase visibility, I will also crosspost my kidlit love letter on my blog and social media accounts.
- I will use the hashtag #kidlitkarma to make postings searchable and to create buzz.
- To have the biggest impact, I will reserve my reviews for books that have smaller numbers of reviews.
One book a month. One paragraph a month. It’s a small gift of my time that can have a big impact on others.
Here’s the thing: small acts build up more quickly when you join forces. Are you a writer, a reader, a librarian, an educator, or a lover of kidlit? You can spread the love, too.
Take the pledge!
Grab this graphic and proudly post it on your blog, webpage, or social media accounts. Let others know you’re going to make your world a little better, one kid book at a time. Post in the comments with your URL, twitter handle, etc. so we can see what great books you’re reviewing each month.