Soul Love had a conversation with the funny, kind and passionate author Tory Dube. Tory has passionately worked with children through the arts, volunteer programs and enrichment centers for over a decade. She created her first children’s book, ‘A Trixi, a Shmoop and a Monster,’ after recognizing the children she worked with became fanatical over certain characters and concepts in other children’s books.
Wanting to create something that was equally enjoyable for kids, while including an embraceable and effective message for its readers to latch on to, she composed a touching, ridiculous, silly tale that achieves it all. Written for ages 3-8, a time when young children are starting to define how they interact with their peers and the world, the book aims to instill the invaluable and forever applicable lesson that there is an undeniable and contagious power behind every act of kindness. Out of the absolute faith in this contagiousness the ‘Lovely Thank You Project’ was born. The Lovely Thank You Project is a kindness movement that encourages children to complete just one act of kindness and report back to us as to how it felt!
“I don’t think there are any bad people in the world and I definitely don’t think there are any bad children in the world.”
Soul Love: You are so passionate about the importance of sharing kindness. When did that begin for you?
Tory Dube: I have the most loving, generous and amazing parents. From a young age I was taught that although sometimes you think that you feel better by being mean to other people, it’s never going to bring you happiness. My dad in particular is so generous, I have never seen him being mean to anybody. Once I figured that out, I adopted the most fulfilling ways to act.
When you’re a child you just adopt these naturally, this makes you feel good so you’re going to keep doing this. So really, it started with my parents. And I grew up in New Hampshire, which is a very friendly place…[big smile].
I don’t think there are any bad people in the world and I definitely don’t think there are any bad children in the world. There’s just a lack of self-confidence or self-value, some insecurity that is making somebody act out in a negative way. So, if we can teach children at a young age “this is how to feel better about yourself, this is how to build self-confidence” and I really believe that the best way to do that is through teaching kindness and love, and then I think you obliterate all of those social issues when they grow up.
SL: You have created this beautifully illustrated book ‘A Trixi, a Shmoop and a Monster.’ Why is this book so special and different from most other books?
TD: I intentionally chose three characters that I know resonate with children: a princess, a knight and a monster. Very typical characters. All who, you assume, will not be able to be friends. But throughout the book, just by making a human connection, by speaking to one another, by realizing and appreciating each other’s differences they all become friends in the end and you really find out that it’s just a little girl, a little boy and the monster is just a bully in the class.
It’s really silly, it’s really funny but I also tried to strategically tap into what children see all around them all the time and try to use it so they come out understanding something about their life. They can look at it and go “okay, that’s my life, my playground that I play on outside, and if I act like this then I can maybe feel as good as a Trixi, a Shmoop and a Monster.
SL: Aren’t kids at the ages 3-8 already being taught to be kind?
TD: They are, but a lot of teachers we have reached out to tell us that there has been a falling off in school. “Let’s sit and let’s talk about our feelings and how we are treating each other,” isn’t included in the lesson plan. A lot of that has been lost in the school system. When I wrote this book, I was teaching at an enrichment center and I noticed that children around 3 and 4 already were like falling into clicks, already not being so nice to the other children in their class based on the clothes they were wearing- really ridiculous, shallow things. Because they are so young, it has to be a learned behaviour, something they were seeing at home. So, I really wrote this book at that time because I know children and I know they love children’s books. I saw that they got obsessive about children’s stories and I wanted to create something similar but add a really positive message. In the back of the book we included a Kindness Activity Guide. After children learn the activities, they can bring it home and essentially teach their parents to kind of adopt a more kind and a more generous outlook.
SL: How is the Lovely Thank You Project connected with the book?
TD: We started with the book. Along the way I was very active with Life Vest Inside, I love their vision. My particular interest was with the younger children. To a child, “be kind and be nice to each other,” can be a bit vague- I wanted to just bring it down and make it really specific. Children ask, “what do I have to do to feel this?” and that was how the Lovely Thank You project was born. We’re asking them to just complete one act of kindness, that’s all they have to do, and then we want to know how it feels so they can reiterate the connection in their brain.
I believe if they have to make that connection like “I did this, and I felt this”, and they have to say it out loud, think about it and think of the process, it’s going to plant a seed in their brain. Next time when they have the choice, hopefully they’ll think, “well, I could do something kind and I will feel great again!”
SL: I love that: “complete just one act of kindness and report back to us as to how it felt” as you can teach children how to be kind, but you can’t teach children “how to feel”, this is something that comes straight from their little hearts.
Do you have specific ideas of how can we embed kindness more into our school systems?
TD: Essentially, the book is the tool for us to be able to go into the classroom, to talk to children, sit down and start a conversation.
Life Vest Inside has implemented ‘A Trixi, a Shmoop and a Monster’ in their kindness curriculum for kindergarten. Once schools start implementing that in September 2013, it will be in the classroom through their program. We have already been going into school and doing small seminars and assemblies together, reading the book and having conversations about the power of kindness.
SL: What’s next?
TD: Our hope is to be everywhere, the hardcover and the ebook are not even out for sale yet so we are in the beginning of this process, but once they’re up, there’s no limit. I am so excited to be everywhere and to do anything we can. I have schools in Florida, L.A. and New Hampshire waiting for me to schedule visits, so really the possibilities are endless.
Tory, keep on doing what you do. You are our Loving Soul!
INTERVIEW BY: DIRK TERPSTRA – SOUL LOVE FOUNDER
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