‘Gnome in Your Home’ promotes acts of kindness | ParkRecord.com

‘Gnome in Your Home’ promotes acts of kindness

Author schedules string of events

When Park City's author Susan Johnston and illustrator Alexa Kanarowski published the children's book "Gnome in Your Home" last August, the goal was to prove how fun it is to show kindness.

Since then, they've expanded the goal from author readings and signings to kindness sessions, which started in November.

"These are events that include an author reading and a kindness craft activity," Johnston said during an interview with The Park Record. "I've done it at a preschool and did one at the Kimball Art Center."

The next kindness session will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, at the Summit County Library, Coalville Branch, 82 N. 50 East.

"During the event, I will read from the book and introduce everyone to 'Gnome in Your Home,'" Johnston said. "Before we get to the end of the book, I ask the kids to come up with ideas about what it means to be kind and what they can do to be kind."

Then Johnston will turn to the back of the book where there are some perforated pages of cards that list ideas for acts of kindness.

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"Some of those ideas are already in the book and I like to point out to the kids that they already know some things they can do to be kind," Johnston said. "The kids can pull the cards out and decide what they want to do to be kind."

The discussions are about how easy it is to be kind, but also about the hardest part about being kind.

"This is what Gnome in the book addresses," Johnston said. "He reminds us every day that it's easy to be kind and fun to be kind."

After the reading and discussion, the kids break into different stations where they can do kindness craft activities.

Johnston tells the kids to use what they create as an act of kindness

"For example, one of the activities is to trace their hands and use a hole punch and thread the hands so they can mail a hug to someone they can't be with," she said. "We have another station where kids can create a tissue-paper flower and decorate a card that says, 'You have received an act of kindness.'"

The flower can be given to a teacher, a parent or just left somewhere in public for a stranger, Johnston said.

"We also have an activity where kids can color some pictures," she said.

Kanarowski, a Park City High School student, oversees most of the coloring and art stations during the events.

"I didn't think this project would expand as much as it did.," Kanarowski said. "I think when you start any project you don't see all the things that it could involve. And making coloring pages and things like that was nice."

The Gnome is a reminder and a visual support of the story to encourage kids to reach out, Johnston said.

"I had done a random acts of kindness with my son to highlight the fact that getting gifts isn't the only important thing in life," she said.. "Giving is also important, and, once you get into the concept of giving, it's more fun that getting."

With the popularity of the "Elf on the Shelf" books, Johnston decided to go one step further — by accident.

"I remember going to a store with my friend and picking up a gnome and saying, 'I may not have an elf on the shelf, but I have a gnome in my home," Johnston said. "While the elf's mission is to make sure the kids are behaving so they can get stuff from Santa, I thought the gnome would be a good balance of yin to the elf's yang to encourage giving. And while the gnome does live with Santa, he doesn't just have to visit during Christmas. He can come at anytime."

Author Susan Johnston will sign her book "Gnome in Your Home" from 4-6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, at the Summit County Library, Coalville Branch, 82 N. 50 East. The free event will also feature kindness craft activities. Other signings will be on from 4-5 p.m. on Dec. 20, at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch, 1885 W. Ute. Blvd., and from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Dec. 22, at the Summit County Library Kamas Branch, 228 W. 200 South, Suite 2B. For more information, visit http://www.thesummitcountylibrary.org.