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An Interview with author Cindy McKinley Alder by MARSSTARS BABY

One smile: A book about how the smallest act of kindness can snowball to something incredible.

marsstarsbaby | September 12, 2020 | Books

Ever notice how the smallest act of kindness can snowball into something incredible? We caught up with Cindy McKinley children’s author of One Voice and One Smile, who was so inspired by an act of kindness she turned it into a book. Now all families can be inspired to create something incredible. Here’s what else she has to say.

One Smile and One Voice are both circle stories, wonderful for children because they show kids how even their own simple acts of kindness can spread… and change the world. In each book, one young child’s small act of kindness sets off a chain of events that travels throughout a community. Kids will love watching the kindness travel and inspire each new person to spread it in a new way and love how the stories eventually come full circle in a surprise ending. Here are questions posed to the author, Cindy McKinley Alder.

What inspired you to become an author?

When I wrote my first book, One Smile, I was a mom with young kids, and a 2nd grade teacher. I had read so many books to so many kids and I had always wanted to write one myself… but for the longest time, I had just never found quite the right idea.

What smallest act of kindness inspired you to write this book? 

My family went down to Detroit around Christmastime. We rode on the People Mover on the way to dinner. At one stop, a woman got on lugging a stroller, holding a baby and trying to get a toddler to follow her. It was crowded so my small son and I offered her our seats. She was very grateful. After dinner, back on the same train, this time we boarded a crowded train. My husband sat down with our toddler but my other son and I had to stand. As the beautiful city lights rolled by, I tried to lift up my son so he could see them. A man noticed us, and offered us his seat by the window. Now we were the grateful ones.

Later, it got me thinking. Was our earlier small act of kindness the reason for that man’s kindness? What if the kindness we put out into the world keeps on going? What if it sometimes does come back to us, somehow, someway, even if we aren’t aware of it?

What do you think kids and parents will love about it?

I hope that kids will love watching the smallest act of kindness spread from character to character. I hope they will like the surprise endings. I hope they will like seeing how even small, simple acts of kindness can make someone else so happy and then want to try that for themselves! I hope parents like all the same things!

Is there a part in the book that everyone seems to love?

Kids usually love the pages with the cute animals, which were painted by Mary Gregg Byrne. They love trying to guess how one character will make someone happy next. They love the A-Ha! Moment at the end of each book when they see that first character again, the one who started everything, being helped. And in One Smile, I tell them there is a big mistake in one of the pictures so they love looking for that. In One Voice, a ribbon goes missing so they like looking for that, too.

What kind of reactions have you received? 

One Smile won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Children’s Book of 2003 so THAT was exciting! It is the most prestigious award for independent publishers. One Voice also won two awards: the 2013 Preferred Choice Award in the Classroom Books category and the 2014 Carol Reiser Award for a book that most inspires community service & volunteerism in children.

Is there a message you want all kids to know?

The main reason I wrote both of these books is to show kids how easy, and how important it is to be kind. We don’t always get to see immediately the results of our small acts of kindness. I hope, in these books, that kids will see how kindness can ripple out into the world, and change it for the better. We might see it, we might not. But in these books, kids can see it go on and on, and hopefully, they will come to see how their own kindness will do that, too.