July-August 2020

Spreading kindness

A new book by a Potomac mother and daughter offers kids 52 ideas for how to make the world a nicer place

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Carrie Fox and her daughter Sophia geared their book of kindness activities toward kids ages 7 to 12. Photo by Paul Forti

Carrie Fox and her daughter Sophia have taken turns writing in a shared journal most nights for more than two years. As they pass it back and forth, Carrie often poses a question to 10-year-old Sophia.

One night last year she asked: “If we wrote a book, what would we write it about?”

That was around the time Sophia was noticing incidents in the news and at school that she says were “mean.” Sophia suggested a book about kindness and wondered: “What if the world had no mean in it?” They made a list in their journal of things to do that would feel the opposite of mean—and then started doing them.

That led the Potomac residents to write Adventures in Kindness, released in May by Mission Partners Press, a division of Mission Partners, a communications firm in Bethesda; Carrie, 42, is the founder and CEO. The book was illustrated by Nichole Wong Forti, Sophia’s aunt.

“We hope after someone reads the book, they are a kinder and nicer person,” says Sophia, a rising fifth grader at Ritchie Park Elementary School in Rockville.

The 170-page paperback contains 52 ideas for acts of kindness that kids can do for their families and others, as well as things that benefit their health and mind. The adventures are designed for kids ages 7 to 12, who sometimes don’t meet the minimum age requirements to volunteer at local charities, Carrie says.

Adventures in Kindness explains how to organize a neighborhood book swap, make care kits for the homeless, and spread joy with painted kindness rocks. There are at-home activities, such as creating a family gratitude list or taking a challenge to limit shower time in order to save water. At the end of each section there are prompts and space for readers to write about the experience.

“We loved the journaling process so much we thought it might be fun for kids after they finish an activity to sit down and reflect on it,” says Carrie, who also set up a website (adventuresinkindness.com) where kids can share their adventure experiences, earn a decal or button and join the Adventures in Kindness Kids Club.

Carrie and Sophia began writing the book last summer, often working on a laptop they’d bring to the Flower Child restaurant in Rockville. They’d brainstorm ideas over macaroni and cheese, and then go online to find resources. Sophia added notes that appear throughout the book. Following an entry about how to organize a bike drive, Sophia wrote about handing down her first bicycle to her little sister, who was excited to get it.

Many of the projects were tested at the Fox home with Sophia’s dad, Brian, her sister, Kate, 6, and with Sophia’s Girl Scout troop, which Carrie co-leads. The scouts made pet toys to donate to an animal shelter and did a community adventure in which they interviewed older women about their life experiences.

The troop also took on a project in which the girls listed what they saw as problems in society (homelessness, pollution) alongside their vision for an ideal world. One girl whose father is in the military prompted Carrie and Sophia to add projects to support service members. For their efforts, the 13 Girl Scouts were named as founding members of the Adventures in Kindness Kids Club and given “KIND IS COOL” T-shirts.

Jackie Felsenfeld, co-leader of the troop, says, “What I really like about the book is the projects are all achievable. They are all things you can do rather easily, but can really make a difference.”

In April, Carrie and her daughters completed the book’s family fitness adventure while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, running or biking at least a mile every day for 26 days—as if they were participating in a marathon.

“I think now it is going to be helpful that there is a kindness book to keep people positive and not focus on the bad,” Sophia says.

Adds Carrie: “Despite the time we are in—or maybe because of the time we are in—it feels like this is the right moment to push this out. Finding things to keep us connected, even when we can’t be socially connected, that’s my hope for the book—that it’s something that pulls us together.”