PPBF: What If Everybody Said That?

Today I'm excited because on Wednesday I got to spend
the entire day (12 hours!) with one of my role models, Houston Kraft
We were awe-struck watching Houston interact with, inspire 
and influence our lucky sixth-and-ninth-grade FISD learners.
Regardless of how often I've heard my Character Strong teammate speak, 
he managed to bring me to tears. Three times.
{He humbly told me that that's not very hard to do.}

Of all the things that spoke to my soul, this adage still echoes.

Wait, what? More hunger for love and affirmation
than for bread? If that's true, why don't we do it more?

Houston offered so many practical suggestions for making,
strengthening and sustaining those life-changing relationships.

Afterward, I had the most incredible opportunity to give Mother Teresa's wisdom wings in my interaction with the current president of the freshman class, 
a young friend whom I hadn't seen since he was in the third grade.

When he noticed me standing in the back, he ran up to me, 
said Mrs. Ansel?, and gave me a huge hug before I could answer.

After the embrace, I asked him to remind me his name.
He said, It's Grant. You were my preschool teacher! 
When I gently reminded him that he actually knew me from Westwood, 
his eyes got as huge as saucers and his smile instantly lit up the entire room.

Mrs. Gruener? he asked as he wrapped his arms around me in a 
great big bear hug, as if he never wanted to let me go.
I think I just got a bigger hug than your preK teacher did,
I said to add levity, to which Grant responded,
I still remember when we would come to your office,
because of how good you always made us feel.

Grant thanked me for caring for him during his elementary years; I told him how proud I was of him and the leader he'd become. When I asked him how his older sister was, he said I sure wish she could see you, too. It made my heart dance.  

Anyway, hello PPBF; I predict you'll be happy with today's pick
because it challenges us to consider how our words make people feel.

Title: What If Everybody Said That?
Illustrator: Colleen Madden
Publisher: Two Lions 
Birth date: August 1, 2018
Suitable for: ages 4-8
Themes: kindness, empathy, friendship 
Brief synopsis: After a series of really bad choices testing out the power of words, the narrator learns she can use her words to hurt or heal.
Opening page:
At the park, some kids asked me if they could play with me. I said, "No boys allowed." Their mom yelled at me. "What if everybody said that?"
Enjoy a read aloud {here}.
Check out the book's trailer:

Compare and contrast with What If Everybody Did That?
Purchase an enrichment packet {here}.

Draw a garbage can and ask students to write on PostIts
what they can commit to not saying anymore.

Thank you, Mrs. Dixon, for this idea!

Norman, this Folkmanis Reindeer puppet, helped to set the stage 
when I read this book to my friend's second-grade class yesterday.

Norman: Is this lost?
Me: What?
Norman: I'm trying to find lost.
Me: You're looking for lost? What do you mean?
Norman: When I was in Wisconsin, someone told me to get lost.
So I'm trying to find lost. Is this what lost looks like? Are we lost together?

I invite the students explain to him what get lost means, that it isn't a place, but a very unkind thing to say to say to someone. I thought my heart might burst when they told him he could stay with them.

It was a fun role play that set up the book perfectly.

Why I like this book: 
So what's not to like. The book is rich with first-person examples
of unkind, ugly things to say, after which the young girl is reminded to consider what might happen were everyone to talk like that.

After numerous reminders, the narrator realizes the error of her ways and ends up saying something king, that everybody should say. As a follow-up enrichment exercise, invite students to write and illustrate some things that everybody should say, to leave people we encounter better than we found them.

Better than we found them.
Lifted up by our words.
Like what Canadian teacher
 Laurie Macintosh does each time 
she sends these kindnesses out of the blue.

Check out this book, then check out today's other PPBF titles.
Oh, and don't forget to choose love and appreciation. 
It'll satisfy your hunger (and thirst) better than bread.

At least, that's what somebody I deeply admire has said.


  1. I love how you set up the book with Norman's question. I like how this book doesn't shy away from some of the harsh things we an say, as well as modeling kinder more empathetic responses.

    1. Thank you, Joanna, for stopping by and for your kind affirmations. I love connecting puppet scripts to a book, to urge them to make the self-to-text leap.

  2. I love how this book explores the power of words to either hurt or heal. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh Gabi, you and me both. It will take your breath away, how transparent the narrator is and how simple it would be to turn her thoughts, words, and deeds around.

  3. I think my son's high school classmates could benefit from these! Clearly, they didn't learn these lessons earlier in life. And your story brought me to tears....yes, me, too.....

    1. Empaths unite!

      Houston pretty much the same message as in the book for our teenagers. Every day we get to choose and it doesn't have to be big to be huge. He challenged them to meet one new person a day for the rest of their days at their school. Simple but not easy; definitely simply powerful.

  4. I always enjoy your uplifting posts -- especially how you use a puppet and role-playing to encourage kids to discuss ways to be kinder to each other. You're really an exceptional teacher.

    Also sounds like a fabulous Houston Kraft conference. And, I enjoyed your sharing your recent interaction with a student who had such good feelings about your impact on his life. Glad you shared, friend!

    1. Thank you, Pat, for stopping by with your warm, lovely reflections. You always manage to make me smile. Houston planted some seeds of inspiration, that's for sure, and I feel so blessed to be working alongside of and learning from him now!

  5. IT is never too late to think about the power your words have in the world... this looks like a wonderful book to help kids see that in their own lives.

    1. Thank you, Sue, for stopping by.

      One of Houston's stories told about a Dad he knew, who wrote a postcard a day to each of his two daughters after they moved out; when cancer cut his life short 8 years later, they each had 3000 post cards to show what love looks like. More tears. Simple but not easy.

  6. Great book for kids. There are many times kids don't realise what they say can be hurtful. So I can imagine this as a great discussion book in the classroom. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Diane, great to see you at the Corner.

      I should imagine that every single page of this treasure could spark an amazing conversation with children of all ages. It's a keeper!


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!