Standing in the shadow of the Jerome Library in 2007, Bowling Green State University freshman Christina Dankert decided she wanted to write a book. “It’s such a breathtaking place, the library,” she said, “and it inspired me.” She wasn’t sure what the book would be about or when she would write it, but she had set her goal.
This month — March 22 to be exact — her first book will be released. The Kindness Machine draws on Dankert’s experience as an elementary school teacher and the advice and support she received from a variety of sources. Dankert partnered with her husband for
illustrations. And what might have been considered a long time from concept to finished product has turned out to be perfect timing for a children’s book on kindness.
Kindness to all — ourselves included
“The concept for the book is simple,” Dankert explained. Set in an elementary school, the mysterious kindness machine shows second grade students exactly what they can do to bring kindness to their classroom and into their own hearts. But it is their teacher who reveals a secret to the class that helps them spread kindness wherever they go.
“We wanted to emphasize that kindness to others can be as simple as smiling,” she said. “When you smile, your face lights up and everyone else smiles.” This exploration of kindness is very important in these turbulent times. But more important is Dankert’s added emphasis on directing kindness inward as well. “We wanted to help readers apply that kindness to themselves,” she said. “Even adults can use that!”
Sylvania native Dankert is an elementary teacher in the Sylvania Schools. Her husband Chad, also a Sylvania native, is the book’s illustrator, and he added personal details that were special to them.
For example, “Chad added a lending library stand to the front of the school illustrated in the book,” Dankert said. “That’s the same as the lending library we placed at our school in Sylvania. Many little touches to the illustrations came from our conversations at home.”
Working on the book together was an enjoyable project, Dankert said, adding, “Even before we were married, we talked about doing something like this together. And, after the book was finished, he said he’d work with me again! We’re very proud of how it all turned out, from the message to the characters.”
The Kindness Machine, published by Purple Butterfly Press, is available beginning March 22 at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Bookshop.
Q&A with Christina:
Describe your life in 6 words.
Wife, mother, teacher, friend, book enthusiast.
What is an ideal day for your family in Toledo?
An ideal Toledo day would include a family bike ride at one of the many Metroparks, followed by a snack in the park and ice cream from a local shop.
How would you describe Toledo in one sentence?
Toledo has a little bit of everything, from our art museum, Zoo, Metroparks, sports venues, festivals and foods from around the world, we celebrate culture and life.
Do you have a favorite author and/or book?
Three of my favorite books to read to my students are The Day You Begin by Jaqueline Woodson, All Are Welcome Here by Alexandra Penfold, and Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olson. All three
books share the beauty and positivity that can be found in a classroom, and all showcase a diverse cast of characters, allowing all children to find themselves in the picture books.