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At Provo City Library our 2017 Summer Reading theme is “Build a Better World." Many people might think the world can only be changed by grand gestures or by people in positions of power, but we all have the power to profoundly affect the world around us. You do this simply by how you choose to interact with your world and those in it. Being a good family member, neighbor, or community member can often have more impact because you have the greatest knowledge and influence in your own sphere.

To make real changes in your world, you don’t have to take on everything at once. Start small and just take the first step. A small act of kindness creates a ripple effect that can carry from person to person, brightening many lives, and maybe those people will choose to pay it forward to someone else.

For our Summer Reading Program, we wanted to help initiate this ripple effect by offering “Challenges” to help motivate people to take those first small steps to build a better world. Some of the Challenges include “Make Someone’s Day,” “Offer a Service to Someone,” or “Give a Thoughtful Compliment.”

The responses we have received from these Summer Reading Challenges have been so heartening to our staff that we thought we would share a few here. Maybe it will spark you to look for ways to help others.

“My neighbors are getting their kitchen redone so they can't cook anything, so my family and I invited them over and made them dinner.”

“I saw an old man that is homeless, and I bought him a hot meal and gave him a comforter to sleep with.”

“I made brownies and brought them over to a family member who is going through a hard time.”

“There was this elementary school kid at the Dollar Tree. He bought two poster boards for $2.14. He only had $2.00. He was going to put one board back, but I gave him the $0.14, so he could get the two boards. I remember being a kid shopping in a store and not understanding taxes, so I was always short.”

“I cleaned all of the living room and vacuumed it because we had visitors coming, and I knew that my mom wouldn't have enough time to do it.”

“As a family, we weeded a neighbor’s flower bed.”

“My sister and I took our friend out to get a treat at Yogurtland and we decided to pay for someone’s order. So we made a deal that the next person to walk into the room we would pay for them. An old man with his daughter and her son came into the store. I walked up to the cash register and explained that when they came to pay for their treat to use the money I handed her to pay for their order. I also told her to keep it a secret. So, when they came up to the front the man was reaching in his pocket to pay for the frozen yogurt and the lady told him that it had already been paid for. The old man was surprised and it made my day. Service is really awesome and I hope that I can have other experiences where I can serve others and get to see them smile after it.”

One final note. Many studies have shown that helping others has a positive impact on your own life such as developing stronger relationships, having a more positive outlook in a world where we are bombarded daily with fear and anger, establishing a stronger sense of belonging, and feeling more gratitude in your life. Some people have even said it is the secret to happiness and a more fulfilled life.

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