We are so pleased to share our Q&A with Caryl Hart about her book, Thank you for the Little Things. Her answers are insightful, honest and will encourage you to think deeply about gratitude and mindfulness.
Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
Like many other people across the world, the first 2020 lockdown made me reevaluate my priorities. This was the time when we were only allowed out of our homes for an hour a day and did not have any direct social contact with people outside our families. Fortunately it also coincided with a spell of very lovely, sunny weather, so I spent my time sitting in the garden with my daughter and running from my house out to the hills along deserted roads. Rather than feeling sad about all the things we couldn’t do, I tried to focus in on the simple things I could do. I think this is what got me through those early months.
Why do you feel it is so important to share these messages with our younger readers?
Children and parents are bombarded from every direction to buy more stuff, to own more things, to be prettier, thinner, sportier, cooler, more popular, more musical and more talented. It’s too much. Way, too much and it leaves us feeling that whatever we do, it’s never enough.
As a society I feel we would all benefit from stripping back and taking a breath to focus on what’s really important such as family, friends, love, the wonders of nature, caring for others, and looking after our own mental and physical wellbeing. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we think we should be doing, we can easily lose sight of the fundamentals that we really need.
Emily’s illustrations are beautiful- were you familiar with her work previously?
Yes! I love her book The World Made a Rainbow written by the fabulous Michelle Robinson. Emily’s illustrations are so accessible and child-like I feel they are strike the perfect mood for our book.
Did you do much research into mindfulness and gratitude before writing?
I’ve always tried to exist in a mindful way and grateful way. Having lived with depression and anxiety for many years, and been quite incapacitated by it at times, I try to make the most of every day and notice and value at least one good thing in my day. Of course, I don’t always get it right, but I’ve learned to value getting out into the countryside, and time spent with my family and friends above everything else.
How do you think families and schools can promote gratitude and mindfulness?
A friend introduced me to a great little gratitude game that is a great way to help families and children notice the things that have made them and others feel good. In a small group, each person takes a turn to talk about the following. Take one question and go round the room, before looking at the next question:
One thing that you DID for YOURSELF that made you happy.
One thing that you DID for SOMEONE ELSE that you are thankful for.
One thing that SOMEONE ELSE did for YOU that you are thankful for.
One thing you SAW that you’re thankful for.
One thing you FELT that you’re thankful for, or that made you happy.
What do you do when you need a moment of calm?
Most of my existence is about finding calm in my life! I start most days with a long walk, usually listening to an audio book. I find the fresh air, the sights around me and the rhythm of my feet helps me feel nourished and grounded.
I have also learned the value of distraction when my anxiety becomes too much – so I might make a cup of tea and watch silly cat videos, have a shower, or go to the gym. Focusing all your attention on something small like the rhythm of exercise or the pattern on a curtain can really help to switch your brain from worrying about things you can’t control, to feeling calm and strong again.
As part of the blog tour we are encouraged to share what we are grateful for! The FCBG are incredibly grateful for the continued support from publishers, authors, illustrators and our readers who make our job of sharing books an absolute joy! Children’s books offer guidance, hope and love in so many ways and we are grateful that we can read and share these widely!