I recently received a card featuring a hand-drawn picture of a brown-haired girl with brown eyes and a sweet smile. The cover said “To: Soares. From: Emma.”

My day was made.

Sometimes I feel that nothing can lift me out of our national morass of negativity, hatred and violence. I’m an educator; I can’t express in words the horror I felt when I heard two young men had thrown themselves in front of school shooters recently, to stop the madness. Within the space of a week. On opposite sides of the country.

But when I perused the pile of cards sent to me by second-graders, I remembered there is good in the world. There is innocence. The simple things still count.

I read two books to this class as part of their school’s “readathon” — a weeklong literacy celebration. They were “Last Stop on Market Street,” by Matt de la Peña, and “The Night Gardener,” by Terry Fan and Eric Fan. The students later wrote me thank-you notes.

They were charming.


One boy drew a book and wrote on it “The bo-ok of Books.” I liked the way he didn’t let the narrowness of the cover stop him from sticking with his title. He just hyphenated at the end of the line.

Come to think of it, I’m impressed he knew how to hyphenate in second grade.

The inner spread said: “I Loved It a Lot.” There was a creature that appeared to be a bird, but could have been a snake with legs. It was hissing. There was another “book of books” note, this one with a drawing of a book on the book. Wait — there was a book on that book as well.

But this young man didn’t stop there. On the back he wrote, “Thacs!!” and drew a nifty picture of a cat.

I was impressed with the ingenuity of the girl who made a small card with a flower drawn on the front. “You are a very good layte. You are fun. Thak you.”

I wonder if she could pass that on to my bosses?


Her pièce de résistance was a piece of paper folded accordion style and pasted inside the card. When I opened the card, this apparatus popped up. It said, “Thak you.”

My smile stretched from ear to ear.

“Jason” (I’ve changed the students’ names for this column), who identified himself as “the smartest secend grader in the world,” wrote “Ms. Soares Thank you very munch.” (I teared up at that one.) Inside the card: “I really like the Night Gareder Because it is just wow!”

That is exactly how I feel about the lushly illustrated story about a mysterious man who comes to a cold, dark town and brings it to life with his amazing topiary animals. Just wow.

The front of another card read, “Mincraft.” The student drew a book and listed the titles of the two I read. She also wrote: “Thank you for Reading us two books. I LIKE them Both.” Space. Then: “Do you like Mincraft?”

I am just glad that my books and I are still able to compete with Minecraft.


“Wow Good Books I Like the Books,” one student wrote. The words were placed in an interesting way around the front of the his card, almost like a poster. Inside was an elf-like creature wearing a green jester cap and red shoes, holding a book in each hand.

I wasn’t wearing a hat while I read, but I am short and I did have two books.

A cheerful female figure with a sun in the background was on the front of another card. It was repeated with remarkable accuracy on the inside. “Thank you for reading to the class. You Are the Best. Bye Bye”

I may have to pin that one on the bulletin board next to my desk, to refer to on days when everyone thinks I’m a jerk.

Another girl wrote, “Thank you. You are nice You are cool.” There was a drawing of a woman wearing a very colorful skirt, but I don’t think it was supposed to be me because she had red hair. An arrow was drawn in the lower right hand corner: Open here.” Inside, in large purple letters: “Hi Ms. Soares.”

I was impressed with the effort the students put into the cards. No two were alike. Their personalities shone through in their choice of words and colors and their drawings. Each card was wonderful in its own way. These are writers and illustrators who are going on to great things.


Inside the card with the brown-haired, smiling girl was written, “Thank you for Reading to us. The Book’s you Read were great. It was really nice of you to Read to us.”

“From: Emma. To: Mrs. Soares.”


Liz Soares welcomes email at [email protected].

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