‘The Dot” is a children’s book that Cambridge-based Candlewick Press published in 2003. I read and liked the book, but that was 11 years ago. So, while it lives on a bookshelf in my house, I had pretty much forgotten about it.
Blue Bunny Books and Toys is a children’s book store located in Dedham Square, which is 9 miles from where I live. Two years ago, a friend gave me a Groupon for the store, but I pretty much forgot about that, too.
I had no idea that the author and illustrator of “The Dot,” Peter H. Reynolds, is also co-owner of Blue Bunny Books and Toys or that his book has inspired a worldwide festival of creativity. International Dot Day is Sept. 15, which was celebrated last year by 1.8 million people in 84 countries, plus one astronaut, Colonel Chris Hadfield, while at the International Space Station.
How did I not know any of this? I know about a shooting that was thwarted last week, 3,000 miles from my door, a plot by high school kids with a grudge; I know about all kinds of mayhem that takes place in the farthest corners of the world; I even know about a Texas woman who saved a sick coyote thinking it was a dog and then felt guilty because the animal had rabies and had to be euthanized.
But I didn’t know about an author and illustrator who is practically in my ZIP code and whose main goal in life is to nurture creativity in children?
“The Dot” is a small book with a giant message. It’s about a child who’s afraid to draw because she thinks she can’t. In art class, she leaves her page blank. But her teacher, instead of chastising her, looks at the white page and says, “Ah! A polar bear in a snowstorm.”
“Just make a mark and see where it takes you,” the teacher says, and the child makes a small dot on the paper, then signs her name. And the next week in art class, there’s her dot hanging on the wall framed in “swirly gold.”
And the child thinks, “I can make a better dot than that.”
Encouraged — just as the book’s author was encouraged as a child by his seventh-grade teacher — the little girl not only continues to draw, but urges a little boy as reluctant as she to take a chance and draw, too.
That’s the snowball effect of this book. “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”
“Much of my work is designed to inspire all of us to navigate our true potential, to be brave, original, inspirational, inspired, and active,” says Reynolds.
“My hope is that my work will also inspire you to make your mark — and see where it takes you,” Reynolds writes on his website, www.peterhreynolds.com.
Reynolds inspires not just through his books — “The North Star,” “So Few of Me,” “Ish” — but through his kid-friendly apps — “The North Star Smarts Star Survey,” “Water Wonders,” “Our Book by Us” — and through his media company FableVision, which he runs with his twin brother, Paul.
There’s also the Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity, which he and his brother founded and which specializes in nurturing creativity in educators.
International Dot Day is quintessential creativity. It’s a day on which teachers get to encourage kids to dream. It’s fun and it’s free. And it’s right around the corner.
“My journey has been dedicated to helping kids, especially the ‘off the path’ kids; I was one of them myself,” Peter Reynolds explains. “When I visit students in schools, they ask me what my hobbies are. I say thinking, dreaming. If my art and stories can help inspire others to do the same, I’ll feel my life had meaning.”Sign up for International Dot Day at www.thedotclub.org/
dotday/get-started. And check out a website for all the other authors, illustrators, and celebrities who also want to see children inspired, www.celebridots.com.
Beverly Beckham can be reached at beverlybeckham@ me.com.