A chorus of “yay” and “thank you” echoed in classrooms in Ferndale’s Central Elementary School after a Bellingham author surprised three kindergarten classes with copies of her book.
Stefanie Fields gifted 50 copies of her children’s book to the classes Friday morning, Dec. 1, after a book reading to the children. The effort was helped by two local donors: one anonymous, and Mary Noe, a local real estate agent.
Fields wrote the book “You’re Beautiful When” to encourage children to see beauty as more than skin-deep.
“This is a book of affirmations, and what an affirmation is, is positive words that you say to yourself,” Fields said to one of the classes. “And so, you’re going to notice that there’s a similar pattern throughout the book.”
Fields had taken to social media last month to request financial help to cover the cost of the books to the school. Central Elementary is classified as a low-income school, according to the Teacher Cancellation Low Income directory.
“I [didn’t] want some kids to go home with a book if others can’t, especially for three classrooms,” she said.
The childrens’ responses ranged from affectionate to inspired. In the first class, they told Fields they loved her and gave her hugs when she was done reading.
“You’re beautiful when you’re brave, showing the world your strong and courageous spirit,” Fields read to the first class from the book. “I like being brave!” one student chirped in response.
“My own book, hooray!” Rowyn Rodelas-Kent, a kindergartner in the second class, exclaimed after Fields told them they would get their own copy.
In the third class, some students, inspired by the colorful illustrations of animals done by local artist Phyllis Howard, talked about what they would write books about if they were to become authors. Ideas ranged from pandas and tigers, to Elsa from the movie “Frozen.”
The illustrations were a hit in all the classrooms.
“It’s a tree frog,” one boy excitedly cried out in the first classroom when Fields turned to the page with illustrations of green frogs.
Children filled in a worksheet after the reading, where they could write a message to someone in their life with the prompt, “You’re beautiful when …”
One kindergartener asked for help in writing, “You sparkle as much as the sun,” on her page.
Noe said she couldn’t resist chipping in when she saw Fields posting about the book on social media.
“The message in the book, it’s for everyone,” she said. “I’m an avid reader, I used to be a teacher … and I know how critical it is to be a good reader, and the joy it can bring someone.”
Originally published in 2016, Fields said she wished she had a book like “You’re Beautiful When” when she was little.
“It promotes body image and self-esteem through the use of positive affirmations,” she said.
Fields has a background in hypnotherapy, and said she’s used that knowledge in writing this book to try to “plant the seeds” of positive body image, and seeing beauty in actions and behavior instead of simply physical appearance.
“It’s also beneficial for the adult who’s reading with them — to be reminded of, you know, where our true beauty comes from as well,” she said.
Do you know of more good deeds, or stories of people helping others in our community? Let us know by emailing reporter Charlotte Alden at firstname.lastname@example.org
The book is available at Wandering Oaks Fine Arts Gallery at 126 W Holly St. in downtown Bellingham. A portion of the sales go to the Brigid Collins Family Support Center, a child advocacy center in Bellingham.