INTRODUCTION

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Introduction

A great man is one who has not lost his child’s heart.

Mencius

I think it is funny to be writing about chicken soup for somebody’s soul when you can’t even see a soul. It must be a special thing inside of all of us that does something because books are written about it every day.

When I cook chicken soup, it takes a lot of ingredients to make the soup turn out right. Maybe that’s why a book about chicken soup for a kid’s soul will be fun—because it will take a lot of different ideas, from many different people, for the book to turn out right.

Some kids might write about happy things, and others will find that there are only sad things in their lives to write about—like when I think about my cousin Kimmy, it makes me sad because she was the first person I ever knew who died.

But then, when I play with Kimmy’s baby daughter, Emilie, it makes me feel happy when she does something to make me laugh. Something inside of me can feel happy and sad at the same time. Is that when you know that you have a soul?

Candice Hanes, age 10

Ever since the first Chicken Soup for the Soul was published in June 1993, we have been getting requests from kids all over the world asking for a Chicken Soup book just for them. So here it is, the first full-length Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul, written by kids and by adults who haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be a kid.

When we started this book a year and a half ago, we thought we pretty much knew what issues and challenges our kids face. When our own kids—Christopher, Elisabeth, Melanie, Marleigh and Weston—went off to school every day, we assumed that they were experiencing many of the same things that we did at their age. For example, being teased because of looks or physical disabilities was a big deal. Also, making and keeping friends was important. Betrayal by a friend was guaranteed to break our hearts. Getting good grades, being accepted by our peers, and being liked and supported by our teachers were things that mattered.

In April 1997, we did a fax-mailing requesting stories from over 5,800 elementary and middle schools across the United States. We received an overwhelming response. We read every single story sent to us—over 4,000! There were an additional 3,800 stories sent from other sources, giving us a grand total of 7,800 stories submitted and read for possible inclusion in this book. What we learned from the stories was very enlightening.

You, the kids of today, face much graver issues and harder decisions than we ever did. It is not uncommon for you to be exposed to gang warfare on a daily basis, and it is not necessarily confined to inner-city or at-risk kids. Drugs, alcohol, smoking, early physical development, pregnancy, depression and suicide have found their way into our middle and elementary schools. You know about kidnappings, child abuse and violence through the media or your own experiences. Immediate family members, grandparents and friends die from accidents or from diseases like AIDS and cancer. You are frightened of losing your families through divorce or separation; even when you know it is for the best, you don’t want it or like it. One of the subjects you submitted the highest number of stories about expressed your fear of and dislike of moving, and losing the home you have known all your life.

Although we celebrate the closing of the gender gap and the broader career choices that have become available to your generation, we now realize the stress that this creates for you. You are expected at an earlier and earlier age to know what you want to be and what you want out of life, and the choices can be overwhelming. We received stories that showed us that kids like you feel as if you must understand and accept all the troubles of the world. Because of the stories you have shared with us, we now have a better understanding of what you kids are going through today.

We realize that you have been requesting a Chicken Soup book of your own not only because you want one, but because you need one. Never has there been a time in history when kids have needed Chicken Soup for their souls more than now.

A book can open the door to a magical kingdom where knowledge and inspiration are available to all who read it. We hope that this book will become your best friend and nonjudgmental advisor, for a book cannot tell whether the person holding it is black or white, red or tan, young or old, a boy or a girl.

The pages in this book are meant to be read, absorbed and reread over and over again, and shared with friends and family. Within these pages are stories of heroes—kids just like you who have overcome some of the tremendous challenges that you face today. There are also stories that are funny or just plain silly. Without this side of the childhood experience, none of us can ever hope for balance and true joy in life.

This book is designed to empower and encourage you to love and accept yourself, and to believe in your dreams; to let you know that there are answers to your questions; and to give you hope for a great future.

It is our hope that any adult or teenager who picks up this book and reads it will find his or her “child heart” touched, and hopefully, reawakened. We truly believe that within each and every one of us, there is a piece of our heart and soul that we have hidden—a piece of us that perhaps still believes that there is a Santa Claus, that butterflies should be set free and that good will always prevail over evil. On a very deep level—our kid-soul level—we all want to be loved, accepted, encouraged and supported, no matter what our age. From our hearts to your hearts, we present Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul.

May kids reign forever!

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