top of page

Small Acts of Literary Kindness

I feel like most people, at some point in their childhood, reached out to someone famous whom they admired and then waited and hoped they might get some kind of response. Well, back in 2005 when I was in sixth grade, I wrote a letter to Ann Brashares. For those of you who didn't immediately feel a spark when you read that name, she is the author of "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" series, along with several other great books. In sixth grade, the few friends I had were mostly boys. In fact, I forced three of my guy friends to read the first Sisterhood book so that I wouldn't have to go to the movie with just my mom. To my surprise, they all actually read it, and I think they enjoyed the movie, or maybe they just enjoyed Blake Lively, I'm not sure.

In my letter, I told Ann (Ms. Brashares?) how her books spoke to me. I confessed how I saw myself in Carmen and Tibby. Their passion and anger reflected my own in ways I didn't fully understand. I also told her how I longed to be more like Lena and Bridget– confident and beautiful and kind. I also enclosed what I can only imagine was a rudimentary drawing of the four girls (I never was much of an artist.) I used the family desktop to find her publishing address and sent the letter off, not knowing if it would even be read.

Months passed and I didn't think much about it. I had sent out my thanks to the universe and that was all I could do. After months of nothing though, a letter arrived for me. Ann wrote back! Her reply was short and sweet. She apologized for the delayed response and mentioned how much she loved the drawing I made her. It wasn't just some form letter, there was thought behind it. Looking back on the letter now, I realize it may have been an assistant who typed up the letter or someone at the publishing house, but I'd like to think it is actually written by the woman who's books had impacted me so.

This small act of kindness meant the world to my young self– an angsty, wannabe writer, who dreamed of this type of female friendship (not much has changed.) I've thought about this letter on and off when I picture myself as a famous author– or at least a published one. Ann Brashares set an example of what it looks like to be a good writer, not just in her book, but in her actions. I think all writers dream of the day when they have an eager fan confess that our work meant something special. My deepest hope as a writer is to make someone feel a little less alone; to make them feel seen and understood.

I found Ann's letter again in 2016 while cleaning out my childhood bedroom. Once again moved by her kindness, I took to the internet and found Ann Brashares' Twitter. I sent a quick tweet, tagging her, and once again thanked her for her books and for her kindness in taking the time to reply to a child. I shouldn't have been surprised when she commented on my tweet saying, "You make me cry." My heart swelled just as much as it did when I was twelve and got the letter. The notion that I could make her emotional with a simple tweet was insane to me. She must have millions of people telling her how she impacted their childhood, but it still meant so much to her to hear my story.

In this day and age, reaching out to the people who inspire you only takes a couple of keystrokes. With the exception of the occasional celebrity who isn't on social media, it's easy to send a direct message, tag someone in a post, or comment on their content. Most often these attempts at reaching out are lost in the shuffle of the crowd. That doesn't stop us from doing it though. It's in our nature to reach out to one another. We crave any type of connection with the person whose art impacted our lives, and it's beautiful when they respond with kindness and acknowledgment. Obviously, they can't do it for everyone, but it's so special when they do.

I've reached out to a few authors over the years and maybe I'll talk about those stories some other time, but this story about Ann Brashares makes me think about how many of us have held onto these mementos from when our heroes talked back to us. It's easier now in the digital age, and I wonder if that's cheapening the appeal or does it just make it more likely to be seen? I also wonder if this ease of access to one another means we might start using these small acts of kindness to bolster those around us that don't have an air of "fame."

I use twitter often, trying to connect with other people in the writing community and I see the kindness of strangers promoting someone's newest journal publication or praising someone's debut novel. Maybe I won't have to wait until I've published several books to have someone reach out and say they like my writing, or that it meant something to them. These little acts of literary kindness stick with us, both reader and writer, as I think Ann Brashare's twitter reaction shows. So, go tell someone you love their book. Tell them how it changed the way you think, or made you feel seen. Then come back and tell me how it went.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page