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  • Michele Thomas

Celebrate World Hello Day


We bet you didn’t know that November 23rd is World Hello Day—but it is. Every November 23rd is World Hello Day, and although you may never have heard of it, it has been observed by people in 180 countries since its beginning in 1973. This global holiday is related to International Day of Peace, which puts it up near the top of AbyD’s list of Things That Are Important. We’re all about peace.

You see, World Hello Day was started as a response to the Yom Kippur War, and its objective is to express that conflicts should be resolved through communication rather than by the use of force. Now, here at AbyD, while our primary mission has always been to provide diversity books so that people—especially children—of different ethnic backgrounds can read about people like them, we do have other objectives as well. And one of those is to promote harmony and understanding between people of different ethnic backgrounds.

Let’s take THERE’S A TIGER IN MY HOUSE or JUST INDIAN as examples. Yes, we wanted young Black kids to read THERE’S A TIGER IN MY HOUSE and relate to the African American boy, Kayin. Yes, we wanted Native American kids to relate to the boy in JUST INDIAN. But we have always also wanted Black kids and White kids and Latino kids and Asian kids to read about the Native American boy in JUST INDIAN. We wanted Black kids, White kids, Asian kids, and Native Americans to read about the Latino protagonist of MOVING DAY FOR ALEX. We have always hoped that reading about kids from backgrounds other than their own would help kids understand that, as much as there are differences, there are also similarities going from one ethnicity to another.

And that’s a lot of what World Hello Day is about—so naturally we at AbyD embrace the celebration. To participate, a person is supposed to verbally greet 10 or more people as an expression of the importance of personal communication in preserving peace. That’s VERBALLY greet. Facebook doesn’t count. Twitter doesn’t count. Email doesn’t count…although the phone does, despite the fact that face-to-face is better.

They don’t have to be strangers—although it’s great if they are. Friends count. They don’t have to be from a different ethnic background or nationality—although it’s great if they are. Fellow members of your ethnic group count. But you have to at least greet them if not get into a conversation.

This time of year it’s easy. Your opener doesn’t have to be literally “Hello.” How about wishing people “Happy holidays!”? That works even with strangers—the person in line ahead of you at the Post Office; the person pushing a shopping cart out to the supermarket parking lot for whom you hold the door. (You DO hold the door if the person behind you is package-laden, don’t you?)

Celebrate World Hello Day this year, and spread a little warmth and understanding. It’s the AbyD way. We hope it’s your way, too.

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