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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

WHAT IS PAY IT FORWARD?

A message from the author, Catherine Ryan Hyde:

Pay It Forward is a book, but it's also an idea. It's an action plan within a work of fiction. But does it have to be fiction? We're hoping not. In fact, since the book was released in January of 2000, a real-life social movement has emerged, not just in the U.S. but worldwide. What began as a work of fiction has already become muchmore.

Reuben St. Clair, the teacher protagonist of the book Pay It Forward, starts a movement with this voluntary, extra-credit assignment: THINK OF AN IDEA FOR WORLD CHANGE, AND PUT IT INTO ACTION

Trevor, the 12-year-old hero of Pay It Forward, thinks of quite an idea. He describes it to his mother and teacher this way: "You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It Forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven." He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. "Then it sort of spreads out, see. To eighty-one. Then two hundred forty-three. Then seven hundred twenty-nine. Then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?"

Pay It Forward the idea is perfect for kids. Pay It Forward the book is not. It's a book written for an adult audience and which contains adult language and situations. Many teachers are bringing the book into their classes at the high school level. I agree that this is probably appropriate, but educator guidance should be exercised. The American Library association cited Pay It Forward as one of its "Best Books for Young Adults." This is a twelve-to-eighteen-year-old category. Still, for children younger than fourteen, I would recommend that the parent or educator read the book first, and decide.

In an effort to bring the heart of Trevor's idea into classrooms, we have created two excerpts of the book which are suitable for children. The first is twenty pages in length and suitable for middle school students. The second is six pages in length and suitable for a younger child. They are available on this site by clicking the link "Novel Excerpt." These words are yours for downloading. Feel free to print the excerpts and make as many copies as you like. The point of these words is that they be spread.

Please be aware that even Pay It Forward the idea requires adult supervision. In the book, Trevor brings a homeless man into his house as part of his project. (Kids, don't try this at home!) The safest Pay It Forward projects will take place in the classroom and in the home, with the help of teachers and parents. This is where the Pay It Forward Foundation comes in.


(Pay It Forward)

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