Each month, the Chancellor selects a children’s book that she feels is inspirational and informative for the students, parents, and staff members who make up the City’s public schools. For past book selections, review the “Book of the Month” category right here on The Morning Bell.

The Gift of Nothing
Little, Brown and Company, 2005
By Patrick McDonnell

Mooch the cat wants to find a gift for his best friend, Earl the dog. But Earl already has a bed, a bowl, and a chewy toy. In fact, Earl has it all. “What do you get someone who has everything,” Mooch wonders. And then it comes to him: nothing. He’ll give Earl the gift ofgraphics_1 nothing.

As Mooch searches far and wide for nothing, he quickly learns that it’s not for sale. Then, sitting in a meditative pose on his cushion, he finds…nothing. He promptly puts it in a small box, inside a larger box, and wraps it up. When Earl opens his gift, he exclaims, “There’s nothing here.” “Yesh,”
Mooch agrees, nothing but the two of them. Sitting side-by-side, looking out the window, Mooch and Earl come to see that nothing is everything.

This charming book by the creator of the syndicated comic strip, MUTTS, poses a universal question: what is really important in life? It reminds us that while the world is full of things for sale, possessions don’t satisfy our souls. Relationships and shared experiences are what touch our hearts and enrich our lives. Stopping to savor the joys of each moment is priceless.

Let us all carve out a few minutes each day to sit quietly and appreciate the intangible gifts we have both given and received this school year:

•  The gift of knowledge that lifts children’s lives.

•  The gift of personal and professional growth.

•  The gift of wisdom.

•  The gift of caring and involved teachers.

•  The gift of partnership and collaboration.

The gift of understanding that everyone wants to be accepted and celebrated for who they are.

Let us all learn Mooch and Earl’s simple lesson: that the gift of nothing truly is everything.

Posted by Carmen Fariña

Chancellor of NYC Schools, lifelong educator, native Brooklynite, and proud abuela.

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