Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Text Books and Life Skills

As the year comes to a close, many of us reflect on the memories of yesterday, the hustle of today and the hope for tomorrow. I’m not one for making resolutions, first, I don’t usually follow through with them, and second, if you try to live your life the best you can on a daily basis, you won’t find yourself trying to fix what is not broken. I do have plenty of flaws, things I could work on more diligently, but, I tend to do the best I can each and every day. One of my biggest flaws would be to eat healthier and walk more and, to have available more resources to share with others who work with children. This may be at home, at the library, in the schools and community. Children are my ultimate passion and I’ve said it time and time again, with my Ph.d., my Passion, my Heart and my Determination, I will continue to make a difference, one child at a time. Otherwise, I like who I am.

As some of you may know, I’m the creator of the Characters of Character. After I piloted them in 2005 they earned a National Promising Practice Award, in 2007 I took a leave of absence from the school to form a 501(c)(3) Not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide a firm foundation for children to establish strong civic values. You may wonder how this is accomplished? Let me share some ways:

  1. Published over 30 books to teach our children vital core values available on Amazon
  2. Provide social stories and painting classes
  3. Make classroom visits to discuss the trait and do an art project to reinforce the trait
  4. Visit libraries to do the same
  5. Visit community events
  6. Share coloring and writing resources for children to be introduced to the character
  7. Soon, I’ll make short videos with our stories
  8. Soon, I’ll make short videos of our art projects
  9. Share on facebook
  10. Share on Pinterest
  11. Share on Instagram 
  12. Share on Twitter 
  13. Fundraise to bring awareness to our organization
  14. Donate our books to others in your name or ours
  15. We chose Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago  to donate our books to this year, they were appreciated

What is the old cliché’, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin, I feel these words are powerful and so very true to form.

Think about your character. Are you a role model for others? Are you making good choices? Are you teaching your children by example, by visuals, by engaging in conversations? They want to be just like you and you can help them be the best they can be.

Happy New Year!

While I don’t have statistics as to how many children we empowered this year, I can share with you some of the comments and communications that we received.  While not everyone is able to donate to charities of their choice, you can always share with others the charity that has made an impact or that you admire, you can also choose our organization on Amazon as your charity, or you can purchase our books, even donate our books to children, schools, libraries and facilities who are working with our children. That is a priceless donation in deed!


The Character of Characters are beautifully illustrated, all with extremely important messages to teach our children/grandchildren. Joni has done an outstanding job creating these Characters. Was thrilled to share these with our grandchildren. These beautiful/cheerful books teach children in such an exciting way about many positive qualities to achieve for. Am very grateful that these wonderful books are available. Thank you for all your hard work Joni to create such amazing Characters of Character! Melinda West Baugh, California

Joni is truly amazing. I’ve used the Respectful Rabbit materials throughout the year. It’s very important nowadays for children to learn about respect; respect for themselves, for others, for other’s property, and for our environment! There was so much material to choose from. Lesson planning was made easy! The children learned while enjoying all the activities, and we worked on having a more peaceful classroom! I loved it! Thank you, Joni!! Cheryl Huff  Illinois

Here it is….the year 2017. Having watched and experienced this beautiful organization from its inception to the expanse of growth it is now experiencing, I give multiple thanks to Joni Downey, think-tank and creative genius behind this project. Joni was kind enough to send me a book featuring one of my favorite characters, Friendship Frog. I shared this book with two very special adopted Chinese girls I take care of. One is 6, the other 4. They are special needs girls who have hearing problems as well as born with cleft lips. Along with medical help from some of the best doctors, they are also enjoying learning social skills and morals as they go through the book and relate to the character. They love to color, are actually learning, and are sharing what they comprehend with others. Learning social skills and morals through something other than a computer screen, it is my hope to see this organization grow even larger. Not only does it encourage our children to love one another, but encourages social skills and manners dealing with others. Family and friends get involved which make the journey whole. Many thanks and multiple blessings this Thanksgiving. I have expressed my gratitude to Ellen DeGeneres, who donates to teachers who create and give. Joni Downey is certainly a person who should be recognized not only locally, but internationally. Surely what you have given to all, will be returned one hundred fold. Congratulations on a job well done! Lauren Kaczor, Florida

I love what you are doing,that’s so powerful to reach out to children and teach them.The Sky is yours and never relent…Brian Kharis, Uganda

“Miss Joni” was my son’s pre-school teacher at age 4. I remember him coming home each day talking about the characters of character and what they had talked about in school that day. Pre-school is the perfect age to start these life long values that shape the way children view themselves and others. I think these characters had a lasting impact on him. He is now 12 years old, a Boy scout, sports enthusiast, and friend to everyone he meets! Thanks Joni! Amanda Dziubala, Illinois

I led a lesson on Warm Hearted Walrus today. The kids were amazing coming up with different ideas of being kind to others at home and school as well as how they are kind to animals and nature. We made “care packages” for someone who warms our heart! The best part was hearing the students later on in the week saying things like, “Anthony was just like Warm Hearted Walrus! He told me I did a great job reading!” What a fantastic way to teach and reinforce kind, caring behavior! Jennifer Fabry Miller, Illinois

On behalf of our patients, their families and our staff at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, I would like to sincerely thank you for your contribution. The books arrived this week, are super nice and most of them have already been put into good use.Your help in creating a better healing environment for children staying with us is greatly appreciated.  The kid friendly fun, comfort and cheer that we are able to extend to those in our care would not be possible without the support of generous people like you. 

What is the old cliché’, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin,

Let’s fill the New Year the best that we can, with modeling good character and lending a hand. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Love, Joni and the Characters of Character


Joni Downey,
Creator & Owner