It all started when four-year-old Khloe Joiner, resident of Missouri City, Texas, told her grandmother she was intrigued by local police officer, Jessica Berry. And who wouldn’t be? Jessica cast a striking image with her long red braid flying behind her as she patrolled through the neighborhood on her motorcycle. Khloe’s grandmother, Billye, suggested that Khloe go say hello to Jessica, but Khloe was scared. While Billye understood why, she felt it was important to help Khloe overcome that fear. So she set up a meeting at the police station, the two met, and a friendship was born.
Khloe develops special bond with police officer | ABC 13
Billye asked Khloe what she thought might make other kids less afraid of police officers, and Khloe—a reader since the age of two!—suggested that when police come into contact with kids (like when their parents get a ticket, for example) they could give them books. The gift would strengthen ties between the two and facilitate imagination, literacy, and just plain fun. Khloe was so struck by her idea of giving out books as a means to inspire and connect with others she decided to take the money she had been saving for a trip to Disneyland, buy as many books as she could, and bring them to the Missouri City Police Department.”
A Book and a Smile was born.
Khloe Joiner | Billye Moutra
Family and friends heard about her mission and contributed their own money and books. The project grew. Khloe began to give books to other police precincts, and then to homeless shelters, hospitals, churches, and adoption agencies.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Khloe periodically ran book drives and set up concession stands outside her house to give books away to kids who were stuck in their homes with no access to their school or local library. “I love reading books because they help me get out,” Khloe said in an interview with American singer, actress, and talk show host, Jennifer Hudson. She thought she could provide the same kind of escape for other children.
Loretta Moutra, Khloe Joiner, and Jennifer Hudson | Billye Moutra
Khloe has recently deepened the mission of A Book and a Smile: she wants all children, regardless of race, economic status, and ability to have new books in their homes. She has challenged herself with the goal of giving one million books to one million children.
Her perseverance and generosity has earned her plenty of praise. Missouri City made a proclamation naming June 7, 2021 Khloe Joiner Day. She won a Congressional Medal of Honor Society Youth Service Award in 2021 and was a Time Magazine Kid of the Year finalist in 2022. As of January 2023, Khloe had given away more than 30,000 books.
We caught up with Khloe recently and asked her to give us an update on her ongoing work.
Hi Khloe! We at Choose Your Own Adventure are so excited by what you're doing with "A Book and a Smile." We believe in books making a difference in kids' lives just like you do. What made you fall in love with books in the first place?
Hi! My name is Khloe Joiner. I am 10 years old and I'm in the 5th grade. I'm in the National Jr. Honor Society. I fell in love with books when I was a baby. My mother read to me every day. At night, I always said, "One more book, please?"
Where was the last place you sent books? What's coming next?
The last place I sent a lot of books to was Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. Over 350 books were donated. Coming up in February, I am having a 1,000 diversity book challenge for Black History Month. I am also giving library books to a 6th grade classroom. I started a class library for the students and I want to keep the shelves full!
What part of this experience are you most proud of?
The part of my experience that I'm most proud of is when I see the smiles on children's faces when they receive new books. I'm also proud to know that the books I donate are helping children all over the world, especially the children who have never had a book.
What have you learned?
I've learned that by giving, I feel happier. Giving is also contagious! Whenever I have a giveaway, a child will ask me how they can do the same thing. Giving helps me stay connected. The more I give, the more compassionate I feel.
What part has been the most exciting?
The most exciting part has been receiving books in the mail, sharing my story with others, meeting lots of people, and giving aways lots and lots of books.
What are you reading right now?
I'm reading President of the Whole Fifth Grade [by Sherri Winston]!
What else would you like us all to know about you and "A Book and a Smile?"
A Book and a Smile was founded by me! I had been saving coins in a large water bottle for a trip to Disneyland. After my friendship began with Officer Berry, I wanted to give something to the police department to give to children. I cashed all of my coins in and purchased 350 books. My grandmother, Mrs. Billye Moutra, and I decided that we should have a name. I chose A Book and a Smile because I love books and books make me smile.
My family helps organize the books, pack them in the car, and get the books from place to place. My grandmother and I have made many trips together. My mother does a lot to keep everything in order. My grandfather loads the car for The Little Library and we stop after school to make sure that two boxes by our house stay full. My sister and cousins help sometimes too.
I've received numerous awards and recognitions for A Book and a Smile. Some include 2022 Barron Prize Hero, The Congressional Honor Society Award, Jr. Mayor, Khloe Joiner Day, Time Magazine Top 20 Kid of the Year, CNBC Time Changer, and more. My story has been shared on The Jennifer Hudson Show, CNBC, MSNBC with Ali Velshi, Good Morning America, Nightly News with Lester Holt Kid's Edition, Localish, and more.
Wow! You are simply amazing, Khloe. Well, we can't say goodbye without asking some other questions to get to know you a little. What is your favorite thing to do besides reading and giving away books? What is your favorite color? What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Do you have a favorite joke? Do you like happy endings or sad endings in books?
One of my favorite things to do is play with my rescue cat. Her name is Gracie (I call her G.G.) and I received her for Christmas. I also love Legos, architecture, writing, and singing. I am writing a book about A Book and a Smile! My favorite color is purple. My favorite ice cream is sugar-free strawberry. My favorite joke is, What do you call a dancing sheep?
Haha! That’s a great joke!
And I prefer happy endings.
Well, you’re helping to create those happy endings for sure! Thanks for chatting with us Khloe and thank you, especially, for your big heart ❤️
Khloe's goal is to give away 1,000 diverse books for Black History Month! Donate or learn more about how you can help A Book and a Smile here.
The next time you find yourself in a fight with your brother, your mother, your neighbor, or your friend—head out to a farm to find a mediator. One with cloven hooves and a small, curly tail.
Forget about Miss Piggy and her karate moves. It turns out pigs make pretty good go-betweens. You know, the hey-guys-chill-out-and-all-take-a-deep-breath types. A study published in the journal Animal Cognition by scientists at the University of Torino in Italy found that bystander pigs are able to recognize conflict between others, empathize with them, and diffuse the situation. For six months, the scientists hung out on a huge plot of farmland and observed a litter of pigs (which can be called a sounder, a drift, or a drove). Check out the Almanac’s list of fascinating animal group names!
Belgian pigs | CBC Kids News
The scientists discovered that physical contact is the superpower of swines. The mediator pig approaches one of the pigs in conflict and touches them with their snout or ears. Or in some cases, the mediator pig simply sits and leans against them. Through their bodies, they transfer a sense of calm. One pig in the study put their whole head over the back of another to initiate the de-escalation process. When the mediator pig chooses to comfort the pig that was the “victim” in the fight, they are able to lower that pig’s anxiety. When they go to the bully, they actually reduce the likelihood that the pig will fight again.
Family dynamics come into play too. If the pigs are related, they are much more likely to intervene.
Wolves, primates, birds, and, of course, humans are some of the only other species who know how to problem-solve like this. But it’s not surprising that pigs make the list too. For one thing, they’re emotive creatures. A study in 2015 demonstrated that a pig’s emotional state can be determined by the sound of their grunt. Scientists analyzed 411 pigs in a wide variety of situations and found consistent patterns linking the type of sound to an emotion. (A short grunt means your pig is happy, by the way.) Pigs are also complex, intelligent animals. They can follow commands, like “sit” or “fetch,” and they know the difference, for instance, between a ball and a frisbee. They can also distinguish strangers from familiar faces, and tend to gravitate toward people they know.
Some pig, as the famous spider Charlotte writes of Wilbur in her web.
Garth Williams’ illustration “Some Pig” from Charlotte’s Web | Heritage Auctions
On a separate, more musical note (sorry, couldn't resist!): one farmer in Belgium has been experimenting with different genres of music and their effects on his pigs. He was inspired to do this because one day his ten-year-old son sang to the pigs and their ears perked up, their tails began to wag, and some, he says, even danced. Maybe this finding is not so separate then. Maybe adding a playlist to the pigpen can diminish tension and the chill mediators won’t have to step in (with their cloven hooves) quite as often.
Do you know what to do if you’re caught in a conflict? Take this quiz to find out!
What would you pay for a good pair of jeans? Ones that are a perfect fit, comfy, and have just the right amount of wear?
$25, $75… How about $114,000?
The world’s oldest pair of jeans just sold for that hefty price at an auction on December 3, 2022. The work pants were found at the bottom of the ocean, pulled from a trunk that was a remnant from a shipwreck. The S.S. Central America, nicknamed the “Ship of Gold,” was a sidewheel steamer responsible for delivering federal mail. On September 12, 1857, it was carrying 578 passengers and 30,000 pounds of mined gold valued around $100 million when it sank in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina.
Oldest jeans | California Gold Marketing Group and Holabird Western Americana Collections
The ship descended 7,200 feet below the ocean surface. When the word got out that $100 million in gold had gone down at sea, a financial panic struck banks across the country. Four hundred twenty-five people died in the accident, but 153 survived the shipwreck, including John Dement, a soldier in the Mexican-American War. Dement was also a mercantile shop manager, and one of the last two people to be pulled out of the wreckage to safety. The jeans were in his trunk.
Because of the anaerobic condition of the trunk (containing little to no oxygen), no bacteria formed on the jeans and they remained preserved. They are white in color (it is unclear whether they began that way or turned white over time), with black and brown stains, perhaps caused while mining during the Gold Rush.
The Invention of the Trousers | Deutsches Archäologisches Institut
While these are the oldest jeans discovered, they are not the oldest pants to ever be unearthed. That claim to fame is held by a pair of woven pants dated between the 13th and 10th centuries BCE, found in 2014 in a Yanghai cemetery in western China. They were worn by prestigious police-like warriors who rode on horseback. Archaeologist and scholar Mayke Wagner (whose official title is a mouthful: Scientific Director of the Eurasia Department of the German Archaeological Institute and Head of its Beijing Branch Office!) discovered the pants while excavating the site with her colleagues. Wagner explained that their project was unique because they went on a second adventure recreating the pants. “Our team,” said Mayke, “include[d] fashion and textile designers, yarn spinners, tailors, sheep farmers, and many other specialists besides scientists… We learn[ed] an awful lot from each other. Especially when we decided to produce the film The Invention of the Trousers ourselves and I had to learn how to direct a documentary.” (Check out the film. It’s fascinating!)
Reconstruction of pants | Mayke Wagner
The collaboration was deep. Said Mayke: “[It was] a whole range of life experience. Getting to know strangers, making us understood in different languages, delving deep into small technical details while forgetting time and space, creating something with your own hands, despairing, and being saved by friends. Science at its best. An experience that I wish for every kid who is interested in the magic of archaeology.”
The last place you were able to view this magic—and these ancient pants—was at the State Museum of Archeology in Chemnitz, Germany. And although the identity of the purchaser of the shipwrecked jeans is unknown, we found a natural home for them! The Jeans Museum in Zurich, Switzerland houses more than 1,400 pairs of jeans and jackets. This fashion mecca was created by Ruedi Karrer, who is also known as the Blue Jeans Freak. Now he might have been willing to pay $114,000 for those jeans…