Children’s Story – The Worth of a Smile

How much is a smile worth? A penny? A quarter? A hundred dollars?

Well, it’s worth something, isn’t it?

It surely is, but somehow you could never fix a price for a smile, could you? To do so would spoil its value at once.

Yet sometimes a smile is very valuable. What gives a smile its value? Its beauty? Its friendliness? Its sincerity? Or is it the effect it has upon another?

Many years ago there lived on one of the very poor streets of New York a little girl called Hannah. She was 11 years old and her cheerful little face often brought gladness to sad people who saw her on the street.

One day Hannah went to a children’s program at a nearby church. She had been there many times before to attend meetings of various kinds; but this time she was to take part in a program herself. You can imagine how pleased she was about it.

Now, it so happened that in the audience that afternoon was a well-known doctor, one of the supporters of that church. Whether or not he was feeling lonely or sad that day will never be known, but somehow as he looked at Hannah’s dear little face, his heart was touched. Then she turned and looked straight at him and smiled! He thought he had never seen anything so lovely before. He left the hall a happier and better man.

And he never forgot that smile. It lived with him every day until he died.

When his will was read, his executors were astonished to learn that he had left all his money—and he was a very rich man—not to any relatives, for he had none; not to any hospital, as he might have done, but, using his own words, “to those who have given me happiness during my lifetime.”

On the list was Hannah’s name, the little girl who had smiled at him in the church program twenty years before. He left her $150,000!

Think of that—$150,000 for a smile!

I can almost hear you saying, “I wish my smiles were worth as much as that.” They are! But not in money.

Think of the happiness they bring to Mother and Father. Your smiles help them bear their burdens more easily, and make them live longer, too. Isn’t that worth something?

Smiles make the wheels of a home move so much more smoothly, while frowns and scowls and pouts are like sand and gravel thrown into the works.

Who does not love the boy or girl who smiles when things go wrong—when other children annoy them or they are hurt while playing games? Such smiles are worth much more than money.

Suppose you smile someday at someone who is very sad and discouraged, and make him smile, too; what is that worth? You may never know, but it may mean everything to him—the turning of a corner on life’s dark and lonely road. And there are lots of people today like this, people who have given up hope that anybody will smile at them again.

As the familiar hymn says–

“There are hearts that are drooping in sorrow today,
There are souls under shadow the while;
Oh, the comfort from God you can gently convey,
And brighten the way with a smile!
O brighten the way with a smile,
Yes, brighten the way with a smile;
Someone’s dreariest day you can gently beguile,
And brighten the way with a smile!”
   William C. Martin, 1904.

Won’t you try to see how much good you can do with your smiles? You will be repaid in happiness untold.

The Storybook, Character Building Stories for Children, 68–71.