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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review: Living with Mom and Living with Dad

Author/Illustrator: Melanie Walsh
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

About This Book: Her parents don't live together anymore, so sometimes the child in this book lives with her mom and cat, and sometimes with Dad. Her bedroom looks a little different in each house, and she keeps some toys in one place and some in another. But her favorite toys she takes with her wherever she goes. In an inviting lift-the-flap format saturated with colorful illustrations, Melanie Walsh visits the changes in routine that are familiar to many children whose parents live apart, but whose love and involvement remain as constant as ever.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I have a few books on my shelf that are similar to this one but what makes this one extra special are the lift-the-flaps. Very creative and engaging! This book is done so well. I'm so happy to add it to my list of recommendations for families. The ending is also very supportive of the child. "My mom and dad love me a lot, and so does everyone else in my family." There are a bunch of pictures of all sorts of family members who care about the child. Very well done!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book Review: I Think, I Am!: Teaching Kids the Power of Affirmations

Authors: Louise Hay and Kristina Tracy
Illustrator: Manuela Schwarz
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: "Your thoughts create your life!" This is the message that Louise Hay has been teaching people throughout the world for more than 25 years. Now, children can learn and understand the powerful idea that they have control over their thoughts and words, and in turn, what happens in their life. 

Within the pages of I Think, I Am! kids will find out the difference between negative thoughts and positive affirmations. Fun illustrations and simple text demonstrate how to make the change from negative thoughts and words to those that are positive. The happiness and confidence that come from this ability is something children ail carry with them their entire lives!

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This book has been a total game changer for me as a strong counseling technique. It has really taken some of my lessons to a whole new level and the response I'm seeing from kids is unbelievable. Teaching kids they have control over their thoughts is huge - it can change a hard day to an incredible day. I Think, I Am! does such a wonderful job of teaching kids what a positive affirmation is and how to challenge negative ones. There are 13 examples in the book like, "I can't believe I forgot my sweater. I always forget everything!" "I don't like my hair. I wish it were hers!" "If I don't do what they want, they will be mad at me." The situations are easy to relate to. I cannot recommend this book enough. Get it on your shelf immediately!

A Link to This Book:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review: The Lemonade Hurricane - A Story of Mindfulness and Meditation

Author: Licia Morelli
Illustrator: Jennifer Morris
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Henry's life can get busy - sometimes too busy. When that happens, Henry gets wild, tearing around the house like a lemonade hurricane. But his big sister Emma has an idea. 

Maybe, just maybe, she can help her brother learn to be still. This charming story tells how mindfulness and meditation can help calm even a hurricane like Henry, and simple instructions in the back of the book show how you can do it, too!

The Book Trailer: 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I have been teaching The Zones of Regulation and have been trying to find picture books to model the RED zone (when the body is out of control) and how kids can get back to the GREEN zone (when the body is in control). This is such a great story to help kids be aware of their physical energy and how to regulate it. What kids take away from the story is they can calm themselves by using the tool of deep breathing. In the book they show Henry and Emma meditating. We talked about how we can apply breathing to everyday situations in the classroom, cafeteria, playground etc. Kids might not exactly be able to sit down and meditate in the moment but then can still use the strategy of taking deep breaths. I also showed the video "Just Breathe". Such a successful lesson!

A Link to This Book and Others That Might Be Helpful:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book Review: Mixed Me!

Author: Taye Diggs
Illustrator: Shane Evans
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket:  My mom and dad say I'm a blend of dark and light. "We mixed you perfectly, and got you JUST RIGHT!" Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them. Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've been using this as a read aloud with my K-3 grades and it is AWESOME. My hope is that it would bring more understanding, acceptance, and validation to children of all races. It did that and so much more. Our librarian also bought a copy for our library so kids can access it. As a counselor, I deeply appreciate a book that opens kids hearts to each other and helps take away any stigmas or negative messages that have been received regarding one's race.

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Review: Friendshape

Book Summary: The bestselling creators of Exclamation Mark! introduce a triangle, circle, square, and rectangle who celebrate the gift of friendship. Friends shape who we are. They make us laugh. They fill us with fun. They stand by us during life's up and downs. And even when we disagree with our friends, if they're tried-and-true, they don't stay bent out of shape for long. That's the beauty of a good buddy. This joyous book rejoices in the simple beauties of friendship, and reminds readers of all ages that it's good to have a group of pals.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I am always in need of more friendship books. When I ask teachers what they want me to teach in their classrooms I always hear - FRIENDSHIP! Friendshape is a great addition to my bookshelf. This is a super cute book and it's going to work nicely in my kindergarten and first grade lessons. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Book Review: Papa's Backpack - A Tribute to the Bond Between a Child and Military Parent

Author: James Christopher Carroll
Interest Level: Ages 6 and Up

From the Book Jacket: When a soldier has to leave his or her family for extended service, it's an emotional time for all involved. It can be especially confusing and upsetting for children, who long for the comfort and security of a parent's presence. 

Papa's Backpack honors the bond between a parent/soldier and a child, and acknowledges the difficult and emotional process of separation during deployment. A young bear cub dreams of accompanying Papa when he leaves on a mission, wanting to stay close to provide comfort and moral support, so that ultimately the two might overcome adversity together. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: If you are looking for a healing book to help children cope with military deployment - this is it. Papa's Backpack is absolutely beautiful. There is a longing to be with a parent when you are separated. Put the stress and fear of the parent being in a war situation and I can only imagine what a child might be feeling. Children need affirmation from the adults around them. I also think this would be a great classroom read aloud - it really stirred up a lot of empathy in me for families who are going through this. I am amazed by their strength and bravery. A favorite find for sure.  

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Review: Making a Splash

Author: Carol E Reiley
Illustrator: Jason Pastrana
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up
Book Website: GoBrain

From the Author: Most people assume that you’re born with a certain amount of intelligence, and that there’s no way to become smarter. But science shows that this is wrong. We now know that intelligence can be developed.  

When discussing how to raise our kids, the growth mindset was the most important thing we wished to instill. I thought that this was an important story to share with the world.

Perhaps your children sometimes go “I can’t do that!” or “I give up!”.  Well, if they say this often enough, they might start to believe it, thus limiting their ability to learn.
I want to show your children that they can learn to do anything.  This way of thinking is called a “Growth Mindset.”  I’m applying the latest research from developmental
psychology in a children’s book called “Making a Splash.” Which tells a story about two siblings, Lisa and Johnny, and how they differ in their attitudes towards learning.
The book contains a powerful message about the growth mindset, that will stay with your children.  The fundamental message is that it’s not about how smart you are.  It’s about how smart you can become.  So, when your children are confronted with tough decisions, I hope the book’s message will encourage your children to view it as an opportunity to grow, and not be afraid to fail.

Why It's on My Bookshelf: Siblings Lisa and Johnny are both learning to swim. For Johnny it comes naturally and he doesn't have to work at it. Lisa has a more difficult time and becomes negative - Swimming is too hard, I CAN'T do this. Her coach teaches her the power of yet. You can't do this YET. When you practice hard, things get easier. That's how we learn. 

Johnny takes the attitude that swimming is easy and he doesn't have to work at it. His thinking is - you've either got it or you don't. He doesn't challenge himself and decides it's silly to want to try anything harder - which puts him on the road to a fixed mindset. Lisa wants to get better so she chooses to take on challenges which are much harder - a growth mindset. Each of their decisions on how hard they worked impacts a day at the beach. Johnny is not able to go into the ocean but because Lisa worked so hard learning to swim she is able to go in no problem. 

Could this be any more perfect for the start of the school year?! This is also the first picture book I have come across using the Growth Mindset model and language. It's so easy for children to just give up on something like Lisa did in the story. Negative self-talk and comparing yourself to others does a real number on confidence. I hope to use this awesome resource to help those kids this year. If you are a teacher, parent, school counselor or someone who wants to teach kids about the power behind Growth Mindset - use this great story. It has life long lessons that kids can apply immediately and you can reinforce. Yes for Growth Mindset!!!

GoBrain also lists some great mindset resources here.

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review: Little Bird's Bad Word

Author/Illustrator: Jacob Grant
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Little Bird learned a new word! He loves it so much, he's bursting to share it with all of his friends. BLARK! The only problem is, this isn't a very nice word. Little Bird doesn't realize it, but it might even hurt someone's feelings. With the help of Papa Bird, maybe Little Bird will learn another new word - one that will make things better. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Lots of good lessons in this one about language and how we have the choice to be appropriate or inappropriate. Kids quickly learn there are attention getting words and they can make people feel uncomfortable, Little bird almost loses a friend over his behavior.  But the power of an apology and changing his behavior saves the friendship and he learns a big lesson. 

My daughter is learning what words are socially acceptable and she is especially starting to figure out words can trigger reactions and emotions in others. This is a nice reminder for adults - they are not only watching us but LISTENING to everything we say. (Little Bird learns the word from Papa!) This will fit into many lessons at school around kindness and community building and maybe even be part of our No-Name Calling week. I've worked with many students who are heart broken over hurtful things said to them - this is a helpful resource to stop that negative behavior. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: Rude Cakes

Author/Illustrator: Rowboat Watkins
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up

From the Book Jacket: In this deliciously entertaining book, a not-so-sweet cake - who never says please or thank you or listens to its parents -gets its just desserts. But even the rudest cake can learn to change its ways. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: With a three year old in the house I am always looking for books to help with manners. My daughter is obsessed with Rude Cakes. This cake lacks some serious social skills. The tables get turned though and the cake quickly learns the importance of thinking about others feelings. This is a cute book and we are really enjoying reading and discussing it. I can see this being used in my social thinking groups at school. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda

Author: Lauren Alderfer
Illustrator: Kerry Lee MacLean
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

About This Book: This wonderful picture book for children and adults alike introduces the powerful practice of mindfulness in a fun and exciting way. With the delightful Monkey and his serene friend Happy Panda guiding readers to a calmer and more attentive mind, this whimsical yet warm presentation will delight all readers. 

Monkey is not so mindful - his Monkey Mind constantly jumping from one thing to another
- but he encounters a mysterious and playful friend in Happy Panda. Panda helps Monkey recognize the simple joy of doing what you're doing while you're doing it. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Anxiety. I have been encountering more and more students who are struggling with anxiety. Most of these kids do not know how to manage it and the coping skills they have usually revolve around fight, flight or freeze. Putting together a curriculum around mindfulness to help students with these challenges has been a mission of mine. This book is an EXCELLENT resource. Monkey mind is a Buddhist expression which refers to the incessant chatter that goes on in our heads. I think we all struggle with this! I will definitely be using this as a read aloud in ALL classrooms. It's a message all kids will relate to because we all have some level of stress in our lives. Makes sense to learn how to manage it early in life- not later. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: