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Archives for : children

The Snowman’s Revenge

Snow days are always more fun with a freshly built snowman. However, when the children in The Snowman’s Revenge head in to warm up and enjoy some hot cocoa, the snowman is left all alone outside in the cold. Hurt and lonely, he quickly comes up with a plan for revenge.

Mark Smuthe’s prose is entertaining, if a little choppy, enhanced by Mike Motz’s full color illustrations. Personally, I found the idea of the book to be creepy. My children, on the other hand, thought it was a fun read. It’s definitely a change from the happy singing snowmen, and for that alone, it’s a nice change (although still a creepy one).

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

The Secret of Rover

Twins Katie and David haven’t always lived a charmed life. Until recently, their family has struggled in poverty. However, life as been looking up since their parents invented Rover. When their parents fly overseas to adopt a new baby girl, the children’s excitement quickly turns to fear as they find themselves in the middle of a sinister political plot. Unsure of whether or not they will ever see their parents again or meet their new baby sister, their immediate goal is to make it out alive.

Rachel Wildavsky’s new book, The Secret of Rover, is a captivating novel for children. With well developed characters and an appealing plotline, the story allows children to experience a fantastical mystery with action and adventure.

Disclaimer: A copy was provided by the publisher.

Is a Worry Worrying You?

Everyone worries from time to time, and dealing with those worries often seems monumental, especially for children. Ferida Wolff and Herriet May Sevitz have addressed just this issue in their book, Is a Worry Worrying You? With beautiful full color illustrations by Marie LeTourneau, the book manages to discuss worries and introduce brainstorming possible solutions of how to deal with them in a light hearted manner, opening up further discussions. It’s a fantastic picture book and one that we have checked out from the library several times over the years due to the story alone.

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher.

Previously published at Living Peacefully with Children.

Made to Play!

If you are one of the many parents enthralled by simple handmade toys but are intimidated at the prospect of making them yourself, never fear! Joel Henriques will help get you started with the ideas in his new book coming out next October, Made to Play!: Handmade Toys and Crafts for Growing Imaginations.

Contrary to what companies may have you believe, children don’t need, nor truly want, lots of flashy toys which play by themselves (where is the fun in that, anyway?). Instead, simple toys which require healthy doses of imagination from the child open up realms of opportunity, creativity, and learning.

Craft challenged parents who previously felt left out when it came to making toys for their own children will be bolstered in this book, as the ideas are simple and easy for anyone to do. Turn a few supplies, often ones you already have on hand, into miniature toys that will delight your children and give you confidence to tackle more difficult projects.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book provided by Shambala Publications.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.

Raising a Thinking Child

Most parents want their children to be equipped to handle life when they are grown. The skills needed to do this are ones that we can help them with right now. Rather than handling situations for them, and hence taking responsibility for our children, we can show responsibility to our children by helping them to problem solve and handle conflicts on their own. Myrna Shure has addressed not only the philosophy behind helping children learn how to think rather than what to think in her book Raising a Thinking Child: Help Your Young Child to Resolve Everyday Conflicts and Get Along with Others, but has gone the step further so often requested by parents by going through numerous examples of how exactly to do this.

Shure begins by explaining the principle concepts of Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving, generally referred to as I Can Problem Solve (ICPS), which has been successfully used in home and institutional settings for decades. According to the book, ICPS will help you:

  • increase your awareness that your child’s view may differ from your own;
  • see that helping your child think a problem through may in the long run help more than immediate action to stop what she is doing;
  • provide a model of problem-solving thinking for your children – as a thinking parent, you might inspire your child to think.

ICPS will help your children:

  • think about what to do when they face a problem with another person;
  • think about different way sto solve the same problem;
  • think about the consequences of what they do;
  • decide whether or not an idea is a good one;
  • realize that other people have feelings and think about their own feelings too.

The concepts in the book were not new to me. As part of striving for a consensually living family, we try to brainstorm solutions as a family or help our children think through their own problems to come up with their own solutions. When people develop their own solutions, they are much more likely to implement and follow through with them. What makes Shure’s book unique is that she goes through specific key words to use during dialogues and has numerous examples to help parents new to using this type of technique.

Reading through the examples, I was struck with the thought that the process and word choice was almost patronizing to children and adults alike. I couldn’t imagine going through the examples with my children. However, as I continued through the book, I was immediately struck by the example given where the mother stepped in, using ICPS techniques with her children when the father, who had less opportunity to practice these techniques, was frustrated and reaching his limit. That was the moment when I realized the value of the given examples for families, children and parents, who are new to such concepts and are looking for key words to help them in the learning process.

As the title implies, the examples in the book are geared toward families with young children. They would need to be adapted quite a bit for familes with older children (or even some familes with younger children) so that the kids didn’t feel as if they were being spoken down to. However, the main philosophical concepts are relevant to all families and individuals for thinking through conflict and resolution.

Shure shows in her examples that children are empowered by solving their own problems. Yet, she also advocates liberal use of praise in order to get children to practice these new found skills. In my opinion, the book and concepts in general would be strengthened by removing the use of praise.

 

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children

A Ride on Mother’s Back

For families who are living differently from mainstream America, it can often be difficult to find children’s books which reflect our own values. Emery Bernhard has a lovely book entitled A Ride on Mother’s Back: A Day of Baby Carrying Around the World which appeals to attachment parenting families everywhere. The book takes a look at how different families in different cultures around the world go about their days with securely attached babies and children. While the title of the book specifically mentions mothers, the book shows many relatives sharing in the babywearing, including siblings, fathers, and grandparents. The brief glance into other cultures, along with a slightly expanded bit of information at the back of the book, is appealing to older children. Babies and toddlers love reading books about others their age. This book gives a nice opportunity for those families who practice attachment parenting to share with thei rchildren about other babywearing families. My children have all loved the book when they were little and continue to do so as they grow older.

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof

My 7 year old has a loose tooth. It isn’t terribly loose, so I don’t think it will be coming out for quite some time, but it is loose none-the-less. The first loose tooth is a sign of coming change. My child is growing up. It’s new and exciting and bittersweet.

We weren’t certain what we would do for this monumentous occasion. Surely such a significant event must be celebrated in some way. Then we saw Selby Beeler’s book, Throw Your Tooth on the Rood: Tooth Traditions from Around the World.

In the book, Beeler describes traditions concerning loose teeth from all over the world. The short desrciptions, along with illustrations, make the book suitable for children of all ages. It was interesting to learn about different traditions and to see how similar cultures have similar traditions. It seems that throwing the tooth is a recurrent theme throughout Europe and that Spanish speaking cultures have traditions centering around a rat or mouse. Throughout many parts of the world, the various traditions center around having a new tooth that grows in strong and straight.

At dinner one evening, I asked my son what he wanted to do when he looses his first tooth. He is undecided at this time, contemplating how he wants to celebrate. The question did lead to a most interesting, and later hilarious, discussion about possible traditions. It culminated in a family story time where the kids and I decided it would be a lot of fun for my husband to dress up in a tooth fairy costume, complete with glitter “fairy dust.” I’m not certain of my husband’s thoughts on that matter, as by that time we were all laughing to hard to have any further discussion on the topic.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children

It’s Not the Stork

Due to recent discussions and inquiries about sex at our house, I had requested the book It’s Not the Stork by Robie Harris from our local library. Based on some of the reviews on Amazon, I was expecting a book for older kids and was a little surprised to see the circle on the front as saying it was for ages 4 +.  I agree that this book is completely appropriate for that age group.

The book is honest and straight forward and answers some seemingly complex questions in a simple way that children can understand. The simple cartoon-like illustrations, while anatomically correct, are modest and not at all graphic. Harris addresses both similarities and differences between the bodies of men and women, girls and boys. She takes a non-biased view on issues, keeping everything to the facts.

I liked the fact that while it stated that most babies are born in the hospital (I would personally add in the United States to this statement), that some are born at home. While not mentioning it specifically, he doesn’t leave out unassisted birth due to his statement that many moms have someone help them out and equally mentions doctors and nurses along with midwives and doulas. No where is it stated that all women utilize these people.

The first part of the book focuses on correct terminology of body parts, utilizing a style shown in many board books where body parts are labeled with a line pointing to them. It focuses solely on reproduction after introducing terminology, mainly focusing on anatomy and what happens after the egg is fertilized. One statement explains that the man places his penis into the woman’s vagina during sex. This is the only mention of that and frankly, it’s needed after your children pass the stage where they want to know exactly how sperm reaches the egg. Contrary to one Amazon reviewers claim that the associated illustrated is soft porn, the picture merely shows a man and woman in bed covered up with a quilt. Since most people in our society sleep in bed with some type of covering, I’m not certain how that could be construed as something else.

The book goes on to cover how a baby is formed and grows. Despite the cartoonish nature of the drawings, I’ve noticed my five year old picking the book up to look at the babies and the mother’s pregnant bellies. Harris briefly mentions some of the needs newborn babies have, again taking an unbiased view on topics such as breastfeeding and bottle feeding. I was delighted to see an illustration of a mother tandem nursing her newborn twins.

After addressing reproduction, the author briefly goes over what are okay touches and what are not –  that it’s okay for you to touch your private parts if it tickles and feels good but that it is not okay for others to touch you. She also mentions that families can look very different, including all of the many children in our society who live in a family that doesn’t conform to the typical nuclear family.

Besides some initial giggling from my children at the beginning of the book with the mention of poop (why is it that children find poop so funny?), I mainly thought the book was very well written and illustrated. There were two things I would change. In the illustrations which show the differences between an intact penis and a circumcised penis, discussed with Harris’s unbiased writing style, the intact penis is labelled uncircumcised. Since penises are naturally intact, this really is not a correct way to describe them. The other part was in the discussion of who is allowed to touch your private parts. The author mentions that it is okay for doctors to touch you in order to help you. I personally skipped over that part. It’s my opinion that it is unacceptable for anyone to touch another person’s private parts without permission.

The book is geared for toddlers and preschool age children. With younger children, one could easily skip over parts that they weren’t quite ready for. I was pleased with the content of the book and look forward to exploring some of the author’s books for older children.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.