Author Archives: Star Bright Books

What Kind of Learner Are You? Auditory, Visual, or Kinesthetic?

For parents, educators, older siblings, or anyone guiding a child through the stages of their learning process, it can be useful to know how best they learn. When you picture studying for exams or researching for projects, what strategies come to mind? Color-coding notes? Flashcards? Audiobooks or reading articles out loud? You or your child might not know which way works best or do all three, and that’s fine.

 

There are three different learning strategies within the Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) that could be helpful to any individual young, old, or in between: visual , auditory , and kinesthetic!

 

Children carry these learning strategies into high school or college. It can be fun for elementary and middle school students to take the MI test and discover new things about themselves.

 

From First Grade Takes a Test, written by Miriam Cohen and illustrated by Ronald Himler.

 

What is the Theory of Multiple Intelligences?

Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist, developed the theory through the late 1970s to early ’80s.

 

The theory totals seven types of learning, but this post will focus on the three most overlooked: auditory, kinesthetic, and visual. The other four types are intrapersonal, interpersonal, logical-mathematical, and linguistic, which are readily integrated into a classroom curriculum. It is difficult to make auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning part of a teacher’s lesson plan because they are individual to each student.

 

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners retain concepts best when learning materials are spoken aloud. They like to hear words read aloud and annunciated, listen to music while working, and prefer a lecture over reading assignments that require visual focus.

 

To help an auditory learner hone their skills, have them make up song lyrics to correspond with what they’re learning, listen to wordless music or a favorite genre while working (have them test it out to see which works best), capture their intrigue with language patterns, and refer to audio lessons or readings (if possible).

 

Visual Learners

Visual learners can be marked by young, enthused readers that move from picture books to chapter books comfortably, recall stories in photographic detail, and enjoy drawing or painting. Students typically sit at the front of the classroom and request to see a method (math problem or spelling) conducted before they try their hand at it.

 

To aid a visual learner, have them watch video tutorials, examine diagrams or handouts, use highlighters to color-code notes, make flashcards, create a non-distracting work environment, and use white boards to try out concepts.

 

Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners are characterized by learning through touch, movement, and motion. Children tend to prefer interactive books and museum displays, building 3D sets or clay models over 2D art, and holding items to understand them better.

 

To support a kinesthetic learner, purchase textured paper and pencils of different shapes and sizes, pattern blocks for math, and alphabet magnets or blocks for spelling comprehension; place them at a standing desk or a seat higher above the table’s surface to decrease fidgeting; and encourage finger-snapping or clapping while studying (so long as it’s not disruptive to others).

 

Can you be all three? How can I find out which way I learn best?

Of course! Most people are a combination of all three, with varying traits outweighing the others.

 

If you’re curious how you learn best, you can take this 20-question quiz. It takes roughly 3 to 5 minutes, and there is an additional page if you would like to examine all three learning styles.

The test results will give you a percentage breakdown based on which letter you answered the most to the least (A, B, or C). It’s good for upper-grade elementary schoolers, middle schoolers, early high schoolers, or any adult dying to know how to better prepare themselves for their next presentation.

 

Understanding how you or your child learn most efficiently can be useful in a social, work, or school sphere and lead to deeper self-awareness. Make sure to ask your child or yourself what is working and what isn’t. By identifying learning strengths, weaknesses become easier to tackle.

Teaching an Accurate Narrative on Native American History

During the Thanksgiving season, relations between Native Americans and colonists has always been the major focus, but often glosses over the ethnic cleansing and cultural suppression Native tribes experienced as a result. Rejecting the whitewashing of history has never been more important in 2020, but how can educators and parents do so in an age-appropriate way? Star Bright Books has collected expert wisdom to guide child caregivers through the holiday season in a respectful and educational manner.

 

From Cradle Me (Ojibwe/English) by Debby Slier.

 

Show Children Media Centered on Real Native Americans Voices and Experiences

The image of a “typical” Native American held by many Americans today comes from popular media by non-Native creators such as the Disney film Pocahontas or the serialized television westerns of the 1950s. These shallow media portrayals can give kids harmful perceptions of Native Americans as “warlike”, possessing magic powers, and even that they are a nonexistent group in modern society. Instead, parents and educators should reject the whitewashing status quo of children’s media by amplifying Native voices like Jingle Dancer, written by Cynthia Leitich Smith of the Muscogee Nation (and illustrated by Star Bright Books favorites Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu!).

 

Listen to Native Americans’ Lived Experiences

For many people, experiencing something firsthand makes a concept easier to understand, and children are no different in this regard. One way educators can help foster a positive connection to Native American culture with children from non-Native backgrounds is to contact a local tribe and see if a member would like to share their culture with students through a presentation or fun activity. Of course, when asking a member of a marginalized group to share their lived experiences, be careful that the onus is not on marginalized people to solve systemic oppression, further educate others on what systemic oppression is, or to explain trauma from discrimination if they do not wish to do so. Additionally, avoid trivializing Native American culture by having children “try on” the culture with dressing up as Native Americans or playing in tipis.

 

Create Lessons on Tribal History and Culture Outside of Interactions with Europeans

One of the biggest reasons for the gap in knowledge on Native American customs, culture, and history is that schools often only cover these subjects around Thanksgiving time, and the information mostly presents a whitewashed portrayal of Native American culture and history. With over 573 recognized tribes in North America alone, there is so much more to be explored about the diversity of Indigenous experiences—for example, the passion for stickball that could rival college football or hockey. Helping children learn about different aspects of tribal life can spark better appreciation for the rich diversity of Native American cultures.

 

Native Americans contribute much to North American arts and sciences and should be treated with equivalent respect by non-Natives. So this Thanksgiving season, trade in the tired tropes of Peter Pan for an authentic first- or secondhand view of Native American culture and history in and outside of the classroom.

Celebrating Indigenous Languages

The world is made up of many different languages and dialects; in fact, of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken around the world, 2,680 are Indigenous languages. Indigenous languages are native to the region and spoken by Indigenous people.

 

The languages of Indigenous peoples are directly tied to their culture. Yet, many Indigenous languages are on the verge of extinction because they are not generally accepted as the national language of a region. We’re taking time to celebrate Indigenous languages in the United States and the revival efforts to save them.

 

From Loving Me (Navajo/English), by Debby Slier and Naaltsoos Áyilaa.

 

A Brief History of Indigenous Languages in the United States

 

Before the colonization of the United States there were approximately 300 languages spoken by Indigenous peoples. European settlers forced Indigenous peoples off their own lands and into reservations where they were coerced into learning English and forsaking their native languages. Over time, this practice has resulted in the elimination of many Indigenous languages.

 

In 1972, these policies were finally reversed when Congress passed the Indian Education Act, allowing tribes to teach children their Indigenous languages. This right was reinforced with the Native American Languages Act of 1990. Even though these laws were passed to help revitalize Indigenous languages, the long practice of assimilation that punished students for speaking non-English languages instilled a deep-seated fear in Indigenous elders that the children of their tribes would suffer if taught their native languages.

 

Today, only 167 Indigenous languages are spoken in the United States. Many of these languages are spoken by a handful of elders who are unable to pass them on to younger generations because of a lack of funding, training, and the technical support needed to produce new fluent speakers. This is why it is estimated that by 2050 only 20 Indigenous languages will remain. Although there are 170,000 speakers of Navajo, most other Indigenous peoples only speak English.

 

From Loving Me (Navajo/English), by Debby Slier and Naaltsoos Áyilaa.

 

Indigenous Languages Are a Cause for Celebration

 

With this realization, many Indigenous tribes have focused on language revival. “It is a human right to be able to speak your own language,” says Tania Haerekiterā Tapueluelu Wolfgramm, a Māori and Tongan person who works as an educator and activist in Aotearoa—the Māori name for New Zealand—and other Pacific countries. “You don’t have a culture without the language.”

 

The empowerment that comes with the revitalization of Indigenous languages helps to strengthen community bonds and enhances self-esteem and cultural well-being. In regions and schools where tribes are focusing on the revival of their native languages, students are performing at higher levels than their peers who are not partaking in the revival efforts.

 

This is evident in places like Window Rock, Arizona, and Hilo, Hawai’i, where children are being introduced or immersed in their native languages, with English being taught as a second language. Students perform at almost two grade levels above their peers who learned English first. They also have a much higher rate of staying in school and choosing to pursue a higher education.

 

Enhancing Revival Efforts

 

Language is the first way we come to understand our surroundings and our place in the world; thus, it has an ingrained place in our cultures and communities. The Endangered Language Fund has assembled a resource page to help people learn more about the ways they can assist in these language revival efforts.

Star Bright Books celebrates the diverse languages of the world through its bilingual books, including Hopi, Ojibwe, and Navajo. We hope to offer more Indigenous language books in the future!

Bonding with Nature During a Pandemic

From Grandma is a Slowpoke, written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Michele Coxon.

Amid the pandemic, you might be feeling cooped up and rubbing elbows with household members. To release all of that teeming energy, you may have found a special tree you like to sit under or a bird’s nest you like to check on. Perhaps even a brisk walk to the ocean to gather seashells with a little one?

 

The fall season brings colder weather, and for many who seek nature as an escape from the coronavirus pandemic, this shift in temperatures may be disheartening. But it’s still possible to be in harmony with nature, and we have included some fall activities below for children, teens, and adults to explore!

 

How going outside helps our mental and physical health

Regardless of age, spending time outside can lower feelings of stress or depression, anger or aggression, and obesity rates.

 

For kids, it also has learning advantages in the classroom. Children are more focused, experience an uptick in critical thinking skills, and develop motor skills.

 

What are some activities for kids ages 0-3?

  • Sculptures: Collect acorns, leaves, rocks, pine cones, or any nature item that is Children can construct sculptures with their items using play dough. You can also use old Tupperware or beach toys as a spot to stick the dough on to develop motor skills!

 

  • Outside Story Time: Grab a blanket, some favorite snacks, and find a cozy spot to read. It can be a nature book or one that encourages children to learn about the world around them.

 

  • Family Walk or Bike Ride: Use a stroller or bike trailer so you can get some exercise and point out different aspects of nature to your child along the way! Find out what fascinates them most.

 

What are some activities for kids ages 4 and up?

  • Bird Watching: Have kids identify types of birds and the trees they nest in. Bring a bird watcher’s guide if they are really into it.

 

  • Nature Hunt: Build a list of items you want to find on a walk (optional: set a goal for how many you want to find). It could be a stash of acorns, leaves, pine cones, or rocks that your child finds interesting!

 

  • Bring a Ball: Kick a ball around or play catch. Try to stay distanced from people outside your household. Playing catch is better for household members only; kicking a ball is good for people outside your circle.

 

What are some new ways for adults to bond with nature?

One of the best ways to bond with nature is to bond with your community. The master naturalists at Oregon State give some tips on this.

 

Volunteer to help a neighbor, a family member, or a friend improve their yard; invite one or two people and set up a mini gym in the yard where everyone brings their own exercise materials; or write some fun facts about nature on a whiteboard for your neighbors and change it weekly!

 

Consider making some giveaway bags for food banks and homeless shelters with bandages,

masks, non-perishable foods, and socks.

 

If you’re feeling daring and want to help the environment, take up beekeeping. (This may be more of a spring activity, but you must admit it sounds riveting to start preparing early!)

 

Other outdoor fall activities for all ages:

Apple picking, corn mazes, building bonfires, outdoor charades or homemade theatricals, and hiking through the woods are all fun socially distanced activities!

 

Have you considered looking to the stars? There is a full moon on Halloween and four upcoming meteor showers on November 11th, 12th, 16th, and 17th.

 

During the holidays, try Conkers! It is a tradition in Ireland, Canada, and the UK—even Queen Elizabeth herself enjoys a good game. Collect some chestnuts, string them on arm-length twine, and have kids smash them together to see who can break the most chestnuts. You can also offer a prize to the child who finds the most chestnuts.

 

Enjoy seeing what autumn has to offer. It may put a smile on your face to discover a funky

mushroom or to use chestnuts as game pieces. Most importantly, make sure you bundle up—with coats, gloves, hats, AND masks.

Benefits of Inclusion in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education is evolving into a more inclusive environment for everyone. This includes children with visible and invisible disabilities, as well as typically developing children. But what exactly does inclusion look like in early childhood education?

 

An inclusive classroom means students with and without learning differences all learn together in one classroom. Inclusive classrooms help foster a welcoming and supportive environment that meets the diverse academic, social, emotional, and communication needs for all of its students. 

 

From Friends at School, written by Rochelle Bunett and photography by Matt Brown.

 

How Does Teaching Inclusion Benefit Everyone?

Studies have shown that students of all developmental styles benefit from their involvement in an inclusive learning environment. Inclusive learning environments help develop positive self-images, friendship and social skills, problem-solving, and respect for others.

 

Most young children have not yet been exposed to stereotypes attached to people with visible and invisible disabilities. An inclusive classroom therefore provides opportunities for children to practice acceptance and understanding. Children learn how their classmates with different learning styles and abilities are similar to each other, as well as how they do things in different ways.

 

Inclusive classrooms also use teaching strategies that meet each child at their individual developmental level, which benefits all children. These strategies help each student learn what is expected of them and how to navigate the classroom as a whole. Oftentimes, teachers will separate students into small groups or hold one-on-one sessions as a way of practicing differentiated instruction. This allows teachers to tailor lessons to best fit each student’s learning style and provides students with opportunities to get up and move around or use fidgets that can help them concentrate.

 

Available resources in inclusive classrooms are made for everyone. Special education professionals also provide additional information, support, and suggestions,

 

Teaching Strategies for an Inclusive Classroom

From Friends at School, written by Rochelle Bunett and photography by Matt Brown.

Nicole Eredics, an educator specializing in the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms, details the five classroom management strategies for a successful inclusive classroom. One of these is color-coding the classroom in order to reduce confusion and direct attention to the classroom schedule. Eredics also suggests starting each day stress-free by asking students to do three things when they enter the classroom: unpack their backpacks and hang up their coats, turn in any homework, and do a calming activity of their own choosing.

 

Another important teaching strategy in an inclusive classroom is creating and maintaining a routine, as this promotes a sense of security in students regardless of their learning styles or abilities.

 

How Parents Can Help at Home

It is also important for teachers to talk with the families of children in their classrooms about at-home strategies to promote inclusion. As Erin Aguilar, an inclusion specialist and educator for the Easterseals Blake Foundation, writes: “Working together and creating a partnership with families is an important part of inclusion, and can help children reach their developmental potential.”

 

Though not every school and classroom teaches inclusivity, parents can still teach inclusion to their children. Kids tend to absorb the behaviors and attitudes they see around them. Therefore, in many ways, parents and guardians become their children’s first teachers.

 

Reading books with diverse characters and stories can play a huge role in the overall development of children. On top of being a great way to introduce new words and concepts, books can help create teaching and learning opportunities for parents to have conversations with their children about what diversity and inclusion means.

Star Bright Books offers a number of inclusive books: siblings of all abilities work together in Laura Dwight’s Brothers and Sisters; Anna is determined to be part of the wreath-laying team at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in spite of her blindness in Barbara H. Cole’s heartwarming book Anna & Natalie; and the true meaning of inclusion is on display in Rochelle Bunnett’s photo essay Friends At School.

The Dangers of Cultural Appropriation During the Halloween Season

As Halloween draws near, have you ever questioned whether costumes are offensive to cultures you do not belong to? If so, you may be encountering cultural appropriation. Below are some suggestions for tackling this topic with children.

 

From Tough Jim, written by Miriam Cohen and illustrated by Ronald Himler.

 

Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation

Cultural appropriation is taking aspects of someone else’s culture (clothing, symbols, music, etc.) and using it for your own benefit without recognizing its historical meaning or prominence. Wearing an Indigenous headdress to a music festival or wearing Indigenous tribal paint on

Thanksgiving when you have no Indigenous heritage connection are a few examples.

 

Conversely, appreciation is taking the time to understand someone else’s culture, recognizing the collective history of your own identity in association with the culture in question, and maintaining mutual respect. Make sure you take the time to listen to other worldviews prior to asking any contextual questions and try to engage by exchanging food recipes or supporting a local business’s artistry.

 

It is so important to appreciate rather than appropriate! To appreciate is to address and challenge

a worldwide history of genocides, white supremacy, and racism.

 

Who is most affected by cultural appropriation during the Halloween season?

While cultural appropriation touches a range of ethnicities, in American society, Indigenous peoples dread Halloween. It is a dangerous holiday for Indigenous folks because by wearing an “Indian Princess” or “Little Native Chief” costume, the wearer is mocking the history of Indigenous folks.

 

Headdresses, moccasin materials, tribal paint, beadwork, or feathering are all Indigenous

designs! They are not a costume.

 

What are some more examples of culturally appropriating costumes that are NEVER

okay?

  • A Mexican person or Day of the Dead
  • An Egyptian pharaoh or queen
  • Blackface, brownface, tribal paint
  • A ninja
  • A Geisha
  • Gypsies
  • A prison inmate
  • Folks in a psychiatric facility
  • A homeless individual
  • A Hula dancer
  • A fat suit
  • A transgender person
  • A Bollywood star

 

Remember that all of these communities have been historically discriminated against. Society outcast them and deemed them fit for ridicule. To wear these costumes is to believe in the notions society has fabricated. Avoid these costumes and research if you are not certain why these examples appropriate.

 

If your child or someone you know is planning a Halloween party, it couldn’t hurt to mention on the invitation that culturally appropriating costumes are a no-go.

 

How can I approach this topic with children?

The majority of kids don’t seek to offend anyone! Halloween should be a joyous and spooky occasion for all, but also inoffensive. Discuss with children the historical context prior to costume selection and ask the following questions from educator Ray Yang:

 

  • Is this costume a stereotype of a group of people?
  • Does it hold any historical or cultural significance?
  • How does removing the context change the costume’s meaning?
  • Does my usage of the costume trivialize a group or people?

 

Yang also encourages kids to do their own research, visit museums (in pandemic times), or have them reach out to someone who is a victim of cultural appropriation. Sometimes hearing a firsthand account can go a long way in a child’s understanding of a foreign experience!

 

We at Star Bright Books hope you have a happy, healthy, and safe Halloween!

Voting Resources

The 2020 presidential election is fast approaching! Kids follow the example set by their parents and guardians, and voting is a great way to teach critical thinking, self-advocacy, and civic engagement. Whether you’re planning to vote absentee, mail-in, early, or in-person on November 3, Star Bright Books has compiled a comprehensive list of websites that can answer common questions on everything from registering to filling out a ballot. We have also included several social justice resources on combating voter harassment and ensuring your voting rights are recognized.

 

Young Tansy helps Big Mama cast her vote in The Big Day (release date: October 30). Illustration by Robert Casilla.

 

Massachusetts Voting Resources

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

sec.state.ma.us/ovr/?ref=voteusa

Register to vote as a Massachusetts resident. Offered in English and Spanish.

 

Vote 411

vote411.org/massachusetts

Information on voting in Massachusetts, from early voting to mail-in ballots.

 

General Voting Resources

Common Cause

commoncause.org/voting-tools/

Register to vote, check registration status, request an absentee ballot, track a ballot, find local election offices, determine voter eligibility, research state-specific voting laws, and receive election reminders.

 

Let America Vote

letamericavote.wpengine.com/action-2/

State-specific information on voting legislation and nationwide rating of voter-friendliness in each state.

 

Rock the Vote

rockthevote.org/how-to-vote/voting-faqs/

Answers to common questions on voting, from state-by-state residency requirements to accessibility resources for voters with disabilities.

rockthevote.org/how-to-vote/nationwide-voting-info/absentee-voting/

State-by-state policies on absentee voting.

 

The Society for Human Resource Management

elections.shrm.org/

General information on candidates and candidate positions on workplace policy, safety tips for voting during a pandemic, a podcast on the importance of voting, and a state-by-state listing of House and Senate representatives.

 

Spread the Vote

spreadthevote.org/

Get assistance acquiring an ID, a requirement to vote.

 

U.S. Department of Defense

fvap.gov/

Information for military, expatriate U.S. citizens, and their families on how to register and vote while living abroad.

 

U.S. Election Assistance Commission

eac.gov/

Master list of resources and updates on state and nationwide voting policies in the age of COVID-19. Offered in Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

 

When We All Vote

whenweallvote.org/deadlines/

State-by-state list of voting deadlines.

whenweallvote.org/votebymail/

FAQs on the mail-in voting process.

 

Ethnic/Racial Justice Organizations and Voting Information

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

advancingjustice-aajc.org/node/37

Resources for Asian Americans on general, language, and citizenship voting rights.

 

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies

apaics.org/voting-resources/

FAQs for Asian Pacific Americans on voting deadlines, absentee and mail-in voting, registration processes, and other resources.

 

Black Folk Must Vote

blackfolkmustvote.org/voting-resources/#

Resources and information for Black Americans on how to register, voter deadlines, and required ballot information.

 

BlackVote.org

blackvote.org/

Nationwide information and resources for Black Americans on voter registration, rights, and candidates.

 

Muslims Vote 2020

muslims.vote/resources/

Resources and information for Muslim-Americans on how to register, requesting an absentee ballot, early voting, voting locations, and ways to start or join grassroots Muslim organizations.

 

The Native American Voting Rights Coalition

vote.narf.org/

Resources for Native Americans on voting issues and rights, including what to do if voting rights are violated.

 

Voto Latino

votolatino.org/

Information and resources for Latinx people on how to vote, why it matters, voting deadlines, and candidates.

 

Disability Justice Organizations and Voting Information

Administration for Community Living

acl.gov/news-and-events/announcements/voting-resources-older-americans-and-people-disabilities

Information on federal laws and departments as well as local agencies dedicated to ensuring accessibility for voters with disabilities.

 

American Association of People with Disabilities

aapd.com/advocacy/voting/voter-resource-center/

Resources on accommodations legally required to be provided for disabled voters and voting rights.

 

National Federation of the Blind

nfb.org/resources/voting-resources

Master list of resources for blind Americans on voter accessibility rights when registering and during the voting process.

 

U.S. Election Assistance Commission

eac.gov/voters/voting-accessibility

Various resources including a Braille “Your Federal Voting Rights” card and fact sheet.

eac.gov/voter_resources/resources_for_voters_with_disabilities.aspx

List of ADA and ABA requirements to accommodate disabled voters.

 

LGBTQ+ Justice Organizations and Voting Information

Lambda Legal

lambdalegal.org/vote

FAQs for transgender, gender non-conforming, and nonbinary voters on how to register, what to bring, what to do if homeless, what to do if formerly incarcerated, updating IDs, how to report voter harassment, and other resources.

 

National Center for Transgender Equality

transequality.org/issues/voting-rights

Resources for transgender people on voter rights and how to navigate issues with identification.

 

TRANSform the Vote

transformthevote.org/voting

Resources on what to bring to a polling site and how to report harassment while voting.

 

Reporting Election Problems or Questions

American Civil Liberties Union

aclu.org/issues/voting-rights/fighting-voter-suppression

Information on voter suppression and how to fight it on a national and statewide level.

 

Election Protection Hotline

Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US (1-844-925-5287)

English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)

Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682)

Bengali/Cantonese/Hindi/Korean/Mandarin/Tagalog/Urdu/Vietnamese: 1-888-API-VOTE (1-888-274-8683)

 

When We All Vote

whenweallvote.org/know-your-voting-rights/

Resources for voting rights, requirements, and how to report voter suppression. Additional information for current or formerly incarcerated citizens on voting rights.

Preparing for a child’s first pet

With offices, schools, and extracurriculars all going virtual, family time has risen to a dramatic new level. One area of domestic life that has increased from the socially distanced status quo is the adoption and purchase of pets. Furry, feathered, or scaled, sharing lives with pets can be a great way to develop empathy and responsibility in children. Below, Star Bright Books shares tips and tricks on how to make pet ownership in families with children a paw-sitive developmental experience!

 

How and Where Should I Get a Pet?

Before visiting an animal shelter (or a pet store if adoption is not possible), first decide which type of pet will fit best into your family’s lifestyle. For example, do any family members have fur allergies? How many children are there and how old are they? The Association of Professional Dog Trainers recommends getting a large dog if you have toddlers to avoid a child accidentally injuring a smaller, more fragile animal.

 

From A Fish To Feed, written by Ellen Mayer and illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu.

 

Once the type and breed of pet are narrowed down, families can visit shelters to find their future companion. Ideally, children should take part in this process, as it helps children adjust to the reality of what the pet will be like on a daily basis.

 

This isn’t just advice for future dog and cat parents—many shelters house birds, rodents, and even reptiles in need of new families! Also, while pet stores and breeders are often a quicker route to getting a pet than shelters, be wary of unethical business practices at these institutions such as puppy mills.
           

Supervising First Interactions between Child and Pet

From A Fish To Feed, written by Ellen Mayer and illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu.

It is essential to monitor interactions between children and the pet for the comfort and safety of both. Having an animal that needs to be cared for every day is a big lifestyle change for children, so supervision from the start can address early problematic behaviors like aggression, overfeeding or underfeeding, and unhygienic interactions. Pets, like people, can occasionally get overwhelmed by the ways children might try to show affection or play, so swiftly establishing boundaries with the child and designating a child-free zone for the pet like a crate or bed will ensure more harmonious relations between the pet and children.

                                                           

Establishing the Child’s Responsibilities for the Pet

Some say a pet is simply another child to care for. Indeed, it is recommended that adults in the household oversee and act as a role model to children in pet care. However, children can, and should, be assigned smaller daily tasks in caring for the pet. Having a routine chore assigned to children such as walking the dog or feeding the fish after school provides a positive developmental boost in kids as they get a chance to bond with and share responsibility for the pet. As A Fish to Feed shows, pets give parents and children a chance to share time and to talk, helping to bring families closer together and aiding in early language development. In busy families where parents and children are juggling numerous activities, sticking to a routine gets tricky. Making a physical schedule of when and who takes care of the pet that every family member can see may help.

 

Most importantly, enjoy the newest member of your family! Pets are not just great developmental skill-builders for children, they are true companions that will provide fond memories children can look back on for a lifetime.

Artist Spotlight: Jerry Pinkney

This is a guest piece written by Jill Lauren, author of That’s Like Me!

Jerry Pinkney, picture from the foreword of THAT’S LIKE ME!

 

Jerry Pinkney has devoted much of his life to illustrating books for children. His award-winning picture books, such as Caldecott recipient The Lion & the Mouse, are beloved by generations of readers. For many readers, the fact that Jerry is also dyslexic makes his life story even more inspiring.

 

It’s been ten years since Jerry Pinkney wrote the captivating foreword to That’s Like Me! To celebrate, author Jill Lauren caught up with him for this interview. In it, young people ask Jerry questions about his art and motivations. His answers provide insights into his creativity and illuminate how his learning disability colors his artistic gifts.

 

Megan asked: What do you wish you knew when you first entered children’s publishing?

 

Jerry Pinkney: I entered because I was passionate about book making. I was a graphic design major in art school. But when I first started, book publishers didn’t really have a design department. The design of the book was up to the illustrator. So I was able to combine my two interests in illustrating books and contributing to the design. That’s how my first book, The Adventures of Spider (1964), was created.

 

Back then, my nine-to-five job was as a graphic design illustrator at Barker–Black Studio in Boston. This is how I supported my family. I worked on illustrating books after work. I had no understanding of the kind of rich life that children’s publishing would provide for me. I worked on books because I needed to do it—it made me feel good. I was contributing to something, I was exercising certain talents and gifts and passions that I had. It may be good that I didn’t know how the success of illustrating children’s books would change my life because it might have affected my passion.

 

But, mostly I wish that I had understood more the value of the process. And had enjoyed the many steps in creating the final art.

 

Emily asked: What was your favorite book as a child?

 

Jerry: Well, I didn’t read as a child. I did enjoy stories, and they were served up in two ways. One was that my mother was an amazing reader, a ferocious reader. So she read to us, usually from a book that was a collection of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, Aesop’s Fables, or Uncle Remus’s tales. You can see that reflected in the work I do. And because I didn’t read, the other way stories were served up was the oral tradition, which is a Southern tradition of storytelling by listening to stories. I want my work to show the kind of energy and emotional content that I enjoyed in hearing someone tell a story.

 

We didn’t have a television. We had one radio that was in my parents’ room, so storytelling was a way of expressing and filling that space.

 

As a kid growing up, the barbershop was also amazing. I didn’t want to go to get my hair cut, but I loved the kind of language and storytelling among the older folks. It also was a sort of social center, the barbershop, so people would just come and tell stories and talk and solve the problems of the world. I remember listening.

 

So, there was no one specific favorite book. My fondness for listening to the stories from Aesop’s Fables and Hans Christian Andersen does impact my art, though, which can be seen in The Lion & the Mouse, The Ugly Duckling, and John Henry, for example.

 

Elliott asked: You often work with watercolor. Have you found it to be an easier medium to work with?

 

Jerry: No, not at all. There is something about watercolor that I think matches my personality. As a person with a learning disability, watercolor fits a certain need. Because watercolor is challenging, this medium gives me the opportunity to focus. I have to be in the moment with the medium, so it’s important to me because it helps me to concentrate.

 

Watercolor is also a medium that has its own surprises, and I think for a creative person, surprise is a reward. In order to be successful at watercolor, one has to also honor the certain properties and challenges that are built into the watercolor medium itself. Watercolor is not a medium that one can easily control. There is movement in watercolor. I never consider reworking watercolor, so there is some letting it be and going with that as I create. I build the movement into the work, and that creates some tension. Now, it turns out that all of this tension, this process of working with watercolor, gives the viewer a bridge into the work itself. People say that my work has a sense of being alive, which comes from my relationship with watercolor.

 

 

Thank you, Jerry, for dozens of spectacular children’s works and for your personal stories. We can’t wait for the gift of your next book!

 

Learn more about the book That’s Like Me!: Stories about Amazing People with Learning Differences at this link.

Artist Spotlight: Cornelius Van Wright

 

Cornelius Van Wright.

In our inaugural Artist Spotlight, we caught up with children’s book author and illustrator Cornelius Van Wright about his new book The Little Red Crane, creative inspiration, and the children’s publishing industry.

 

Star Bright Books (SBB): What was your inspiration for Dex the Spider Crane?

 

Cornelius Van Wright (CVW): The genesis of Dex started as a friendly conversation I had with Star Bright Books’s publisher [Deborah Shine] a few years ago. She had described to me how she could not stop watching a crane truck being assembled across from where she lived. I shared how I loved crane trucks ever since my father bought me a giant working toy crane when I was a child. We found out that we both had a fascination for trucks and cranes.

 

I drew her a picture of a crane. Later, she suggested I write a story about a crane. Excited, I bought tons of reference books on different cranes. In the very back on one of the books was a very small Crawler [Spider] Crane. That’s when the idea hit me.  Instead of a story about the many mighty cranes I saw, why not tell a story from the perspective of the smallest crane?

 

SBB: Why did you pursue children’s book writing and illustration as a career?

 

CVW: I have always loved children’s books. I still have many of the books my parents read to me when I was little. I loved escaping into the stories—they piqued my imagination.

 

In my final year of college, a visiting art director from a famous magazine saw my work and invited me to show him my portfolio. At the end of the visit he asked me why I wanted to be an illustrator. That question stuck in my head for years.

 

Finally, I understood what he was asking to me. What did I want to say as an illustrator? What was my reason for pursuing illustration? I stopped and re-examined my motives. I found that I was still looking at PBS children’s programs, even in college. These things reflected where my heart was. That is why I still have my children’s books from when I was little.

 

SBB: What do you wish you knew before entering the publishing industry? 

 

CVW: That a rich uncle or aunt were required. I had neither.

 

SBB: How has the industry changed since you started working as an illustrator? What are some challenges you still face?

 

CVW: I love the industry—not just working on children’s stories, but the people who work in the industry. Most of them have a beautiful passion for books that is inspiring.

 

The industry has changed dramatically over the years, however. It used to be an industry driven by love of books. Some books take years to catch on to the public. This was understood in the industry. However, many publishers have been taken over by large media conglomerates that are more interested in the fourth quarter. If a title doesn’t sell X amount of copies in X amount of months, “Off with it’s spine!” This is a sad new reality that seems to dictate what some publishers will take a chance on.

 

SBB: What is the favorite part of your job? 

 

CVW: I love seeing a book come to life. Equally, I love visiting classes and libraries and seeing children’s faces light up with their own inspirations. Some of the students run up to me and show me their drawings and ideas. They feel empowered. There is nothing like it!

 

SBB: Tell us about working with your wife, Ying-Hwa Hu, on book projects.

 

CVW: I love working with my wife. It is not always easy in terms of someone having a different opinion on an idea. But opening up to another point of view (teamwork) can actually strengthen the final product. It takes humbling oneself and entertaining the notion that that great idea you had may not have been a great idea. I have learned to trust and listen to Ying-Hwa’s opinions. I love working with her!

 

SBB: What illustrators of color do you admire? Have any of them inspired your works? 

 

CVW: There are many illustrators of color I admire. Too many to list them all. But a few that come immediately to mind are Jerry Pinkney, Allen Say, Leo and Diane Dillion, Kinuko Craft, Kadir Nelson, Faith Ringgold, and Shaun Tan. I am inspired by many artists. Inspiration can show up in many forms.

 

SBB: Is there an illustrated work you are most proud of? Why?

 

CVW: This eludes me.

 

SBB: What message do you hope to convey to young readers through your work? 

 

Cover illustration by Cornelius Van Wright.

CVW: Be free to imagine.

 

SBB: Who is your favorite children’s book character?

 

CVW: Too many . . .

 

SBB: Tell us one thing about you that readers would be interested to know.                                                                

CVW: I am a product of life’s detours. I’m still looking for the main road.

 

SBB: What advice would you offer to people of color interested in writing or illustrating? 

 

CVW: Please do not feel limited. What do you truly want to say? Do your homework(!) to find the best way to say it and share it.

 

Learn more about Cornelius and The Little Red Crane at this link:

 

starbrightbooks.com/index.php?id_product=704&rewrite=the-little-red-crane&controller=product