Category Archives: Family

Using Books to Teach Children Kindness and Acceptance

Image depicts a teacher showing an illustrated book to a group of young students.

Bibliotherapy is usually used to address common childhood and adolescent concepts (Image from Layla’s Head Scarf by Miriam Cohen).

Books entertain, inspire, and educate. But they can even go beyond that. Through a process known as bibliotherapy, books have become useful tools to aid in social and emotional growth for a wide range of people.

 

Bibliotherapy uses different books to aid with different issues, and thus, there are many ways it can be applied. The basics of how bibliotherapy works stay the same, though. Bibliotherapy is composed of three stages: identification (an individual reads a book and relates to a character or situation in the text), catharsis (that person becomes emotionally involved in the text and experiences an emotional release through discussion), and insight (the reader is more aware of their own situation and has gained some new perspective).

 

In academic settings, bibliotherapy is known as developmental bibliotherapy and is usually used to address common childhood and adolescent concepts such as puberty, bodily functions, and developmental milestones. However, bibliotherapy can also be adapted to help children understand a variety of subjects including disabilities.

 

While there is an inherent lack of research on using developmental bibliotherapy to teach children about disabilities, studies have found that bibliotherapeutic instruction can help improve the self-efficacy, feelings, and productivity of children with disabilities. For children without disabilities, bibliotherapy can help create a better understanding of those with disabilities. As a result, a more accepting and inclusive classroom environment can be built.

 

In order to establish an inclusive classroom, two teachers named Ms. Schild and Ms. Stone took part in a 2014 study that analyzed how students in their multiage classes responded to bibliotherapy. The teachers were motivated to try bibliotherapy after realizing how students without disabilities struggled to interact with and respect those who did.

 

Ms. Schild’s class of second and third graders started by reading a book called In Looking after Louis. Through their conversation about Louis’s disability and his behavior, it became clear the children viewed “disabled” and “non-disabled” as rigid categories with set characteristics. However, as the study continued, this outlook started to change.

 

Since the students perceived “disabled” and “non-disabled” so differently, Ms. Schild led a conversation about the meaning of “normal.” Prior to discussion, the class read the books Crow Boy, My Brother Sammy, and Ian’s Walk. After analyzing these works, the students were able to consider the individual differences of the characters in the story, along with differences in how the characters’ disabilities were expressed in each story. This challenged the previous mindset of the class and helped students understand how there are “more fluid boundaries to the definitions of disability and normality.”

 

By the end of the study, the teachers observed a change in how their students with and without disabilities interacted with one another. Students who were once annoyed by their classmates with disabilities became more understanding and respectful of their needs. A few students with disabilities also went through changes during this study. One student who usually did not participate in class discussions felt more inclined to speak up. Seeing himself represented in a book character made it easier for him to voice his opinions since he could look at the character and say, “That’s like me!”

 

While this study can be considered a success, it is admittedly difficult to measure the effectiveness of bibliotherapy. Between a lack of substantial research and the fact that interpretations of literature are highly subjective, results can vary greatly. Because of this, there is no way to guarantee bibliotherapy will prove successful for everyone; however, the worse outcome is that no change occurs. With that in mind, this technique is worth studying in more classroom settings.

A Sweet Story for Sweet Dreams

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Good Night, Little Sea Otter

Written by Janet Halfmann | Illustrated by Wish Williams

Ages 3 – 6

With their sweet faces and mischievous, playful personalities, sea otters may be one of the most “kid-like” animals on the planet. And, like children, they sure know how to have fun! Underwater, they glide, twist, twirl, and tumble with the same enthusiasm as kids on a playground, popping up to float on their backs like little ones lying on the ground to watch the clouds float by.

 

Sea otters also seem to know all about friendship—holding hands, playing in groups, and even sharing snacks (ingeniously prepared and served on their tummies!) When it’s naptime or bedtime, little sea otters are as snuggly as kids—or are kids as snuggly as little sea otters? Either way, both love to cuddle in a warm hug and a cozy blanket as they drift off to sleep.

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Good Night Little Sea Otter text copyright Janet Halfmann, Illustration copyright Wish Williams.

Janet Halfmann’s and Wish Williams’ adorable Good Night, Little Sea Otter delights in the lively antics of these loveable sea animals as the baby sea otter can’t go to sleep without saying “good-night” to all of her friends. As Little Sea Otter calls out to the seals, seagulls, snails and sea slugs, the fish, crabs, sea stars and sea urchins, they in turn are excited to say “good-night” to her as well. But as the gently rocking waves, twinkling stars, and Mama’s whispers quiet the baby, Little Sea Otter still feels she’s left someone out. Who can it be?

 

Young readers will be enchanted by this charming and joyful bedtime story that reassures them that even as they are going to sleep, they have a world of friends waiting and happy to greet them in the morning.

 

Sweet dreams!

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Good Night Little Sea Otter text copyright Janet Halfmann, Illustration copyright Wish Williams.

Good Night, Little Sea Otter is also published in these bilingual editions:

 

Arabic/English | Burmese Karen/English | Burmese/English | Chinese English/English | French/English | Hmong/English | Navajo/English | Portuguese/English | Spanish/English | Spanish/English (Board Book) 

 

Good Night, Little Sea Otter is available on the Star Bright Books Website:

Hardcover | Paperback | Board Book

 

And with these booksellers:

Amazon | IndieBound

 

You can connect with author Janet Halfmann on:

Her Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Download These Fun Good Night, Little Sea Otter Activities!

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Here are the Solutions: Word Search Solution | Maze Solution

Sharing Time with Grandparents Has Many Benefits

 

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Images are from these Star Bright Books titles – Top Row: Read to Me; Loving Me; Grandma is a Slowpoke. Bottom Row: Loving Me; Read to Me; Cake Day

 

The relationship between a child and grandparents is a special bond that grows in the heart and provides comfort, laughter, and memories that last a lifetime. Spending time with grandparents benefits children in many ways. As family, grandparents offer unconditional love and support. When they tell stories about their lives, they connect children to other relatives and give them a sense of belonging, now and as a part of the family’s history. And, of course, kids are thrilled to learn those humorous nuggets from their parents’ past.

 

Common history isn’t the only thing grandparents can pass down to their grandchildren. Afternoons or weekends spent together are perfect times for grandma or grandpa to share and teach favorite hobbies or special talents. Even the slower pace of an older person’s life can have a positive effect on kids. With today’s busy schedules, kids need downtime to think, to assimilate what they see, learn, and do, and to relax. Taking walks, baking, or reading together can give grandparents and children time to talk and observe the world around them in a close-up, unhurried way.

 

Grandparents also gain from listening to and interacting with their younger family members. The world is changing in so many ways, with technology often taking the lead. Children make wonderful teachers themselves, proud to show off what they know and what they can do. Keeping up with current culture by listening to a grandchild’s favorite music, going to the movies or watching funny Internet videos together, and discussing news events is a great way to stay young and informed.

 

The loving relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is reflected in three of Star Bright Books titles that are wonderful for sharing and reading together. They can also inspire the kinds of interactions that allow for talking with one another and getting to know each other better.

 

Grandma is a Slowpoke

Written by Janet Halfmann | Illustrated by Michele Coxon

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In Grandma Is a Slowpoke, a little girl is happy to walk through the woods with her grandma. But Grandma stops so often—she’s such a slowpoke! Each time they take a rest, though, they see wondrous wildlife. After watching cardinals, ants, bunnies, squirrels, ducks, geese, and muskrats, the little girl wants to see more. They sit together as the sun sets and the fireflies begin twinkling in the grasses. “‘Time to go, slowpoke,’” Grandma says. At home the little girl tells her family how much fun it was being a slowpoke with Grandma. Beautiful, detailed illustrations take children along on the adventure.

Rosa’s Very Big Job

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Sarah Vonthron-Laver

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When Rosa’s Mama goes to the grocery store in Rosa’s Very Big Job, the little girl is proud to help out at home by folding and putting away the laundry. She and her grandpa make it an adventure as they use their imaginations to turn the laundry basket and a sheet into a sailboat. When a storm blows up, Grandpa steers their little craft around rocks and over the wind-whipped waves. As the seas subside, Rosa casts her clothes-hanger fishing pole over the edge of the boat and catches a sockfish for dinner. When Mama gets home, she’s happy to see the neatly stacked laundry and is excited to hear all about Rosa and Grandpa’s escapade. The light, playful, and engaging illustrations will inspire children and grandparents to talk – and play -together.

Cake Day

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Estelle Corke

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Cake Day invites little ones into a sunny kitchen to bake a very special treat. As Grandma and her grandchild gather ingredients, measure, pour, and mix it all together, they talk about each step. Once the cake is in the oven, waiting is so hard! Finally, the timer dings, and it’s time to frost the cake and add a shower of rainbow sprinkles to the top! The little one is proud to have helped make a delicious cake for a very exciting day. The sweet relationship between the child and grandma is shown on every page as they have fun working in the kitchen together.

 

Cake Day also models ways that grandparents, parents, and other caregivers can turn everyday activities into joyful teachable moments.

 

You can find Grandma is a Slow Poke here:

Star Bright Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-MillionIndieBound

 

Look for Rosa’s Very Big Job here:

Star Bright Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

 

Cake Day is available here:

Star Bright Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-MillionIndieBound

Fantastic Gifts for Fantastic Dads

 

Dads are great!

 

Whether they’re pretending to be an astronaut chasing little aliens, teaching proper ball-throwing techniques, helping with homework, or doing the cooking and laundry with their own flair, today’s fathers are playful, involved, and engaged. One of the best ways for dads to spend time with their kids is snuggling up and reading together! These special times build strong, lasting bonds and benefit kids in so many ways!

 

Books make wonderful Father’s Day gifts that kids and their dads can share long after the holiday. Here you’ll find books that are just right for wrapping up a perfect day with dad! There are board books for little ones from ages 2 to 5, chapter books for kids ages 5 to 9, and a novel for young readers ages 9 to 12.

Daddy’s Busy Day

Written by Miriam Cohen | Illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu
Ages 2 – 4

In this sweet story, a child spends days with Dad while Mom goes off to work. As the little one says “Good bye, Mommy,” Daddy dishes up a breakfast favorite. The day flies by as they make chores fun, visit the park, have lunch, and dance. When Mom gets home, it’s time to cook dinner, take a bath, hear a story, and finally drift off to sleep with kisses from Mommy and Daddy. Gender neutral, this book is perfect for all children.

 

 

A Fish to Feed

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Ying Hwa-Hu
Ages 1 – 3

 

            

Come along with a dad and his little one as they add a new pet to the family! On their walk downtown, they happily talk together about all the fish they see on their way to the pet store—a fish to wear on a T-shirt, a toy fish to play with, and finally a real fish to love…and feed! Kids will love peering and pointing through the die-cut holes that encourage interactive reading and learning. Gender neutral, this book is perfect for all children. Also available in a Spanish/English edition

 

The Jake Series

Written by Ken Spillman | Illustrated by Chris Nixon
Ages 5 – 9

Jake’s Concert Horror | Jake’s Cooking Craze | Jake’s Gigantic List | Jake’s Balloon Blast | Jake’s Great Game | Jake’s Monster Mess

Jake and his dad are on their own in these funny, madcap adventures that younger kids will love to hear and independent readers will want to devour one after the other. Loveable Jake has huge ideas and a colossal desire to make them all come true! When things turn out…well…a little surprising, Jake can count on his dad for a sympathetic ear and encouragement.

Here’s a chapter-book series that all kids—voracious readers and reluctant readers alike—will get excited about. Come on! Join Jake’s world!

Jake’s Concert Horror

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When Jake is cast as the prince in the class play The Little Mermaid and learns he’ll have to kiss Stephanie (even if it is pretend), he thinks he’d rather be tied to an ants’ nest and force-fed tripe during every school vacation. He gamely learns his lines and gives his character princely manners, but that looming kiss is nerve-wracking! What will Jake do when the curtain rises and every eye is on him?

 

 

Jake’s Cooking Craze

star-bright-books-jake's-cooking-crazeJake’s caught the cooking bug. When his first creation—a boiled sweet potato mashed with baked beans and covered in an everything-in-the-refrigerator-door sauce—isn’t a culinary success, he takes lessons from Nana. Their chocolate mousse, pizza, and mango ice cream are delish, and Jake’s sure he’s got the hang of cooking. So what if his own chocolate mousse is more of a chocolate mess; it still tastes good! Jake’s convinced he can win the school’s cooking competition, and he wants to make something no one—especially Stephanie—will dare. But with only one ingredient from home allowed, what will Jake choose from his garden?

 

 

Jake’s Great Game

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Jake knows he’s going to be awesome at soccer. He’ll be super-fast and much too tricky for the opposing teams. But once he’s out on the field, soccer’s not as easy as it looks. Jake’s dribbling looks like bad passing and his passing looks like bad dribbling. The ball just won’t cooperate. Is it possible there’s a position that’s just the right fit for Jake?

 

 

Jake’s Gigantic List

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Jake’s birthday is right around the corner and Dad doesn’t know what to get him, so Jake starts a list. Pretty soon the list has 352 things on it, including #65: snow that doesn’t melt, complete with sled; #66: my own beach; #69: friendly pirate; #324: real dinosaurs—no fossils; and #325: fish tank with piranhas. There’s no way he’s getting any of these! But does Auntie Lyn find a way?

 

 

Jake’s Monster Mess

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Jake’s dad is throwing a dinner party, and he wants Jake to clean his room before the guests arrive. At first Jake’s room is only slightly messy, but putting away his underwear starts an avalanche of toys, furniture, and dust that keeps Jake hopping all day. He’s determined to put everything in its proper place—and help others in the process—but his dad and their guests are in for a surprise!

 

 

Jake’s Balloon Blast

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Jake has always wanted to fly! Not in an airplane—that’s basically riding a bus in the sky—but for real. He knows he can do it—he just needs to figure out how. The pair of wings he builds won’t hold him, and his other plans don’t work out so well either. Then he remembers the helium tank his dad has! He enlists the help of his best friend Jonah and soon Jake is pumped and ready to go. Finally, he achieves his dream—with topsy-turvy results!

 

 

The Amazing Spencer Gray

Written by Deb Fitzpatrick
Ages 9 – 12

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Spencer Gray is twelve—finally old enough to join his father in his glider, the Drifter. Going up and soaring is amazing! Then disaster strikes the glider in mid-air, leaving his father badly injured. Spencer will have to be nothing short of amazing to help his dad in this compelling story of survival, family, and resilience.