Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Boy Who Cried Ninja

Today's featured book is The Boy Who Cried Ninja.

Latimer, A. (2011). The boy who cried ninja. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.

Tim is constantly being blamed for things and his parents accuse him of lying when he says the ninja, pirate, and monkey did it. Frustrated, he decides that if he is going to be accused of lying, he should lie. So he lies and confesses to the mishaps around his house. When this gets him nowhere, he comes up with a plan to prove that he is being honest.

Thoughts: Lying is a behavior that both children and parents can identify with and Latimer’s story captures the frustration that takes place when one actually lies and when one is wrongly accused of lying. While the story is quite unrealistic, it is still a great conversation starter for families or others dealing with issues surrounding lying and honesty. And who doesn’t love a time-traveling monkey…that was icing on the cake for me. Great tool for addressing lying!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Big and Me"

Today's featured book: Big and Me

Miller, D. (2008). Big and me.  Australia: Ford Street Publishing. 

Big's computer does not work as well as it should and sometimes he goes wobbly. He makes poor decisions and that worries his friend. Big gets some help from the Mechanic and is given truck medicine to help his computer work better. Then Big feels fine and stops taking his medicine. Big must stay in the workshop for a while until he gets better, and he does.

Miller uses the friendship of two trucks to approach the topic of having a friend, parent, or loved one with a mental illness.
The metaphor (trucks in place of actual people) of Big and Me is a less threatening way to discuss mental illness with children. Adults sharing the book have greater flexibility in helping children to form a connection with the characters because there are no gender/age/race character barriers.
The text is easy to understand, some phrases are bold or have special font to stress particular emotions. The illustrations do not show a lot of emotion, so that is something to keep in mind when sharing the book with children.

"Just Juice"

Today's Featured Book: Just Juice

Hesse, Karen. (1998). Just Juice. New York: Scholastic Press. (Chapter Book)
The Faulstich family is going through a hard time. Pa has difficulty keeping work and is depressed. Ma is pregnant and has gestational diabetes. Juice is in trouble with the truant officer because she does not go to school as she should. Markey and Charleen (Juice’s older sisters) worry about Juice. Juice, Markey, and Charleen pitch in to care for the two little ones, Lulu and Turtle. They barely have enough food to eat, so when Pa gets a letter saying they have to pay taxes or lose their house, he keeps it a secret from Ma.  It seems like the Faulstich’s are doomed. Can Juice get her family through these hard times and deal with her own secret?
Hesse successfully captures the essence of a family’s bond and love. Throughout all these hardships, the Faulstich’s encourage one another, support each other, and remain hopeful that things will get better. The language has some slang that might stump some young readers in the beginning but it allows the reader to visualize the characters. Hesse also does a nice job of addressing the challenges that people with reading disabilities face in their day-to-day lives.

Friday, May 10, 2013

In Our Mothers' House

Featured Book: Polacco, P. (2009). In our mothers’ house. New York, NY: Philomel Books.

Polacco stepped aside from her usual books based on personal experiences and heritage to write a book for children and families that she has met in schools, at speaking engagements, etc. In Our Mothers’ House is the story of three adopted children and the love and devotion they received from their two mothers in their mothers' house. Polacco’s story highlights the love of this family but also showcases some of the challenges and discrimination that “non-traditional” families face. 

I particularly enjoyed the scenes in which the mothers sewed the children’s homemade Halloween costumes and dresses for a special tea. Despite all the love and support the two mothers offered their children, there was one mother in the neighborhood that was not accepting of their non-traditional family and it is beyond sad that these children had to deal with the hateful confrontation of this cold, bitter woman in such a public manner. Fortunately, Marmee and Meema were loving individuals and they did not let the hateful comments of one person impact the love in their hearts. 

I admire their strength and respectful response to hatred. The book follows the three children into their adult lives. Sharing their marriages at their mothers' house, capturing the first steps of their own children at their mothers' house, and coming together for family events/gatherings after their mothers have passed...this story is remarkably touching and  brought tears to my eyes.

Beautiful, beautiful story of unconditional love. Polacco at her finest!

* In Our Mothers' House is an excellent resource for discussing aspects of empathy and promoting acceptance of two mother and adoptive families. Regardless of your values and beliefs, it is essential to discuss different family forms with children. For more book reviews come back to the Bibliotherapy Hangout or visit Randie’s Book Reviews.

Monday, May 6, 2013

"The Right Touch"

Today's featured book is: 
Kleven, S. (1997). The right touch.  Bellevue, WA: Illumination Arts.

Randie's Review:
This is an informational book designed specifically for adults to use as a tool for discussing body safety. The purpose of discussing body safety is to help prevent the sexual abuse of children. There is a note to parents and teachers before the story that offers information, tips, and suggestions for how to use the book more effectively. The illustrations are warm, safe, and comforting. The attention to detail and warm vibe of the illustrations gives the appeal that the readers are in the book discussing with this important issue with the mother and son characters. Throughout the book, the mother defines “touching problems” and teaches actions for how a child could stop or avoid these “touching problems.” Additionally, the book highlights teaching children to understand and trust their “warning feelings.”

Personal Response:
Body safety and the prevention of sexual abuse is a concerning issue that needs to be addressed with children as a precautionary measure. Children need to know what to do if this happens, how they can stop it, that is not their fault, and that they can always tell a trusted adult about it. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I think it is vital for parents, teachers, and other adults working with children to be aware of books, such as The Right Touch, that offer quality information on prevention to children in a manner that is within their developmental understanding.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bibliotherapy Basics

What is bibliotherapy?

Pardeck[1], a frontrunner in bibliotherapy research generally refers to bibliotherapy as the use of literature to help people cope with emotional problems, mental illness, or changes in their lives. In a recent article, Sridhar and Vaughn[2] describe bibliotherapy as a process of reading children’s literature with a “therapeutic intent” as an instructional strategy for helping children cope with stressful or temporary problems “such as a visit to the doctor, the death of a pet, or entering a new school”. Sridhar and Vaughn note that bibliotherapy can be used more “extensively” for children with emotional and behavioral problems to improve self-understanding. Bibliotherapy can be used in a broader sense with a large group or in a classroom setting to address stressors, temporary problems, or even issues such as bullying or drug abuse.

Whoa! That can be a lot to process and it might seem overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, many of you probably use literature to discuss everyday topics and sensitive issues already. To clarify, bibliotherapy is divided into two types: clinical and developmental[3]. Clinical bibliotherapy is an intensive approach that is practiced by licensed counselors, therapists, and other psychology and medical professionals to address more serious emotional and behavioral problems. Developmental bibliotherapy is used by parents, teachers, librarians, and other caring adults to share information, promote healthy development, create empathy, enhance understanding, and facilitate the problem solving process. When I mention bibliotherapy in this blog and in my research, I am referring to developmental bibliotherapy unless clearly stated otherwise.

How do I apply bibliotherapy?identifying the problem, skill, behavior, outcome, or intended purpose for your bibliothearpy use

The two main components of bibliotherapy are READING and DISCUSSION. While, many researchers have outlined multiple processes and stages of bibliotherapy, Pardeck recommends four key steps that nearly all other researchers agree on:
  1. Identify the problem, situation, behavior, outcome, skill, or the intended purpose
  2. Select literature (keeping in mind the child’s attentiveness, interests, ability, and overall quality of the literature)
  3. Read the literature (engaged reading that guides the child to connect with a character or situation)
  4. Discuss the literature (I will come back to this point in my next post!)
Why should I use bibliotherapy?

There are countless benefits to using bibliotherapy as a tool for helping children with a wide range of issues and topics. I would like to point out five core benefits of bibliotherapy that highlight the strength and power of using literature as a tool with children:
  1. Shares information in a manner that is familiar and safe for children. Often, debunking myths or false information about the topic.
  2. Builds feelings of mutuality, allowing children to feel that that they are not alone in their feelings and experiences.
  3. Creates empathy for others. Fear and lack of information is frequently at the root of teasing and bullying. Learning how others feel and being aware of diverse situations can replace fear with understanding.
  4. Provides options for actions that can assist children in applying new solutions in their own lives.
  5. Presents hope and inspiration that children and families will be able to overcome problems and challenges they are facing, just like the children in families in the literature.
That sounds great but how can I make bibliotherapy work for me and the children I interact with?

You are in the right place! The purpose of the Bibliotherapy Hangout is to be a resource for those using bibliotherapy for children through information, book recommendations, and other resources.  You will be able to look here for your bibliotherapy needs, receive tips, and ask questions specific to your situation! I look forward to interacting with you!

[1] Pardeck, 1994 as cited in Abdullah, M., & ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, E. N. (2002). Bibliotherapy. ERIC Digest.
[2] Sridhar, D., & Vaughn, S. (2000). Bibliotherapy for all. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(2), 74-82.
[3] Cook, K.E., Earles-Vollrath, T., and Ganz, J.B. (2006). Bibliotherapy. Intervention in School and Clinic. 42(2), 91-100.

"The Heart and the Bottle"

Today's featured book is: 
Jeffers, O. (2010). The heart and the bottle. Philomel Books: New York, NY.

Randie's Review:
A young girl loves life. She is curious, adventurous and inspired.  The girl’s grandfather reads to her and accompanies her places. One day, grandfather's chair is empty--he is gone. The girl decides to place her heart in a bottle (potentially to shield herself from the grief, hurt, and sadness of loss). The girl wears this bottle around her neck and without her heart inside of her she begins to live life without feeling anything at all...until she meets a young girl (much like her old self) that helps her coax the heart out of the bottle.

The illustrations, color choices, structure, text...(well, everything about the book) is beautiful and addresses grief in a round-about way that allows for readers to discuss grief in a manner that is comfortable and beneficial for them.

Personal Response:
Beautiful! Not many picture books can bring me to tears but Jeffers did so in an elegant, touching way. The Heart and the Bottle is an amazing book to help children cope with a loss of a loved one. Oliver Jeffers is definitely an author to follow. 

Photo credit: http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/7096916-the-heart-and-the-bottle