Have a Grand Day: September 7

Enjoy this update of a previously run post ~

 

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Do you know that the first Sunday after Labor Day is National Grandparents Day? This special day is meant to celebrate the important bonds between grandparents and grandchildren.

You can mark this day in whichever way suits your family best. Grandparents might give and/or receive presents. You might gather for a festive meal or make cards for each other. Be as creative as you like in how you celebrate, but I recommend that you let the usual suspects know that this special day is soon approaching. Continue reading

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Interview with Nili Yelin, The Storybook Mom

 

 

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Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Nili Yelin, A.K.A. the Storybook Mom. A Wilmette resident and NU graduate, Nili is known throughout the Chicagoland area for her interactive style of storytelling and ability to communicate her passion for literature to her listeners. She has an extensive background in performing and developing her own material. I first became acquainted with Nili when she accepted my request to entertain at the opening of the Little Free Library in Highland Park. We bonded over our shared love of books, kids and literacy. Animated, enthusiastic and engaging, she brings stories to life, mesmerizing both mini-bookworms and reluctant readers. Some of her many activities include recording podcasts for the Field Museum, running the children’s stage at the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Lit Fest and serving as Chicago Ambassador for Lit World’s World Read Aloud Day. Continue reading

Books for Sad and Scary Times…Redux

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The news provides us with a daily dose of what is wrong and going wrong in the world. And the news is no longer confined to a half-hour at 6 P.M. and 10 P.M.—continuous coverage is on all social media. We all want—and need—to know and understand what is happening here and in other parts of the globe, but the words and images can be disturbing and confusing. Within a few minutes’ time, we may hear of drive-by shootings in Chicago, crazed gunmen, an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, child abuse, and terrorist organizations bent on destruction.

Very young children need to be shielded from the nightmarish images on the news; the older the children, however, the more difficult it is to completely protect them. The trusted adults in their lives will be called upon to help them cope with their feelings and attempt to answer their questions.

Some of you might find your answers in religion and through prayer, and if you can provide comfort in this way, that’s great. But be aware that children are experiencing most of the same feelings that you are, even though they might express and deal with these feelings in different, age-appropriate ways.

I looked for books that might invite children to consider and discuss their reactions to scary and sad events and this is what I found:

Aliki

 

Feelings by Aliki (ages 4 – 8) is good for children who are struggling with identifying and expressing their emotions. Different stories and engaging illustrations accompany each feeling and will, hopefully, spark discussion.

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How Are You Peeling? by Saxton Freymann and Joost Eiffers (ages 4 – 8) offers a creative and whimsical way to explore feelings. Photographs showcase foods with moods; this team has found various fruits and vegetables that each appear to convey an emotion and then attached two black-eyed peas for eyes, the results being surprisingly effective (I considered saying appealing, for my husband’s amusement). You and your grandchild might want to experiment similarly with produce—all mistakes being edible.

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A Terrible Thing Happened—A story for children who have witnessed violence or trauma by Margaret Holmes and Cary Pillo (ages 4 – 10) wisely never shows what the main character—Sherman Smith— witnessed, so it can be applied to any appropriate scenario.Through the story, children will be reassured that it is normal for a whole host of emotions, such as sadness, anger, fear, confusion, frustration, to arise from witnessing violence and trauma. When Sherman opens up to the school counselor, they will also understand that while we often try to hide from such scary feelings, it is best to talk about it with a trusted adult. Pillo’s poignant illustrations complement the telling. An afterword written for parents and other caregivers offers suggestions and lists resources for helping traumatized children.

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Sometimes Bad Things Happen by Ellen Jackson (ages 4 – 8) features bright photographs of sad and bad things happening and children’s facial reactions; the book offers simple coping strategies such as hugging a friend, singing a brave song and planting a flower. As you read together, encourage your grandchildren to acknowledge their feelings and then brainstorm positive ways to respond.

When Bad Things

As for me, I am thinking of rereading the classic When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. Rabbi Kushner wrestles with this issue in a very personal, clear and intelligent manner after his young son is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Actually, this would be a valuable suggestion for teenagers, if they are receptive.

I encourage you—and the children in your life— to unplug occasionally, take some deep breaths and spend at least a little time outside.

Entertain Your Brain

Unknown-1 Although I typically write about books and book-related topics, I want to highlight a television series that I recently discovered. After all, mental stimulation is the reason we own a tv, right?

Have you seen the Emmy-nominated television series, Brain GamesNational Geographic’s fun, interactive show invites the viewer to take part in various experiments—brain games—that illustrate an interesting point about the human brain and challenge your current perceptions. The disarming and intellectually curious host, Jason Silva, is joined by various experts in cognitive science, neuroscience and psychology who discuss and explore our brains’ capabilities. The third season started July 14 with ten new episodes. So far, I’ve watched ones focusing on compassion, addiction, language and risk. Next up is Battle of the Sexes, which I definitely want to see. You can also purchase DVDs of past episodes or view videos on-line. Continue reading

Bookstore Love

 

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I recently read—and enjoyed—the novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, a sweet homage to independent bookstores. Given my long-standing love of bookstores (and libraries), it’s not surprising this story resonated with me. I still have fond memories of the book sellers of my youth: the erudite sales staff at Kroch’s and Brentano’s, the mystique of the 3rd floor book department in the iconic Marshall Field’s, and the laid-back vibe of Barbara’s Bookstore. Continue reading

Happy Fourth of July!!

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Making GG’s Chicken Soup

 

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Happily, many bloggers have read and reviewed my new picture book, GG and Mamela. Christina Morley of Amanda’s Books and More took it one step further and in a follow-up to her initial review, made GG’s chicken soup recipe with her youngest child, Amanda. Christina generously included wonderful photos of the process and I am sharing that post with you today. GG would be pleased with the collaboration between Christina and her adorable daughter, the delicious results and the fact that her family recipe is traveling around the globe. Continue reading