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Valuable Lessons of Self-Worth and Acceptance for Children by Jodi Mays

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We’re delighted to share the following enlightening guest post
by author Jodi Mays.

How do you teach a feeling or emotion? For some parents this is as difficult as asking what a color smells like, and yet kids today are bombarded with messages and imagery that does just that. From television, to magazines and social media, kids are picking up these impressions from an early age. So, how do you make sure the right messages are getting through to them? This was a question that plagued me when my son was young. How do I teach my son about emotions and self-esteem?

It was easy for me to say, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Or to remind him to be aware of others feelings but, as most parents may agree, it is not always what you say that imparts the best lessons. As a family, we have always been drawn to reading; turning to books to pass the time and getting lost in worlds both big and small. Reading became a way for us to tackle many of these tough ideas, which led to some incredible conversations about everything from self-esteem to compassion and kindness; conversations that may have been too difficult to broach on their own, without the help of books. It was these conversations that led me to write my first children’s book with the hope that I could pass along some of the same valuable lessons of self-worth and acceptance. After all, building a strong foundation of confidence and self-esteem is important for everyone and the basis that I hope will carry my child confidently into the future.

It is with this in mind that I want to share some of my favorite books on acceptance and self-esteem.

For Pre-Schoolers

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss: You can’t really go wrong with this classic book. In The Sneetches, Dr Seuss weaves a story that teaches self-worth and acceptance, which is extremely fun to read. The Sneetches are born either with or without a star on their tummies, which leads an unscrupulous monkey to take advantage of their differences. In time the Sneetches learn to accept and embrace each other’s differences.

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy: In this book Lucy is the subject of ridicule for her favorite food, spaghetti in a hot dog bun. Lucy stands by her choice even when others are mean and mock her for being one-of-a-kind. When these same friends need help, Lucy has the courage to make the right choice. This story is truly empowering for any child who has ever felt different from the crowd.

For School Agers

Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud: This book contains beautiful illustrations that pair easily with simple prose to help younger children learn how to be “bucket fillers.” It teaches children to show their appreciation with simple acts of kindness and love, which will not only boost the self-worth of those who get their buckets filled but also those who do the filling as well. It reminds children that a little kindness and acceptance can make the world a better place.

Unstoppable Me; 10 Ways to Soar Through Life by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer: This book builds on Dr. Dyer’s first book, Incredible You, and the ideas of “no limit thinking.” Kids are encouraged to embrace what makes them unique instead of simply trying to fit in. It embraces all of the wonderful quirks and qualities that every child is born with and teaches them to use these special traits to navigate stressful situations and enjoy life’s wonderful moments.

For Pre-Teens:

Freckle Juice by Judy Blume: No one defined a generation of young readers, struggling to navigate through life’s challenges better than Judy Blume. In her book Freckle Juice, she weaves the story of a young boy who simply wants to look different than he does. As young people sometimes do, he trusts the wrong person to help “fix” his problem with her secret recipe for freckles. This book is a classic for anyone who ever felt like they were missing a key feature to make them perfect.

Tween You and Me by Deb Dunham: Switching gears, Tween You and Me is a non-fiction book for tweens and parents living with tweens. It is a thoughtful and practical guide to navigating changing bodies, relationships and feelings in a way that encourages both self-expression and responsibility as well as lessons in respect for the young reader. Growing up is hard enough. Nurturing healthy self-esteem only adds to the challenge. Tween You and Me acts as a road map for the journey ahead.

For Young Adults:

The Creative Journal For Teens, Making Friends With Yourself by Lucia Capacchione: A combination of journal and how-to, this book offers teens a safe way to work through some of the complex challenges they face in everyday life. Written by a registered art therapist, this book can help teens to clarify their goals while strengthening their self-confidence by giving them a safe place to write down their feelings in a somewhat structured environment. For any teen that has difficulty expressing their emotions, this book can be a valuable tool.

The Skin I’m In by Sharon G Flake: This book is geared toward more mature, young adult readers and touches on race and class as well as self-esteem. It follows a young girl, Maleeka Madison, as she and her mother struggle with the death of her father. In her attempts to become more popular she finds herself the target of bullies. Throughout the story Maleeka has an internal battle to discover who she really is and who her real friends are. The Skin I’m In weaves a story about self-confidence, friendship and the consequences of trying too hard to fit in.

 

– By Jodi Mays

 

TheDayWeRodeTheRainbowJodi Mays is a free-lance writer. She divides her bi-coastal living between Malibu, CA and Longboat Key, FL. She moved with her family to Innsbruck, Austria with 5 English-German dictionaries and 15 duffle bags at a young age and still resides there at times throughout the year. She has one son with whom she traveled the world while he competed in International Junior Tennis Tournaments. She uses her colorful adventures as a modern-day gypsy as inspiration for her writing.
THE DAY WE RODE THE RAINBOW is the first book of an interactive and fun series called
‘The Book Series with a Purpose.’  She is a member of
the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

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Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle

TAP TAP BOOM BOOM written by Elizabeth Bluemle and illustrated by G. Brian Karas is reviewed by MaryAnne Locher.

– ✩ Starred review from Publishers Weekly

Tap_Tap_Boom_Boom_cover_photo-330.jpg

Tap Tap Boom Boom written by Elizabeth Bluemle with illustrations by G. Brian Karas, Candlewick Press, 2014.

 

As a child growing up in a New Jersey suburb, I relished the opportunity to go into New York City any chance I was given. My first trip was on a field trip to see the Harlem Globe Trotters when I was in third grade, then again for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. My first baseball game was in fifth grade at Yankee Stadium, and later that year we visited Shea Stadium. As teens, my classmates and I were given more freedom when field trips took us to the symphony, a museum, or to see The Wiz on Broadway. We’d arrive by bus, then, if our destination was too far to walk, we’d hop on the subway. More than once we went underground to listen to the musicians, or get a “slice” (of pizza, that is). One of my favorite times was when I got stuck in a sun shower at Strawberry Fields in Central Park without an umbrella. People scurried like ants, sharing umbrellas, across the street and down the steps into the subway to get out of the rain.

Just in time for April showers, Tap Tap Boom Boom (Candlewick Press, $16.99, Ages 3-7) written by Elizabeth Bluemle and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, brought back all of my precious childhood memories of visits to the city, and the friendly people I’d met while there. All differences disappear when a common denominator is introduced. In Tap Tap Boom Boom, it’s a thunderstorm.

This book wouldn’t have had as much impact if it hadn’t been written in verse. I could almost feel the raindrops, the gusts of wind, and damp clothes clinging to my body as the words intensified and tempo changed and grew in urgency. Karas told the story by himself through illustrations that captured the emotions from the first raindrop to the final rainbow, but author and illustrator together created a symphony, quiet at first, then building to a crescendo before returning to calm again.

Sky grumbles.

Rain tumbles.

Big weather-

you’d better…

get under

umbrella!

Boom

Boom

This is the perfect foot-tapping, hand-clapping book to read to your child on a rainy day, or any time you want to have fun with words and look at pictures that leave room for discussion.

 

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