Books to help children cope with their feelings in difficult times – Twin Cities


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As our lives continue to change as we deal with COVID and its physical, mental and emotional consequences, children face their own concerns. So it’s a good thing that publishers and authors in Minnesota offer well-written and accurate picture books to help young people deal with their feelings, whether it’s figuring out what to do when you’re a victim of. bullying or angry, or how to make friends. These are not grim books; they are written in a friendly and positive manner.

“Be nice. The end. Simple wisdom of the children of the playground” by Bryan Skavnak, illustrated by Wendy Kieffer Shragg (Wise Ink Creative Publishing, $ 30)

Two talented people who didn’t know each other have teamed up to bring us one of the most beautiful and joyful books of the season, suitable for children and adults.

Bryan Skavnak is a golf professional who has worked with many children. He is also a motivational speaker. He founded Be the Nice Kid, which diffuses positivity and inspiration through classroom posters, fun products, real stories and speaking engagements.

Wendy Kieffer Shragg considered herself an abstract artist who avoided drawing faces because she was afraid of being judged. She created The Playground Kids as part of # the100DayProject, a global effort that encouraged artists to explore their creativity and share posts on Instagram for 100 days. She took the opportunity to showcase the face of a blond haired boy with simple features that she created digitally and the project generated so much interest that she started selling prints. When one of his clients recommended that he visit Skavnak’s Instagram page, Kieffer Shragg realized that his posts about the importance of things like kindness, acceptance, and courage could come straight from the mouth of his children from Playground.

Their hardcover book is divided into qualities – inclusion, empathy, perspective, kindness, acceptance, courage, and persistence. For example, “When you see the struggle, be the support. / When you see the fear, be the calm. / When you see the doubt, be the belief. / When you see the confusion, be the clarity. / When you see the doubt, be the belief. / When you see the confusion, be the clarity. / When you see the doubt. see the pain, be the comfort. “

Wendy’s illustrations only show heads of children on a white background. Young people will identify with these happy pictures because they look like their friends with all kinds of smiles, missing teeth, awkward hair – a complete playground filled with children of all ethnicities. No wonder people wanted prints. Images of the children can be found on the pages to the right, with text to the left on backgrounds in a variety of soft colors.

“Make it easy to tease” by Judy S. Freedman and Mimi P. Black, illustrated by Steve Mark; “Make a friend, be a friend” by Eric Braun, illustrated by Steve Mark (Free Spirit Publishing, $ 9.99 each)

These paperback books from a Minneapolis-based publisher, aimed at ages 6-9, are written clearly and offer practical, sometimes very simple, ways to deal with a bully and learn to be a friend. Both are illustrated with cartoon characters.

In “Ease the Tease”, for example, various types of teasing are discussed, such as someone’s appearance, their feelings (“Scaredy-Cat”), their homework (“Nerd”) and what they like. (“This game is for babies”). Suggestions on what not to do when teased include getting upset and crying. That’s what a bully wants. Instead, use monologue inside (“I’m too cool to let mean words bother me”), ignore teasing or take teasing as a compliment. In “Make a Friend, Be a Friend”, tools for making friends include starting a There are four ways to make a friend: be nice, share, be a good sport, and start a friendly conversation by asking the other person about themselves.

“We check in with each other” by Lydia Bowers, illustrated by Isabel Munoz (Free Spirit Publishing, $ 14.99).

This is the second in the publisher’s We Say What’s Okay series, helping young children understand it’s okay to set personal boundaries and change their mind. The tale follows Harrison, who enjoys playing dinosaurs, as he realizes that sometimes a friend can change their mind and make art, even though the friend had said the day before that he wanted to play with dinosaurs. When Harrison’s father tickles him and continues to ask if that’s enough, the boy learns that some people don’t like being tickled and should say so. And when two of his friends say they’re fed up with gambling, he accepts their decision. The author, who leads workshops and trainings on teaching consent for families and early childhood educators, offers additional activities at the end of the book, including five steps to teaching consent – I listen to my body, I am in charge of my body, I ask for permission, I register, I accept “no”. The hardcover book includes a song from Peaceful Schools with downloadable audio files and sheet music. To listen to a recording, go to

“Sometimes when I am Crazy” by Deborah Serani, Psy.D., illustrated by Kyra Teis (Free Spirit Publishing, $ 14.99)

Award-winning psychologist and author Serani and illustrator Teis are teaming up for a new addition to the Sometimes When collection that attacks feelings of anger. A young girl describes how she sometimes feels when she is angry, and her parents and grandmother offer suggestions for dealing with these feelings. When anger causes an upset stomach or other discomfort, asking for a hug can help. When strong feelings create confusion or distress, talking to an adult can provide comfort. A special section for adults explains how anger is a normal emotion and how to help children manage and express their anger in a healthy way based on their age. In the clever illustrations, the girl is accompanied on almost every page by a black cat, although there is no mention of her four-legged friend. Hugging a hot, hairy body is definitely a way for kids and adults to release their anger.

“Mambo Mucho Mambo “ by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Candlewick Press, $ 17.99)

Subtitled “The Dance That Crossed Color Lines”, this story begins in the 1940s, when people only danced in their own neighborhood. Millie dances to jazzy songs in his Italian neighborhood, Pedro turns to catchy Latin songs in his Puerto Rican neighborhood.

“People were dancing all over New York City… but they had to follow the rules of the 1940s,” we are told. “People from different neighborhoods weren’t supposed to mix. Not to the dances and not in many other ways. Italians, Puerto Ricans, Blacks, Jews, all had their place. Until there was a group called Machito and his Afro-Cubans. “They used jazz trumpets and saxophones, along with Latin maracas and congas, to create a whole new sound called Latin Jazz… music for the head, / heart and hips. danced on it. ” If only there was a place they could all dance together.

“This place was the Palladium Ballroom, opened in 1948 to all people with Machito and his Afro-Cubans playing.” This daring movement was accompanied by a daring new dance: the Mambo. Millie and Pedro finally got together and danced.

The author, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, explains that Millie and Pedro met in the ballroom, got married and became one of the best mambo teams in the country. By defying segregation, he writes, the Palladium Ballroom set the stage for the civil rights movement of the 1950s.


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