Vivid, inky black illustrations splashed with small strokes of glowing yellow and apple red set the perfect backdrop for the text. “Nina was scared ofVivid, inky black illustrations splashed with small strokes of glowing yellow and apple red set the perfect backdrop for the text. “Nina was scared of the dark…” Children will identify with Nina’s fear, “scary shadows … whispering of monsters…” and her great relief when she spies the welcome light of fireflies “dancing.”
The girl treasures her captive firefly and yet … she comes to understand that she must release it so that the firefly can live. This is a great concept for children—and parents–to understand. We seek to raise children who grow to be strong and independent, to provide them with sturdy “roots and wings.” Unless we allow freedom, relationships are built on captivity, not trust and respect. Like the firefly, we must release our children and free them to follow their paths. In Albert Schweitzer’s words: “If you love something so much, let it go. If it comes back, it was meant to be; if it doesn’t, it never was.”
Wondering about the science behind a firefly’s luminous glow? Check out this link from National Geographic.
magnifying lens AQ.2AQ*Lens: We parents must balance our roles as leaders, teachers and the family “authority,” with time enjoying one another. For children who struggle to maintain self-regulation, this is especially necessary. (The challenge is to have fun without devolving into chaos.) Strong relationships weave families together.
If we hope to grow children who absorb and embrace our family values and beliefs, we must build relationships of respect and cooperation then cement them with a hefty dose of fun. In the absence of fun, kids will view parents primarily as the enforcers not the compass, the leaders, and heart of their world. Parents who balance “enforcement” mode with plenty of family fun keep kids engaged and interested in spending time as a family. Spending time “in joy” together is a key component of attachment, a high priority in adoptive families.
How will you create magic family moments? Hunting fireflies? Counting Stars? Watching the sunset? What ideas can you share?...more
My memories of childhood summers conjure thoughts of unscheduled days at the beach, of playing with friends, all balanced with lots of time to daydreaMy memories of childhood summers conjure thoughts of unscheduled days at the beach, of playing with friends, all balanced with lots of time to daydream, read and spend time with family. (We had no TV, if you can even imagine that!) Now summer looks and feels quite different. Day care, summer camps, programmed activities and TV dominate many kids’ summer days. Parents struggle to engage their childrens’ attention, to divert them from the various tech and media available to them.
Still, summer offers a wonderful opportunity to build positive memories of time having fun together. Fun is FUN-damental to building strong family ties. From my own childhood, I recall scampering across the grass collecting fireflies. Their glow seemed magical and filled us with wonder. Because It’s a Firefly Night by Diane Ochiltree captures this delightful moment, I truly enjoyed reading it. The little girl’s excitement is palpable when her Daddy tell her, “It’s a firefly night.” The reader senses that this is a special ritual that the child shares with her daddy and something she will treasure down the years of her life. Betsy Snyder’s luminous art brings the rhyming/counting text to life. Children can make a game of searching for and tracking the number of bugs, flowers, etc. And have fun in the process!...more
We Go Together by Todd Dunn and illustrated by Miki Sakamoto provides a delightful collection of “pairs” in a child’s life. Think: “socks and shoes, “We Go Together by Todd Dunn and illustrated by Miki Sakamoto provides a delightful collection of “pairs” in a child’s life. Think: “socks and shoes, “ice cream and cone,” and “dog and bone.” Some obvious pairs are absent, like peanut butter and jelly, so readers will have fun brainstorming their own pairs. I included this charming book based upon it’s final lines: “We go together because you love me and I love you.” Love, after all, is what links a family together.
AQ Lens: Take the opportunity to discover links of commonality beyond the obvious one of appearances. Just as adoptive family members don’t necessarily look similar, other commonalities do exist. We just have to deepen our noticing skills to help us identify them. Equally important, we must convey to our children that the way we are different is also validated and appreciated....more
Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman is a twenty-fifth anniversary reissue and re-visioning of the groundbreaking story of a family with two moms.Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman is a twenty-fifth anniversary reissue and re-visioning of the groundbreaking story of a family with two moms. Both the text and the illustrations have been updated to reflect current understanding of adoption. The subtle watercolor illustrations by Laura Cornell set a warm mood for the upbeat text. While Heather’s family–and her two moms is a central part of the story, the nucleus of the story is about the wide range of families that are reflected among Heather’s classmates. By establishing this tone, the uniqueness of Heather’s family does not seem startling. Instead it exists as one of many family constellations. Heather’s classmates also include many ethnicities so it is another nod to inclusion.
AQ Lens: This book offers a chance to discuss the idea of how families can look very different but still be a family. By having books like this on a child’s shelf, they can freely select it whenever they feel the need to explore this theme; thus the child doesn’t have to wait for adults to raise the topic first. The mere inclusion of such a book sends a clear message that it is a permissible topic. This is important for all adoptive families, even those who are more normative because all adoptive families are “different” by virtue of the fact that they grew through adoption. We have a fundamental vested interest in tolerance and acceptance....more
Children will be delighted as they search to find themselves reflected in Who’s in My Family? by Robbie H. Harris and illustrated by Nadine Bernard WeChildren will be delighted as they search to find themselves reflected in Who’s in My Family? by Robbie H. Harris and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. The spirited illustrations include families of every stripe, color and arrangement. Even the locales, cuisine and activities are diverse, accepting and positive. The simple story line follows a brother and sister through a day at the zoo. While there, they observe a variety of families—human and animal.
The tone of the story is upbeat and accepting and emphasizes that, regardless of the specific people who make up a family, it is created through caring and love. Readers will enjoy spending time studying the illustrations and hunting for details–both those that reflect themselves as well as those that highlight differences. This exploration lends itself to conversations about what makes a family and how differences enhance our lives.
AQ Lens: The most obvious benefit that Who’s in My Family? offers is the normalizing of differences. Each grouping is accepted and respected. Love is accepted as the definitive requirement to be a family. Young adoptees will be reassured to see that adoption is not the only way that families can be different....more
AQ Lens: Adoptees often tell us that they struggle to fit in, so it is easy to see how this simple story can help them get in touch with those feeling AQ Lens: Adoptees often tell us that they struggle to fit in, so it is easy to see how this simple story can help them get in touch with those feelings. The minmaltext and delightful, spare illustrations combine to create a simple but powerful metaphor. All of us benefit from the reminder that our uniqueness deserves to be treasured and appreciated....more
Helping our children navigate the changing seas of sibling relationships is one of many important tasks faced by parents. Sometimes we intervene whileHelping our children navigate the changing seas of sibling relationships is one of many important tasks faced by parents. Sometimes we intervene while other times we allow our children to work it out themselves. Learning to compromise, to speak up for oneself and to disagree respectfully is an essential life skill. Sibling relationships provide an opportunity to learn these basics. Peace, Bugs and Understanding: An Adventure in Sibling Harmony by Gail Silver and illustrated by Youme Nguyen Ly explores this subject. Lily is tired of her little sister spoiling things and she envies the attention that little Ruby garners from her parents.
When the toddler “ruins” her family’s picnic, anger churns inside Lily and leaves her gruff and frustrated. Luckily, her dad has come prepared. He shares a special book with Lily–her grandfather’s boyhood journal from 1923. The journal describes his experience with a talking frog, an annoying sibling and the overwhelming weight of anger. Exhausted by the burden of his angry feelings, he turns to deep breathing and a series of prayerful meditations:
Breathing in, breathing out… May I be happy’ May I be safe, May I be strong, May I live with peace…. May we all be happy, May we all be safe. May we all live with peace.” Lily, immersed in the book, loses track of her little sister. When she looks for Ruby, for a brief moment, Lily cannot find her. In that space, Lily realizes how much she loves her sister.
magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: All children experience feelings of inadequacy, rivalry and anger. For adoptees, this emotion is poignant and frightening. The flip side of “not good enough” is an intense need for attention. Readers will identify with Lily’s frustration. They can benefit from the strategies modeled in the book. The lush, pastel watercolor illustrations evoke a soft contemplative mood. The presence of Asian characters adds a welcome note of diversity....more
Glorious illustrations bring this poetic story to life. Evocative metaphors capture a dazzling mood. Watching Misty dance, a young child is overwhelmeGlorious illustrations bring this poetic story to life. Evocative metaphors capture a dazzling mood. Watching Misty dance, a young child is overwhelmed by her performance and thinks “the space between you and me/ is longer than forever.” She fears that such accomplishments lie beyond her reach. But Misty counters: “I was a dancer just like you/a dreaming shooting star of a girl/with work and worlds ahead.” As with Michaela’s story, readers will feel both inspired and awed by the fruits of determination and hard work.
magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: This book repeats the message of diligence, persistence and teamwork. It also offers another wonderful example of an African-American child succeeding in arenas previously unavailable to girls like Misty. Firebird: Misty Copeland indulges the eye and the ear and is a great book to add to the collection of any family interested in an expanded multicultural perspective. ...more
an impassioned example of adoptive parents’ dedication to their child in the face of very challenging post-trauma behaviors. Readers will admire, empaan impassioned example of adoptive parents’ dedication to their child in the face of very challenging post-trauma behaviors. Readers will admire, empathize, cry and laugh while they read about the courage and unconditional love of this family for their son as they walk together on his healing journey through adoption. Equal parts inspiration, cautionary tale and sisterhood sharing, Lauren skillfully narrates a story that will break your heart and warm your soul. A great read....more
This delightful, exceptionally readable book put me in mind of "Wonder" by R. J. Palacio (another stellar read.) Not the least bit preachy, "Rules" prThis delightful, exceptionally readable book put me in mind of "Wonder" by R. J. Palacio (another stellar read.) Not the least bit preachy, "Rules" provides a peek into life as the sibling of an autistic child. Both heartwarming and eye-opening, this book will help readers better understand "differentness" and develop empathy....more
Relationship offers the most reliable path to attachment, cooperation and strong family connection. When kids care about their parents, they also careRelationship offers the most reliable path to attachment, cooperation and strong family connection. When kids care about their parents, they also care about parental priorities, values and standards. One excellent parenting book is The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting, second edition by Rebecca Eanes. Although not specifically directed at adoptive families, it definitely concentrates on sustaining connection, on parenting via modeling the attitudes and behaviors parents want their children to learn. Rebecca asserts an important distinction: “leading and controlling are very different.” One invites cooperation; the other invites rebellion. One is respect-based; the other is fear-based. An important mantra guides adoptive parents: “connect before correct.” Positive Parenting includes a commitment to restoration, to repair and reconnect after breakdown occurs in family relationship. Parents must never withhold their love because of a child’s inappropriate choices. Unconditional love is the lifeblood of the family relationship. Here are a few memorable quotes from the book: “Positive discipline isn’t about making a child pay for his mistake but rather learn from it” “It’s about teaching them to do what is right instead of punishing them for doing what is wrong.” “There is no such thing as an unimportant day when you are shaping a child’s life…Be intentional about what it is you are writing.” The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting is an excellent book. that will inspire you. Check it out....more
This collection opens a window into the actual experiences of adoptees who are now adults. Each shares their personal truth and offers insight into hoThis collection opens a window into the actual experiences of adoptees who are now adults. Each shares their personal truth and offers insight into how we can support adoptees as their parents, partners and peers. Much of their message is painful to hear because it shines a light on the dark underbelly of adoption that is grounded in loss, grief and pain. Truth is often difficult to confront and it is important that we acknowledge and deal with it. Living with or in a lie is far more detrimental for all.--Gayle H. Swift, Author, "ABC, Adoption & Me: A Multicultural Picture Book"...more
We recognize that adoption is imperfect but today we choose to focus on the joy that grows in adoption. There are many and they are profound, soul-shaWe recognize that adoption is imperfect but today we choose to focus on the joy that grows in adoption. There are many and they are profound, soul-shaping and transformational. We turn to an uplifting, poignant book: Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Joy of Adoption. Like all of the books in the Chicken Soup franchise, this collection succeeds at tugging heart-strings. I burned through several tissues as I read through the stories. As the title advertises, this is a book which focuses exclusively on the joys associated with adoption. It does not try to be a complete picture of the total adoption experience. The stories immerse the reader in events and moments that amaze, confound and touch the reader’s heart.
Its strong religious slant illustrates the deeply held beliefs of the authors and the strength which their faith provided along the way to adopting their children. Whether or not readers see the hand of God in the forces that brought families together, they will still be moved by the depth of emotion, commitment and the effort that people dedicated to accomplish the outcome. To bring home their child/ren, some parents overcame mountains of paperwork. Some besieged government officials, others enrolled the help of high level military officers. Dogged persistence weaves throughout the collection as parents determined that nothing would impede success. They crossed seas, continents and expended astounding effort, often strung across years of waiting—all in pursuit of a child in need of a family. Their child. Their family.
Take some time to savor The Joy of Adoption. Feed your spirit, fill your emotional tank and remind yourself of the yearning that drove your decision to adopt and the overwhelming joy you felt when you became an adoptive family. Then return to handle and overcome any challenges. For those contemplating adoption, this book will inspire and encourage you during the arduous and complicated process of adoption. ...more
Families come in such diverse variety. As adoptive families we search for opportunities to highlight this range of difference in a way that equates wiFamilies come in such diverse variety. As adoptive families we search for opportunities to highlight this range of difference in a way that equates with “interesting” instead of odd or abnormal. Diana Hutts Aston’s fascinating book, A Nest Is Noisy delves into the natural world to depict some of the many wonderful ways that animals prepare to house and protect their young. Illustrated with exquisite detail by Sylvia Long, the book is a feast for the eyes as well as a smorgasbord of interesting information.
The illustrations add depth and interest. Children can spend a great deal of time studying them for hidden details. They’ll enjoy a game of “I Spy” if they are challenged to look for tiny details. Readers will see the many commonalities as well as differences in how various animals prepare for parenthood. After reading the book, challenge your child to look for nests in his neighborhood.
Readers learn about nests: the biggest and smallest, nests built in trees and on the ground, constructed underground and created underwater. It features birds, fish, and snakes, bees, frogs and alligators, turtles, ants and platypuses. Kids will find a favorite among the crowd. They’ll enjoy learning about all the different ways animal parents prepare for the arrival of their offspring.
The AQ* Lens: A Nest Is Noisy even features two varieties of birds that lay their eggs in a nest and then allow others to nurture and raise them. This offers a chance to segue into a discussion of how some animal parents are not able to nurture and raise their babies. Instead, these birds carefully choose a nest where their little ones will receive the care they need and deserve. The book identifies one nest as “adopted.”
Tread lightly, if you choose to connect this thread to human parents making an adoption plan. (It is an easy tack to take.) Just remember to speak with respect and empathy for birthparents. Highlight the care with which they identified a new “nest” for their child. Explain that adult reasons and adult shortcomings necessitated an adoption. Make it clear that it was not the baby’s fault or due to any shortcomings on the child’s part. Ask your child what he thinks the animal might be feeling. (This may give you some insight to his own feelings about adoption loss.) Come from curiosity so that you allow them to express genuine feelings and not deliver what they think you want to hear.
A Nest Is Noisy is a beautiful book, chock full of information.I rate it as 5 Stars-- Gayle H. Swift, Author, "ABC, Adoption & Me"...more