Picture Books That Teach Self-Confidence and Individuality

How do we talk to our children about being comfortable in their own skin? These books can help.

When I was growing up, being self-assured was always one of my biggest struggles. Not surprisingly, as a parent, it has been one of the hardest things for me to teach my kid.
All of us, adults and kids alike, at one point or another struggle with being confident in who we are and comfortable with the things that make us unique. To some extent, we all want to fit in, but sometimes we just don’t – at least not with everyone – and that’s okay. But it still doesn’t make it fun or easy to come to grips with.
My seven-year-old son definitely marches to the beat of his own drum. He is silly, loud, and extremely stubborn, but he is also sensitive and tends to get his feelings hurt when other kids don’t understand or accept him. He wants to have friends, and I desperately want that for him. More than that, I want him to remain true to himself and be okay with who he is, however goofy or off-center that may be.
How do we talk to our children about being comfortable in their own skin? How do we help them see how amazing they are in spite of what bullies or peer pressure may say? How do we build confidence and find a way to converse with them about this big, real life struggle in a way they can understand right now?
My solution to this (and to many of life’s other problems) is books. Kids of all ages genuinely love having someone read to them and with them. Don’t believe me? My husband’s years as a high school English teacher and mine as a school librarian beg to differ.
In his book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook”, Jim Trelease argues that children who are read aloud to from a young age learn to associate books with being loved and cared for. The act of being snuggled up with a book before bed (or at any time) promotes closeness and openness between child and parent. This, in turn, fosters a love of reading and promotes confidence in themselves as readers, in addition to developing their fluency and vocabulary.
Reading books together is a great way to connect with your kids on a level they understand. It gives you a chance to slow down your busy life and just be in the moment. This time also creates space for healthy dialogues, providing a much needed chance to talk and really listen to each other. And who doesn’t love an excuse for a good snuggle session?
Here are some of my favorite picture books that teach self-confidence and encourage individuality in our kids. They are wonderful conversation starters and just plain fun to read.
GiraffesCantDance

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Author: Giles Andreae
Illustrator: Guy Parker-Rees

This is perhaps my favorite children’s book of all time. In this stunningly illustrated story, Gerald the giraffe spends his life watching as every other animal in the jungle dances beautifully. They tease him because he, as a giraffe, cannot dance.
But what Gerald learns with the help of a friendly cricket, is that everyone – including him – can dance if they find the right music. Gerald wows the other animals when he emerges at the jungle dance with his amazing new moves. As Gerald says, “We all can dance, when we find the music that we love.”


 StandTall

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Author: Patty Lovell
Illustrator: David Catrow

Molly Lou Melon is small and not very graceful. She also has big teeth and a funny voice that sounds like a bullfrog. At her new school, Molly Lou finds herself the prey of the class bully. This doesn’t bother Molly Lou though. She follows her grandmother’s advice and stands up for herself.
This book is a great way to talk to your kids, not just about being self-confident, but also about dealing with bullies.


NakedMole

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

Author & Illustrator: Mo Willems

Mo Willems is, hands down, one of the best children’s authors of this generation. He is funny and relatable. His stories meet kids where they are, but never talk down to them. This book is no different.
As you would assume, naked mole rats are supposed to be, well, naked. However, this book is all about Wilbur, a naked mole rat who secretly loves wearing clothes. Reading it is a funny, light way to talk to your young kids about being who they are and doing what they love, even if other people (or mole rats) don’t understand them.


TheDot

The Dot

Author & Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds

Vashti doesn’t believe that she is a good artist until one day when her teacher urges her to just “make a mark” on her paper. The teacher makes such a huge deal about the beauty of Vashti’s dot that it encourages her to make more dots – lots of dots! Vashti becomes more creative with her dots and her creativity inspires others to make their mark, too.


Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Author & Illustrator: Kevin Henkins

Chrysanthemum has always loved her name. At least she did until she started school and realized that not everyone thought her name was so amazing. The other girls tease her for being named after a flower and even encourage others to smell her.
Ultimately, Chrysanthemum overcomes the bullying thanks to the love and support of her music teacher and family. This is great book for kids with unique names, but really for any child who has dealt with being teased because they are different.


 

Spork

Author: Kyo Maclear
Illustrator: Isabelle Arsenault

Spork is neither a spoon nor a fork, and he doesn’t truly fit in with either group. He often feels left out from the other utensils. Spork tries to be just a spoon or just a fork, but nothing feels right until he finds his special purpose as a SPORK.
This book is as cute as it is clever. It could serve as a great resource for biracial families or families of mixed cultural or religious backgrounds.


ABadCaseofStripes

A Bad Case of Stripes

Author & Illustrator: David Shannon

Camilla is a girl who loves lima beans, but she worries that others won’t understand and make fun of her. She is so concerned about trying to please her peers that she comes down with a bad case of stripes.
The cure for her stripes is finally being true to herself and not caring what others think. This is definitely one of the longer, wordier picture books on my list, but it is wonderful for older elementary schoolers.


 HueysInTheNewSweater

The Hueys in the New Sweater

Author & Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers

Hueys are funny little creatures that are all very much alike until one Huey, named Rupert, decides to knit himself a sweater. Rupert loves his new sweater, but the other Hueys aren’t so sure about someone being different.
Eventually, Rupert’s sweater inspires other Hueys to be different as well. This book is short and sweet.


Not All Princesses Dress in Pink

Authors: Jane Yolen & Heidi E. Y. Stemple
Illustrator: Anne-Sophie Lanquetin

This book empowers girls to value their unique qualities. Being a princess and wearing a tiara doesn’t mean you can’t like to climb trees, play sports, or get dirty. Being who you are and doing your very best is the most important thing for any girl and the best way to reach your full potential.
Whether your daughter is a girly-girl or a rough and tumble tomboy, this book is a great, refreshing read.


Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie

Author: Jennifer Berne
Illustrator: Keith Bendis

Calvin isn’t like the other starlings. All of his many, many brothers, sisters, and cousins are interested in finding worms and learning to fly, but Calvin only wants to read and visit the library.
When it comes time to migrate, he hasn’t learned to fly yet. In the end, it turns out that all of his book learning comes in handy. It’s a good thing that Calvin did all that reading despite what anyone said.


Tacky the Penguin

Author: Helen Lester
Illustrator: Lynn Munsinger

Tacky is a very odd bird. All of the other penguins are annoyed by his obnoxious clothes and weird habits. Until one fateful day, when Tacky, in all of his strangeness, saves the day – and the other penguins.
This is a fun book that is sure to get some laughs from your little ones, but it’s also a great story of about being yourself, no matter how weird or tacky you may be. Also, if your kids love Tacky, he has lots of other adventures to read about.


SPOON

Spoon

Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrator: Scott Magoon

Alright, so I may have a thing for utensil-themed children’s books, but I promise, this one is also fantastic! Spoon is the adorable story of a spoon who envies all of the other types of utensils and all the fun they have.
Later in the story, Spoon finds out how much the other utensils envy him! This book really highlights the fact that we all have a purpose and that it’s completely fine (in fact, it’s amazing) that we aren’t all the same.
Many kids struggle with being confident and happy with themselves. We need to find ways to encourage self-confidence and individuality as positive character traits in our kids.

Short-term action plan

● Go to your bookshelf (or the bookshelf at your local library) and find one of these amazing books or another great title. You can also order one from Amazon right from your phone.
● Find a time in your super busy week to read books with your kids.
● When the book is over, ask them what they thought about the story. Did they like the characters? Have they ever felt like any of the characters? What would they do if they were in the story?

Long-term action plan

● Make reading together a daily (or at least a regular) thing for you and your kids.
● Go to the local library or bookstore together and choose books for these reading times.
● Investigate more titles that help you engage in conversations with your kids about whatever it is they are going through.
● Read the books first to give yourself time to think through what kinds of questions or morals you might want to talk about with your kids.
● Make your reading time a special and ‘sacred’ time. Put away your phone. Get out the biggest, comfiest blanket in the house. Maybe even plan a reading date that involves lots of books, snacks, and a cup of cocoa.
● Reading with your kids is a valuable, memorable, and inexpensive way to spend time together. Don’t treat reading like homework, for you or your child. Have fun with it!

7 Picture Books That Help Kids Cope With Tragedy

These books deal with topics like fear, loss, and separation anxiety in subtle ways, but can serve as great conversation starters.

On Monday morning, I woke up to an alert on my phone that there was a shooting in Las Vegas. Horrifyingly unfazed by news that has become too commonplace, I went about my morning. I made breakfast. I packed lunches. I kissed the tops of wild-haired heads and sent them off on their school buses.

It was only when I sat down at my computer and checked the news that I completely unraveled. Watching the sickening story unfold, I was completely frozen in what can only be described as a zombified state. I stared at the TV, much like I did after the Sandy Hook shooting, completely unable to wrap my mind around the news.

The emotions were plentiful: fear, overwhelming sadness, confusion. How can this continually happen? How can we fix it? How do we even begin to discuss this with our kids?

Feeling completely at a loss, I started poking around to see what experts had to say about helping children cope with tragedies. Should we try to shield them from it? Should we bring it up? How do we discuss such heavy issues in a way that’s appropriate and won’t fill them with even more fear?

Every source I looked into said that it’s important to talk to our kids. According to the American Psychological Association, “Talking to your children about their worries and concerns is the first step to help them feel safe and begin to cope with the events occurring around them. What you talk about and how you say it does depend on their age, but all children need to be able to know you are there listening to them.”

In an article for Psychology Today, Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist, said that “The conversations you have with your kids – as well as the conversations you avoid – will impact their core beliefs about themselves, other people, and the world in general.” She went on to add that “[e]ven your silence on the subject could lay the foundation for unhealthy core beliefs. When parents don’t acknowledge a tragic incident, a child might think, ‘My parents don’t talk about what happened because you shouldn’t talk about sad things.’ Ultimately that child may think sharing sad feelings is unhealthy.”

So how do we, as parents, breach a subject that even we find scary?

Mental Health America encourages parents of school-age children to allow them to express themselves through play or drawing. “As with younger children, school-age children sometimes find comfort in expressing themselves through playing games or drawing scenes of the tragedy. Allowing them to do so, and then talking about it, gives you the chance to ‘re-tell’ the ending of the game or the story they have expressed in pictures with an emphasis on personal safety.”

This idea of “re-telling” immediately made me think of children’s literature and how it can be a powerful coping mechanism, allowing children to see how characters respond to situations that they find frightening and then relating it to situations happening in the real world that children might be frightened by.

I put together a list of seven children’s books that are great ways to talk to kids about tragic topics, whether it’s something that’s horrific on a national level or something that hits a little closer to home. These books deal with topics like fear, loss, and separation anxiety in subtle ways, but can serve as great conversation starters.

 
 
ScaredySquirrel

Scaredy Squirrel

by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel does not leave his tree. There are way too many scary things in the great big world, like tarantulas, green Martians, sharks, and killer bees. Instead, Scaredy Squirrel sticks to a strict daily schedule and always has his trusty emergency kit (filled with things like antibacterial soap, Band-Aids, and a parachute) on hand. But when he suddenly finds himself in the big, scary unknown, Scaredy Squirrel discovers something amazing.


 

Swimmy

by Leo Lionni

Swimmy’s entire school of fish was swallowed by a tuna. Scared and alone, Swimmy wandered the ocean slowly noticing the beauty around him. That made Swimmy happy. Eventually, he found a school of fish that was just like his own. He wanted to play and explore with them, but they were afraid of being eaten by bigger fish. In the end, Swimmy figures out a way they can work together and stay safe.


ToughBoris

Tough Boris

by Mem Fox

Boris is tough and mean and fearless, like all pirates. But when his parrot dies, Tough Boris cries. With simple language and watercolor pictures that add a lot of rich detail (and a whole other storyline), this book is a great way to talk about feelings with children.


 InMyHEart

In My Heart

by Jo Witek

This is another great way to start talking to your kids about feelings. While Tough Boris is about how even tough guys can cry, this story is about how our hearts can feel so many different things. It can feel “strong and brave” one minute and “fragile and delicate” the next, and that’s okay!


TheInvisibleString

The Invisible String

by Patrice Karst

When a brother and sister are scared and want to be closer to their mom, she explains to them that they are connected by an invisible string of love that connects from heart to heart. She explains that no matter how far loved ones are away from each other, they’re always connected by this very special string. Whether kids are having separation anxiety or dealing with divorce or even death, this sweet story is very reassuring.


 Rabbityness

Rabbityness

by Jo Empson

Rabbit enjoys doing rabbity things, but he also enjoys doing un-rabbity things like painting and playing music. It’s the un-rabbity things that make him Rabbit, and make all the other rabbits in the forest happy. When Rabbit disappears one day, the other rabbits are so, so sad. Then they find some special gifts he left behind, which make them think of Rabbit while discovering their own un-rabbity talents. This is a great story to use when discussing loss with children.


 

The Heart and the Bottle

by Oliver Jeffers

Another story on dealing with loss, this one tells the tale of a very curious little girl. Her grandfather is pictured on every page with her as she curiously explores her surroundings. Then one day the chair he sits in is empty and he is gone. She puts her heart in a bottle to try and protect it, but suddenly everything seems so empty to her, until she meets a younger curious little girl who helps bring her heart back and make it lighter again. Incredibly poignant, the story ends on an uplifting, hopeful note.

Now, when those wild-haired girls step off of their school buses, I’ll have some help. We can curl up on the couch – a place that is safe and reassuring – and read a story to help us all start the process of understanding our feelings. We might not be able to understand everything, but at least it’s a start.

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Questions Not to Ask a Woman Who Has Passed Her Due Date

If you hope not to piss off a woman who has passed her due date, never ask the following

I’ve carried four babies to full-term and passed my due date twice. Those last few weeks with each were brutally long and miserable. Unfortunately, the constant checking-in by well-meaning family and friends didn’t really help my mood or my patience level.
But it wasn’t the well-wishes that drove me crazy after I’d passed my due date. It was the ridiculous questions people constantly asked.
While I know each family member and dear friend had good intentions, their constant prodding left me feeling more judged than loved and supported: Am I doing enough? Do they think I don’t want this baby to come?!
If you hope not to piss off a woman who has passed her due date, never ask the following:

Still no baby?

It seems like an innocent enough question, and you’ll probably get a polite smile and short, sweet response, but really, it’s a silly question with no good answer.
Unless you’re dealing with an unusually cheerful pregnant woman (which is a rare thing after 40+ weeks), she’ll probably be running through a lengthy list of snarky responses in her mind, such as “Are you blind?!” and “Would I be here or doing this if the baby was here already?!”

Weren’t you due…?

Seriously, people, stop with the “due date is a blood oath” idea. Less than five percent of babies are born on their due date. Medical professionals refer to an “EDD” (estimated due date) because babies can come any time.
Full-term is a range, generally accepted as between 39 and 42 weeks. Most first-time moms welcome their babies after their due date, so let’s stop assuming the baby will arrive on or before that “magic” day. It’s not a package delivery and there are no guarantees.

Have you tried…?

There are a thousand ways one can try to induce labor “naturally,” and chances are, the pregnant woman you’re talking to has tried one or all of them already.
From walking to eating pineapple to ripen the cervix to “what got the baby in there,” most pregnant women who have passed their due dates have already explored the options. Unless they specifically ask for your advice, it’s probably best to just leave it alone.

Are you going to be induced?

Induction is so common these days that it may seem like a harmless question. A third of births that reach 41 to 42 weeks result in induction.
Despite this frequency, however, induction is a pretty serious medical intervention that involves risks for both mother (increased risk of postpartum depression and up to six times higher chance of a c-section) and baby (oxygen desaturation and significantly more occurrences of non-reassuring fetal heart rates).
Induction is a decision that really only needs to be discussed between a woman and her healthcare provider, not every acquaintance she runs into at the grocery store.

Are you ready?

I’ll venture to guess that nearly all women are ready for their baby’s arrival by their due date, at the latest. By the time the due date has come and gone, most women have prepared, and re-prepared, and re-prepared again.
Constantly doing all the tasks that she wants done before baby arrives, like having the house clean or the laundry done, can make an expectant mother go crazy as she spends her days wondering how much more cleaning and laundry she will have to do before the baby actually gets here.

What are you doing here?

Clearly, every pregnant woman who is waiting for her baby to arrive should be at home doing…I’m not exactly sure what. Waiting? Driving herself crazy waiting? Wondering when it’s going to happen? Wondering if it’s happening and she doesn’t realize it? Wondering why the hell it isn’t happening?
Yeah, no. The best thing a pregnant woman can do while waiting is to keep busy. It not only keeps her mind off the waiting, but normal human activity can also get the baby to actually come.

Are you going to try to have the baby before the storm?

Three of my babies came during hurricane season in South Florida, so I’m no stranger to preparing for delivery and a major storm at the same time. While not being able to get to a hospital during labor because of a natural disaster is certainly a terrifying prospect, bringing it up to a hugely pregnant woman who has probably been thinking about it non-stop is less than helpful.
Plus, babies are much safer and easier to manage during a natural disaster when they’re still in utero than after they’re born. So no, I will not “try” to have the baby before the storm.
So what should you say? Instead of prodding too much or drawing attention to the obvious, it’s best to stick with a simple “How you feeling?” or “I’m thinking of you” or, most helpful of all, “Is there anything I can do?

The Things to Remember When Positive Parenting Fails

When it feels like you’re not getting different results despite doing the “right” thing over and over again, here are a few things to keep in mind.

I am a firm believer in the benefits of raising kids with compassion and empathy. I believe that treating kids as we would like to be treated makes them stronger people, not weaker. I believe that the relationships we build with kids in childhood matter more than anything. Yet being a positive parent is not always easy.

There are times it seems incredibly hard to use a positive parenting approach, and sometimes the approach seems to increase rather than decrease tension. There are times it feels that we’re failing because we just don’t seem to have the skills to make it work. When it feels like you’re not getting different results despite doing the “right” thing over and over again, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1 | Don’t question every decision you make

We all get tired, anxious, and stressed, and these states have an impact on how we parent. We’re bound to yell more, or more likely to view our kids’ actions as misbehavior when we’re tired. Who wouldn’t lose it having to repeat the same thing over and over again while running late or trying to balance everything that needs to be done? The bottom line is that we’re all human.

Being a positive parent is not about being perfect. It’s about being aware of our strengths but also being aware of our weaknesses. It means working on our weaknesses, for instance by making a conscious attempt to dial down the yelling. Being a positive parent also means knowing when to apologize and what to apologize for.

Understanding we are all human also means understanding that kids are human too and that they will do things kids are supposed to do.

2 | No discipline method works all of the time

While adopting a positive discipline approach may improve your relationship with your kid, nothing guarantees that this approach will work all of the time and for every discipline issue. Don’t do the same thing over and over if you’re not getting the results you want. While a self-quieting space can do wonders for your kid, by no means does it work in every situation or with every kid.

Trying a different approach when everything you’ve tried doesn’t seem to be working does not make you a bad parent. The thing to remember is that effective discipline has common elements. Discipline is most effective when it occurs in a warm and loving environment.

3 | Get rid of the “positive parenting” label

The thing with labels is that they can quickly become limiting. Positive parenting means, first and foremost, being intentional in your parenting. It is not about following set rules laid out by someone else. Being a positive parent means being conscious that how you interact with your kid affects him or her. It means aligning your parenting to your kid’s temperament, and parenting in ways that are in line with your values and both you and your kid’s strengths and weaknesses.

4 | Non-punitive doesn’t mean letting your kids get away with misbehavior

Punitive methods are never the solution to misbehavior. They teach kids “not to get caught,” and increasing evidence suggests that punitive methods harm kids. While these methods might get you immediate results, all they will do over the long term is teach kids to lie because they teach them to see truth as an inconvenience. Kids who live in fear of punishment become sneakier and they also avoid confiding in you even when they should.

Being an intentional parent means being conscious that your kid’s “misbehavior” is often driven by his inability to manage emotions. It means helping your kid learn to manage his emotions using an age-appropriate approach.

That said, non-punitive parenting is not synonymous with permissive parenting. Kids need to be aware that actions have consequences, and the consequences need to be appropriate and as closely linked to the behavior as possible. Recurrent misbehavior should not be ignored, nor should serious misbehavior that involves violent, aggressive, and dangerous behavior.

5 | A positive approach will always get you better results

Being an intentional parent means making a conscious attempt to promote your kid’s overall wellbeing. It means being sensitive to her needs, treating her emotions as valid, and treating her as an individual in her own right.

An intentional approach is not the approach set out in books or other parenting guides. It is an approach guided by your own values and your own specific context.

When you’re feeling discouraged about positive parenting, think of the long-term benefits to help get you back on track. When we’re warm and responsive to our kids’ needs and feelings, they feel better and act better!

From Mentor to Meltdown: How to Handle Your Highly Verbal Preschooler

One minute it feels like you’re talking to a mini-adult, the next you’re dealing with a screaming newborn. Here’s some help.

You’ve had to explain the gravitational pull of the moon, you’ve heard a recap of last year’s trip to the beach, and you’ve negotiated a weather-appropriate outfit. All before you pour the breakfast cereal.

These conversations continue as you put shoes on and head to the car. On the road, you hear a play-by-play of the street signs and traffic signals, and you discuss the pros and cons of using finger paint at the craft center today.

But after preschool, it’s a different story. Huge tears. Meltdowns in the hallway. Carrying her to the car because she refuses to walk. Where is the mature child you dropped off this morning?

Parenting a highly verbal child can be exhausting and confusing. One minute it feels like you’re talking to a mini-adult, the next you’re dealing with a screaming newborn. Instead of jumping on the emotional roller-coaster, here are a few tips.

Understand the brain

Your child’s brain has grasped the concept of communication and ran with it. Some kids may also learn to read or write early or be able to have in-depth conversations about complex topics. It’s hard to remember that their brains are still developing. Biologically, your child is still very immature. Brain development is a slow, uneven process. There is still lots of learning and growing for them yet to do!

Keep your expectations realistic

Keeping brain information in mind, realize that your child’s ability to self-regulate is still going to be inconsistent. If he is hungry, tired, overstimulated, or feeling disconnected from you, you will see more meltdowns, arguments, or power struggles. Look beyond your child’s verbal ability in these moments, realizing that he is still too young to manage these situations well 100 percent of the time.

Don’t give up your position

It’s easy to feel sideswiped by the negotiating skills of a savvy preschooler, but remember, your child is not mature enough to fill the role of decision maker. You are still the parent and your child needs to be able to rest in your confident leadership. It’s okay to have a conversation, hear her position, or explore other options together. But when it comes to setting a boundary, your child needs you to remain in your role as the adult so she can stay a child.

Empathize

Being a highly verbal may not be easy for your child. He may feel different from his peers, feel pressured to act more mature, or feel frustrated when you set a limit. Rather than using logic or reasoning, stick to empathy. Join him in these big feelings. Give him words to use. Let him know you understand where he is coming from, and offer to stay close when big feelings become overwhelming.

Let them be little

Allow plenty of time for play, silliness, or roughhousing. Remind yourself that she is still young – even if her vocabulary says otherwise. Check your own annoyance or frustration when she actually “acts her age.” If your child is more serious or rigid, teach calming skills or provide opportunities to relax.

Find support

If you’re feeling exhausted, you’re not alone. It’s not easy to raise a highly intelligent or highly verbal child. It can feel isolating and confusing, especially if you do not have a support system that understands your unique challenges. You don’t have to struggle alone. It’s not easy to reach out and ask for help. But, once you do, you will realize that other parents are right where you are.

Carrying your screaming child to the car, you kiss her forehead, remind yourself that she’s only three years old. She’s still a baby. In this moment, she’s right on track developmentally, even if 10 minutes from now, she’ll be telling you random facts about endangered sea turtles.

This piece was originally published on Imperfect Families.

5 Expert Tips for Emotionally Healthy Sibling Relationships

A sibling means having a companion, confidant, and advocate. It also means having someone who is always around when you’d rather have them somewhere else.

“I’m going to take a quick shower,” I explained to my four-year-old.

I rarely shower during the day when both our boys are awake to spare myself the anxiety of wondering what sort of mischief is going on in my absence. But there was no way around it this time. I was covered in the germy ick of the stomach bug that was making its way through the family. I couldn’t put it off any longer.

“But I don’t think I know how to keep little brother safe on my own,” he replied.

I was thankful for his honesty and his exceptional verbal skills. He could have whined, argued, and negotiated. Instead he told me how he felt. If only all our interactions could be so simple.

“I can see how that would make you feel nervous,” I reassured him. “Stay right here in this part of the house with the gate closed, I’m sure he’ll be okay. I’ll turn on a show for you to watch and I’ll only be a few minutes.”

He nodded in agreement and I seized the precious few moments to prioritize my own needs.

The cleansing waters also brought a moment of clarity, a refreshing perspective about siblings and parenting.

I thought back to the times when I’ve needed to resolve conflict between big and little brothers. As I navigated my way through our first year with two boys, I thought giving them time to spend together without direct supervision for just a few minutes at a time would strengthen their bond.

However, every time I was out of sight, I found myself scrambling back a moment later to attend to little brother’s crying and an expression of guilt from big brother. I became frustrated and irritated, expressing my disappointment in big brother’s actions and reminding him (again!) to be gentle.

From my perspective, the misbehavior seemed like a cry for attention, acting out in aggression and jealousy. I knew my four-year-old wanted to be gentle and enjoyed having a little brother. I couldn’t understand why this kept happening.

Then I discovered the work of Janet Lansbury, author of “Elevating Childcare and No Bad Kids,” and host of podcast, Unruffled. Her practical parenting advice, based on the theories of Magda Gerber, involves respectfully acknowledging the feelings behind a child’s behavior, and understanding acting out as a cry for help.

I thought I was doing this in addressing my older son’s need for my love and attention and his feelings of jealousy toward his little brother. What I didn’t realize, until our conversation before my mid-afternoon shower, was that I’d been misinterpreting nervousness and anxiety as jealousy.

Because he told me, “I don’t think I can keep brother safe by myself,” I realized his actions to call me back into the room when left alone with his brother were an attempt to ask for assistance, not to demand my attention.

He knows babies are not self-sufficient, can get into dangerous household items, and can get hurt. It dawned on me that he wants very badly to keep his brother safe from harm but he is just little himself and can’t bear the weight of that responsibility.

I’ll add a disclaimer that I would never leave them unattended for more than a minute or two while I switched a load of laundry or refilled my coffee. My adult mind thought this was a reasonable amount of time. In his mind, I realized, it felt far too long. The only solution he could see was to do something to get his brother to cry, which would then bring me running back to join them.

It was brilliant logic really, once I considered the situation mindfully from his point of view.

He felt the same way being left alone with his little brother as I usually did when I attempted to shower at home alone with them during the day. He was anxious.

When I addressed his anxiousness with empathy and reassured him I felt little brother would be safe, he was able to rest in knowing they would be okay and I would only be out of sight for a short time.

Of course, any sibling relationship will experience resentment, disappointment, and envy, and I’m sure some of those emotions also contributed to my son’s aggression. However, taking tips from parenting experts like Janet Lansbury and books like “Siblings Without Rivalry,” we can address emotions empathetically and help our children build their own relationships, rather than meddling to mold them how we feel they should be.

Respect boundaries

Having a sibling can mean having a companion, confidant, and advocate. It can also mean having someone who is always around when you’d rather have them somewhere else. When we respect our children’s feelings, keeping them separated from their siblings when their actions tell us they can’t handle the relationship at the time, we model how to set respectful boundaries for themselves as they grow up.

Don’t force sharing

Experts point out that when young siblings are adjusting to their new relationship, the baby doesn’t actually care that much when the older one takes away her toys. If the older sibling is given the opportunity to “claim his territory,” so to speak, initially, he will feel less threatened as the relationship develops.

Focus on feelings

Writer, speaker, and childhood development professional, Amanda, at Not Just Cute recommends using the acronym CARE: Cause, Action, Reaction, Expectation, to guide parents through helping children manage challenging behavior. By understanding the root cause of sibling squabbles, we can avoid placing blame and inflicting guilt and judgement on one child or the other.

Comparison: the thief of joy

Adults and children alike feel worse about themselves when compared to others. Especially put in a situation where a child feels they are vying for parental attention or affection, comparing siblings can be especially damaging. The author of “Siblings Without Rivalry” encourages parents to observe and describe a situation from a position of neutrality, being careful not to compare the behavior of one sibling to another.

Fair does not mean equal

That “fair” actually means that everyone gets what they need, not that they get the same thing or what they want, can be a difficult concept for children. But the earlier it’s introduced, the easier it will become engrained in their expectations of family relationships. Babies need different forms of love and attention than toddlers and preschoolers. Reminding older siblings that you’re there to help meet everyone’s needs and pointing out their differences with those needs can keep jealous feelings at bay.

Sibling relationships can be difficult at any stage. Every phase of childhood and development can pose new challenges, but when we let go of our desire to control our children’s actions and interactions, we give them the freedom to learn constructive problem-solving and conflict resolution. If you’re still in the trenches of siblings adjusting to their new relationship, take heart, I’m right there with you. Emotions still run high, and since our little brother isn’t even verbal yet, our boys lack the communication component for building a relationship.

Then I hear the baby giggle at his brother’s silly faces and am assured that we’re on the right track. Using these expert tips and handling situations with empathy has cut way back on aggressive behavior and jealousy. So, with a little time and a lot of effort, I’d say this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Forgiving My Father While He Was in Prison

When I was 18 years old, I began studying the impact of fatherlessness on children.

I would sit for hours, reading about theories and conclusions based on quantitative and qualitative research. I analyzed the behavior of fatherless children, who were studied for the purpose of academia. As a student, I was fascinated, but as a child who grew up without the tender love of her father, I was crushed. I’d be making invisible check marks with the pad of my finger, noting the phrases and statistics that perfectly described me. A part of me felt euphoric when I could bypass a particular trend in fatherless children, proud that I had beat the odds.

My parents separated when my mother was seven months pregnant with me, and their divorce was finalized before my first birthday. My father had been married before, for much longer than he was to my mother. He’d raised two sons already, and had fallen into a pattern of addiction and abandonment of those he loved.

Although it was no surprise that my alcohol- and drug-addicted father left my mother and her unborn child, it left a permanent scar in the heart of my mother. She never remarried. Her trust in men and her faith in marriage were permanently shaken.

I grew up knowing my dad from a distance. Recently memories from my dad’s home have resurfaced in my mind. They are cartoonish caricatures of alcoholism. His beer belly was often poking out from beneath his stained white t-shirt. He’d bend down to look for his glasses under the couch, his butt crack poking out from the top of his pants, and I’d avert my eyes in embarrassment. Budweiser cans were piled like a mountain in the trash bin. The walls were stained with cigarette smoke, and murder mysteries would play on the small TV set while vagabonds came in and out through the side door.

I remember longing for my dad from a distance. During one visit, while my stepmom was out, I sat on the couch for hours while my dad snored beside me. I was afraid to wake him, but my throat was parched and I needed a drink. I sat for hours, reading my Beverly Cleary book, while waiting for his eternal nap to end. When he finally woke up, I shyly asked, “May I please have a drink, Dad?”

He brought me a Coke and made me the most delicious pasta I’d ever tasted. I was so proud of him, marveling at his wonderful culinary skills. I told my mom on the drive home that my father had made me pasta, forgetting to mention the hours spent reading while my stomach churned in hunger.

By the time I was in my teens my father was separated from his third wife and his drinking was spiraling out of control. I became the child who heard from her dad on Christmas and birthdays, and looked forward to awkward annual visits. During our rare visits our conversation was strained and stalled. I never knew what to say, afraid of letting slip my hurt and the desire that he’d really be there for me.

I spent time getting to know my half-brothers, who were now grown and dealing with their own hurts. Despite not having much of a history with them, they understood the longing I had for our father. We were the only three people in the world that understood how difficult it was to love our dad in one breath, and hate him in another. The three of us were walking, bleeding, heart-pumping statistics of fatherlessness.

By the time I was 22, I’d found love and started my own family. As complete as I was, I still missed my dad and wished he’d overcome his addictions. I’d finally come to understand that his world was too small to contain his three kids. I realized how little control he had over himself and his life. I felt pity and sorrow for a man chained to destructive addictions, and hoped that one day he’d be free.

By the time my father turned 60, he was homeless, mentally ill, and in and out of prison for reasons unknown to me. By now his hair was nearly all grey, his skin was leathery and gaunt, and his eyes sunken.

Then my dad fell out of a third story window. He survived, and we all marveled at a man who seemed indestructible.

“Seriously, how is Dad still alive?” I quietly laughed on the phone while talking to my oldest brother, Jason.

Two months later, Jason died suddenly of a heart attack after returning from a morning run. The world is cruel. The morning I found out my brother was dead I knew nothing would ever make sense.

It took us nearly two days to locate my father and inform him that his oldest son had died of a heart attack. My father was in jail on the day of Jason’s funeral.

For months after my brother’s death, I was overcome with despair. My dad was unavailable and too ill to support me through my grief. He was in prison so often that I had the phone number for “Jail” programmed into my phone.

One night, I lay awake thinking about my father as soft snowflakes fell outside my window. It was almost Christmas, and I knew he was in prison again. He would be spending the holiday behind bars. The next morning I called my sister-in-law, a former jail guard.

“Sherry? Do you think they have turkey in prison?”

She gently reassured me, “Yes, Salvation Army will provide a few simple gifts, and they’ll have a turkey dinner for their meal.”

I imagined my dad unwrapping a gift provided by the Salvation Army and eating dry turkey in drab prison clothes. I asked my brother Aaron how I might get in touch with our dad.

“Write him a letter,” he suggested.

A few days later I was in Amish country, browsing in a quaint shop full of handmade gifts. I picked up a card with two happy children playing together. It made me smile and I thought of my father, who was raised in an Amish sect.

I brought the card home and began to write a letter to my father. I talked about the blooming personalities of my two daughters, two more children he would never know. I wrote about my career, feeling a twinge of anger that my dad didn’t even know I was pursuing a career in journalism.

I told my dad the things I always wished I could tell him. I told him that I loved him. I wrote down the hardest words, letting him know he was important to me, and nothing that he’d done had ever changed that.

I remembered sitting on his couch when I was eight, listening to him talk, hearing the vibrations of his voice. I was my father’s only daughter and I’d always loved him. I’d always been hoping for him, wishing I could curl up on his lap, not caring about the booze or the cigarettes, just wanting his love.

By the time I’d finished my letter, my writing was uneven and sloppy. I wondered how my nearly blind father would read my words, and imagined him asking another inmate to read my intimate thoughts. I pictured my dad pitching the letter in the garbage, never knowing the words that held 26 years of my longing for him.

Then I pictured him clutching the letter to his heart, feeling my love and smiling behind the cold thick bars that held him captive. I imagined my words giving him freedom, and I saw him tenderly placing my letter under his thin mattress.

I wanted to call my sister-in-law again, and ask her to describe to me how letters were delivered to inmates. I wished I could watch the entire scene, my subconscious mixing in details from “The Shawshank Redemption,” one of the only impressions I have of prison.

“At what time of day do they receive the letters?” I wanted to ask Sherry.

I licked the envelope, sealing it closed, and walked with my oldest daughter to the mailbox. I placed my trust in her three-year-old hands as she carried my heart carefully down the road. I lifted her in my arms and helped her to place the letter in the mail chute, bidding it a safe journey.

“Mommy, I love sending letters with you,” Penny said. “Carry me home, please? I’m too tired to walk.” She wrapped her legs around my waist and I trudged with her in the deep snow.

“Let’s have some hot chocolate by the toasty fire,” I said between breaths.

“Of course, Mommy. That’s what we always do.” A smile was forming on her lips, which were dry and chapped from the cold.

When we got home I snuggled Penny by the fire, telling her stories of cold winters and Christmases from my childhood.

“Mommy, who was that letter for that we mailed today?”

“It was for your grandpa. Not your daddy’s Dad. Your mommy’s Dad. You don’t know him. I don’t really know him either. But I love him very much, and I just needed him to know that.”

My daughter nuzzled her face into my neck. My child, who has everything she deserves, except of course, a relationship with her maternal grandfather.

“We should always tell people when we love them,” said Penny.

“Always.” I replied.

Parenting as an Introvert

I find nothing wrong with needing time and space to recharge, but I am also learning to welcome challenges to my assumption that it’s immutable.

My husband and I have been in the room for less than a minute before Chad – a tan, amiable entertainment director – nudges us into a circle of guests. “First timers,” he says, and all eyes are on us. I haven ’t even made it to the bar yet for my free signature cocktail.

We’ve arrived at this rugged resort in Vermont a few miles from the Canadian border to celebrate my fortieth birthday. Or rather, I should say, this family resort. With older grandparents who don’t live nearby, we’ve never had the option of leaving our two-and-a-half-year-old for a much-needed vacation. Even if we did, Miles is a giant, a sprinter in the 99th percentile for height and weight who can deadlift a play stove. We wouldn’t expect our family to watch him for more than a night.

I introduce myself to six strangers in succession, flashing back to childhood summer camp and mnemonic icebreakers. “Say your name and an animal that starts with the same letter!” one counselor enthused, and because I’d read that rhinoceroses wander alone, I mumbled, “Rebecca rhinoceros.”

30 years later, nervously stuffing bacon-wrapped dates into my mouth, I’m still scanning the room for exits.

I’m an introvert by nature. Before having a family, my job as a travel agent took me around the world. One of my fondest travel traditions was seeking out high-traffic places during deserted hours and snapping a photo of myself among the stillness: sitting cross-legged on the cobblestones of Las Ramblas or leaning against a sticky New Orleans pub door the morning after Saint Paddy’s. I feel ill-equipped for meet-and-greets.

However we’d picked this particular resort despite its emphasis on group dinners and team activities for its kids’ camp. In exchange for Miles becoming a Junior Moppet, I would dig deep for a week and make small-talk at meals. In order to reconnect with my husband over leisurely bird walks, I would summon up enough courage to do an adult trust fall after a low-ropes course (ominously referred to by repeat guests as “low-gropes”).

I expected parenthood to change me. I knew I would eat more meals standing up, finish fewer thoughts, and fall asleep in parking lots. What took me by surprise were the demands made on what, at age 37, I had viewed as my permanent personality, the ruts of my introversion. Sometimes I think that more than patience or endurance, parenthood requires sociability.

“Come join us for game night!” a triathlete and father of three says to me, two days into our stay. “Pictionary goes on for hours!”

I wish I could hold up a drawing of my answer, a tiny, reclining stick figure clutching a rectangle, surrounded by white space.

When Miles was born, I suffered the usual anxieties. I was on guard against bottle caps and electrical sockets, deer ticks and deep ends. But beyond matters of survival, I panicked daily over casual conversation. I still do.

A few months ago, at the zoo, Miles ran up to a little girl who looked to be in first grade.

“Do you want to play with me?” he asked, not acknowledging her personal space in the least. His outstretched hand was practically vibrating in invitation. My son’s friendliness is so often borderline ambush that we’ve already had several talks with him about consent.

She accepted; I watched them bound off toward the lion enclosure. I found myself giving chase up the hill with another mother and her infant-in-stroller. We half-introduced ourselves – Miles’ mom, Sophie’s mom – while power-walking. I felt the familiar, suffocating pressure to keep talking. She had on a shirt that read Keep Calm & Wear Stella & Dot. In all my awkwardness and against my better judgment, I asked her to recommend a statement necklace.

When we reached the lions, her daughter informed us of their plan: “We’re going to have a play date next week!”

I touched my throat, anticipating the weight of some unavoidable pendant.

Introversion is not shyness. The latter is characterized by a fear of harsh appraisal. If I ever appear standoffish or come across as cold, it’s less from self-consciousness than depletion. I’m rarely energized by talking to others, even when I’m having fun. I often feel so drained from showing up and being present with my husband, or my students, or my son, that when another parent suddenly wants to discuss Paw Patrol or crumbling democracy, I shut down.

I hide it pretty well. I’ve mostly held jobs that necessitate high levels of face time with the public, enjoyable in large part because I maintained some degree of social control. I stayed a travel agent for years because my one directive was to send people away from me. Now, on playgrounds and in science centers, I’m thrust into extemporaneous interaction. I no longer have the privilege of seeking out conversation. It finds me.

I accept my introversion. I find nothing wrong with needing time and space to recharge, but I am also learning to welcome challenges to my assumption that it’s immutable. That’s one of the more surprising gifts my son has given me: receptivity to change.

At this family resort in Vermont, the staff hands out guest awards at the end of the week. Not everyone gets one. My husband received the Robin Hood award for his performance in archery after accidentally splitting an arrow already lodged in the target.

And me? I was crowned Mead Marion, a title I earned for staying out late on my fortieth birthday, drinking and dancing with newfound friends.

The Alternating Happiness and Grief of Life 2.0

I’m becoming more comfortable with the “both and-ness” of this life. I am both homesick for the life I once had and filled with joy at the life I am living.

It was well past midnight when my phone dinged urgently from the nightstand next to me. I debated not checking it: the kids were tucked safely in their beds upstairs and my work rarely requires an immediate response to client issues. I’m not a live organ transplant surgeon, after all. No message I get after midnight needs an answer before dawn.
But my curiosity got the better of me, and I rolled over to check my messages. And there it was, a note from a reader, also up much too late:
“I had to ask you this one question … I wonder when I will stop secretly grieving the loss of my ‘first family?’ It’s been four years and every now and again it hits me like a freight train that it’s over … that this ‘post first family, blended family life’ is really happening. Trying to coparent and trying to bond with step children and trying to ensure that everybody is ‘getting along’ is so overwhelming sometimes … nights like tonight, I just secretly wish that my ‘first family’ was still intact.”
I read it twice, quickly, and then once more as I thought about what to say.

I could’ve written the message myself

Yesterday I called my children to say goodnight and listened to their stories of the day at the beach on vacation with their father. Simon is relishing his freedom, old enough now to spend the afternoon at the pier eating ice cream and talking to girls with the casual, laid back attitude I also perfected at home in the mirror when I was 16. Lottie spent the day in the pool, practicing hand stands, and Caden continued his beach trench digging. For as long as I can remember, that child has spent his week at the beach digging a trench so long and straight it makes me wonder how long it will be before the army recruits him off the sand.
I know where they are and what they had for lunch and how it feels to sit on the deck of their family beach condo, salty air blowing softly at the end of a long day in the sun. I spent my 20th birthday with my beach chair sitting in that low tide, lost in a book before heading to the very restaurant where they ate dinner last night. I know the pattern of the cracks in the bathroom ceiling, and the soft murmured cadence of adult conversation after the children fall, sandy and exhausted, into their beds in the back bunk room.
But I’m not there. Someone else is now.
It was the background conversation that stayed with me longest after I hung up the phone last night. I could hear their father, Billy, laughing with his dad, and his mother’s murmured response. Suddenly, the adults all started laughing, sharing a joke I’m not a part of any longer and in that instant I felt overwhelmingly homesick.
Homesick for a time and place where I belonged, simply and wholly. Where I didn’t have to add a prefix and no one had come before me. Where people were free to love me unencumbered by grief and heartbreak. Where I didn’t yet understand what those words meant, really.
And yet, I wouldn’t choose to be there. I didn’t choose that, after all.
As I hung up the phone, I took Gabe’s outstretched hand and we left for dinner, hand in hand, walking in our now-familiar rhythm. We spend the night working through an investment strategy, diving deep into the details of our latest television obsession, and thinking about where we might find ourselves a year from now.
We spend the meal as we’ve spent our day: enjoying each other’s company and exploring the world around us. We are, like our stride, perfectly in sync. The joy I feel when I am with Gabe, secure in our partnership and overwhelmed by his love, is something I’d never experienced before. I wouldn’t have even said it existed.

I’m becoming more comfortable with the “both and-ness” of this life

I am both homesick for the life I once had and filled with joy at the life I am living. I am both overwhelmed by the complexity of raising six children and on-my-knees-grateful at the chance to bear witness to the miracle of their transition to adulthood. I both miss my first husband’s quick wit and remember its sting. I both worry about the effects of our choice to separate and know deep in my bones it was the right choice for my family.

I spent the morning on a new beach today

I watched the older couples walking, hand in hand, some deep in conversation, some silent. I watched the teen girls primp and preen, carefully adjusting their pose as they captured and posted the perfect candid moment. I watched the young moms and dads slather sunscreen and chase down lost yellow shovels and explain for the fourth time that sand is not for eating.
For just a moment, I want one more chubby toddler. One I share with the man next to me, one who will eat sand and learn to ride a bike in our driveway and belong to just the two of us. And in that same moment I remember that I never want to own another swim diaper or blue plastic bathtub or attend another endless kindergarten orientation.
I both want to wear that teenage-girl black crocheted bikini and not think twice about it and also know I never, ever want to be 16 again.
I both want to walk on the beach with someone I loved as a girl and also know the person I want beside me today joined me much later in my life.
Both, and.

Grief and sadness and gratitude and giddy joy wrap around me

They weave intertwined through my memory, tangled so closely I sometimes can’t separate the two. I’ve stopped trying. I’m learning the experience of one often highlights the other, and this swirling life in progress has enough room for both.
I’ve slowly stopped trying to rationalize or make sense of how I feel in any given moment, and just accept where I am. Feelings are not right or wrong or good or bad. Sometimes I am still sad about a decision we made I know to be the right one. Sometimes I am filled with joy I found only after making a decision that caused people I love pain. A complicated path sometimes yields complicated feelings.
And so, late that night, I respond to my new friend with the truth, the only wisdom I have to offer:
“I get that. I sometimes feel that way too.”
This article was originally published on This Life in Progress.

If Moving Feels Like the End of the World, Help Your Kid Adjust With These Books

Moving to a new home can be a difficult experience for a child, especially if it means uprooting them from a familiar town or school.

Moving to a new home can be a difficult experience for a child, especially if it means uprooting them from a familiar town or school. Your decision may or may not be optional. Either way, processing the changes that are happening can be overwhelming for kids. Prepare your children by informing them early about a move and get them involved in the process, if possible. Give them plenty of information and encourage any questions. Books are also ideal before, during, and after the transition.

Moving can feel like the end of the world, but these books can help your child adjust to a new beginning:

BigErniesNewHOme

Big Ernie’s New Home: A Story for Young Children Who Are Moving

by Teresa Martin and Whitney Martin

Big Ernie is moving, and boy does he feel sad. And angry. And anxious. All his emotions related to the move are vividly detailed in this book for young children. By understanding how Ernie feels, they can relate and connect as they navigate their own feelings during this time of change. The back section includes notes and tips for parents.


MovingDay

The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day

by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Those country bears are on the move again, but, this time, Mama, Papa, Sister, and Brother are moving away from the mountains and into a new tree house down a sunny dirt road. Read along with your child as this classic literary family say their heartfelt goodbyes to old friends and open their tree trunk door to new ones.


AlexanderWhosNot

Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move

by Judith Viorst (Author) and Robin Preiss Glasser (Illustrator)

Alexander is back, and this day is much worse than terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad. This day is the worst ever! His family is moving a thousand miles away from the only home he’s never known. But he’s not going. And he means it.

“Roaming the neighborhood, he takes a look at his ‘special places’ and bids good-bye to all his ‘special people,’ announcing that ‘I’m saying good-bye-but it won’t be my last.’ By story’s end, after he lets some reassuring promises from his parents sink in, Alexander softens his tone, conceding that he, too, is packing up his things, but for the final time,” says Publisher’s Weekly.


TheKidIntheRedJacket

The Kid in the Red Jacket

by Barbara Park

If your child loved “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” than this middle-grade novel from bestselling author Barbara Park will hit the spot. “The Kid in the Red Jacket” chronicles Howard’s journey as his family moves away from his beloved home. How will he leave all his friends behind? And how will he ever make new ones? All the new kids act like he’s invisible, except his six-year-old neighbor, Molly Vera Thompson, who never stops talking. She’s the only one who wants to be his friend. When you have none, will you take anyone? Or will Howard stay alone?


AnastasiaAgain

Anastasia Again

by Lois Lowry

Twelve-year-old Anastasia is about to move from the city to the outskirts of town. The suburbs, as her family calls it. The thought of moving somewhere where all the houses look alike and people thrive on the latest and greatest has Anastasia questioning everything. How will she ever fit in? To make matters worse, a new and very annoying boy “like” likes her and she doesn’t like him at all. It’s not until she discovers a possible witch next door that things start looking up. Solving the mystery will take her mind off adjusting to a new home and a life with no friends.


Ghosts

Ghosts

by Raina Telgemeier

Catrina’s little sister, Maya, is sick, so her family moves to the coast of northern California. Although Catrina is not happy about leaving her friends and home, the cool, salty coastal air will help her sister’s cystic fibrosis.

When the family finally settles in, a neighbor tells the girls a secret: Bahía de la Luna is haunted by ghosts. Maya is determined to find one, but Catrina wants nothing to do with the quest. Then Maya gets sicker. Even though Catrina now finds herself at a new school with no friends and is petrified of the possibility of meeting an evil spirit, she must put aside her fears and sorrow to help her sister fulfill her dream of meeting a ghost!

“Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale,” says Kirkus Reviews.


TheEssentialMovingJournalTeens

The Essential Moving Guided Journal for Teens

by Sara Elizabeth Boehm

Moving is stressful for children, especially teens. For some, they’ve lived their entire lives in one home and attended the same school. Their friends are like family and a move can be particularly upsetting. Help them adjust by having them share and document their feelings in this one-of-a-kind journal for teens.

Which books about moving have helped your kids with the transition? Share in the comments!

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