When a Dragon Goes to School: Interview with the Author

Starting school is a big milestone. Knowing what to expect can help ease that transition. Caryl Hart’s new book, When a Dragon Goes to School, follows a dragon as it explores the routines and manners that children, will experience in preschool. Magination Press asked the author about creating this delightful new picture book, which is a companion to When a Dragon Comes Stay.  Magination Press: What inspired you to write When a Dragon Goes to School? Caryl Hart: The first book in the series, When a Dragon Comes to Stay, was so popular that my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked if I’d like to write a second book where the little dragon starts school. Of course I said yes straight away!   I remember only too well how difficult it was to settle my own children into school when they were small - we had lots of tears and leg-clinging, which was hugely upsetting at the time. Little did I know that, while I felt terrible for the rest of the day, my girls skipped off to have fun as soon as I was out of sight! Starting school is such a huge milestone for young children and creating fun, reassuring books is a great way to help prepare them. Our story includes common routines like hanging your coat and bag on a peg, entering the classroom, sitting in your special place, listening to the teacher and being kind to your new friends - all things that most children will experience during their first days at school. Children who are already familiar with the school environment can sometimes struggle to talk about their experiences and might not know how to tell their grownups when things don’t go quite right. Reading books like When a Dragon Goes to School can help open up this dialogue and give children the tools they need to process difficult, exciting, or new experiences, ultimately helping them feel happy and safe. MP: Why are manners in school so important? CH: Young children are often used to being the sole focus of attention at home, so learning to get along with others can be quite a challenge. Understanding school routines and learning to consider other people’s feelings help the school day run smoothly, which ultimately makes the experience a pleasant and rewarding one for everyone! Most children do actually want to behave in a way that will please the adults in their lives, and modeling appropriate behavior in picture books can help them work out what is expected of them. Demonstrating funny scenarios of what would never do is a funny and endearing way to discuss the behaviors they are aiming for.  MP: Can you recall a teacher that you had in school who helped you learn good etiquette? CH: I can’t remember anyone at school specifically teaching me about manners - my parents were pretty good at that!  I think learning good manners is just part and parcel of the fabric of school life.  We raise our

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When a Dragon Goes to School: Interview with the Author 2021-07-16T15:54:13-04:00

Lobe Your Brain: Interview with the Author

Let’s focus on the brain! We talked to expert author Leanne Boucher Gill, who is is a professor of psychology at Nova Southeastern University, where she received the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award and was named the NSU STUEY Professor of the Year. She maintains an active research program studying how exercise affects the way we think. Her new book for younger readers is all about the human brain.  Magination Press: What inspired you to write Lobe Your Brain: What Matters About Your Grey Matter?  Leanne Boucher Gill: I love reading children’s books! I use funny voices and really get into it because I love the giggles that erupt from my kids when I read them. And their questions are always so interesting. Oftentimes we’ll end up talking about related topics from the books we read, like what happened to the dinosaurs, why hurricanes happen, or even why we have to share our toys with strangers. I wanted to write a kids’ book about my favorite part of the body—the brain—because I want kids to realize just how amazing it is. MP: Why is it important for kids to know about neurology and brain structure? LBG: I think it’s important to understand that the brain is responsible for everything we do, from walking to talking to feeling. It’s also important to understand how to take care of our brains by exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep. MP: Why did you decide to focus on the lobes of the brain? LBG: The brain can be divided in many different ways. As an introduction to the brain, the four lobes are easy to describe both in terms of where they are and some of the basic functions that they help us to do, like how visual information is processed in the occipital lobe. Understanding the different functions of different brain areas lets kids know that the brain isn’t just a mush of tissue between their ears, but rather that it is a beautiful structure that is laid out purposefully. MP: It can be really difficult to explain these complex neurological ideas to young children. Why did you decide to write a book for 6- to 8-year-olds? How did you make these concepts accessible and engaging for young children? LBG: I wanted to write a children’s book on the brain because I truly think it is fascinating. There weren’t many books written for this age group on the brain. There are so many other science-related books out there for children to get them curious about how the world works. I have been organizing public events through libraries and museums since my children were babies. I think many of the complex neurological topics you refer to are not all that difficult to explain if you can think the way a child does. I don’t believe in “dumbing it down”, but rather I try to relate neurological concepts to concepts children are familiar with, like trees.  I remember I was doing one program

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Lobe Your Brain: Interview with the Author 2021-07-01T13:02:20-04:00

Help Them Wait: Strategies to Build Kids’ Self-Control

Waiting is hard. Especially when it’s something you want. Dr. Walter Mischel conducted the famous Marshmallow Test in the 1960s to understand how children develop the ability to delay gratification. The test shed light on strategies that kids can learn to use to help them delay gratification. How Can I Wait When There’s a Treat on My Plate? by Dan Graham, PhD explores the challenge of waiting for something you want through the experience of twins, Dell and Pete.  Here’s an excerpt from the Note to Parents and Caregivers that provides some strategies to help kids build their self-control. Strategies to Help Increase Self-control Turn your face  Temptations can become less powerful if we stop looking at the thing we want.    Take some space Putting some distance between ourselves and the tempting object can make self-control easier. Distancing ourselves from current emotions can also boost self-control. We can do this by vividly imagining our future emotions. If we concentrate on how a long-term reward will feel later, it can become emotionally powerful enough to help motivate waiting.  Children, and adults, are much more successful in delaying gratification when we can distance ourselves from the emotion of the current situation and get closer to our positive future emotions. Imagine We can use imagination to change the way we feel about something tempting. To delay gratification in the story, Pete could have imagined the marshmallow was something else, like a white mouse or a distant cloud. He could have made the marshmallow less appealing if he imagined that bugs had crawled on it. Or he could imagine he was someone else, like a superhero, who was very good at waiting.  Do something fun Distracting ourselves by doing something we enjoy can help shift our focus from the thing we desire to the fun we are having. Additional Strategies for Parents and Caregivers Model self-control Children often adopt the behaviors that they see caregivers use. You can be a self-control role model by demonstrating not only the strategies described in this book, but also a growth-focused approach to learning such skills. When demonstrating successful self-control, you can mention that you learned these self-control skills and that you are still working to improve them and to learn others. Promote autonomy Supporting children’s choices and their ability to act independently helps them understand that they have control over delaying gratification. You can do this by leading children part of the way to a solution, but leaving enough for them to do on their own to earn a feeling of accomplishment. For example, when working a puzzle with your child, you could rotate the piece to be properly oriented, but allow the child to put it in place.  Children’s autonomy is also enhanced when they can dictate the pace at which an activity, like playing a game or going for a walk, takes place, and when they can actively take part in accomplishing a task. Encouraging your child to dress themselves, although it may

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Help Them Wait: Strategies to Build Kids’ Self-Control 2021-05-27T17:25:59-04:00