Social Emotional Learning

They Only See the Outside: Interview with the Author

In honor of National Poetry Month, we've interviewed Kalli Dakos, author of a new collection of poems, They Only See the Outside. We ask her about the process of making this book and how poetry can help children better understand their feelings and feel less alone. Magination Press: What inspired you to create this poetry collection, They Only See the Outside? Kalli Dakos: I was asked to do a collection of poems that deal with emotional issues and I thought it was a wonderful idea. I’ve been sharing poetry with children for many years now and I know that poems can help them deal with problems at so many levels – both reading and writing poems. Reading poems helps children to feel that they are not alone with their difficulties and writing poems helps to give a voice to their problems and to share their own stories.  Reading poems helps children to feel that they are not alone with their difficulties and writing poems helps to give a voice to their problems and to share their own stories.  MP: You’ve written many books of poetry. What makes this one different? KD: This is my first book that has both previously published poems and new poems as well. I was able to share some of my favorite poems from other books and to add poems on brand new topics.     MP: Are there any poets who have inspired or mentored you?  KD: There are many poets who have inspired me over the years – from William Wordsworth to Shel Silverstein to the wonderful children’s poets today who are my friends. MP: The poems in They Only See the Outside can raise many different emotions and reactions from page to page as you cover incredibly different topics, from serious to ordinary to amusing. Can you explain why this approach benefits readers? KD: Poems help children to develop empathy and compassion for the struggles that their peers face, and covering all different topics helps this exposure. And then there are the poems that strike a chord with individual children because they have experienced the feelings in the poem. I love to include longer free verse poems that can handle topics that require more text, and it is always important to include humorous poetry that gives children a break from the deeper issues, but also helps them to realize they are not alone with embarrassing situations.   MP: In this collection of poems, you explore all kinds of feelings a kid might have in diverse life experiences. In your picture book Why Am I Blue?, you explore feelings, too. How is writing a book of poetry different from crafting a picture book?  KD: I feel that most of my writing is poetry even if it is in a picture book. I always begin a picture book as a poet, with either free verse or rhyme. In the original versions, the stories are written as poetry, and then changed to picture book format, as in Why Am I Blue?

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They Only See the Outside: Interview with the Author 2021-04-06T11:39:22-04:00

Building a Resilient Child: Promoting Independence and Resilience During COVID-19

Helping your child develop independence and resilience is a big challenge in the best of times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety, isolation, and disrupted schedules make it harder. Dr. Julia Martin Burch shares insights and tips to help you build a resilient child, even during COVID-19. Childhood is full of challenges, from learning to be a student to managing disappointments to resolving conflict with friends. As parents or caregivers, you are charged with the difficult task of supporting and guiding your child through challenges, while also stepping back and allowing them to learn new skills and handle problems with an age-appropriate level of independence. It can be very difficult to strike this balance because your natural instinct is to step in when your child struggles. This instinct is only heightened during the current pandemic as you likely want to do whatever you can to make your child’s life a little easier during this difficult time. Yet, children only become confident in their own abilities to handle challenges by doing so themselves. When you fix a child’s difficulty for them, the child is deprived of the opportunity to learn to cope with uncomfortable emotions, creatively tackle problems, and deal with natural consequences when they occur. In fact, the current pandemic is actually an ideal time to allow your child to start tackling challenges more independently. This is because independent problem solving also gives children a sense of ownership and agency; qualities which are in very short supplies in kids’ lives these days. Whether your child has returned to in-school instruction and some extracurricular activities, or if they are still learning and interacting virtually, building these skills is empowering.   All this being said - it's also important to maintain perspective on this moment in time. Parenting at baseline is hard work. Parenting during a pandemic can feel impossible! When thinking about how to incorporate the following tips into your parenting, gauge your own stress level as well as your child’s. If you do not have the bandwidth to try these tips now, consider re-reading this in a few months.   Check in with yourself Ask yourself how often and at what times you currently intervene on your child’s behalf. Is there anywhere you can give your child more autonomy to make mistakes and muddle through challenges in the service of learning and developing new skills? If you keep intervening as you do now for the foreseeable future, will your child be ready to independently handle challenges in high school and college? Take a hard look at the current level of support you offer and where it might be hindering your child’s growth and independence.  Set goals Identify one or two initial areas to focus on. These will look different depending on your child’s age and your current level of involvement. For example, with a younger child you might slowly reduce the level of support and problem solving you provide around preparing lunch each day during breaks in virtual school. With an older

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Building a Resilient Child: Promoting Independence and Resilience During COVID-19 2021-03-22T17:34:16-04:00

When a Dragon Comes to Stay: Interview with the Author

Remembering your manners when visiting with friends can be a challenge. Preschoolers and dragons will relate to Caryl Hart's book, When a Dragon Comes to Stay, as it explores different situations a small child, or dragon, might experience during a visit to a friend's house. Ms. Hart talked with Magination Press about creating When a Dragon Comes to Stay in this interview. Magination Press: What inspired you to write When a Dragon Comes to Stay? Caryl Hart: The initial idea for the book came from my editor at Nosy Crow. She asked me if I’d like to write a book about a preschool-aged dragon using the concept: “Why no, dragons don’t do that!” Of course I said yes straight away! MP: Why did you decide to write a book about manners? CH: We wanted to find a fun way to model good behavior for preschool children - to create a book that was engaging for children but also carried some universal messages to support parents. I do feel this has been especially important over the past year as children have been socializing less and have had fewer opportunities to work out how to get along with others. MP: Why did you choose a dragon to be the visitor? CH: Dragons are often cast as baddies in children’s literature so the expectation is that they will always be mean, scary, and unkind. Using a dragon as the main character gives us a unique opportunity to play with that role. The book first suggests how a dragon might behave - for example, will she snatch and keep the toys from other little girls and boys? But then quickly clarifies that in fact, a dragon will wait her turn and always share.  So the book gives caregivers and children lots of opportunities to discuss how they or their friends might deal with certain situations and experiment with ideas on the best ways to behave. Children love to take the higher moral ground, so find the idea of a dragon behaving badly very funny! It was also lovely to be able to create a very young dragon character - I think you’ll agree that Ros Beardshaw’s illustrations are absolutely adorable! MP: Why did you choose to explore manners at home, as opposed to manners at a party or somewhere else? CH: This book is set at home because we’re focusing on preschool children, many of whom spend a lot of time playing at home with their friends. The second book in the series, When a Dragon Goes to School is set, as the title suggests, in a school environment. We have more books in production that draw on different settings, so watch this space! MP: What was it like to see your illustrator Rosalind Beardshaw’s interpretation of your words? Was it your idea or hers to depict multiracial siblings? CH: Ros’s illustrations are completely adorable and I know it took a lot of work to get the characters just right. Both Ros and I are

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When a Dragon Comes to Stay: Interview with the Author 2021-03-15T23:04:48-04:00