COVID-19: 5 Articles

Hidden Joys in a Pandemic: When Readers Took to YouTube to Share My Book, The Hugging Tree

One of the great joys of a children’s book is that it lives on for a very long time. Children renew the world for us all, and as each fresh year arrives there is another throng of children snuggled in a parent’s lap or their own bed, or listening intently to a librarian or schoolteacher turning the pages of a picture or chapter book and reading aloud. Right now, a child somewhere is meeting, for the first time, The Cat in the Hat or Alice in Wonderland or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And as a children’s author, nothing is more inspiring than contemplating kids around the world newly enjoying a book I wrote, especially one brought to life by lovely illustrations. As an author, most of the time, I don’t get to participate in the joy of children experiencing my book. That remains a mystery. So it was a huge surprise and thrill when I discovered in late May, that the COVID-19 pandemic, with its global school closures and sheltering at home, had inspired librarians, principals, ministers and schoolteachers to take to YouTube offering read-alouds of their favorite books, including mine. My most recent picture book for Magination Press, The Hugging Tree, was published in 2016, but from March to May of this year, it was read aloud here and abroad online by two dozen individuals—schoolteachers, principals, even a Unitarian minister. All ages chimed in, from schoolchildren reading together to a cheerful pastor with a bushy white beard. Some read by the ocean, others read with their favorite companion pet, such as a guinea pig named Mocha. I do not personally know any of the people who chose to share my book. But I know why they chose it: the book is a story about resilience, about bouncing back from adversity. The story follows a tree that begins as a seed blown onto a rocky cliff, where it tries to grow with very little soil and no greenery. The tree befriends the ocean, moon, sun and birds, surviving loneliness, harsh storms and a freezing winter. With its boughs broken, and its future uncertain, the tree is saved by a boy who visits it each day, bringing soil and flowers and water. The tree grows broad and green and tall and can shelter all the people who come each day to visit. The message: you’ll make it through tough times, if you reach out to others for help, and if you let the helpers reach out to you. It’s a message that seems to be resonating this year. Each reader had their own special take on the book. Nicole Reardon, a classroom teacher in Queensland, Australia, and mother of two young children, read beautifully with an almost theatrical cadence, and whoever filmed her reading at home in her living room offered close-ups of the memorable art by noted illustrator Nicole Wong. Nicole’s video aired on May 1 and she concluded, “Right now in our own lives it might feel

Read More
Hidden Joys in a Pandemic: When Readers Took to YouTube to Share My Book, The Hugging Tree 2020-06-15T21:23:25-04:00

Magination Press Learning at Home: All Is Not Lost! Help Your Child Learn Important Life Skills During Quarantine

As parents work to support their children's learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Drs. Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, share insights and guidance to foster crucial life skill development. Their book, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, published by the American Psychological Association, identifies the 6C's. As a parent, coping with the learning and childcare implications of the COVID-19 pandemic presents a big challenge. Even though schools and summer camps may be closed, children keep on growing and learning. It’s hard to imagine a silver lining, but there may be a time when you look back fondly on this brutal lockdown, remembering how much your children learned.  When traditional, although online, schooling ends, some of that learning may not be obvious to parents. Being at home with you, and possibly siblings, creates a unique learning opportunity for your child to develop important life skills. They’ll need these skills, called the 6Cs, to succeed in school, but more importantly, in life.  The 6Cs are: Collaboration Communication Content Critical thinking Creative innovation, and Confidence. These skills change the definition of what it means to be successful. Instead of thinking “if only my kid can get straight A’s’ his or her future will be assured,” the 6Cs incorporate skills needed to be happy, healthy, thinking, caring, and socially adept children who become collaborative, creative, competent and responsible citizens of tomorrow. The crucible for the development of the 6Cs is playful learning—lots which is going on right now at home. It will happen sometimes when you least expect it, like when your 7-year-old helps her 4-year-old brother to do a puzzle without taking it over. This is the kind of collaboration that will serve her well in the world, as she takes her brother’s perspective into consideration and makes suggestions rather than just leaping in to do it herself. Look for times like these when you can encourage your child to collaborate, like when you are clearing the table. You show the importance of teamwork with what you ask of your child.  The world depends on collaboration—at home and even across international boundaries.  In fact, international boundaries are melting away. That has never been more evident than now, as the virus spreads without regard to country of origin. Communication across international lines begins within family lines. For example, when your 11-year-old reads to your 5-year-old and actually explains words he thinks the 5-year-old may not understand, he is communicating effectively. Content is advanced, too.  Children need the 3R’s and more to become competent adults. Your 5-year-old learns new words that increase his vocabulary and your 11-year-old learns too, when he explains the meanings of the words in a way a 5-year-old can understand. Content and communication can also grow when you bake a cake or cook a meal with your child and talk about ingredients, measurements, and temperature. Science was never so delicious!  Content also includes those all important “learning to learn” skills like impulse control, or planning and

Read More
Magination Press Learning at Home: All Is Not Lost! Help Your Child Learn Important Life Skills During Quarantine 2020-05-27T10:45:05-04:00

Exploring Feelings with Mindfulness

The uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has everyone feeling a wide mix of feelings: anxiety, boredom, grief, confusion, frustration, and loneliness to name a few. Helping children recognize and identify their feelings is an important life skill that will be useful long after the pandemic is over. This repost from April 2018 from Magination Press author Lauren Rubenstein, JD, PsyD, explores how we can use mindfulness to examine emotions in a calm, thoughtful way. Take a minute right now to pay attention to what’s going on around you. What do you hear or see? Do you notice anything new? Now, turn your attention inward. What are you thinking, and how do you feel? Mindfulness—as you just experienced—is tuning into yourself and paying attention to the present moment without judging or analyzing what you are thinking or feeling. Although it seems quite simple, it is not easy. Our busy minds are constantly darting and drifting, telling stories about what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future. For children and teenagers, mindfulness is a powerful tool that can enhance many aspects of well-being. As parents and professionals, we can encourage children to be mindful, to cultivate emotional intelligence through their senses, and to reflect on what they learn. Linking Mindfulness and Emotions In order to connect mindfulness to our emotions, we can use the idea of “visiting” our feelings. We can encourage children and teenagers to sense, explore, and befriend all of their feelings with acceptance and equanimity. Emotions and feelings are neither good nor bad, neither acceptable nor unacceptable. Rather, they are simply present-moment experiences of felt sensations. Instead of trying to suppress or undo feelings, we invite children to explore their feelings with their senses and even converse with them. Awareness of how feelings can lodge in the body, as conveyed by common expressions like “a pit in the stomach” or “a lump in the throat” is a form of emotional intelligence. This awareness helps children and teenagers handle any feelings that may arise with equanimity. It also helps them mindfully gain sensitivity to their bodies as rich kaleidoscopes of information. They can cultivate this emotional intelligence through their senses by learning to explore the range of emotions they encounter within themselves on a daily basis. Encouraging Mindfulness Mindfulness can take many forms. Physical practice includes yoga, tai chi, martial arts, and even mindful walking. In fact, any activity can be done mindfully—for example, brushing your teeth, putting on your socks, or practicing the piano. There are many simple exercises you can do at home to help teach your child to be mindful. Reflection activities can be introduced seamlessly into your family routine. Remember: “Short times, many times” is ideal, both in terms of cultivating a mindful brain and fitting practice into busy schedules. For example, before a family meal, have each person at the table name three things they are grateful for. Discuss where the food came from and express gratitude for

Read More
Exploring Feelings with Mindfulness 2020-05-12T23:05:04-04:00