The foster care experience can create feelings of uncertainty, mistrust, and inadequacy. Author Laura Kerstein wanted to show how respect, kindness, and understanding can help a child build resilience and recognize their strengths. We interviewed her about creating Home for A While. Magination Press: What inspired you to write Home for A While? Laura Kerstein: Hope inspired me to write Home for A While. For years, I worked with children in and out of foster care. They struggled to make meaning out of their worlds and of themselves. I wanted to write a book that not only paid homage to them, but also offered a way to help ALL children see their strengths. I longed to add some light to dark times, and highlight the incredible resilience and fortitude of the children with whom I’d worked. I also wanted to offer emotion regulation strategies that any child might embrace. Finally, I worked with wonderful, caring foster parents, and I wanted to show the positive ways a person can impact another. So… I hope this book gives children and families hope. MP: Why do children need books about the experience of foster care? LK: All children need to see all different types of families represented in books. As Dr. Bishop said, books need to be “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors.” Children need to not only see themselves in books, but also learn about the lives of other children. As authors, we have a responsibility to make sure all children are represented in literature. I wanted both the children with whom I worked to see themselves in a book, as well as other children to see a different type of family situation. MP: Do you have experience with foster care--as a child, as a parent, or as a practitioner? LK: For years, I worked with children in foster care, on the brink of foster care, or who had been in foster care in the past. The children with whom I worked were so incredibly resilient and strong. Calvin is a combination of all of those wonderful children. MP: Tell me about Maggie, the foster mom. Who was your inspiration? LK: I have had the opportunity to work with incredibly caring and committed foster parents. Just as Calvin is a combination of many different children, Maggie is a blend of many different foster parents. Fun fact: I chose the name Maggie because we had the most amazing, intuitive, sweet, and loving rescue dog named Maggie. She passed away, but her unconditional love will remain in our hearts forever. MP: You included some calming strategies in the story. Maggie models breathing deeply, playing with clay, and going outside. She encourages Calvin to shoot some hoops as well. How did you choose those activities and what role does modeling play in helping kids learn these skills? LK: I specifically chose these strategies because they combine sensory input and high interest activities. I also incorporated positive thinking, a strength-based approach, and cognitive-behavioral strategies,Read More
About Lauren Kerstein, LCSWLauren Kerstein, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with children, adolescents, adults, and families. She writes books for children and young adults, and even wrote a textbook about Autism Spectrum Disorders. She lives in Englewood, Colorado. Visit her online, and on Facebook, on Twitter, and Instagram.
Calvin has lived in many houses, but he still hasn't found a home. The foster care experience can bounce kids from home to home, causing feelings of abandonment and uncertainty. Sometimes a grown-up can help a child learn to manage those feelings and identify their strengths. In Home for A While, Maggie is that grown up for Calvin. She shows him respect, offers him kindness, and helps him see things in himself that he's never noticed before. Hear author Lauren Kerstein read Home for A While aloud and practice some strategies to manage big feelings.Read More