Immigration: Helping Kids Understand Mixed-Status Families and Family Separation

Something Happened to My Dad: A Story About Immigration and Family Separation is an important book about the immigration and family separation experience. Available in English and Spanish, this critical resource has an extensive Reader’s Note with a glossary for Spanish language words and vocabulary list with kid-friendly definitions of immigration-related terms, adult-child dialog scripts, strategies for fostering cultural sensitivity, special considerations for mixed-status families, information about the illustrations, and additional resources. In the story, Carmen is sad and scared when she learns her father has been detained because he is an undocumented immigrant. In this realistic and empowering tale, Carmen learns that through community and love, she can find strength in herself and maintain her connection with her Papi, who has been detained because of his immigration status. Here’s a short excerpt from the adult-child dialog section with conversations that might be initiated by children. It includes sample answers for parents and caregivers to questions from children.   Q: Why did Carmen’s mom tell her to keep it secret that her dad was in a detention center? A: Carmen’s mother might not have wanted people to treat them differently or feel sorry for them. Sometimes people keep secrets because it is upsetting to talk about something. Have you ever kept something secret so you would not have to talk about it? Q: Why do people need papers to stay in the country? A: Countries have laws about who can move in and governments give people documents (“papers”) to show that they have been approved to stay. Some people in the U.S. want our immigration laws to be strict, while other people believe that we should have laws that welcome many immigrants. Q: What happens after someone without papers is detained (arrested)? A: Once a person without papers is detained, they are taken to a detention center to wait until they can meet with an immigration judge. Sometimes the person is released on bail (money paid) and can instead wait in their home in the U.S. until their court date. Not everyone qualifies for or can afford to pay bail. The immigration judge decides if the person can stay or must go back to their home country (be deported). In recent years, some children have been separated from their parents or family while they wait for their court date with the immigration judge. Q: Are immigrants without papers criminals? A: Most crimes, like stealing, drunk driving, or assault with a weapon, are actions that can hurt other people. That is why those behaviors are against the law or illegal. Immigrants without papers can be arrested for crossing the border illegally. But this is not a crime that directly hurts other people. Most immigrants, with or without papers, obey U.S. laws designed to protect us. Q: A boy in my class hardly speaks any English. Why? A: Some families speak a different language at home and the children do not learn English until they start school. Other children have recently

Read More
Immigration: Helping Kids Understand Mixed-Status Families and Family Separation 2022-05-25T14:31:53-04:00

National Adoption Month: Focus on Foster Care

November is National Adoption Month. This year, the focus is on helping teens in foster care find permanent families. Magination Press's books about foster care explore the foster care experience for young children. Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Jennifer Wilgocki, MS, and Marcia Kahn Wright, PhD, addresses the questions, feelings, and concerns children in foster care most often face. It also provides basic information that children want and need to know, including the roles of various people in the foster care system and whom to ask for help. The foster care experience can create feelings of uncertainty, mistrust, and inadequacy. Home for A While by Laura Kerstein shows 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,

Read More
National Adoption Month: Focus on Foster Care 2021-11-15T14:08:17-05:00

Memory Loss and Love: Helping Children Understand Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

September is National Alzheimer’s Month. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting about 6 percent of people 65 and older. Scientists don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s, but they suspect it’s a combination of many factors. The disease affects parts of the brain that control memory, thought, and language. Alzheimer’s impacts the entire family. Children will notice changes in their loved ones as the disease progresses. My Singing Nana by Pat Mora explores a child’s experience as his grandmother begins to lose her memory.  Here's a repost of an excerpt providing strategies to help kids to understand and cope with a loved one's developing dementia.  Families savor happy memories. Cooking together, singing, reading, telling stories, hosting family gatherings—all of these experiences can create lovely memories. A child who gets to spend time with a beloved grandparent or other senior often develops a special connection with that person. Along with those special memories and connections also come the challenging realities of aging. How do children respond to grandparents or other seniors who may begin to experience memory loss, and where do children have opportunities to share and discuss their confusion, worries, and feelings? Try these strategies: Be truthful with children. Share age appropriate information. In the story, Billy and his grandmother, Nana, have a special bond. They bake, read, and sing together. When Nana begins to have trouble remembering things, Billy is worried. His mother explains that Nana does have trouble remembering things, and that she took Nana to the doctor. The doctor said that Nana sometimes needs their help. Billy’s mother answers his questions and assures him that he and Nana can still do the things they like to do together. Encourage children to share their worries with their parents and other trusted family members or teachers. Children’s questions provide clues about appropriate issues to address with a child and his or her level of understanding. In the story, Billy’s mother notices that he is worried and asks him what is the matter. She listens to his concerns about Nana and answers his questions. Remind children to be polite and patient with their family members. When a loved one exhibits memory loss, a child might not know how to react. Billy’s mother explains that Nana needs their help. When his Nana can’t remember things, Billy and his siblings gently remind her. Model loving, thoughtful behavior that strengthens family bonds. Showing a child that, even though a loved one may be struggling to remember things, including him or her in family experiences sends a powerful message of love and support. In the story, although Nana is beginning to experience the early stages of dementia, her family continues to include her in their daily routines. Billy even figures out a way to draw on his special connection with Nana to include her in a family event by singing with her. Coping with the challenges of aging is difficult for all family members, children and parents alike. Being honest about what is happening, encouraging discussion

Read More
Memory Loss and Love: Helping Children Understand Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia 2021-09-20T14:18:51-04:00