Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: Kittens Teach Charity the Clown

Kittens Teach Charity the Clown by Marjorie Andrews - Harbold
By: Marjorie Andrews and Chad Thompson
Published by:  Halo Publishing International; Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-935268-74-1
Price: $11.95
Ages: 4-8
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

Synopsis: If you have a pet or know someone who does, how do you care for it?  Eight-year-old Charity is not an ordinary girl.  She is a clown, like her mother and father and even her grandparents.  One day, Charity is bored and hopes that one of her friends will call.  When Granny Clown calls, she answers, “You need to get off the phone!  One of my friends might call.”  Her mom says that she was rude to Granny, but before Charity can call her back to apologize, she goes out to play with her friend Darlena and they find four abandoned kittens, so they put them in a box and take them to Charity’s house.  Mom says that Charity can keep the kittens until they are old enough to find homes for them.  Of course, it will involve a lot of work.  Taking care of the kittens helps Charity learn a lot about love and kindness.  She should be happy, but she knows that something is still wrong.  What important lesson do the kittens teach Charity?  How will she respond?  And will she ever find homes for them? 

Overall thoughts: Kittens Teach Charity the Clown is a really neat story for children about making good choices with God’s help and is intended to be the first in a series of “Charity” books.  Readers are invited to write author Marjorie Andrews with suggestions for what Charity should do regarding the kittens.  And there is a page of discussion questions for parents to use in reinforcing the wonderful message. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

SFC May Educational Tip by Alice Knisley Matthias

Summer is just about here, so it’s time to think about books for leisure reading for the children when they are on vacation. I always love when I go back to a book, from a summer read, and a few grains of sand fall out as I open it again. It takes me right back to the chair I was sitting in on the beach, with the breezes blowing off the water, when I last looked at the pages.
Reading a book for a second, or third time, is a concept many children do not grasp. In their world something needs to be done, you do it, and cross it off your list. Children don’t fully comprehend, at their age, that reading is an experience. You can read a book. Now, think about making a cup of hot chocolate, getting under a fuzzy blanket, with your socks on, and cracking the binding of a great book on a cold, blustery day. The reading of the book is the activity but the environment is the experience.
Sometimes, when we read something again we see or feel something we did not notice the first time. The character’s mood in the text of a book, or a phrase that makes you laugh just as loud, all over again.
Recently, my children were in the back seat of the car as my kindergarten son was reading a book from his book baggy. A book baggy is what the kindergarten teachers use to supply each student with a group of books that are aligned to the student’s current reading level. A title caught the attention of my fourth grade son. “Oooh, I remember this book,” my older son said. He took the book out of the bag as his brother was engrossed in another book choice from the baggy. And then there was silence. The two of them were reading and there was no question of the material chosen. I watched in the rear view mirror as the fourth grader revisited the pages of a book he had fond memories of and had not seen in some time. He turned the pages, took in the text and illustrations, and occasionally cracked a smile or chuckled. He wasn’t just rereading the book, but experiencing it again. He could relate what he thought about the book, when he read it in kindergarten, and how he recognized some aspects, and perhaps looked at it differently, in many ways now.
When choosing titles for the summer reading list don’t forget that revisiting a story can be a rewarding experience.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day: What Can Children Learn?

This is Memorial Day Week End. It is a celebration to honor our service men and women and those who have served or died protecting our freedom. What can children learn from our celebrations this weekend?

Besides the picnics and cookouts, swimming and summer fun, children can learn from us just what this day means in terms of freedom.

Share with your children about honor, pride, and service but also share with them about war, sacrifice, and loss. Help them to understand why we need our military and how important those who serve are to our freedom. Introduce them to a veteran so they can learn first hand what an honor it is to serve our country. Here are ways to include learning activities with the weekend celebrations.
  • Make or write out cards to send to our service men and women currently overseas.
  • Visit a veterans' home or nursing home and deliver Memorial Day Cards or treats.
  • Attend a Memorial Day Parade
  • Visit the library and look up a book on one of the wars fought so we can be free. There are several books at almost every age level appropriate for discussing with your child.
  • Check with your school or church to find a child whose parent is away serving the military and make up a summer gift box to give to that child. Include a thank you card for the sacrifice the child makes when a parent is away from home.
  • Visit a local cemetery with older children and find headstones that depict and honor those who have served and died for our freedom. Research the battle or war they fought in.
There are so many ways to teach a child about the meaning of Memorial Day. Regardless of politics or religion, children can learn to respect those that serve and honor them with gratitude and remembrance on this very special day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Coming of Age Novel- New Release

New Coming of Age Novel -- Overcoming Dislocation, Dysfunction and
Distance. Parents may want to grab a copy and read it with their teen or before they give it to a pre-teen. It will open up much discussion and offer a great way to communicate with

Every forty seconds a child goes missing in America.Almost half of child abductions
involve parents settling a custody dispute by takingmatters into their own hands. What
happens to those children? What's it like to bekidnapped, not once, but twice, by your
own parents? In his latest novel, LATITUDES -A Story of Coming Home, acclaimed
author Anthony Caplan sets out to answer thosequestions. Using material from his own
childhood, Caplan explores the territory betweeninnocence and adult consciousness, the
years when for so many there are no words todescribe emotional trauma.

Henniker, NH, May22, 2012 - Acclaimed independent author Anthony Caplan
announces the forthcoming releaseof his new novel, LATITUDES - A Story of Coming
Home, published by HopeMountain Press. Available June 30, 2012 in all major
bookstores and in e-book formats, LATITUDESis the story of a boy overcoming a
childhood of parental kidnappings,emotional trauma and cultural dislocation. With the
help of friends, teachers andsports, he learns to heal.

"I wanted to show that survivorsare not just people who have overcome obvious abuse,
but also the victims of emotionaltrauma that are underreported in our society, especially
as divorce rates have climbed,"said Caplan, explaining his motivations for writing the

Will Kogan and his three sistersare torn between their parents living in different
countries, their father in Venezuelaand their mother in the United States. When their
father remarries, they learn toadapt to Venezuelan social mores. Later, installed in an
exclusive Eastern boarding school,Will reconnects with his mother living in New York
City and begins the slow processof learning the truth about his family and his place in
the world.

LATITUDES sheds light onthe shadow world and human costs of international child
abductions. It also reveals theheart wisdom of forgiveness and the redemptive quality of
friendship in a story that willappeal to readers of all ages.

About the book:

LATITUDES - A Story of ComingHome by Anthony Caplan
ISBN: 978-0-9815166-3-9
Publisher: Hope Mountain Press
Date of publish: June 30, 2012
Pages: 224
S.R.P.: $8.99

About the author:

Anthony Caplan is a writer, teacher and homesteaderliving in northern New England. He
has worked at various times as a shrimp fisherman,environmental activist, journalist,
taxi-driver, builder, window-washer, and telemarketer.His road novels, BIRDMAN and
FRENCH POND ROAD, trace the meanderings of one BillyKagan, a footloose soul
striving after sanity and love in the last years of thelast century

For more information about LATITUDES- A Story of Coming Home, please visit .

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ADHD or typical "tween distractibility and hormones?

ADHD has been a diagnosis and a buzzword in education for quite a while now.  While ADHD and its counterpart ADD (Attention deficit lacking the hyperactive component), are indeed significant diagnoses often requiring intervention, ‘tween distractibility is rarely if ever ADHD.  The only real exception here would be a condition that was simply never addressed early on. 
According to the DSM IV(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), there are several “essential features” that must be present for a diagnosis. Among them are:
  • Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms must have been present before seven years of age.
  • Some impairment from the symptoms must be present in at least two settings.
  • There must be clear evidence of interference with developmentally appropriate social, academic or occupational functioning.
‘Tweens don’t develop ADHD when they enter middle school.  If they have already been diagnosed, symptoms may become exaggerated, but distractibility during this time is unlikely to be ADHD.  More likely, it is a combination of hormones and the new, exciting adolescent world youth are experiencing.  Most every child at this age will test some boundaries and the extent of his or her independence.  What is much more effective than the pursuit of a diagnosis are parenting strategies.  This is clearly the most difficult stage to parent!  It is exhausting to maintain clear boundaries and consistently enforced consequences.  Parents must remember that it’s normal for their child to be angry with them, yell the hateful things, etc. but that the boundaries are necessary for safety and success.  Parents must continue to be in charge.
The “impairment” must be present in at least two settings means that if a child has ADHD, the symptoms will present themselves everywhere the child goes.  If a child is distracted and non compliant at home, but does not display that at school, it is not ADHD and vice versa.  ADHD is not a choice; therefore, the symptoms cannot be controlled depending on the environment.  Where the concerning symptoms present the most is likely to be a place where there are not consistent consequences.  For example, let’s say your middle schooler has zoned out of good homework habits and turning in schoolwork on time.  If, after meeting with teachers, you are told that your middle schooler displays good behavior overall but is much more interested in social activity, believe it!!!  More than likely, that is the truth!  They have discovered the opposite sex, they are finding out that they have some choices; they are exercising some free will and are, in fact being typical ‘tweens.  Of course this should not rule out some good research such as talking with your child, keeping up with his or her friends and activities, and parent/school communication, but it does not necessarily warrant an ADHD diagnosis.  It does justify those consistent consequences even if that is only closer supervision to schoolwork.  Consequences need not be severe or harsh, just consistent.  Simple things like priority setting; i.e. no TV, computer or cell phone until school assignments are complete.  The trick is to stick with it so the child knows what to expect and has the power to create success through his or her own choices.
The last criterion, particularly as it relates to school is that impairment is clearly interfering with functioning.  A slight drop in grades, a little daydreaming, a few friend troubles are all part of growing up.  The problem of concern must present significant, extreme difficulty for the child.  True ADHD isn’t just a phase or a slight change in behavior; it is clearly out of the ordinary.
If you have concerns about your middle schooler, by all means meet with teachers and talk with your child, but resist the urge to immediately look for a diagnosis and treatment when it may just be simple adjustment and choices.  In the long run, with or without ADHD, all of us have to learn coping strategies for our weaknesses.  We are all held accountable for our personal choices. Also, keep in mind the treatments for ADHD which are usually behavior modification techniques, easily employed in the home and school, and/or medications.  Medicating a child who is just a bit distracted over typical things is probably not a wise choice and doubtfully one most doctors or parents would agree with. Adolescence is a good time to correlate choices and personal responsibility with consequences.  Help your child the most with strategies, support and love. 
First published at Nashville Parenting Examiner 
  • is one of the hosts on the Families Matter show at BTR's World of Ink Network. She also works as a middle school counselor and holds a masters degree in education/school counseling as well as being a certified trainer in the "7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" curriculum. She is also a certified NLP life coach, business coach, master weight loss coach and social/emotional intelligence coach. Kecia is a published poet, author and songwriter. She has worked in the field of education/psychology for 20 years and has one grown daughter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The "Families Matter" Show with Kecia Burham & VS Grenier

BTR’s World of Ink Network show: Families Matter with hosts VS Grenier, Kecia Burcham and Irene Roth.

The Families Matter show airs live once a month on the 4th Wednesday of the month at 6pm EST - 5pm CST - 4pm MST - 3pm PST
We have a special guest joining us this month!

Nicky VanValkenburgh is the author of "Train Your Brain, Transform Your Life: Conquer Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in 60 Days, Without Ritalin." This book was voted “Best Self Improvement Book of 2011” by the Mom’s Choice Awards and “Best Motivational Book” by Reader’s Favorites Awards. She was also a Grand Finalist in the USA Today Book Awards, in the Health: Alternative Medicine category. Nicky is a motivational writer with 20 years experience writing for newspapers and  magazines. She has a Master's in Journalism, and a Bachelor's in Psychology. She is also a contributing writer for Upstate Parent, Low Country Parent and Palmetto Parent magazines, which are published in South Carolina, with a circulation of a quarter million people. Nicky is also the Director of www.Train Your Brain Transform Your which spotlights her book and 60-day brain training program for ADHD.

Our show topic this month: Is there a NATURAL CURE for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

ADHD affects six out of every ten people. Most doctors prescribe ADHD drugs, but there's also "brain training for ADHD" that is safe, reliable and effective.

We invite our listeners to call-in or share through the chatroom questions or their stories.
You can listen to the show at

About the book: Do you (or someone you care about) have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? It’s called ADHD and it affects six out of every ten people. The symptoms are restlessness, distraction, disorganization, low arousal, impulsiveness, craving for stimulation, and more. Most doctors prescribe ADHD drugs, but there’s also “brain training for ADHD” that is safe, reliable and effective. It’s so easy, that you can do it while lying flat on your back, with your eyes closed. It’s been described as “the lazy way to get rid of ADHD”. However, it’s also a method that’s used in neurotherapy clinics across the country, and is supported by empirical research. In her new book, “Train Your Brain, Transform Your Life: How to Conquer ADHD In 60 Days, Without Ritalin” author Nicky VanValkenburgh reveals how to address the root cause of ADHD, by stimulating and arousing your brain. It’s a method that you can practice in the comfort of your own home, without ever stepping foot inside a clinic. Finally, there is a way to interrupt your ADHD and create new neural pathways for peak performance. You have every reason to be optimistic about overcoming ADHD. It’s time to train your brain and transform your life!

Learn more about the Families Matter show and other shows hosted by BTR's World of Ink Network at

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ADHD and your child - true diagnosis

ADHD, a neurobiological disorder, is estimated to affect between 3-5% of the school aged population.  Though the specific cause of the disorder isn’t known, it is suspected that it is genetically transmitted and may result from a chemical imbalance or deficiency in certain neurotransmitters.  True ADHD is not the result of parenting or choice although parenting and choice can look a lot like ADHD.  Children with unstructured and/or disturbed family lives can display behaviors that appear hyperactive.  Children who are undisciplined at home, and are thrust into the school environment which requires discipline and structure can also appear to have ADHD.  Only a doctor can make a diagnosis, and it can be tricky.
Children with ADHD  may display developmentally inappropriate behavior such as poor attention skills, impulsivity, hyperactivity and forgetfulness.  Usually these symptoms show up prior to age 7 or when a child begins to attend the structured environment of school.  These characteristics are chronic and do not respond to typical disciplinary measures.  Children with ADHD may also have trouble with their peers in the areas of social skills and self esteem.  Typically, difficulty completing homework, lack of organization and forgetfulness are hallmarks of true ADHD.
A changing definition, there are now 3 identified “types” of ADHD.  According to Chris Burke, counselor at The Guidance Center in Franklin, Tennessee, ADHD hyperactive type kids are hyperactive and impulsive but able to pay attention.  ADHD inattentive type kids are primarily inattentive and distracted, but not hyperactive or impulsive.  ADHD combined type kids, the most common form of ADHD, show symptoms from both groups. 
Although medication is often prescribed, and can be a true indicator of whether or not a child is truly ADHD, it isn’t the only option.  Often, it is helpful to teach the child good coping skills, give them plenty of opportunities for exercise and monitor their diets.
Below are some additional tips for both home and school in helping an ADHD child achieve success:
  • Post daily schedules and assignments – use checklists
  • Use a timer for homework assignments and chores
  • Be specific!  About times, expectations, etc. and be consistent
  • Schedule everything and include breaks
  • Teach organization, time management and supplement verbal instruction with visuals
  • Encourage appropriate social activities with others
  • Preferential seating in classroom – near teacher, away from distractions – near more conscientious students
  • Allow student to be an errand runner or some freedom to move about when possible
  • Always compliment appropriate behavior, progress and organization
If you suspect your child is struggling with ADHD, begin with a conference with his or her teachers and proceed from there.  Remember that with true ADHD, the symptoms the teachers are seeing at school shouldn’t be a far cry from what you see at home.  Children with true ADHD have it everywhere they go, so if your child is only having problems at home or only having problems at school, it is not likely to be ADHD.
First published at Nashville Parenting Examiner 
  • is one of the hosts on the Families Matter show at BTR's World of Ink Network. She also works as a middle school counselor and holds a masters degree in education/school counseling as well as being a certified trainer in the "7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" curriculum. She is also a certified NLP life coach, business coach, master weight loss coach and social/emotional intelligence coach. Kecia is a published poet, author and songwriter. She has worked in the field of education/psychology for 20 years and has one grown daughter.

New Book for Kids: Teaches Manners

Teaching Kids Gratitude Is Secret to HappierChildren
Etiquette teacher writes children's book that teaches gratitude,empathy & good table manners!

HARTFORD, CT, May 21, 2012 - Learning 'please' and'thank you' not only teaches your child how to be
polite, but studies show that teaching gratitudecreates happier and more focused children.

"Manners are so important because they change how yourchild sees the world," says manners teacher
Karin Lefranc, and author of A Quest for Good Manners.In this fun picture book, Princess Rosalind
and her pet dragon Sparkler are banished from thecastle for their appalling manners. They are sent on a quest in search of Good Manners.

Good manners make others feel at ease and are thefoundation of compassion and gratitude-Lefranc's
book is a fun anduseful tool to help parents and teachers instill these important traits. "Children are born with a sense ofentitlement. As they grow, we want to replace this with a sense of gratitude.The result is happier, more resilient,and more optimistic children," says Lefranc.

With four children of her own-all under 10 yearsold-Lefranc understands the never-ending quest for
parents to teach young boys and girls empathy andconsideration. "Our children become deaf to our
perpetual pleas," Lefranc said, "and so outside helplike a book or a fun manners class are wonderful
ways to reinforce what we are trying to teach athome."

3 thingsLefranc suggests parents do to help their children find good manners:

 - Role play:practice being different people like a new teacher or neigbhor, and shake handswith your
child, practicing eye contact and smiling.
 - Have yourchild set the table: they learn the parts to a place setting, and it helps momand dad get
dinner on the table.
 - Discussappropriate behavior with kids before a birthday party, play date or sleepover:have your child
brainstorm ways they can display good manners. Letthem know how lucky they are to be invited, and
ask them questions like why is it important when goinghome to say "Thank you for inviting me."

About the book:

AQuest for Good Manners by KarinLefranc
ISBN: 978-0983045908
Publisher: Beluga Press
Date of publish: June 1, 2011
Pages: 32
S.R.P.: $16.99

About the author:

Karin Lefranc teaches kids manners and yoga inConnecticut, where she lives with her husband and four children-three girls and a boy. Sometimes they need to goon a quest to find good manners, but they usually find them by the end of dinner. Lefranc and her family settled in nearby Simsburyafter Lefranc traveled the world, working for IDG Books to licensethe "Dummies" series
( intodifferent languages. A Quest for Good Manners is Lefranc'sfirst
children's book.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Benefits of Blog Hops

There are so many cool benefits from cruising over to a few of the blogs on a Blog Hop.

For parents it is a golden opportunity to see first hand what books and videos are out there for children of all ages. Blog hops can offer exposure to the characters that your children come home from school talking about and give you insight into wholesome and educational gift ideas for holidays and birthdays. Kids will learn to trust your judgement on books, games, or products if they know you are in the know.

Grandparents can be the hippest grandparents on the block by learning about current trends in books for kids. Some of the blogs give chances for great give aways including books by award  winning children's authors or vendors for products for children. And who wouldn't want to win a neat book or prize.

Authors can gain huge benefits from visiting Blog hops offered by other authors, publishers, or parents who spend hours searching for great products to feature. Networking, commenting, and learning about what subjects and characters kids love will give any author a step up when creating their own stories.

Blog hops do not have to be time consuming. Pick two or three to visit each day. Limit the time you spend on visiting the blogs so that you are not avoiding tasks or writing of your own. Visit, make comments, and leave your contact email or link to your blog or product too. Others reading your comments might be led to check out your space. Remember that blog hops can be a safe alternative for shopping and learning about kids literature and the hosts spend much time making certain that your experience is fun and entertaining.

Blog hops can be fun, educational, and an inspiration for both those who write for kids and those who purchase products and books for kids. It is a win- win for everyone. Join in on one today and comment on the benefits you discover.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May '12 Book Lovers Blog Hop & Giveaway

(right click to pick up this button)
Book Lovers May '12 Blog Hop:
Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win a FREE book!

All you have to do is post the Book Lovers Blog Hop and World of Ink Tour Banner below to your blog. You are free to copy any of the content here on this blog hop page to help promote the Book Lovers Hop and World of Ink Tours on any social network. 

Tweet it once to twice a day, share on Facebook, LinkedIn, SumbledUpon, Pinerest, etc and then follow others back that leave you a comment. 

By joining the Book Lovers Blog Hop, you are automatically entered in our Book Giveaway! There will be two (2) winners for this Book Giveaway. The first place winner will win an eBook copy of Gaia's Gift by Fran Orenstein. The second place winner will receive a copy of Against the Tide by Hope Irvin Marston. Note: One book per winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The more, the merrier!

  Embed this widget on your site, too.
  (right click to pick up this button)

About the Book:
Gaia's Gift is about Rachel Wells, who loses everything she cherishes in a brief summer storm off the coast of Florida.Haunted by the ghosts of her past and survivor’s guilt, Rachel turns her back on the world behind an impenetrable veil of pain.When she receives a gift from the sea and allows the world to intrude, Rachel learns too late that some gifts are not meant to be kept forever. 

Hop Rules:
1.      Follow the Top link of the hop! Hop Host: Families Matter 
       2.      Grab the button for the hop and place it in a post, sidebar, or on a blog hop page and let us know where it is in the comments section below. This will help the hop grow and gain us all new followers. It's a Win-Win for everyone!
     3.      Grab the buttons for the World of Ink Tours and place it in a post or side bar. Make sure you let us know where it is in the comments section below.

Please play nice and follow our simple rules! Make sure to FOLLOW AT LEAST ONE PERSON and as many other blogs as you'd like to have more follow back. This is what makes Book Lovers Blog Hop work, so if you're not willing to follow, please don't link up.

Remember to leave a comment on the blogs you follow to let them know you found them here at FAMILIES MATTER, and if someone follows you, be sure to follow back. If you follow us and leave a comment, we'll definitely follow you too!

Book Lovers Blog Hop is Open…

  Sunday May 20, 2012 at 12am MST!

If you want to become a World of Ink Host and do a review or interview shoot me an e-mail: 

Please make sure you Follow the top link of hop if you want to link up!

Note: You can use all or parts of this post for your post about the Book Lovers Blog Hop.


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.