Children’s literature

The Face of Autism

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Studies show that 1 in 68 children are currently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism does not discriminate; it affects children of all races, ethnicities, gender and socio-economic groups. With the right support, all individuals with ASD can thrive. But understanding its complexities and raising awareness is critical.

Sally Meadows is a published author who travels to schools talking about her book The Two Trees (see summary below) and speaking to children about autism and the importance of being a good friend. I conducted a Q & A with her, and I hope her thought provoking answers illuminate you.

 What are the most important messages you bring to children regarding autism and the importance of being a good friend?

I am a former teacher and I use a teaching technique that encourages students to draw on their own experience and knowledge to ultimately bring out the important messages in my book. As a start, I ask the children (ages 5-9) to brainstorm practical ways as to how they could show friendship and kindness to Syd, the boy with autism in the story, if he went to their school. Then I ask them to share what they know about bullying. (There is a scene in the book where Syd is pushed up against a wall and the other kids throw balls at him.) I emphasize that when we say or do something hurtful to someone, it can stay with him or her throughout his or her life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why I LOVE Working with Children!

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I love being a writer.

It rocks.

But sometimes, writing can be an isolating experience. One of the reasons I love giving workshops is because I get to interact with children of all ages. And let me tell you, that is a truly enriching experience! Even though I’m there to teach them about building narratives and developing characters, I end up learning a thing or two after each workshop.

Here are the top 5 reasons I love working with children:

  1. Children are hilarious!

I often write down the things they say because the statements can be incredibly funny. Even when they’re not trying to be funny, they’re funny. When I walk into a school, I like to have a notepad and pen handy at all times.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Grade 5 Students Created a Picture Book in Three Days!

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I’ve been dying to give writing workshops at Royal Vale Elementary for years now. I keep hearing about how outstanding the school is, and how the parents camp out for days during the registration period. After a few years of trying to entice the administration, I was ecstatic to be invited to their school!

I had the privilege of meeting and working with Miss. Wendy’s two grade 5 classes.

Our mission? To create a picture book, complete with developed characters, a plot, polished text, and illustrations in just THREE DAYS! Actually, it wasn’t even three days, it was three workshop of two hours each. And I worked with two classes, so the mission was to create two books. We had our work cut out for us…

I’m happy to say that we accomplished our goal! Here’s how it went down: Read the rest of this entry »

A Trip Down Memory Lane

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Last month, I had the privilege of giving writing workshops at Westpark Elementary School. I always enjoy giving workshops, but this was a particularly thrilling experience.

Why, you may ask? Because….wait for it….

I WENT TO WESTPARK SCHOOL!

That’s right, many years ago, a Goomie-bracelet-wearing (remember those??) fresh faced little Lydia spent 7 years of her life there. It was and is such a huge part of my life. So I was so excited to return and relive that part of my childhood. Here I am below in a class photo, with my “Cindy Lauper hair” and all. (And yes, I may have been obsessed with her.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Hard Work DOES Pay Off!

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On a theoretical level, we know that hard work pays off. But sometimes, in our eager rush to succeed, we forget one thing:

PATIENCE!

The truth is that things may not line up the way we want, when we want. (If only life were that easy!) All we can do is a have a dream, work hard at it, continue to persevere and believe, and then release it to the Universe. I guarantee you that the dream will eventually manifest, but it may not be on your preferred time table.

As writers, we have certain frustrations. A few months ago, I found myself working extremely hard one particular day. I slugged out promotional email after promotional email. I painstakingly edited two of my books. I agonized over the right wording for my monthly Newsletter. I researched agents and publishers until two o’clock in the morning. When I finally closed my bleary eyes, this thought jumped into my head:

Yeah, I worked hard today. Really hard. But what do I have to show for it? Read the rest of this entry »

How to get Your Child to Eat More Veggies!

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I can’t be the only parent who finds it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to feed my child vegetables!! Things were easy enough when she was a baby and she gobbled down spoonfuls of carrots and beets without a clue as to what they were.

But then, she turned 2.

And along with the proverbial Terrible Twos came the “NO! I don’t wanna eat vegetables!” This was her face anytime I gingerly placed a piece of broccoli or a few shreds of red pepper in front of her:

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And on and on it went.

I was going baFinal Front covernanas. I obsessed over dramatic questions. How my child would grow without any vegetables? How would she be healthy? Would she be like this forever?

Out of my frustration, I decided to write a picture book that entices little ones to eat their veggies. That’s when the illustrious Mr. Broccoli Bob was conceived and soon enough Melvin and the Madcap Musical came to life. Mr. Broccoli Bob is the distinguished host of an all-vegetable cabaret. This was my attempt to make veggies more fun, and show the virtues of eating veggies in an amusing way children can relate to.

I wrote the book last year. And guess what? Since I read it to my daughter, she actually (GASP) started to eat broccoli! So I did my Happy Dance:

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Another trick I learned is that presentation is KEY. For instance, my daughter would never go near tomatoes or red peppers. But one day, I turned them into a happy face on a rice cracker with hummus and much to my amazement, she gobbled it up. Victory!

If your little one is a picky eater and doesn’t “love” vegetables, here are some fun and easy snacks to entice them! The bonus is that they take under 5 minutes to prepare. I got them off the internet and included the links with credits. Hope these recipes are useful! As for my daughter and I, it’s a work in progress. We have a select few vegetables that have been “approved,” and I’m hoping that the more my daughter sees me eating vegetables, the more she’ll be inspired to eat a wider variety herself!

Veggie Smack ideas

snailbutterFruit & Veggie Snails

Courtesy of Hello, Wonderful.

For details, click HERE.

 

Butterfly Veggies

Courtesy of B-Inspired Mama.

For details, click HERE.

 

 

flowers2Funny Veggie flowerFlowers

Courtesy of Gourmandelle.

For details, click HERE.

 

More Veggie Flowers

Courtesy of Noosh Loves Blog.

For details, click HERE.

 

 Another great idea is to make a smoothie with various veggies and then make Popsicles. Click HERE for some great recipes.

Children Rock!

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I love working with children. I love hearing their wacky ideas and I love peeking inside their incredibly imaginative minds. I love hearing about what they like and what they don’t like, and I especially love discovering what draws them in.

Good thing I’m a children’s writer!

But -writing can be an isolating experience. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy give writing workshops in elementary schools. I get to interact with the students while teaching them about the wonderful craft of writing. I absolutely love it! Read the rest of this entry »