Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
I like to pick out books that are geared to children and adults on a number of issues. With my kids both being in the throes of puberty their emotions seem to be out of whack most of the time. With my nonverbal son Matthew banging on walls all the time I have been wondering if we should look into a Chiropractor visit or learn Yoga. Money and time are factors to take into consideration, so for now I peruse books to try to calm all nerves in the household, especially on hot summer days.
Nicholas perseverates on animals, but especially cats. His early interest and one that he keeps coming back to is Dinosaurs. His talent has always been with drawing, as evidenced by the number of drawing pads throughout the house.
CoolCats, Calm Kids - Relaxation and Stress Management for Young People seemed like a book he could relate to as it compares how a cat handles life stressor and then shares how it can be put into place for a child. This is not a book specifically on autism and was chosen due to the interest of cats. I also made the purchase of Dasha’s Journal: A Cat Reflects on Life, Catness and Autism. Now that I have this book and looked through it quickly it does not seem suitable for Nicholas to read, but some portions I will get his input to share for a future review.
Cool Cats, Calm Kids is a thin soft cover book in black and white illustrations. It starts off showing nine cats with the question of whether they really have nine lives. “NINE SECRETS for keeping COOL and CALM. Here are those secrets, never before shared.” These twenty-seven pages cover catnaps, stretching, hissing, playing, holding your head high, speaking up, hanging in there, being smart and being friendly. This ends with a page showing all the illustrations in an icon fashion with the strategy tip. The last pages are a brief guide for parents on stress management and deep breathing.
This small book really helps a child deal with their emotions in a cat friendly way that they can comprehend and emulate their favorite kitties. There is a brief explanation of why a cat does something and how it can work for a child. A child can hold their head up high when they feel left out of something. A cat will walk away with its head and tail held high. A cute demonstration is for the stretching secret where on the left page is a cat doing their stretch. Next we see a child in a similar position, “ STRETCHING feels soooo good and helps you relax when things are going badly…” For secret #3, hiss.. puff up, the message to kids is that you can ASSERT YOURSELF.Cats take risks as shown in secret #9 for hang in there. The cat is looking into the fish bowl with the mention that she will continue to try. The message for the child is to not give up, Persistence pays off.”
This is an excellent book for any child or young adult to help them explore their feelings in a fun relaxing way. It is a great book for families to read before going to bed and also for discussing at the dinner table. Nicholas also highly recommends it and likes #3 for the perspective of the cat the best. Mary Williams, B.S., M.N is the author, as well as a therapist and educator. This is from Impact Publishers
Feelings to Share from A to Z is written by Todd & Peggy Snow. The illustrations are by Carrie Hartmann, who also wrote Child of Mine from Maren Green Publishing. This book is on emotions for ages three and older. I would describe the pages as lively, dark and imaginative. There is a little something for all tastes. It is a little too busy for the small age group it is recommended for. The terminology utilized for the alphabet is interesting with the illustrations capturing these sentiments. Nicholas enjoyed the book along with the color scheme with I for Interested being his favorite. This is probably because the illustration shows a boy reading a Dinosaur book.
Some of the words used to express these feelings include::
Awesome, Dramatic, Frightened. Generous, Jealous, Lonely, Nervous, Optimistic, Proud, Responsible, Thankful, Valued and Zany.
The examples I liked were for Proud:
”You learn to write your name
And tie a double knot for your shoe.
And train your dog to sit and stay.”
G is for Generous is a nice relaxing illustration,
“Your shelves are full of books
With stories you’ve read before.
You have lots of toys and clothes
You don’t use anymore.
You feel generous when you give things away.
Another family will enjoy them today.”
Feelings to Share from A to Z is a good book to be used in a group setting for childcare, daycare or school library time. It is appropriate for all kids to learn from.
I found When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry… at the Barnes and Noble store at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, California. Luckily I was busy calling all the bookstores to find out who was carrying the new Warriors books and learned that Barnes and Noble were moving into the new retail hotspot in Los Angeles.
Since Nicholas was engaged in his own book exploring, I had time to look around and this book seemed to call out to me, even though I have boys, I could relate to an angry child. The illustrations in this book are awesome and really capture the essence of the rage within a child. The mix of yellow, orange, red, green, blue and gray along with the text in different font sizes really sets the mood and gives the reader insights into feeling angry and how that makes a child feel.
When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry.. is similar to how our household is on pins and needles when Matthew goes into attack mode and nothing seems to make him happy. The look on the faces of the family when Sophie comes home is one of relief and even the cat looks happy. In our house the cat and Matthew can both be described as lunatics at times and you need to move fast to make sure you are not in their path of destruction.
Molly Bang is the author of this Scholastic Book that really puts a picture on the suffering a family can go through when dealing with a child who cannot process a lot of information at one time. It all started when Sophie was busy playing with her gorilla but her sister took it away from her. Next Sophie fell over the toy truck. “She kicks. She screams. She wants to smash the world to smithereens.” There is a puzzled look on the face of the cat who is trying to rest on the floor. The next page shows a giant red roar coming from Sophie, saying “She roars a red, red roar.” This illustration shows the room and toys being blown all over the place as a result of Sophie’s wrath.
The illustration has Sophie so enraged that she is like a volcano ready to explode until she goes out and “ runs and runs until she can’t run anymore”. Next she cries and sees rocks, and trees and hears a bird. She climbs on a tree and feels the breeze on her hair and watches the water and the waves. “The wide world comforts her.” This routine seems to comfort her with the illustrations reflecting the calm of the nature setting.
When Sophie feels better she climbs down the tree and goes back home where she is welcomed. “ The house is warm and smells good. Everyone is glad she’s home.” The family is at the table playing games with the cat nearby. It seems the message is that all is back to normal because Sophie is no longer angry. This is not a book for children to learn that it is okay to run away from the issues at home and not face consequences. There is no real message here for children, but for a parent being in this situation many times it was a comical relief to see we are not alone in dealing with these issues.
The back of the book encourages parents, teachers and children to talk about what Sophie does when she is angry and how people do different things. Nicholas enjoyed the emotional pages as well and knows how the cat feels. This is a good book to start a conversation with older children and to learn how to express their anger in a suitable way and learn to manage their emotions. Many children on the autism spectrum are runners. Luckily my son has never tried to leave the home. It is not easy to decipher why a nonverbal person on the autism spectrum chooses to do something. I liked seeing what helped Sophie calm down and maybe this is similar to those who are runners on the autism spectrum.
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.