Monthly Archives: August 2013

Back to School Safety Tips for All Ages

By Cara Giaimo
This month, Little Pickle Press been discussing Back to School. Here are some great safety tips to utilize as your children head back this month.

Hear those bells ringing off in the distance? That’s the sound of fall approaching! Your kids are back, or are about to be back in the classroom. Last year’s back-to-school post was such a hit that we’ve come up with some more age-specific tips to help make the transition as safe as possible, whether your kids are toddling onto the bus or screeching out of the driveway.
Elementary School
Huge steps like a new classroom (or starting school entirely!) are exciting, but they can be nerve-wracking too — for you AND your young child. Reduce everyone’s first-day jitters by finding out a few key details about where your little one is spending her days:
  •  Take a minute early on to introduce yourself to her teacher, as well as any classroom aids or parent volunteers. This is also a great time to let supervising adults know about your child’s chocolate allergy or debilitating fear of stuffed lions.
  •  If you can, sign up to be a Party Parent or Guest Reader yourself — even a few hours supervising fingerpainting will give you a great feel for her daily environment.
  •  Familiarize yourself with the school safety procedures — what’s the protocol for visitors? What’s the fire escape plan? What number should you call in an emergency?
  • Above all, make sure the star of the show is ready for her big day (and every day after that). Go over safety procedures and make sure she knows how to contact you (or another trusted adult) if she needs you. If she feels calm and happy, you will, too!

Middle School/Junior High

We all remember early adolescence, and the rapid changes it brought, both physical and mental. Preteens are on the cusp of maturity, but still don’t fully understand that their actions have long-term consequences. At this age, safety means starting to loosen the reins, while still making sure your kids feel protected, supported, and loved. Here are some great ways to balance freedom and security:
  • Used to taking your kids to school every morning? As Junior gets older, he might be ready to start flying solo. According to child psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore, most kids can walk to school on their own starting at age 10—but you’ll know when yours is ready because he will show you he’s responsible by following safety rules when you’re together. If your child is ready to walk to school, map out the safest and most direct route, and practice once or twice. If at all possible, find him a walking buddy!
  • No matter how he gets home from school (or choir rehearsal, or lacrosse practice), you’ll want to make sure he’s coming back to a safe house. If you work late (and 33% of American children are at home alone for at least part of the week!) keep tabs on him from the office with a monitored security system.
  • Some systems, such as SimpliSafe,can easily be set up to let you know as soon as he makes it home — and if he sneaks into the candy drawer or TV room, Secret Alerts will clue you in.
  • A home security system is no replacement for street smarts. Make sure your kids know how important it is to never tell people they’re alone in the house, or answer the door for strangers.

High School

Late adolescence is a stressful AND fun time for teens and parents — you get to watch your child take control of her life (and your car), but sometimes it seems like her hormones are driving the whole show straight to crazytown. At this age, kids need space and freedom, but they need guidance, too. As your teen’s world expands, make sure she has the tools she needs to navigate it:
  • According to a 2001 study by the National School Safety Center, 60% of high school boys surveyed said they could get a gun if they wanted to,and 69% said they knew where and how to obtain drugs. It can be hard to bring up such fraught topics with your teens, especially when many can be set off by simple things like breakfast cereal choices or World of Warcraft. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 25% of teens felt they got enough guidance on these topics from their parents. Check out their great tips on making sure the right messages get through to your kids.
  • A driver’s license is like a ticket to a new world with its own opportunities and risks. The State Farm Teen Driver Safety website is a great way to learn about the biggest risks for beginning drivers, and how to reduce them (did you know that 40% of teen crashes are caused by improper scanning techniques? A spin around this driving simulator could help your teen hone hers). And Turn Key Office has put together a great list of phone apps that will stop your teen from texting while driving, whether her boyfriend REALLY NEEDS to hear from her or not.
  • The Internet is yet another universe open to your kids — in fact, it might seem like they live there full-time. Digital natives may know their way around the net, but this report from McAfee shows that teens can be just as fast and loose with their personal info as they are with their allowance, putting them at risk for social stalking,identity theft, and even burglary. Take a minute to emphasize the importance of online privacy with your kids — this digital security quizis a great way to start.
  • Teens are old enough to take an active role in home security. Teach them how important it is to lock the doors and set the alarm whenever they leave the house.

How old are your kids? Do you have any advice for parents getting ready to welcome theirs into the next life stage? Share in the comments!

See more at: http://simplisafe.com/blog/back-to-school-tips#sthash.O0mxa4Ju.dpuf

Back to School Safety Tips for All Ages

By Cara Giaimo
This month, Little Pickle Press been discussing Back to School. Here are some great safety tips to utilize as your children head back this month.

Hear those bells ringing off in the distance? That’s the sound of fall approaching! Your kids are back, or are about to be back in the classroom. Last year’s back-to-school post was such a hit that we’ve come up with some more age-specific tips to help make the transition as safe as possible, whether your kids are toddling onto the bus or screeching out of the driveway.
Elementary School
Huge steps like a new classroom (or starting school entirely!) are exciting, but they can be nerve-wracking too — for you AND your young child. Reduce everyone’s first-day jitters by finding out a few key details about where your little one is spending her days:
  •  Take a minute early on to introduce yourself to her teacher, as well as any classroom aids or parent volunteers. This is also a great time to let supervising adults know about your child’s chocolate allergy or debilitating fear of stuffed lions.
  •  If you can, sign up to be a Party Parent or Guest Reader yourself — even a few hours supervising fingerpainting will give you a great feel for her daily environment.
  •  Familiarize yourself with the school safety procedures — what’s the protocol for visitors? What’s the fire escape plan? What number should you call in an emergency?
  • Above all, make sure the star of the show is ready for her big day (and every day after that). Go over safety procedures and make sure she knows how to contact you (or another trusted adult) if she needs you. If she feels calm and happy, you will, too!

Middle School/Junior High

We all remember early adolescence, and the rapid changes it brought, both physical and mental. Preteens are on the cusp of maturity, but still don’t fully understand that their actions have long-term consequences. At this age, safety means starting to loosen the reins, while still making sure your kids feel protected, supported, and loved. Here are some great ways to balance freedom and security:
  • Used to taking your kids to school every morning? As Junior gets older, he might be ready to start flying solo. According to child psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore, most kids can walk to school on their own starting at age 10—but you’ll know when yours is ready because he will show you he’s responsible by following safety rules when you’re together. If your child is ready to walk to school, map out the safest and most direct route, and practice once or twice. If at all possible, find him a walking buddy!
  • No matter how he gets home from school (or choir rehearsal, or lacrosse practice), you’ll want to make sure he’s coming back to a safe house. If you work late (and 33% of American children are at home alone for at least part of the week!) keep tabs on him from the office with a monitored security system.
  • Some systems, such as SimpliSafe,can easily be set up to let you know as soon as he makes it home — and if he sneaks into the candy drawer or TV room, Secret Alerts will clue you in.
  • A home security system is no replacement for street smarts. Make sure your kids know how important it is to never tell people they’re alone in the house, or answer the door for strangers.

High School

Late adolescence is a stressful AND fun time for teens and parents — you get to watch your child take control of her life (and your car), but sometimes it seems like her hormones are driving the whole show straight to crazytown. At this age, kids need space and freedom, but they need guidance, too. As your teen’s world expands, make sure she has the tools she needs to navigate it:
  • According to a 2001 study by the National School Safety Center, 60% of high school boys surveyed said they could get a gun if they wanted to,and 69% said they knew where and how to obtain drugs. It can be hard to bring up such fraught topics with your teens, especially when many can be set off by simple things like breakfast cereal choices or World of Warcraft. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 25% of teens felt they got enough guidance on these topics from their parents. Check out their great tips on making sure the right messages get through to your kids.
  • A driver’s license is like a ticket to a new world with its own opportunities and risks. The State Farm Teen Driver Safety website is a great way to learn about the biggest risks for beginning drivers, and how to reduce them (did you know that 40% of teen crashes are caused by improper scanning techniques? A spin around this driving simulator could help your teen hone hers). And Turn Key Office has put together a great list of phone apps that will stop your teen from texting while driving, whether her boyfriend REALLY NEEDS to hear from her or not.
  • The Internet is yet another universe open to your kids — in fact, it might seem like they live there full-time. Digital natives may know their way around the net, but this report from McAfee shows that teens can be just as fast and loose with their personal info as they are with their allowance, putting them at risk for social stalking,identity theft, and even burglary. Take a minute to emphasize the importance of online privacy with your kids — this digital security quizis a great way to start.
  • Teens are old enough to take an active role in home security. Teach them how important it is to lock the doors and set the alarm whenever they leave the house.

How old are your kids? Do you have any advice for parents getting ready to welcome theirs into the next life stage? Share in the comments!

See more at: http://simplisafe.com/blog/back-to-school-tips#sthash.O0mxa4Ju.dpuf

Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance: A 20-something’s Response

By Cameron Crane



I watched Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance on Monday morning. I do not typically tune in to the VMAs, but after reading status after status from my friends on Facebook, I simply could not resist.

What was Miley Cyrus thinking?/ I’m so disgusted right now./What is this world coming to? The list went on and on. I thought people must be overreacting. I thought it was going to be another Kanye West moment that would blow over in a matter of days. And then I watched the video.

Now first, allow me to say, I am far from a prude. As someone who was first allowed to watch MTV in the Britney era, I am no stranger to risqué performances. As I watched Miley, though, I was taken through a range of emotions: shock, disgust, anger, embarrassment—but mostly I was sad. I was sad because I was watching a girl who had an opportunity to grow up and be a talented, beautiful, passionate role model throw it all away.

On one hand, I felt like I was watching someone who had been possessed by aliens. How could she think what she was doing was sexy? On the other hand, I completely understood. Miley’s performance was an exaggerated representation of what many of today’s girls go through as they walk the line between being a child and being an adult. They want to grow up, they want to be independent, and they want to be sexy.

Growing up, I had two older sisters, and I can remember the desire to be like them. As early as fourteen, I remember desperately trying to figure out how I could be sexy. At seventeen, I remember giving my friends a lecture about how flirtation was all about eye contact. Even through part of college, I tried to force some media-bought idea of what it meant to be sexy on myself. Everybody was. But no matter how hard I tried, I never really felt “sexy”– probably because I didn’t understand what “being sexy” was really all about.

If you are a teenager, and you want to be sexy, I am not going to discourage you. It’s natural. You don’t deserve a lecture for that. I am, however, going to encourage you to embrace sexiness for what it really is, and not the forced, distorted version of sexuality that manifested itself into Miley’s performance. Looking back, I can see that when my mom told me I was “too young to be sexy”, she wasn’t setting a restriction for me—she was acknowledging a fact. Sure, I was attractive, but the fundamental elements of sexy were still developing.

So from my personal experience, here are 15 elements that I’ve learned go hand and hand with being sexy:
  1. Be Passionate. Go after your dreams, pursue your talents, and don’t let anybody stand in your way. Passion is sexy.
  2.  Define your values. They will determine every decision you will make for every day of the rest of your life. Values are sexy.
  3. Educate yourself. Read, learn, study, travel, explore. Knowledge is sexy.
  4. Treat others kindly. Understanding how to treat others will help you set expectations for how you should be treated. Kindness is sexy.
  5. Present yourself well. Take care of your appearance. Choose your own style. Make sure the you on the outside represents who you are on the inside. Style is sexy.
  6.  Be healthy. Walk, run, hike, swim, dance, play basketball. Do whatever makes you happy and keeps you active. Healthy is sexy.
  7. Laugh. Tell jokes, go to comedy shows, indulge in that show you’re embarrassed that you like. Never take yourself too seriously. Laughing is sexy.
  8. Be patient. You will have ups and downs. Use your dissatisfaction to fuel positive change. Being unhappy just means that you have unfulfilled potential. Patience is sexy.
  9. Believe you are beautiful. Because you are, in a way that only you can be. Embrace everything you see. Beauty is sexy.
  10. Be comfortable alone. Spend some weekends in with a book, go for a hike, listen to music. Get comfortable spending some quality you time. Independence is sexy.
  11. Make good friends. When you surround yourself with good people who are surrounding themselves with good people it’s almost impossible not to be happy. Happiness is sexy.
  12.  Stand up for something. Choose a cause to be passionate about, and defend it even if it means going against the current. Persistence is sexy.
  13. Know yourself. Because you are the only person who ever truly will. Your strengths, your weaknesses, your hopes, your fears—embrace them and understand them. Awareness is sexy.
  14. Have confidence.  Not the obnoxious kind. The humble, sturdy kind. The kind that allows you to trust yourself in any given situation. The kind that determines your self worth. The kind that radiates. Confidence is sexy.
  15. Understand that sexy has very little to do with sex.  Being sexy isn’t about blatant sexuality. In fact, it has very little to do with sex at all. Being truly sexy is about having such an impeccable understanding of who you are, such a drive to go after what you want, that other people are drawn to learn more about you. This is what was missing in Miley’s performance.
When you can do all of these things, I promiseyou that you will be sexy. And it will look nothing like Miley Cyrus’ performance.



More great articles reacting to Miley’s VMA performance:

Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance: A 20-something’s Response

By Cameron Crane



I watched Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance on Monday morning. I do not typically tune in to the VMAs, but after reading status after status from my friends on Facebook, I simply could not resist.

What was Miley Cyrus thinking?/ I’m so disgusted right now./What is this world coming to? The list went on and on. I thought people must be overreacting. I thought it was going to be another Kanye West moment that would blow over in a matter of days. And then I watched the video.

Now first, allow me to say, I am far from a prude. As someone who was first allowed to watch MTV in the Britney era, I am no stranger to risqué performances. As I watched Miley, though, I was taken through a range of emotions: shock, disgust, anger, embarrassment—but mostly I was sad. I was sad because I was watching a girl who had an opportunity to grow up and be a talented, beautiful, passionate role model throw it all away.

On one hand, I felt like I was watching someone who had been possessed by aliens. How could she think what she was doing was sexy? On the other hand, I completely understood. Miley’s performance was an exaggerated representation of what many of today’s girls go through as they walk the line between being a child and being an adult. They want to grow up, they want to be independent, and they want to be sexy.

Growing up, I had two older sisters, and I can remember the desire to be like them. As early as fourteen, I remember desperately trying to figure out how I could be sexy. At seventeen, I remember giving my friends a lecture about how flirtation was all about eye contact. Even through part of college, I tried to force some media-bought idea of what it meant to be sexy on myself. Everybody was. But no matter how hard I tried, I never really felt “sexy”– probably because I didn’t understand what “being sexy” was really all about.

If you are a teenager, and you want to be sexy, I am not going to discourage you. It’s natural. You don’t deserve a lecture for that. I am, however, going to encourage you to embrace sexiness for what it really is, and not the forced, distorted version of sexuality that manifested itself into Miley’s performance. Looking back, I can see that when my mom told me I was “too young to be sexy”, she wasn’t setting a restriction for me—she was acknowledging a fact. Sure, I was attractive, but the fundamental elements of sexy were still developing.

So from my personal experience, here are 15 elements that I’ve learned go hand and hand with being sexy:
  1. Be Passionate. Go after your dreams, pursue your talents, and don’t let anybody stand in your way. Passion is sexy.
  2.  Define your values. They will determine every decision you will make for every day of the rest of your life. Values are sexy.
  3. Educate yourself. Read, learn, study, travel, explore. Knowledge is sexy.
  4. Treat others kindly. Understanding how to treat others will help you set expectations for how you should be treated. Kindness is sexy.
  5. Present yourself well. Take care of your appearance. Choose your own style. Make sure the you on the outside represents who you are on the inside. Style is sexy.
  6.  Be healthy. Walk, run, hike, swim, dance, play basketball. Do whatever makes you happy and keeps you active. Healthy is sexy.
  7. Laugh. Tell jokes, go to comedy shows, indulge in that show you’re embarrassed that you like. Never take yourself too seriously. Laughing is sexy.
  8. Be patient. You will have ups and downs. Use your dissatisfaction to fuel positive change. Being unhappy just means that you have unfulfilled potential. Patience is sexy.
  9. Believe you are beautiful. Because you are, in a way that only you can be. Embrace everything you see. Beauty is sexy.
  10. Be comfortable alone. Spend some weekends in with a book, go for a hike, listen to music. Get comfortable spending some quality you time. Independence is sexy.
  11. Make good friends. When you surround yourself with good people who are surrounding themselves with good people it’s almost impossible not to be happy. Happiness is sexy.
  12.  Stand up for something. Choose a cause to be passionate about, and defend it even if it means going against the current. Persistence is sexy.
  13. Know yourself. Because you are the only person who ever truly will. Your strengths, your weaknesses, your hopes, your fears—embrace them and understand them. Awareness is sexy.
  14. Have confidence.  Not the obnoxious kind. The humble, sturdy kind. The kind that allows you to trust yourself in any given situation. The kind that determines your self worth. The kind that radiates. Confidence is sexy.
  15. Understand that sexy has very little to do with sex.  Being sexy isn’t about blatant sexuality. In fact, it has very little to do with sex at all. Being truly sexy is about having such an impeccable understanding of who you are, such a drive to go after what you want, that other people are drawn to learn more about you. This is what was missing in Miley’s performance.
When you can do all of these things, I promiseyou that you will be sexy. And it will look nothing like Miley Cyrus’ performance.



More great articles reacting to Miley’s VMA performance:

Five Minutes In These Shoes

By Audrey Lintner

It took me fifteen years to have a baby; fifteen years of false hopes, choked-back despair, and traumatic loss at the hands of a partner who supposedly loved me. Then one day, the right man came along, the planets aligned, and the doctor explained why I was eating my weight in burritos.

Junior at six months.

Junior is a little boy that any parent would be proud of: beautiful, brilliant, and sweeter than a whole candy store. He started reading before the age of two. He potty-trained himself in a week. Just before his fourth birthday, he learned division based on oneexample.

But …

This affectionate little boy had no idea how to give a hug. He used “please” and “thank you,” but avoided eye contact. He arranged his blocks in increasingly complex words and math problems, but was unable to engage in pretend play. He could write the word xylophone, but couldn’t draw the simplest stick figure.

He was diagnosed with Autism just before his fifth birthday.

The day before his diagnosis, Junior was a fun-loving, cheerful little boy with an overwhelming fondness for numbers and cookies. The day after his diagnosis, well … he was still a fun-loving, cheerful little boy with an overwhelming fondness for numbers and cookies.

He also gained a label, one that will follow him for the rest of his life. Mind you, we’ve seen some really great strides in the past few months. Less echolalia, more spontaneous speech. Fewer tantrums, greater tolerance for frustration. Reduced blank restlessness, increased focus and curiosity. His math skills now include binary and algebra, and he’s learning how to color. 

His favorite way to play with blocks, at age three and still today.

A lot of this boils down to luck: we found a therapy that works for our kid. We’ve been lucky all along. Junior is fastidious while some parents of kids with Autism will find dinner (and worse) smeared on the walls. He’s healthy while some parents spend their days crooning over an isolette. He’s verbal while some parents will never hear, “I love you.”

Junior has Autism, and there is no cure. But inside that label is a personality made of pure sunshine. He may never be up for the challenge of telling me how his school day went, but he will also never see a single moment of regret in my eyes.

So that’s five minutes in these shoes, and there are countless other pairs out there. The original title of this post was supposed to be, “Proud Parent of a Different Child.” But really now, aren’t we all?

Beautiful boy.

Five Minutes In These Shoes

By Audrey Lintner

It took me fifteen years to have a baby; fifteen years of false hopes, choked-back despair, and traumatic loss at the hands of a partner who supposedly loved me. Then one day, the right man came along, the planets aligned, and the doctor explained why I was eating my weight in burritos.

Junior at six months.

Junior is a little boy that any parent would be proud of: beautiful, brilliant, and sweeter than a whole candy store. He started reading before the age of two. He potty-trained himself in a week. Just before his fourth birthday, he learned division based on oneexample.

But …

This affectionate little boy had no idea how to give a hug. He used “please” and “thank you,” but avoided eye contact. He arranged his blocks in increasingly complex words and math problems, but was unable to engage in pretend play. He could write the word xylophone, but couldn’t draw the simplest stick figure.

He was diagnosed with Autism just before his fifth birthday.

The day before his diagnosis, Junior was a fun-loving, cheerful little boy with an overwhelming fondness for numbers and cookies. The day after his diagnosis, well … he was still a fun-loving, cheerful little boy with an overwhelming fondness for numbers and cookies.

He also gained a label, one that will follow him for the rest of his life. Mind you, we’ve seen some really great strides in the past few months. Less echolalia, more spontaneous speech. Fewer tantrums, greater tolerance for frustration. Reduced blank restlessness, increased focus and curiosity. His math skills now include binary and algebra, and he’s learning how to color. 

His favorite way to play with blocks, at age three and still today.

A lot of this boils down to luck: we found a therapy that works for our kid. We’ve been lucky all along. Junior is fastidious while some parents of kids with Autism will find dinner (and worse) smeared on the walls. He’s healthy while some parents spend their days crooning over an isolette. He’s verbal while some parents will never hear, “I love you.”

Junior has Autism, and there is no cure. But inside that label is a personality made of pure sunshine. He may never be up for the challenge of telling me how his school day went, but he will also never see a single moment of regret in my eyes.

So that’s five minutes in these shoes, and there are countless other pairs out there. The original title of this post was supposed to be, “Proud Parent of a Different Child.” But really now, aren’t we all?

Beautiful boy.

Featured Customer of the Month: Vail Mountain School

By Audrey Lintner

Image courtesy of Vail Mountain School
It’s really amazing what determination can do. Denied county help, a group of parents in Vail, Colorado started up a day school with four students and a bit of space above the local deli.

Since that unassuming start in 1962, the Vail Mountain School has grown and relocated, but has never lost that feeling of determination. The mission of VMS is, according to their website, “to prepare students intellectually, emotionally, and ethically to thrive in a collegiate setting and beyond with the life-long purpose of active participation in global citizenship.”

To this end, the K-through-12 college prep school offers skill enhancers such as tutoring clinics, math and science camps, and community service programs. Accredited by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools, VMS has an astounding college acceptance rate. Fully 100% of VMS seniors are accepted to four-year colleges.

Look at that figure again. One hundred percent. With such an amazing track record, is it any wonder that we are proud to feature Vail Mountain School as our Customer of the Month? We’re also proud of the fact that Little Pickle Press books were among those featured at the VMS book fair last year, and will (along with the very dedicated staff of the Vail Mountain School) continue to teach and inspire future generations of college-bound students.

Is your school planning a book fair? Contact Little Pickle Press or your book fair provider for information on how to include inspirational and eco-friendly LPP content in your event.

Featured Customer of the Month: Vail Mountain School

By Audrey Lintner

Image courtesy of Vail Mountain School
It’s really amazing what determination can do. Denied county help, a group of parents in Vail, Colorado started up a day school with four students and a bit of space above the local deli.

Since that unassuming start in 1962, the Vail Mountain School has grown and relocated, but has never lost that feeling of determination. The mission of VMS is, according to their website, “to prepare students intellectually, emotionally, and ethically to thrive in a collegiate setting and beyond with the life-long purpose of active participation in global citizenship.”

To this end, the K-through-12 college prep school offers skill enhancers such as tutoring clinics, math and science camps, and community service programs. Accredited by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools, VMS has an astounding college acceptance rate. Fully 100% of VMS seniors are accepted to four-year colleges.

Look at that figure again. One hundred percent. With such an amazing track record, is it any wonder that we are proud to feature Vail Mountain School as our Customer of the Month? We’re also proud of the fact that Little Pickle Press books were among those featured at the VMS book fair last year, and will (along with the very dedicated staff of the Vail Mountain School) continue to teach and inspire future generations of college-bound students.

Is your school planning a book fair? Contact Little Pickle Press or your book fair provider for information on how to include inspirational and eco-friendly LPP content in your event.

Giving Children Conflict Resolution Tools For School

By Kelly Wickham

Image credit: livestrong.com
Like many children of the 1970s and 80s, I learned more from the Muppets and Sesame Street about how to solve my sibling and friend conflicts than I did from my teachers. We certainly had our share of friend issues and bullying back then, but it wasn’t as overt. We also didn’t have things like social media fueling our impulses to act out our aggressions upon one another. In many ways, I feel sorry for children these days, getting smart phones with potentially dangerous apps which allow them to act on nearly every feeling. It’s hard to resolve conflict when the world is watching and you’re unable to take anything back (the Internet is forever).
For me, growing up in a Catholic school meant that when we had conflicts we took them to confession or to a nun for a solution. Growing up in a hippie environment meant that we also had our share of “peace” and “love,” and I can’t say that was all bad. My parents did their best with three strong-headed daughters who fought both physically and emotionally with one another. All in all, I’ve had my share of working it out and loving my neighbor.

When I became a teacher it was easy for me to send students to our School Assistance Personnel, even though it made me laugh at the thought that I was sending kids to someone called a sap, but they always came back to my classroom with a bit of perspective. As school is beginning all over the country, I can only imagine what other resources they use to ensure that children are peacefully resolving their conflicts. I have been in training sessions for many of the programs out there and now use many of the popular phrases in my office when teachers send students to me. I sincerely hope they aren’t telling the kids to “Go see that sap down the hallway,” though.

As a parent, I’ve used conflict resolution techniques on my own children in the hopes that they will find healthy ways to figure out their problems, yet I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes as well. For instance, when the oldest two would get into arguments and couldn’t figure out how to play nicely with one another, I would make them sit together on the porch while holding hands. Usually, they twisted their arms and squeezed each other’s hands as hard as they could, but if I left them out there long enough they would soon be giggling and laughing and getting along.

It doesn’t work that way in schools, however, and a conscious peer-mediation and conflict resolution program is a better way to go. In such a program, we use phrases like:

I hear what you’re saying when you say __________.

When you do ___________, it makes me feel __________.

It sounds like I upset you when I ________________.

All of this open discussion is necessary when talking to children and is very important to remember when children are heading back to school. School provides a unique opportunity to practice social skills and mechanisms for being healthy, growing individuals. Bearing responsibility for their actions isn’t second nature for children, and that’s why we use Character Education as part of their growth.

When you pack lunches and buy new school supplies this year, remember to arm your children with conflict resolution abilities by using these phrases. 

Giving Children Conflict Resolution Tools For School

By Kelly Wickham

Image credit: livestrong.com
Like many children of the 1970s and 80s, I learned more from the Muppets and Sesame Street about how to solve my sibling and friend conflicts than I did from my teachers. We certainly had our share of friend issues and bullying back then, but it wasn’t as overt. We also didn’t have things like social media fueling our impulses to act out our aggressions upon one another. In many ways, I feel sorry for children these days, getting smart phones with potentially dangerous apps which allow them to act on nearly every feeling. It’s hard to resolve conflict when the world is watching and you’re unable to take anything back (the Internet is forever).
For me, growing up in a Catholic school meant that when we had conflicts we took them to confession or to a nun for a solution. Growing up in a hippie environment meant that we also had our share of “peace” and “love,” and I can’t say that was all bad. My parents did their best with three strong-headed daughters who fought both physically and emotionally with one another. All in all, I’ve had my share of working it out and loving my neighbor.

When I became a teacher it was easy for me to send students to our School Assistance Personnel, even though it made me laugh at the thought that I was sending kids to someone called a sap, but they always came back to my classroom with a bit of perspective. As school is beginning all over the country, I can only imagine what other resources they use to ensure that children are peacefully resolving their conflicts. I have been in training sessions for many of the programs out there and now use many of the popular phrases in my office when teachers send students to me. I sincerely hope they aren’t telling the kids to “Go see that sap down the hallway,” though.

As a parent, I’ve used conflict resolution techniques on my own children in the hopes that they will find healthy ways to figure out their problems, yet I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes as well. For instance, when the oldest two would get into arguments and couldn’t figure out how to play nicely with one another, I would make them sit together on the porch while holding hands. Usually, they twisted their arms and squeezed each other’s hands as hard as they could, but if I left them out there long enough they would soon be giggling and laughing and getting along.

It doesn’t work that way in schools, however, and a conscious peer-mediation and conflict resolution program is a better way to go. In such a program, we use phrases like:

I hear what you’re saying when you say __________.

When you do ___________, it makes me feel __________.

It sounds like I upset you when I ________________.

All of this open discussion is necessary when talking to children and is very important to remember when children are heading back to school. School provides a unique opportunity to practice social skills and mechanisms for being healthy, growing individuals. Bearing responsibility for their actions isn’t second nature for children, and that’s why we use Character Education as part of their growth.

When you pack lunches and buy new school supplies this year, remember to arm your children with conflict resolution abilities by using these phrases. 

6 Picture Books For Teaching Children To Embrace Differences

By Cameron Crane

Good Little Wolf Written and Illustrated by Nadia Shireen 

Rolf, a small, gentle wolf, lives with Mrs. Boggins, who tells him he is a good little wolf. But when he meets up with a large, ferocious wolf, he is told that he isn’t a real wolf. Wolves aren’t little and good—they are big and bad. To prove he is a real wolf,  the old wolf  tells Rolf he must perform certain tasks, such as blowing down a little pig’s house. Rolf is a total failure . . . until the big bad wolf urges him to do something unspeakable to old Mrs. Boggins. Then the good little wolf proves that he can stand up to the big bad bully. Or so it seems. More mature readers may find a different ending that could lead to a great discussion! Using familiar storybook characters and an endearing new hero,  Nadia Shireen makes her debut in this winning picture book.


It’s Okay To Be Different Written and Illustrated by Todd Parr

It’s Okay to Be Different cleverly delivers the important messages of acceptance, understanding, and confidence in an accessible, child-friendly format featuring Todd Parr’s trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to celebrate their individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence. It’s Okay to be Different is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism, and promote character growth.


I’m Special, I’m Me Written by Ann Meek and Illustrated by Sarah Massini 

Milo is fed up. He wants to play at being a pirate captain, but the other children say he’s too short, he must be a deck hand. He’s too small to be a lion, and not handsome enough to be the prince. But Milo’s mum makes him see that the other roles can be even more fun. After all, knights get to fight dragons, and monkeys have far more fun than lions, swinging through the trees! Winner of the Little Tiger Press New Author Prize 2003, this is an empowering story of how, with imagination and his mum’s help, one boy turns rejection into triumph.


My Brother Charlie Written by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, and Illustrated by Shane Evans 


From bestselling author and actress Holly Robinson Peete–a heartwarming story about a boy who happens to be autistic, based on Holly’s son, who has autism. “Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It’s harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe.” But as his big sister tells us, for everything that Charlie can’t do well, there are plenty more things that he’s good at. He knows the names of all the American presidents. He knows stuff about airplanes. And he can even play the piano better than anyone he knows. Actress and national autism spokesperson Holly Robinson Peete collaborates with her daughter on this book based on Holly’s 10-year-old son, who has autism.

Eric!…The Hero? Written and Illustrated by Chris Wormell


Can clumsy Eric be a hero? Discover that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes. Eric is a little boy who sometimes gets things wrong. But Eric learns that while you can’t be good at everything, sometimes it takes a little time to find out what you are good at. And when a huge monster stomps down the mountain to Eric’s village, Eric just might have his chance to shine. For all children who know they are heroes, Chris Wormell has created a wonderful character in courageous Eric—the boy with a hero inside him, who surprises everyone by saving the day.


The Sunflower Sword Written by Mark Sperring and Illustrated by Miriam Latimer 

In a land filled with fire and smoke and endless fighting, where knights fight dragons, there lives a little knight who wants to be big like the others, and fight like the others, and have a sword like the others. But his mother won’t let him. Instead of a sword, she gives him a sunflower, which, as it turns out, can be mightier than a sword.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Little Pickle Press Books that address the topic of celebrating differences include these award-winning titles:

What Does It Mean To Be Global? Written by Rana DiOrio and Illustrated by Chris Hill

Ripple’s Effect Written by Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson and Illustrated by Cecilia Rebora 

Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons Written by Jodi Carmichael and Illustrated by Sarah Ackerley 

Teachers: Looking to teach your students about embracing difference? We have lesson plans for each of our titles! Learn more here

6 Picture Books For Teaching Children To Embrace Differences

By Cameron Crane

Good Little Wolf Written and Illustrated by Nadia Shireen 

Rolf, a small, gentle wolf, lives with Mrs. Boggins, who tells him he is a good little wolf. But when he meets up with a large, ferocious wolf, he is told that he isn’t a real wolf. Wolves aren’t little and good—they are big and bad. To prove he is a real wolf,  the old wolf  tells Rolf he must perform certain tasks, such as blowing down a little pig’s house. Rolf is a total failure . . . until the big bad wolf urges him to do something unspeakable to old Mrs. Boggins. Then the good little wolf proves that he can stand up to the big bad bully. Or so it seems. More mature readers may find a different ending that could lead to a great discussion! Using familiar storybook characters and an endearing new hero,  Nadia Shireen makes her debut in this winning picture book.


It’s Okay To Be Different Written and Illustrated by Todd Parr

It’s Okay to Be Different cleverly delivers the important messages of acceptance, understanding, and confidence in an accessible, child-friendly format featuring Todd Parr’s trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to celebrate their individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence. It’s Okay to be Different is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism, and promote character growth.


I’m Special, I’m Me Written by Ann Meek and Illustrated by Sarah Massini 

Milo is fed up. He wants to play at being a pirate captain, but the other children say he’s too short, he must be a deck hand. He’s too small to be a lion, and not handsome enough to be the prince. But Milo’s mum makes him see that the other roles can be even more fun. After all, knights get to fight dragons, and monkeys have far more fun than lions, swinging through the trees! Winner of the Little Tiger Press New Author Prize 2003, this is an empowering story of how, with imagination and his mum’s help, one boy turns rejection into triumph.


My Brother Charlie Written by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, and Illustrated by Shane Evans 


From bestselling author and actress Holly Robinson Peete–a heartwarming story about a boy who happens to be autistic, based on Holly’s son, who has autism. “Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It’s harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe.” But as his big sister tells us, for everything that Charlie can’t do well, there are plenty more things that he’s good at. He knows the names of all the American presidents. He knows stuff about airplanes. And he can even play the piano better than anyone he knows. Actress and national autism spokesperson Holly Robinson Peete collaborates with her daughter on this book based on Holly’s 10-year-old son, who has autism.

Eric!…The Hero? Written and Illustrated by Chris Wormell


Can clumsy Eric be a hero? Discover that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes. Eric is a little boy who sometimes gets things wrong. But Eric learns that while you can’t be good at everything, sometimes it takes a little time to find out what you are good at. And when a huge monster stomps down the mountain to Eric’s village, Eric just might have his chance to shine. For all children who know they are heroes, Chris Wormell has created a wonderful character in courageous Eric—the boy with a hero inside him, who surprises everyone by saving the day.


The Sunflower Sword Written by Mark Sperring and Illustrated by Miriam Latimer 

In a land filled with fire and smoke and endless fighting, where knights fight dragons, there lives a little knight who wants to be big like the others, and fight like the others, and have a sword like the others. But his mother won’t let him. Instead of a sword, she gives him a sunflower, which, as it turns out, can be mightier than a sword.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Little Pickle Press Books that address the topic of celebrating differences include these award-winning titles:

What Does It Mean To Be Global? Written by Rana DiOrio and Illustrated by Chris Hill

Ripple’s Effect Written by Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson and Illustrated by Cecilia Rebora 

Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons Written by Jodi Carmichael and Illustrated by Sarah Ackerley 

Teachers: Looking to teach your students about embracing difference? We have lesson plans for each of our titles! Learn more here

B2S: 10 Things Kids are Looking Forward To

By Kelly Wickham



So many friends of mine have children who have already begun their school year. As an assistant principal, mine began in July so that I could prepare everything for the upcoming school year, but the first day of school for students is next week. I knew it was getting closer when I started seeing my Sunday newspaper full of adverts for sales and when the office supply stores began running commercials at the end of June.
A group of students stopped by school this week to play basketball on the playground, and I got to catch up with them. Naturally, I asked them what they were looking forward to at school this year. Here are some of their (sometimes surprising!) answers.

1. Seeing Old Friends. Most students admit that when they’re out of school they mostly stay in touch with friends during the elementary years. In middle school, they do so via Social Media (and Instagram is where all the middles are! I promise!) and, by high school, they have cars but also jobs that keep them from seeing friends. School is definitely a social place and they look forward to seeing friends in classrooms, the hallways, at lunch, and at after-school activities and sports.

2. Finally Understanding Math. I found this one humorous because it was so specific! One of the boys said that he felt like he was just getting how to do some pretty hard math concepts when the school year ended and that he didn’t practice over the summer. He’s looking forward to mastery of it this year, and I thought that was such a great way to look at it.

3. Lunch. Students love food. This is prime social time for students when they get a Brain Break in the middle of the day and fuel up to be able to finish out the day with energy. Actually, they said “pizza days”, but I summed up what the subtext of that was.

4. Specials. At our school we have the Core Classes like math, language arts, science, and history and we call our “specials” the Encore Classes. My students told me that they look forward to them because that’s not something they gave up all summer long. For instance, a girl named Jordan told me that she drew and painted all summer long and looks forward to taking her art class again so she can get new ideas.

5. Culminating Projects. This was another very specific answer my students gave me that let me know how much they enjoy learning in ways that teach them about being real citizens. For instance, each year the 6thgraders do a Water Project and they liked being able to research things online because “it’s way more fun to learn on the computer than from a book,” said Theo. The other students agreed that they had never gotten to feel so accomplished after learning about the Global Water Crisis.

6. Field Trips.  Students love learning about something in the field as opposed to in the classroom. Many of the ones we take involve local Abraham Lincoln tourist spots, but we also take students to the Presidential Library and do a fun science experiment on weather at a Cardinal game in St. Louis. My students told me they weren’t picky so long as they got to get out of school for a day.

7. Set Schedules and Routines. When I asked about what they were looking forward to, I never expected them to consider the daily routine of school. But many of them said they couldn’t wait to be on a set schedule to even out their lives! Students are really interesting in that they crave things that they seem to fight their parents so easily over.

8. New Books! I promise that I didn’t prompt them on this one! When I asked them to clarify “new books” because they could easily download on their e-devices or visit the library or bookstore, they said that they were waiting to share what they’d read this summer with their friends and a few of them mentioned that a series they were reading. In fact, Lilly and I talked at length over the last 2 years that we couldn’t wait until Book 3 of the Divergent trilogy (titled Allegiant)comes out this fall.
There’s a countdown clock on author Veronica Roth’s website! 66 days, students!

9. After-School Activities. It’s no surprise that students who came to the school playground for a pickup game of basketball are interested in sports, but many of them didn’t get a chance to play organized sports over the summer. They look forward to team events, chess club, and a host of other activities that schools offer.

10. Back-to-School Shopping. I love new clothes as much as the next person and my students didn’t disappoint when they mentioned buying new school outfits. I tried to convince them that Fall sweaters were the very best thing to buy, but that didn’t work. They mostly talked about the newest basketball shoes coming out and growing out of their old clothes. (That’s mostly just for kids as the only growing out I do as an adult is, well, out.)

B2S: 10 Things Kids are Looking Forward To

By Kelly Wickham



So many friends of mine have children who have already begun their school year. As an assistant principal, mine began in July so that I could prepare everything for the upcoming school year, but the first day of school for students is next week. I knew it was getting closer when I started seeing my Sunday newspaper full of adverts for sales and when the office supply stores began running commercials at the end of June.
A group of students stopped by school this week to play basketball on the playground, and I got to catch up with them. Naturally, I asked them what they were looking forward to at school this year. Here are some of their (sometimes surprising!) answers.

1. Seeing Old Friends. Most students admit that when they’re out of school they mostly stay in touch with friends during the elementary years. In middle school, they do so via Social Media (and Instagram is where all the middles are! I promise!) and, by high school, they have cars but also jobs that keep them from seeing friends. School is definitely a social place and they look forward to seeing friends in classrooms, the hallways, at lunch, and at after-school activities and sports.

2. Finally Understanding Math. I found this one humorous because it was so specific! One of the boys said that he felt like he was just getting how to do some pretty hard math concepts when the school year ended and that he didn’t practice over the summer. He’s looking forward to mastery of it this year, and I thought that was such a great way to look at it.

3. Lunch. Students love food. This is prime social time for students when they get a Brain Break in the middle of the day and fuel up to be able to finish out the day with energy. Actually, they said “pizza days”, but I summed up what the subtext of that was.

4. Specials. At our school we have the Core Classes like math, language arts, science, and history and we call our “specials” the Encore Classes. My students told me that they look forward to them because that’s not something they gave up all summer long. For instance, a girl named Jordan told me that she drew and painted all summer long and looks forward to taking her art class again so she can get new ideas.

5. Culminating Projects. This was another very specific answer my students gave me that let me know how much they enjoy learning in ways that teach them about being real citizens. For instance, each year the 6thgraders do a Water Project and they liked being able to research things online because “it’s way more fun to learn on the computer than from a book,” said Theo. The other students agreed that they had never gotten to feel so accomplished after learning about the Global Water Crisis.

6. Field Trips.  Students love learning about something in the field as opposed to in the classroom. Many of the ones we take involve local Abraham Lincoln tourist spots, but we also take students to the Presidential Library and do a fun science experiment on weather at a Cardinal game in St. Louis. My students told me they weren’t picky so long as they got to get out of school for a day.

7. Set Schedules and Routines. When I asked about what they were looking forward to, I never expected them to consider the daily routine of school. But many of them said they couldn’t wait to be on a set schedule to even out their lives! Students are really interesting in that they crave things that they seem to fight their parents so easily over.

8. New Books! I promise that I didn’t prompt them on this one! When I asked them to clarify “new books” because they could easily download on their e-devices or visit the library or bookstore, they said that they were waiting to share what they’d read this summer with their friends and a few of them mentioned that a series they were reading. In fact, Lilly and I talked at length over the last 2 years that we couldn’t wait until Book 3 of the Divergent trilogy (titled Allegiant)comes out this fall.
There’s a countdown clock on author Veronica Roth’s website! 66 days, students!

9. After-School Activities. It’s no surprise that students who came to the school playground for a pickup game of basketball are interested in sports, but many of them didn’t get a chance to play organized sports over the summer. They look forward to team events, chess club, and a host of other activities that schools offer.

10. Back-to-School Shopping. I love new clothes as much as the next person and my students didn’t disappoint when they mentioned buying new school outfits. I tried to convince them that Fall sweaters were the very best thing to buy, but that didn’t work. They mostly talked about the newest basketball shoes coming out and growing out of their old clothes. (That’s mostly just for kids as the only growing out I do as an adult is, well, out.)

Try Our Lesson Plans For B2S!

As you know, we design our picture books to be more than just stories. Our books are tools that fuel meaningful conversations with children, both at home and in the classroom. In order to amplify important messages for students, Little Pickle Press works closely with early childhood educators and domain experts to develop engaging lesson plans for our collection of award-winning titles. Educators, as you head back to school, be sure to check out our complimentary lesson plans for your classroom!

Being Global Lesson Plans

 

Based on our award-winning title What Does It Mean To Be Global? by Rana DiOrio, our Being Global Lesson Plans explore the importance of values, and how to experience and respect different cultures.

Download our Being Global Lesson Plans now. 

Being Safe Lesson Plans

 

Our Being Safe Lesson Plans, based on the newest addition to our award-winning What Does It Mean To Be . . .?® series, empower children by educating them about physical, emotional, social, and cyber safety.

Download our Being Safe Lesson Plans now. 

Being Green Lesson Plans

 

Our Being Green Lesson Plans, based on the award-winning title What Does It Mean To Be Green? by Rana DiOrio, will help children understand the importance of sustainable practices and environmental stewardship.

Download our Being Green Lesson Plans now. 

Being Present Lesson Plans

 

Being Present Lesson Plans, based on the award-winning title by Rana DiOrio, will help empower children to live a more conscious and present-focused lifestyle.

Download our Being Present Lesson Plans now. 

Sofia’s Dream Lesson Plans

 

Based on the award-winning title by Land Wilson, our Sofia’s Dream Lesson Plans will help children understand the importance of environmental stewardship, and introduce a global perspective on the world’s natural resources.

Download our Sofia’s Dream Lesson Plans now.

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Lesson Plans

 

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Lesson Plans, based on the award-winning title by neuroplasticity expert Dr. JoAnn Deak, will build an understanding of neuroanatomy, the brain’s primary functions, and how to stretch and shape the brain to its full potential.

Download our Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Lesson Plans now.

BIG Lesson Plans

 

 BIG Lesson Plans, based on Little Pickle Press’ newest title by esteemed author Coleen Paratore, will encourage children to be the best possible versions of themselves by teaching them that all of their efforts, no matter how small or large, can measure up to BIG positive results.

Download our BIG Lesson Plans now.

Ripple’s Effect Lesson Plans

 

Ripple’s Effect Lesson Plans, based of the award-winning title written by Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson, will promote an understanding and pursuit of happiness, a positive perspective, and personal identity.

Download our Ripple’s Effect Lesson Plans now. 

Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food Lesson Plans

Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food Lesson Plans, based of the award-winning chapter book written by Jodi Carmichael and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley, will provide children with an understanding of individuality, communication patterns, and the common desire to be understood by others.

Download our Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food Lesson Plans now.

* At each grade level, the lessons incorporated align with the Common Core State Standards Initiative for Speaking and Listening. The Common Core was recently adopted by the majority of states and is especially pertinent for educators in the United States.

Libraries We Love: San Francisco Public Library

By Audrey Lintner

Image courtesy of SFPL

Few things stir my senses the way a library does. The scent of paper, the hum of quiet thoughts, the weight of history; libraries feed my soul. My bucket list has no entries for skydiving or mountain climbing; it’s a roll call of coffee shops, yarn stores, and (of course) libraries.

The San Francisco Public Library is a bibliophile’s Smithsonian. With twenty-seven branches and five bookmobile services in addition to the main library, the SFPL houses an impressive collection of media. Print and eBooks, an electronic database, and numerous historic photographs are just a few of the services available.

In addition to the usual story time hours (still a favorite of mine, I’ll cheerfully admit), there are special events for just about everybody. There’s the Older Writers Laboratory, Jewelry Making, Meditation Group, Knitting Circle … Knitting Circle? Okay, a road trip is definitely in order. Besides, it’ll give me chance to catch up with some of our own Pickles that frequent the stacks.

The learning doesn’t stop with the Dewey Decimal System. The Deaf Services Center on the first floor offers American Sign Language staff and interpretation services, ASL classes, and, to quote the website, “an extensive collection of books, magazines, videos, and DVDs about American Sign Language, Deaf culture, interpreting, parenting, hearing loss, deafness, and other related subjects.” On the second floor, you’ll find the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, a stunning array of talking, Braille, and large-print media.

The main library building of the SFPL contains special-interest collections worthy of in-depth study. The African American, Environmental, Children’s, and Gay and Lesbian Centers, to name a few, offer countless opportunities to study and (hopefully) come to a better understanding of our world and those with whom we share it.

Since my husband won’t let me add on an extra room to house another thousand or so books, I’m grateful for places like the San Francisco Public Library. Through the magic of an online catalog and Interlibrary Loan, I can still enjoy having the published world at my fingertips. 

Photo courtesy of SFPL
Up for discussion: What makes your local library special? 

Libraries We Love: San Francisco Public Library

By Audrey Lintner

Image courtesy of SFPL

Few things stir my senses the way a library does. The scent of paper, the hum of quiet thoughts, the weight of history; libraries feed my soul. My bucket list has no entries for skydiving or mountain climbing; it’s a roll call of coffee shops, yarn stores, and (of course) libraries.

The San Francisco Public Library is a bibliophile’s Smithsonian. With twenty-seven branches and five bookmobile services in addition to the main library, the SFPL houses an impressive collection of media. Print and eBooks, an electronic database, and numerous historic photographs are just a few of the services available.

In addition to the usual story time hours (still a favorite of mine, I’ll cheerfully admit), there are special events for just about everybody. There’s the Older Writers Laboratory, Jewelry Making, Meditation Group, Knitting Circle … Knitting Circle? Okay, a road trip is definitely in order. Besides, it’ll give me chance to catch up with some of our own Pickles that frequent the stacks.

The learning doesn’t stop with the Dewey Decimal System. The Deaf Services Center on the first floor offers American Sign Language staff and interpretation services, ASL classes, and, to quote the website, “an extensive collection of books, magazines, videos, and DVDs about American Sign Language, Deaf culture, interpreting, parenting, hearing loss, deafness, and other related subjects.” On the second floor, you’ll find the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, a stunning array of talking, Braille, and large-print media.

The main library building of the SFPL contains special-interest collections worthy of in-depth study. The African American, Environmental, Children’s, and Gay and Lesbian Centers, to name a few, offer countless opportunities to study and (hopefully) come to a better understanding of our world and those with whom we share it.

Since my husband won’t let me add on an extra room to house another thousand or so books, I’m grateful for places like the San Francisco Public Library. Through the magic of an online catalog and Interlibrary Loan, I can still enjoy having the published world at my fingertips. 

Photo courtesy of SFPL
Up for discussion: What makes your local library special? 

First Friday Book Review: Middle School: Get Me out of Here

Reviewed by Cameron Crane


This month, we are encouraging children to go back to school a little differently. What do we mean by that? Well, at Little Pickle Press, we’re asking children to go back to school appreciating the qualities that make them different, and recognizing the importance of unique and diverse qualities in others. There is nothing more special than an environment that invites and encourages you to let your true colors shine. Unfortunately, as many of us know, middle school is not typically defined as that kind of environment.


In fact, let’s face it, middle school is confusing, hard…dare I say cruel? That’s a strong word, I know, but let me just say this: in middle school three people came to my sixth grade birthday party, because I liked the same boy as Erika, the most popular girl in school. As if that’s not bad enough, the girl with the locker next to me had to wear shin guards to school because she got tripped so often. SHIN GUARDS. Yes, I think the word is cruel.


Middle school is a time where holding on to your true self is both essentially important, and nearly impossible. This creates a constant struggle in the mind of a seventh-grader: do I say what I am thinking or would I come off weird? Should I act the way every particle in body is telling me to, or should I do what that guy is doing?


Still, I truly believe that having a bit of an open mind can make a HUGE difference, especially when it comes to bullying. It’s the difference between the girl who gets shunned in gym glass, and the girl who gets invited to join a group of three. It’s the difference between the boy who gets teased for painting, and the boy who hangs his artwork proudly in his locker. All it takes is an understanding that we are all a bit different. And I know, that is easier said than done.


What children really need is someone they can look up to, someone who understands what they are going through… someone like Rafe, the protagonist in Middle School: Get Me out of Here!.


In case you aren’t familiar, Middle School: Get Me out of Here! is James Patterson’s critically-acclaimed follow-up to the #1 New York Times bestseller Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life. It continues the story of Rafe Khatchadorian, the hilarious protagonist we met in the first novel, and who you can meet by watching the video below:





Here’s a quick synopsis of the book: After sixth grade, the very worst year of his life, Rafe Khatchadorian thinks he has it made in seventh grade. He’s been accepted to art school in the big city and imagines a math-and-history-free fun zone. Wrong! It’s more competitive than Rafe ever expected, and to score big in class, he needs to find a way to turn his boring life into the inspiration for a work of art. His method? Operation: Get a Life! Anything he’s never done before, he’s going to do it, from learning to play poker to going to a modern art museum. But when his newest mission uncovers secrets about the family Rafe’s never known, he has to decide if he’s ready to have his world turned upside down.

What I love about the story is that Rafe is a quirky, enthusiastic character, that is just off-beat and creative enough for children to look up to. His ideas make him loveable and his mishaps make him relatable. Patterson does a fantastic job channeling the voice of a seventh-grader, and taking the reader on a journey through the trials and tribulations of middle school. I was ecstatic to have found this book as I was browsing the page of Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons, our chapter book released earlier this year.


In fact, it is not a surprise to me that this story was ranking in the same categories as Spaghetti. Both give us a peak into the world of middle-school boys whose journeys are both over-the-top and yet completely reflective of our own struggles. And both teach us a lesson that is vitally important—it is okay to be different, because we all are. While our quirky and unique qualities can get us in trouble in some situations, they make us who we are, and they give us a unique story to tell.


I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for the perfect back to school gift for their third to seventh graders. You can buy Middle School: Get Me out of Here! from Amazon, your local bookstore, or rent it from your local library to share with the little pickles in your life.

First Friday Book Review: Middle School: Get Me out of Here

Reviewed by Cameron Crane


This month, we are encouraging children to go back to school a little differently. What do we mean by that? Well, at Little Pickle Press, we’re asking children to go back to school appreciating the qualities that make them different, and recognizing the importance of unique and diverse qualities in others. There is nothing more special than an environment that invites and encourages you to let your true colors shine. Unfortunately, as many of us know, middle school is not typically defined as that kind of environment.


In fact, let’s face it, middle school is confusing, hard…dare I say cruel? That’s a strong word, I know, but let me just say this: in middle school three people came to my sixth grade birthday party, because I liked the same boy as Erika, the most popular girl in school. As if that’s not bad enough, the girl with the locker next to me had to wear shin guards to school because she got tripped so often. SHIN GUARDS. Yes, I think the word is cruel.


Middle school is a time where holding on to your true self is both essentially important, and nearly impossible. This creates a constant struggle in the mind of a seventh-grader: do I say what I am thinking or would I come off weird? Should I act the way every particle in body is telling me to, or should I do what that guy is doing?


Still, I truly believe that having a bit of an open mind can make a HUGE difference, especially when it comes to bullying. It’s the difference between the girl who gets shunned in gym glass, and the girl who gets invited to join a group of three. It’s the difference between the boy who gets teased for painting, and the boy who hangs his artwork proudly in his locker. All it takes is an understanding that we are all a bit different. And I know, that is easier said than done.


What children really need is someone they can look up to, someone who understands what they are going through… someone like Rafe, the protagonist in Middle School: Get Me out of Here!.


In case you aren’t familiar, Middle School: Get Me out of Here! is James Patterson’s critically-acclaimed follow-up to the #1 New York Times bestseller Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life. It continues the story of Rafe Khatchadorian, the hilarious protagonist we met in the first novel, and who you can meet by watching the video below:





Here’s a quick synopsis of the book: After sixth grade, the very worst year of his life, Rafe Khatchadorian thinks he has it made in seventh grade. He’s been accepted to art school in the big city and imagines a math-and-history-free fun zone. Wrong! It’s more competitive than Rafe ever expected, and to score big in class, he needs to find a way to turn his boring life into the inspiration for a work of art. His method? Operation: Get a Life! Anything he’s never done before, he’s going to do it, from learning to play poker to going to a modern art museum. But when his newest mission uncovers secrets about the family Rafe’s never known, he has to decide if he’s ready to have his world turned upside down.

What I love about the story is that Rafe is a quirky, enthusiastic character, that is just off-beat and creative enough for children to look up to. His ideas make him loveable and his mishaps make him relatable. Patterson does a fantastic job channeling the voice of a seventh-grader, and taking the reader on a journey through the trials and tribulations of middle school. I was ecstatic to have found this book as I was browsing the page of Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons, our chapter book released earlier this year.


In fact, it is not a surprise to me that this story was ranking in the same categories as Spaghetti. Both give us a peak into the world of middle-school boys whose journeys are both over-the-top and yet completely reflective of our own struggles. And both teach us a lesson that is vitally important—it is okay to be different, because we all are. While our quirky and unique qualities can get us in trouble in some situations, they make us who we are, and they give us a unique story to tell.


I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for the perfect back to school gift for their third to seventh graders. You can buy Middle School: Get Me out of Here! from Amazon, your local bookstore, or rent it from your local library to share with the little pickles in your life.

What Does It Mean To Be Global? App Review

By Diane Darrow

In October 2011, we introduced an app for What Does It Mean To Be Global? and Diane Darrow was kind enough to review it. This month, as we discuss the beauty of different, please consider using this app as a tool to introduce the topic of diversity to your children.

What Does It Mean to Be Global? is a bilingual book app that thinks like a classroom teacher.
In a stroke of genius, Little Pickle Press has collaborated with classroom teachers to provide lesson plans connected to their books directly within the app. Whether you are a veteran teacher or a rookie, you will appreciate the clearly articulated objectives, steps, and activities within these lessons. Innovative features such as pre-designed teaching units within the app help take the guesswork out of how to implement apps creatively in the classroom.
Primary grade teachers can incorporate this app as part of a shared reading lesson. The voice-enabled and highlighted text immediately draws the attention of emergent readers and models critical concepts of print every young child needs to master in order to learn to read. An inquisitive touch of a finger on an object within the illustration reveals animated labels in either English or Spanish. After reading the story, young writers can then create labels for the same objects in the app’s journal. Older children can choose to respond to the text by sharing an experience of their own in the journal.
I am deeply impressed with how Little Pickle Press is working to connect writers, publishers, educators, and app developers to co-create a book app specifically designed to enhance classroom instruction.

To buy the app click here. Please leave us a comment after you have tried it out and tell us what you think!

~~~~~~~~
Diane Darrow is an Apple Distinguished Educator, edutopia guest blogger, Montessorian, and Reading Recover Teacher.

What Does It Mean To Be Global? App Review

By Diane Darrow

In October 2011, we introduced an app for What Does It Mean To Be Global? and Diane Darrow was kind enough to review it. This month, as we discuss the beauty of different, please consider using this app as a tool to introduce the topic of diversity to your children.

What Does It Mean to Be Global? is a bilingual book app that thinks like a classroom teacher.
In a stroke of genius, Little Pickle Press has collaborated with classroom teachers to provide lesson plans connected to their books directly within the app. Whether you are a veteran teacher or a rookie, you will appreciate the clearly articulated objectives, steps, and activities within these lessons. Innovative features such as pre-designed teaching units within the app help take the guesswork out of how to implement apps creatively in the classroom.
Primary grade teachers can incorporate this app as part of a shared reading lesson. The voice-enabled and highlighted text immediately draws the attention of emergent readers and models critical concepts of print every young child needs to master in order to learn to read. An inquisitive touch of a finger on an object within the illustration reveals animated labels in either English or Spanish. After reading the story, young writers can then create labels for the same objects in the app’s journal. Older children can choose to respond to the text by sharing an experience of their own in the journal.
I am deeply impressed with how Little Pickle Press is working to connect writers, publishers, educators, and app developers to co-create a book app specifically designed to enhance classroom instruction.

To buy the app click here. Please leave us a comment after you have tried it out and tell us what you think!

~~~~~~~~
Diane Darrow is an Apple Distinguished Educator, edutopia guest blogger, Montessorian, and Reading Recover Teacher.