Monthly Archives: September 2014

Personal Safety

Partners in Practice

September is International Child Protection Month, and we are delighted to announce our partnership with Kidpower, the 25-year-old global non-profit dedicated to teaching positive, practical, personal safety skills to people of all ages.

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Kidpower founder Irene van der Zande and listened as she told a group of adults about the incident that inspired her to start the organization. It’s a powerful story  to be sure, but to hear her tell it in person is downright chilling; you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone in that room to disagree with the assertion that child safety is important. But that’s just it. Child safety is a no-brainer. Of course we want our children to be safe. What resonated with me was van der Zande’s admonishment that we practice child safety. Just as we practice crossing the street with our children—holding hands, looking both ways, being vigilant—we need to help them practice being safe with people.

In her Kidpower safety comics, van der Zande writes that children learn better by doing than by being told what to do, and gives adult caregivers tips for practicing child safety through “calm conversations, fun hands-on practice, and enthusiastic encouragement.” She encourages adults to “integrate People Safety skills into your daily life, coaching children so they are successful—in the same way that you might prepare children to be safe with water, food, fire, cars, and bikes.”

So I’m taking her advice to heart and setting a goal to practice safety with my children every day. International Child Protection Month is important because it invites caring adults to come together for a month of action, and shines a light on the important issue of child safety. But to make a change that counts, our efforts should be year-round.

Featured Young Writer of the Month: What Does Being Safe Mean To Kids?

Over the past few weeks there have been a plethora of stories in the news that have been, not to put too fine a point on it, disturbing and horrible. As adults, we see the world whizz by and try to remain informed but not overwhelmed by all the information we take in daily. Some days, I have to take small bites of the world news instead of ingesting it all at once. I am convinced that my friends feel the same way once we talk and lament trying to simultaneously inform and shield our children from the horrors of the world.

The difficulty in being an adult or parent or teacher is found in that very lesson.

With that said, I am worried about what the pre-teens and teens in my school know about the news. Naturally, I ask them about what they know and how they’re responding to the world as it, like us, whizzes past. They have every social media app that’s available. They catch the news with their families at home. They talk about it very easily in their adolescent speech peppered with questions and comments. For me, most importantly, they allow me into their world once they’ve learned to trust me.

During that first week of school I overheard many of them discussing injustice they see happening in Ferguson, Missouri (which, as of this writing, hasn’t entirely come to a standstill). Of course, I did what all teachers do and asked clarifying questions to find out what they knew. This is the most important step in talking to kids: find out what they know first. That discussion led me to asking them about safety and what, in their world, makes them feel safe.

What makes you feel safe?

James – I feel most safe when people tell me the truth. Sometimes the adults in my life don’t want me to know things but I know more than they think.

Francis – My safety comes from my mom. She does all the things a mom is supposed to do; she feeds me, clothes me, and teaches me how to stand up for myself.

Kara – Everything is changing and I don’t always feel safe. But safety feels like being fair. My family isn’t always fair and, yeah, I know I’m supposed to obey my mom and dad but their rules don’t always feel fair. Deep down I know that the rules are there for my safety even though I don’t always like it.

Chiara – I don’t feel safe. Everything seems bad right now. My dad doesn’t know I keep up with the news on Twitter and Tumblr and everything is bad. It seems like the rules we have aren’t even doing that right now. Is the world always like this?

Taylor – I know I’m supposed to feel safe but there are real threats when I walk home from school. A mean dog that’s never locked up and a man who always yells stuff at me. I put on my headphones to ignore him, but how can I be safe in the world? I’m safe at school where I know people care about me and I’m safe at home with my mom and brothers. But everywhere else? With everything happening? I’m not safe. How can I even keep my little brother safe?

My students make some good arguments for safety and they’re in the throes of living as an adolescent: somewhere between childhood and adulthood. It’s a scary time when they become aware of the dangers in the world and the best we can do, to help them feel safe, is to ensure them of what Mr. Rogers said:


Helpers come in all forms and for kids in the middle grades that can mean adults, parents, teachers, and friends. In helping to keep our children safe we must assure and prove to them that there is good in the world and that there are people who want to improve it. It’s an active process that these young writers, even in short quotes, can teach us.

Safe cover Capture

If you’re having this discussion with your children, tell us what you’re learning from them. For a primer on starting this talk with young children, please check out Rana DiOrio’s book What Does It Mean to Be Safe? You can also check out our shop to purchase directly from Little Pickle Press.

FUNKYAH via photopin cc


CASA Is Where the Heart Is

Sometimes, being the change we seek doesn’t mean looking at the big picture. Sometimes the view can and must narrow down to looking at one child. LPP’s Creative Consultant Leslie Iorillo knows this firsthand; she’s deeply involved with CASA, the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children.

From the CASA website: “CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.”

Although drawn to CASA and its mission, Leslie was at first hesitant to reach out to the organization. “My friend’s mom was involved, so I’d known about it for a while; I thought you needed a degree in law or social work to be a part. After reading My Sister’s Keeper, which includes a CASA character, I realized that this was something I could do. After getting settled, I took the training at the county’s children’s advocates office.”

That was only the beginning; Leslie studies hard on a regular basis. “I do four to six workshops a year, plus a lot of reading for continuing education. Not just law, either. CASA workers study trauma and anything else that might impact a child. I’ve had to study writing! I write a report to the judge about every six months, and these reports have to be free of speculation and subjective views.”

Being an advocate can require nerves of steel and a spine to match. “I’m the micro-perspective,” says Leslie. “Our focus has to be what is best for the kids, not necessarily the family or the lawyers and social workers. It’s hard, but some things have to be said.”

Sometimes heartbreaking, often underappreciated, but ultimately rewarding, being a CASA advocate isn’t a job for everyone. Why does Leslie do it? “I just felt compelled. I saw a woman who was involved, and I was struck by the desire to be a voice for these kids.”

You can provide a voice, too. Visit the CASA website to learn how you can donate or volunteer, or check out the LPP shop to find out how your purchase supports International Child Safety Month.

Bullying in Schools

The Perfect Partnership:

Kidpower, Little Pickle Press, and YOU!

Little Pickle Press is incredibly proud to be embarking on an important and meaningful relationship with Kidpower. We are kicking off this alliance by being a founding partner of International Child Protection Month. This month, Little Pickle Press, Kidpower, and all of the individuals, families, schools, organizations, businesses, and agencies involved are taking action to honor, inspire, and support adult leadership worldwide to promote and protect the safety and well-being of young people. At Little Pickle Press, we are honoring our commitment by donating 25% of sales to Kidpower when you purchase a book on our website, using the code “KidpowerSafe.”

We are excited to be strengthening our ties to an internationally recognized organization such as Kidpower; it shares so many of our core values. We believe that children’s minds should be opened to intelligent, engaging, and caring discussions about issues that can and do matter most to them. How best to ensure their own safety and get help when they need it is one such issue. Our title, What Does it Mean to be Safe? tackles this very issue. Kidpower offers its own Safety Comics which similarly provides young people with real-life examples of how to protect themselves, while utilizing a non-threatening teaching style.

As we continue to deepen our relationship with this fantastic organization in the coming months and years, we urge you to consider all of the young people in your life, and extend the Kidpower Protection Promise™ to them:

You are VERY important to me!

If you have a safety problem, I want to know—

even if I seem too busy,

even if someone we care about will be upset,

even if it is embarrassing, and

even if you made a mistake. 

Please tell me, and I will do everything in my power to help you.

Wild Rumpus

Featured Customer of the Month:

Wild Rumpus Books

When you step through the lovely purple door at Wild Rumpus Books in Minneapolis, be prepared to be surprised! A visit to this exceptional Indie bookstore is an adventure in itself.

During its twenty-year course, Wild Rumpus has had a sort of conversation with the book The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer. In 1992, we first used this story as a kind of blueprint for building the store. And today it continues to teach us about books and young people, and about adults who love them … Architecture …  allows us a front-to-back spatial progression. Our store’s front doors open into a fairly conventional interior with carpet, a comfortable reading chair and floorlamp. Midway, things begin to change, there’s a tree-trimmer sheetrocked in the ceiling on a ladder, and the ceiling itself at this point starts to crack open to the sky. At the back, with birds above and rats beneath a garden shed, the store wants you to feel like you’re outside.

Birds? Rats? Well, yes, and cats! While browsing through the store’s extensive collection of children’s books, you may very well meet up with one of many tail-less Manx cats like Trini, Sumo Mouse or Daniel. Speaking of mice (or rats), try not to jump if Tilly and Pip stop by to say hello to you. Ever heard of  a chinchilla? Well, after a visit to Wild Rumpus you can claim the acquaintance of not just one, but two, Amelia and Mr. Skeeter. Believe it or not, all of these animals and more call the bookstore their home.

For a really wild time, stop in at the store for Tail Time every Monday at 10:30 am. At Tail Time, you can listen to stories, sing some songs, and generally make a ruckus. While you’re there, sign up for a book club and receive 20% off of any books featured in any of the store’s book clubs, such as The Book Eaters (ages 2-3), The Ink Drinkers (ages 4-6), or Beer and Comics (21 and up).

The store also offers special events such as the PJ Party on the Trolley (Yes, you read that right. Make sure your jammies are nice and clean!). In the Rumpus Reads program, Wild Rumpus picks one middle grade book and one young adult/adult book for a community reading event which goes throughout the month of August. Then, at the end of the month, they host parties with the authors (one for each book).

If you like to walk on the wild side, then Wild Rumpus is the store for you!


Kidpower: Working Together to Keep Kids Safe

Join Us for International Child Protection Month!

We at Kidpower are honored to have Little Pickle Press as a Founding Partner for International Child Protection Month because of its mission, philosophy, and commitment to excellence. I want to share the story about how Kidpower started, what we do, why our nonprofit organization decided to establish International Child Protection Month, and what actions you can take to join us.

It goes back to 1985, when my family was young. On a field trip with eight young children, including my own daughter and son, in a public place with people standing all around, a man suddenly came charging towards us. He was shouting that he wanted to take one of the girls. This was a classic case of the Bystander Effect, because everyone froze, except for me.

I did what I think anyone would do to protect the kids in their care. I put myself in between the man and the children and shouted at him to leave us alone. I then ordered a man standing watching us with his mouth dropped open, “Get over here and help us! Can’t you see these kids are scared?” When this bystander very reluctantly came to stand next to me, the attacker ran away.

The kids were fine. What they saw was that I yelled, and the bad guy ran away. But I wasn’t fine. Having this experience left me with a lot of troubling questions. What if this man had knocked me down? What if he had managed even to touch one of the kids? And what about the unprotected children that he probably went on to assault? After taking a self-defense class for myself to answer the first question, I also wanted to know how to teach kids to be safe with people without making them anxious or scared.

Kidpower was born in 1989 out of my search for answers. Instead of using fear to teach about violence prevention, Kidpower makes it fun to learn to stay safe! Instead of just talking about problems with people, Kidpower provides the opportunity for successful practice of practical tools about the words to say and the actions to take to deal effectively with difficult or dangerous behavior.

When we started, many of our advisors in mental health, law enforcement, and education told us, “If you just teach skills to children, you are not doing your job. Putting the entire burden for staying safe on kids is unfair, and these skills won’t work nearly as well without ongoing adult support. Their parents, teachers, and other involved adults have far more power and responsibility. They should be the ones in charge of their children’s well-being and of helping them to use these safety skills in their daily activities.”

This is why for the past 25 years, in addition to teaching children, Kidpower has been teaching adults what they need to know and do to keep their kids safe and to prepare their children to take charge of their own emotional and physical well-being, including how to develop positive relationships that can enrich their lives.

We decided to establish September as the first International Child Protection Month in order to honor, inspire, and support adult leadership worldwide in protecting young people from harm and in empowering them with skills and knowledge for taking charge of their own well-being. This month, we at Kidpower along with individuals, families, schools, organizations, businesses, and agencies are taking action to honor, inspire, and support adult leadership worldwide to promote and protect the safety and well-being of young people.

We want to thank Little Pickle Press for its partnership, including donating 25% of the sale of its delightful, educational, and empowering books for children to Kidpower to help support this important initiative. You can use the code KidpowerSafe when ordering.

We hope you will join in by learning more and by using and sharing free online posters and other educational resources about actions each of us can take to protect and empower children and teens. You can:

  1. Make the Kidpower Put Safety First Commitment™
  2. Make the Kidpower Protection Promise™ to Young People in Your Life
  3. Become a Child Protection Month Partner
  4. Act as a Protector of Children and Teens

Every adult who makes the Kidpower Put Safety First Commitment makes life better for kids. Every individual or agency sharing International Child Protection Month information is taking a stand for the safety of young people.  Please fororward this blog post to friends, family ,and organizations with young people in their care.

By taking these actions, you will be helping us reach our first-year goal of having 50,000 caring adults pledge this September to live and act in ways that protect the safety and well-being of young people.

For more information, please visit:

Kidpower Co-founders

Irene with Kidpower Co-founder Timothy Dunphy.

From the Kidpower website: Irene graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in June 1969 with a degree in Psychology. She received her initial training as a VISTA Volunteer, setting up services on Indian reservations and in small towns in Iowa and Nebraska. She trained other volunteers to work in both inner city barrios and rural communities, and her focus on training others to share learning continues todaywith Kidpower.” Irene has also written numerous books and articles about self-protection and child development.

LPP is excited and grateful to be partnered with such a dynamic, forward-thinking organization. In support of International Child Protection Month, Little Pickle Press will donate 25% of sales to Kidpower when you use the KidPowerSafe promo code at checkout. Turn your buying power into Kidpower!

Vail Public Library

Featured Library of the Month:

Vail Public Library

Vail, Colorado, is famous for its ski slopes, drawing thousands of people a year to the area to play in the snow. If you happen to find yourself in Vail this winter, be sure that you make time to drop in at the Vail Public Library.

One of our favorite programs at the library is Reading Buddies. In this program, volunteer middle and high school students are matched with children in grades 1-3 for a one-hour reading time once per week. The Reading Buddies Program meets at the Vail Public Library for an eight-week session during the school year and a six-week session in the summer.  The one-hour program includes a group activity, one on one reading, reflection time, and games. The purpose of Reading Buddies is to provide a leadership, responsibility, and community service opportunity by facilitating middle and high school mentors to help foster a love of reading in elementary school students.

In addition to children’s story times, Vail Public Library is also a participant in the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, wherein parents and caregivers encourage and assist children to reach the goal of reading 1,000 books before entering Kindergarten. It sounds daunting, but it only takes one book a day for three years!

For teens, Vail Library offers Homework Help, a program in which employees help teenagers use the extensive library databases to assist them in research in any area of study. The Town of Vail Public Library’s media collection called ‘Playaways” boasts many titles for teens/young adults.  It is an audio book pre-uploaded onto self-contained MP3 players for convenience and simplicity.

The library also hosts many events geared to bring people together to socialize and expand their horizons. In August the Living History program featured Molly Brown, portrayed by Mary Jane Bradbury, as well as a workshop in making “brag books” as keepsakes or gifts.

When you get tired and cold from skiing the famous Vail ski slopes, make a point to stop in at Vail Public Library and see all that they have to offer!

Safety Comics

First Friday Book Review:

Kidpower Safety Comics for Adults with Kids Ages 3-10

As a parent, thinking about how to teach my two young kids to stay safe is, well, downright scary. It forces me to think about all the dangerous, uncomfortable, and complex situations our kids can face when we can’t be there to protect them. On top of my own fears, it also raises the question: “How do I teach my kids to be safe while not scaring them?”

That’s where KidPower and its incredible line of training materials come in. They have mastered an approachable, effective, and fun way to help our kids tap into their own power to keep themselves safe. KidPower’s underlying principle is that “the safety and self-esteem of a child are more important than anyone’s embarrassment, inconvenience, or offense.”

Specifically, Kidpower Safety Comics for Adults with Kids Ages 3-10 provides “entertaining cartoons and engaging social stories making it easy for adults to provide crucial knowledge and skills so our children can learn to be safe with people they know and with strangers.” The book encourages us, the adults in our children’s lives, to read the stories together with our kids and act out the scenes portrayed. The stories are adaptable and can be easily made to fit each child’s age, unique situation, and abilities.

Important concepts are addressed in several comics to show how they play out in different situations. “Checking first” is one such concept. A comic shows a little girl playing in front of her house. A stranger comes up, calling her by name and saying she knows the girl’s mom. The little girl moves away and goes inside to “check first” with her mom. Her mom responds by thanking her for checking in and praising her safety skills in front of the friend. The message is that the girls’ safety is far more important than any inconvenience or offense to the unknown friend when the little girl moved away from her.

The very next comic sets out the exception to the rule—when there is an emergency sometimes you cannot “check first.” In those cases, it is okay to get help from others such as a paramedic, a firefighter, a search party, or a parent with children. The corresponding stories are set up to spark discussion and meaningful interactions between adults and children so the safety rules come to life.

All parents should have these important conversations with their children.  Kidpower, through its Safety Comics, provides us with just the examples, words, and pictures to make these conversations so impactful.

KidPower’s Safety Comics, and all their instructional materials, are available on Amazon or by contacting [email protected] for discounts on orders of 20 or more.

Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International is a global non-profit leader in teaching positive, practical personal safety skills to protect people of all ages and abilities from bullying, molestation, abduction, and other violence—and to prepare them to develop positive relationships that enrich their lives. We are celebrating 25 years of preparing families, schools, and youth organizations to prevent bullying, child abuse, and kidnapping. Kidpower makes it FUN (not scary) to learn to be safe!

The Priceless Gift of Safety by Pamela Price

Today’s article is a reprint from the blog of Pamela Price from her blog, Red, White & Grew. 


It’s at the heart of so many discussions when one first becomes a parent.

Yet when you move past the basic childhood safety devices—car seat restraints, minimizing access to items that will lead to choking, a dizzying array of kid-proof drawer and door locks—one gradually comes to realize that the definition of “safety” is somewhat relative.

Yes, while one parent may cringe quietly at the noise coming from two rowdy small boys tussling in the living room like puppies, another may be convinced that a trip to the emergency is inevitable and rush to stop the kids. Of course whether you think that roughhousing “builds character” or is a fast-track to teenage delinquency depends a lot on your own personal experience and culture.

Now if you remove yourself from your own culture, your own language, and your own comfort zone, then the definition of safety becomes even moreslippery. And what do you do when you have an extenuating circumstance, a personal health obstacle like a food allergy, that renders otherwise harmless situations potentially dangerous?

We encountered this situation first hand when we traveled abroad last spring. Eager to show our child more of the world, we arranged to fly to Paris, travel via train to England, and fly home from London.  Our son, like so many children of his generation, is allergic to peanuts. We naively figured that in Europe and England, where governmental agencies are more aggressive about product labeling to protect food allergic citizens, we’d have less to worry about with regard to peanuts.

We were wrong.

You see in Europe lupin flour is increasingly used in mass-market products such as pasta and bread dough. Unfortunately, people with peanut allergies also appear to be allergic to lupin (both are legumes) and exposure can result in anaphylaxis or potentially even death. (Note that lupin flour is increasingly making its way stateside in gluten-free products.)

Thanks to some pre-trip sleuthing on our part, we came up with a game plan to protect our son’s well-being on our vacation. We arranged to carry an extra Epi-Pen. We learned every French word related to peanuts, legumes, lupin, and nuts.  Ultimately, we decided to stay in a modestly priced apartment in Paris so we could prepare most of our own food.

This last decision ended up being a hidden gift wrapped up in our worries. In taking responsibility for our own food choices, we spent more time daily shopping for our bread, fruits, meats, and other items. Consequently, we learned more vocabulary words and came away with a better appreciation of what it means to live as Parisians.

There’s a larger truth revealed here, one much greater than “We played it safe on our vacation and avoided an allergic reaction.” By intentionally putting safety first we didn’t narrow our experience of Paris, we expanded it. Moreover, on the trip we were reminded that cultivating safety is as much about nurturing well-being as is eating right and getting enough sleep.

Which really makes me wonder why we parents don’t openly talk about it as such.

Along those lines,  I can recommend to you an excellent children’s book on the topic of safety that will help you open the door to thoughtful, intelligent, and loving discussions about it.


The book is published by Little Pickle Press, written by LPP founder Rana DiOrio and is titled What Does It Mean to Be Safe?. Sandra Salsbury’s illustrations are warm, colorful, and engaging. The text is direct (“Being safe means… not tolerating bullying… not revealing information from yourself to strangers…”) and therefore easy for parents to riff on the themes at story time.  In short, it’s a winner.

As mentioned above, today’s post was written as part of LPP’s blog book tour. If you’re interested in purchasing the book from LPP, note that there is a free shipping code (BBTSAFE) that you can use at checkout. If you do use it, be sure to add a Safe poster to your book order, and you’ll also receive it free. It’s printed on TerraSkin, a tree-free paper.

Thank you to Pamela for writing and sharing this post with us today. Please visit her blog feed and to follow Pamela on Facebook and Twitter.

Practicing conscious capitalism with Dhana EcoKids

Featured Customer of the Month:

Dhana EcoKids

If you have children in your life, you know that “organic” clothing is all the rage right now, as people look for clothing that is good for their kids and for the environment. Scratch below the surface of many clothing lines that claim to be organic, and things don’t always look so pretty. For one thing, the word “organic” itself has as many definitions as products it is used to describe. For another, the clothing may be organic, but is often produced in a way that is harmful to the environment—and to the people making the clothing for consumers to buy. Confused? Make it easy on yourself by taking some time to get to know our featured BCorp of the month, Dhana Ecokids.

Dhana Ecokids sets a high standard, and as a result their customers can rely on their forthrightness and reliability while at the same time dressing their children in beautiful, well-crafted garments. Dhana doesn’t hide behind catch phrases. Instead, they clearly define all the terms they use on their website.

Want to know what Dhana means when they say “organic”?

“In simplest terms, organic means that a product is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. According to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), organic agricultural products are also “produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.”

To this end, they use only Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton to make all of their kids’ fashions. GOTS certification includes both ecological and social criteria, and is backed by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.

How about “fair trade?”

“In plain English, “fair trade” means that the workers who create our goods enjoy safe working conditions, reasonable hours, and a living wage, and are treated with respect as human beings.” 

Dhana has the certifications to back up all of their claims, including BCorp, Social Accountability International Certified, Green America Gold Certified, and others. Clearly a corporation that believes in walking their talk, just like us at Little Pickle Press!

Dhana Ecokids considers their values to be a guiding light for the company. Not only is their clothing sustainable and organic, they are dedicated to diversity and maintaining a strong connection with nature. They also donate a percentage of their to communities all over the world, and strive to raise environmental awareness in whatever way they can.
Beautiful, high quality children’s clothing from a company that truly cares about the world around them and strives to make a difference. What are you waiting for? Visit Dhana Ecokids today!