Yearly Archives: 2015

The Worldwide Tribe

Throughout the month of December, we’ve been sharing organizations, non-profits, people, and companies that inspire us to give back to our communities and the world around us using the hashtag #GiveBack. For Day 22, we’re sharing The Worldwide Tribe with you!


The Worldwide Tribe aims to create one tribe of global citizens, by connecting people all over the world, to redefine what it means to be a community

What is The Worldwide Tribe?

The Worldwide Tribe is a grassroots organization harnessing the power of social media to act immediately and responsively to the current refugee crisis, while encouraging and informing a community of global citizens. “We have used our social reach to develop a committed audience who want to exercise their personal power in a positive way, and have been able to harness this to directly affect change in refugee camps in Calais and Lesvos. Our current projects include a volunteer programme in Lesvos, where we are also working to build a dome to provide much needed shelter for women and children. We continue to work in Calais, where we are installing WiFi in the camp and have funded the build of a custom-fire truck to prevent further devastation.”

Processed with VSCOcam with e3 preset

We asked the founders, Jaz and Jess, what inspired them to #GiveBack:

We first went to the refugee camp in Calais to understand the human stories behind the negative headlines we were reading. The hospitality and kindness we were met with, combined with the inspirational, heroic stories we were told have inspired us to continue to support the incredible people stuck there.

Spending time in the camp reaffirms our belief that deep down, underneath the layers of culture, language, habits and beliefs, we are all the same, all human and we all have a responsibility for one another. The determination and strength of the refugees we meet is the driving force behind everything that we do.

What we have learnt from them is invaluable. We constantly take more away from the camp and this whole experience than we are ever able to give in return and for that we are forever grateful!


So far, our crowdfunding campaigns and social reach have enabled us to achieve the following:

  • Install a number of WiFi points in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais to bring a vital form of communication to those who are having to live there.
  • Fund the build of custom fire-truck from Arcadia, which will be able to navigate the terrain of the Calais Jungle to provide safety and immediate response that emergency services cannot.
  • Secure a dome from Pacific Domes Europe which will be transported to the Pikpa refugee camp in Lesvos and will provide vital shelter and safety for vulnerable women and children.
  • Provide building materials for the Pikpa camp in Lesvos which has greatly improved the structure and stability of the camp, and has impacted profoundly on living conditions.
  • Develop a strategy to implement a volunteer programme in Lesvos, providing imperative support for those on the islands, while creating an outlet for the many people who want to help.
  • Facilitate the travel and placement of over a dozen qualified doctors to the Moria refugee camp in Lesvos, alongside our counterparts at Help Refugees.
  • Collect and distribute numerous shipments of physical donations to Calais and Lesvos, a task which we have now handed over to CalAid.
  • Speak at various schools and conferences about the refugee crisis, what life is like in a refugee camp and what people can do to help.

In the future we plan to continue to expand our work and support for refugees across Europe. We hope to roll-out our WiFi solution across further refugee camps, continue to support the development and improvement of conditions on the island of Lesvos and work to use our platform and social reach to inspire a global community.

Learn more about the Tribe and ways you can help (including putting on your own fundraiser!) at & on Facebook

You can donate directly to The Worldwide Tribe at

Why not hold your own fundraiser? You could do a sponsored walk/run/cycle, a bake sale or host a party – the possibilities are endless! You can pay your funds raised into or you can set up your own fundraiser through MyDonate in aid of The Worldwide Tribe!

What Does It Mean To Be Global? cover


Check out their blurb on the back cover of the second edition of What Does It Mean To Be Global?: “Global is perfect. It encourages … understanding, compassion, and worldliness, exactly what we must instill in the next generation. This book inspires readers to travel and learn more about our world and the people in it—an absolute winner!”  

Buy 6 or more books and we’ll upgrade your shipping to USPS Priority Mail!

all titlesSome of our available titles

Through December 20th, any purchase of six or more books from our website will be automatically upgraded to United States Postal Service Priority Flat Rate Mail.

No code is necessary. And the offer is good for any six Little Pickle Press/Relish Media books, so you could buy the Five-book What Does It Mean To Be…?® series autographed bundle plus just one more title to qualify!

This holiday season, help to foster kindness in children and youth with our award-winning titles, delivered just in time. Check out all our books here.

Happy Holidays!

Our Holiday #BTheExChange Project!

See how we’re helping at least two underserved schools get the items on their wish lists!

To review, the steps are:

1. Find the stuff you don’t want any more that’s ready for its next adventure.


2. Take a photo and upload the item image to Yerdle. Add a description so it will get snapped up!


3. Once someone buys it, you’ll get a free shipping label to mail it to them.


4. As soon as the item is on its way to its new owner, you’ll get Yerdle dollars for your item.


5. Donate those Yerdle dollars to the Yerdle fund!


Throughout December, when you use this link to get to Yerdle, our joint Yerdle-Little Pickle Press project gets credited with your generosity!


Happy Holidays, from all of us at Little Pickle Press!


Need a gift for your child’s teacher? Apples are nice, but books are better!

Treat your favorite teacher to our beautiful, classroom-enhancing stories.
teacher reading from "What Does It Mean To Be Present?"

A moment from our award-winning “What Does It Mean To Be Present?”

From now until Dec 11, 2015, use promo code BestTeacher to get 35% off with free shipping in the Continental US. We’ll also include a free poster for the classroom! Books will be tied with Little Pickle Press ribbon and a gift tag for you to personalize.


Happy Holidays from all of us at Little Pickle Press!

31 Days of Giving Back: People and Organizations that Inspire Us

Follow us on social media where every day in December we’ll highlight a person or organization that inspires us to Give Back.

What Does It Mean To Be Global interior page

A page from our award-winning “What Does It Mean To Be Global?

We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+

Tell us how you and the young people in your life


Find out more at

Help Syrians in Need + Show Children What It Means To Be Global

We are all part of one global community, and what we do has a profound impact on the lives of others. Little Pickle Press is committed to making a positive impact on those most affected by the Syrian crisis.

From now until March 1, 2016, we’ll donate 15% of any purchase of What Does It Mean To Be Global? to Hand in Hand for Syria, the first humanitarian organization to bring emergency aid into Syria when the conflict commenced in 2011. They remain a crucial source of medical aid, food, educational materials, and safe water for the Syrians in most desperate need.



what does it mean to be global

Please consider purchasing What Does It Mean To Be Global? in English,




or Spanish.

Join us in making a difference and showing the young people in our lives what it means to be global. Here’s more about the book:

What Does It Mean To Be Global?

Written by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Chris Hill

Can you say “hello” in nine languages? You can! Join children from around the world as they play, sing, and travel, trying all types of food and experiencing other traditions. Living respectfully and peacefully with one another, they celebrate diversity, see how their actions affect another person’s experience, and come to understand that being global means being a citizen of the world.

The first book in Rana DiOrio’s award-winning What Does It Mean To Be …?® series, What Does It Mean To Be Global? has won six awards: The USA Book News Best Books Award for Children’s Picture Book: Nonfiction; the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction; the Mom’s Choice Gold Award for Children’s Picture Book, Peoples, Places and Cultures; Learning Solutions Magazine Teachers’ Choice™ Award for Children’s Books; IBPA Benjamin Franklin Silver Winner for Interior Design in Children’s/Young Adult; and The Nautilus Silver Award for Children’s Illustrated.

And an easy link to Buy What Does It Mean To Be Global? + Help Syrians in need

From all of us at Little Pickle Press,

Thank you for helping make our motto come true: “Media For A Better World!”

A Lesson From Nature: Cold Penguins To The Middle

Breath To Breath cover

We asked child trauma specialist Dr. Donna Gaffney, Doctor of Nursing Science and Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, to create the Breath To Breath discussion guide and offer resources for how anyone can help or get help. Among the materials Dr. Gaffney shared was this powerful lesson from nature.

We all have times of vulnerability and times of strength. In the extreme conditions of Antarctica, Emperor penguins huddle in densely packed circles to keep each other warm and thriving. Healthy and fit adults whose temperature regulation is the most mature take up the periphery of the circle, and thus are buffeted the most by the frozen air and fierce winds. The youngest or those with more difficulty regulating body heat are permanently placed in the warm center of the huddle. But what happens to the cold adults?

[If you’re coming to this article from our newsletter, continue reading here…]

The adult penguins on the outermost edges of the huddle periodically work their way into the center of the circle with the immature and infirm penguins, in order to regain their own body heat. Meanwhile, other robust adults take their places in the frigid outer circle. Thus the herd keeps up the body heat of the whole group without sacrificing the young or old, and giving those in the prime of life regular opportunities to warm themselves in the middle.

Perhaps, the motto of the group might best be stated, “Cold penguins to the middle!”

Like the penguins of Antarctica, human beings try desperately to keep safe and comforted in the midst of a crisis or during times of grief. At times we may feel very cold, needing heat and contact from those around us. However, at other times we are capable of offering warmth and protecting others. The lesson of the Emperor penguins can serve us well.


Article by Dr. Donna Gaffney, DNSC, FAAN and children’s literature expert Mary Galbraith, who thank their colleagues at Liberty Science Center in NJ, in particular Dr. Emlyn Koster, for their research on the Emperor Penguin’s survival strategies.


Happy Birthday to Lew!

What’s better than a birthday? A double birthday!

Join the friends and family of Team Pickle as we celebrate the launch of our new YA imprint, Relish Media, with the publication of Craig Lew‘s powerful and engrossing new novel, Breath to Breath.

Happy book birthday, Mr. Lew! And many more …


Little Pickle Press is growing with readers! Have your young readers grown with us? Share a  favorite “book birthday” memory of your own in the comments. Do you remember when a beloved book was published?  Do you look forward to getting books for special occasions? Tell us your story, and don’t forget to leave a special message for Craig Lew in the comments!

Alice Statler Library

The Alice Statler Library

Hospitality is more than making sure that your guests have comfortable chairs and full coffee mugs—in fact, there’s an entire industry devoted to hospitality services. Paired with culinary arts, the hospitality industry is an important part of establishing the personality of any given region. If you’re studying these subjects at San Francisco’s City College, you have a very special collection to help you: the Alice Statler Library.

Established by the Hotel and Restaurant Foundation in 1964, the Alice Statler Library fields questions from all over the United States, and provides curriculum support to the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Studies department. With more than ten thousand books and a vast collection of menus dating back to the 1920s, students and chefs alike can find wisdom and inspiration specific to their industry.

One of the special features of the Alice Statler Library is the computer lab. Situated in a soundproof room, the lab boasts twenty-four computers programmed with the most up-to-date software for menu design, nutritional analysis, and other essentials.

While the library is naturally most helpful to students, it is, unlike most hospitality libraries, open to the public. Whether you’re considering opening a theme restaurant, or just looking for a new way to fold napkins for your Thanksgiving dinner, the Alice Statler Library can help. Drop by in person or online to see why it’s considered “the finest hospitality library west of the Rockies!”

Food Day

Food Day: October 24th

While October tends to focus on pink ribbons and plastic pumpkins, there’s another occasion worth celebrating: Food Day.

More than just a one-day event, Food Day (October 24th) is intended as a dietary launch pad. As diet-related obesity, heart disease, and diabetes number increase, so does the incentive to take what control we can. Though it’s not a cure-all, a healthier diet can make a difference in your overall health. Food Day aims to bring awareness to the benefits of cleaner, greener eating, environmental awareness, and improved food policies.

You can be involved in Food Day in any number of ways. Though many large organizations have partnered with the campaign, the real change begins in your own home. Choose two or three special recipes and get the whole family involved in preparation. Plan a backyard party or a neighborhood potluck. Talk to your kids about healthy snack alternatives.

In addition to improving our diets, an important priority of the Food Day organizers is to demand humane treatment of farm animals, and fair treatment and a living wage for farm and food industry workers.

Healthy, sustainable, affordable, and fair—these are the goals of Food Day. Your participation takes those goals from fad of the day to foundation of a lifetime.

Barefoot Librarian

The Barefoot Librarian

Faced with the wealth of incredible books available for children, many educators can feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing titles for the classroom. If you’re a teacher who doesn’t want to resort to the dartboard method, the Barefoot Librarian is your new best friend!

From the website: “Eve Panzer is the Barefoot Librarian, an experienced school librarian for kindergarten through eighth grade schools with passion for working with educators in their selection of the best of children’s literature. Holding a Master’s of Library Science Graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, Eve has been a professional in children’s literature since 1999, helping educators select relevant books that are meaningful to their students.”

Offering more than the standard “this is what’s popular now” fare, the Barefoot Librarian dives into off-the-beaten-track and off-the-wall selections, finding small-house and self-published gems that provide real learning enrichment, rather than average titles to fill reading logs.

Depending on your time, budget, and requirements, you can enlist the aid of the Barefoot Librarian by way of full- or self-serve options. She will consult with you about curriculum standards and provide a recommendations list, after which you can make choices (often at a discount) and final payment.

With all of the in-class reading that you already have to do, wouldn’t it be nice to recruit a little help when it comes to stocking your shelves? Kick off your shoes, put up your feet (for once), and consult the Barefoot Librarian!

The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen’s Challah French Toast Recipe

Join K & me in the kitchen!

Today’s recipe for our book, The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen, was created by the wonderful Alice Currah at Kitchen Explorers. Special thanks to PBS Parents for allowing us to share this delicious recipe with you.

You can get the full recipe here (you know, with actual directions and measurements and stuff).

First, gather your supplies.


Crack some eggs. Fish out shells.


Add milk! Moo!


Pour vanilla. K learned the hard way that it doesn’t actually taste like vanilla…


How do you grate oranges? Very carefully.


Stir it all up!


Alright, now grab some butter. Then grab more. Good.


Melt it! Things are heatin’ up.


Now the real fun begins! Drop a slice of bread in your mix.


Flip it.


Make sure it’s slathered.


And put your slathered slices in the pan for a few minutes. Don’t forget to flip!


Meanwhile, let’s begin making our Orange Infused Maple Syrup!


Eat a few…


…And juice the rest.


Combine your freshly squeezed OJ with your maple syrup.



More mixing!


Finish coating and and cooking the bread “until golden brown”- the best words!


And there you have it!


Enjoy! We sure did!


Yum! Challah French Toast with Orange Infused Maple Syrup- and a good book!


Breakfast was delicious, and it was a great opportunity to connect what we read in The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen to the ingredients we used in our own kitchen!

Head over to Kitchen Explorers for the delicious Cow-inspired recipe to try with your little ones! Happy cooking!

Cooking with Kids:

Buckwheat Rye Soda Bread

To get Cooking with Kids month off to a rousing start, I bribed my kid encouraged my son to help me create a loaf of soda bread. Since the task involved eating and math, two of his favorite things, we were off on the road to culinary cooperation in no time. This recipe originally appeared in the Lawrence Journal-World.

When it’s a million degrees in the shade, cold weather is both longed-for and seemingly out of reach. In spite of what the thermometer has been saying, fall weather isn’t too far off; it’s almost time to break out recipes that don’t include shaved ice as a main ingredient.

Soups and stews gain in popularity as the temps drop off, and there’s nothing like fresh bread to go with a liquid dinner. If you’d rather not tie up time and counter space with a yeast-risen bread, soda breads are the perfect answer. Quick, simple, and unfailingly yummy, soda breads can go with anything from minestrone to marmalade. The loaf we’ll make today includes buckwheat and rye flours, which produce a thin but crunchy crust and a mildly sweet grain taste. If you’re allergic to one, you can substitute an equal amount of the other.


You’ll need:

3 ounces rye flour

3 ounces buckwheat flour

4 ounces bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ scant cups milk

1 tablespoon vinegar

Stirring the milk ... (Cooking with Kids)

Ready to knock out some bread? Here we go! Crank up your oven to 425 degrees. Find two 8-inch round cake pans; grease one of them and set them both aside. Stir the vinegar into the milk and set it aside to get funky.






Adding the flour ... (Cooking with Kids)

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the three kinds of flour, the salt, and the baking soda.







Adding the milk ... (Cooking with Kids)

Pour the vinegar milk into the flour mixture all at once, and stir with a quickness until you have a dough-esque bowl of goo.

It looks nothing like conventional bread dough at this point, but bear with me.

Scrape the aforementioned goo into the greased cake pan, and invert the other pan on top to make a lid. This turns your basic setup into a sort of mini steam oven, catching the moisture from the dough before it escapes, and allowing your crust to expand.

Bake for 20 minutes, and then remove the top pan and bake for 20 more. When it’s done, the bottom of the loaf should make a nice, hollow knocking sound when you rap on it with a knuckle.

Although just about everybody loves hot bread fresh from the oven, try to contain yourself. That loaf is actually still baking, in a way. As it sets, the crumb releases moisture and achieves its final consistency. Cutting up a loaf before it has a chance to cool can damage the crumb structure and leave you with gooey, matted slices. Waiting for an hour before cutting into your bread will help avoid this.

I honestly have no idea how long this bread will keep. My kiddo was so enthusiastic about snitching bites from the first piece that I tried, I just about had to count my fingers to make sure they were all there. We ended up oinking out on the rest of the loaf. You’re likely safe enough storing it for up to three days in an airtight container.


Yum! (Cooking with Kids)

Why Cook with your Children?

Food brings families together, and preparing meals and snacks together can be some of the most meaningful and impactful time you’ll have with your children. It’s fun, it’s messy, and it teaches your kids skills that will last a lifetime. After twenty years of Cooking with Kids, we know: when children help prepare healthy foods, they are excited to try them!

A classroom teacher told us a story after her students tasted four varieties of fresh peas during a Cooking with Kids tasting lesson: “I have students who have very limited diets. One student recently went shopping with his mom and he asked for peas. She turned to him and said, “You do not like peas.” He picked up a snow pea and ate it. He now comes to school with pears and peas in his lunch, where before it was filled with cookies and chips!”


Kids who help plan, prepare, and cook meals are much more likely to enjoy a broad array of foods, many more than adults often imagine. Since 1995, thousands of public school children in Santa Fe, New Mexico have participated in Cooking with Kids’ unique and transformative food and nutrition education programming. We have seen first hand the impact it has had on what kids will eat, both at school and at home. We have watched CWK pint-sized participants taste a half-dozen varieties of late summer vine-ripened tomatoes, from nearby farms, eyes wide and smiling mouths dribbling juice, as they discover the remarkable range of flavors. We have seen the world become a little smaller, and a little more unified, when our kids immediately make the connection between the tortillas common to Santa Fe cooking and the chapatis of India or injera breads of Ethiopia.

Right now in Santa Fe, kids are making black bean tostadas with salsa fresca in their Cooking With Kids classes. We do the whole thing from scratch, but a busy family might enjoy making just the beans or just the salsa, and then fill in with ready-made tostada shells. Kids love mixing up beans, tearing lettuce, or grating cheese. It doesn’t have to be complicated! For more great ideas, “how-to” videos, and other family-friendly resources, visit our kid-tested recipe section on the Cooking with Kids website:

Anna Farrier is the Community Liaison for Cooking with Kids. Cooking with Kids educates and empowers children and families to make healthy food choices through hands-on learning with fresh, affordable foods from diverse cultural traditions. We’re grateful to Anna and the entire team at Cooking with Kids for sharing their wonderful insight and recipe for success. Congratulations on 20 wonderful years!

Featured B Corp of the Month: Nutiva

“We say food doesn’t have to be a choice between the lesser of evils.
 We say let food lead us to a better world.
 We say super people deserve super foods. 
We say, come join us in our mission.
 Together, we can change the world.”

Nutiva is probably the closest we can get to having a cow in our own kitchen, like Patrick O’Shanahan. Nutiva is an international Superfood company with a small farmer’s market feel. Their products include just about every form of coconut, hemp, chia, and red palm imaginable. We really love their baking kit– a great package to kick start healthy cooking with your children!


In addition to being a fellow B Corp and a California Green Business, Nutiva products are Certified Organic, Non-GMO certified, and Fair Trade (did you know that Ocotber is Fair Trade month?). They also have many Gluten-free and Kosher options, which are clearly marked on their website. There is something for everyone!

Nutiva doesn’t just create and provide goodness, they also do good. 1% of all sales go to programs that support the advancement of healthy communities and ecologically sustainable agriculture. They’ve recently launched the Nutiva Foundation (link) to continue giving, and hope to donate $10 million by the year 2020.


Together, we can revolutionize the way the world eats. Join them: Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Want some recipes? Check out the Kitchen Table by Nutiva.

Revolting Recipes

Revolting Recipes:

Cooking With (and For) Kids

Cooking is like sorcery—you throw a few ingredients together, mutter to yourself, add some fire, and poof! A meal is born. When you can pair that meal with some of your favorite books, the magic really begins to happen.

Beloved author Roald Dahl has created worlds and characters that elicit glee from children of all ages. Wouldn’t it be nice if your kids would have the same reaction to what’s on their plates? When you snag a copy of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes, you’ll get a reaction, all right—complete and utter shock!

While there are plenty of books filled with “good for you” recipes that can be concocted by parents and preschoolers, there’s something illicitly delightful about teaching your kids to make marshmallow pillows or edible pencils. And don’t get me started on crispy wasp stings or hot frogs …

Assembled and taste-tested by Felicity (Mrs. Roald) Dahl, these revolting recipes are accompanied by the giggle-inducing illustrations of Sir Quentin Blake. For parents who worry about the effects of too many sweets, the book includes fare such as pea soup and spaghetti with grated carrots, all graced with suitably revolting names.

Adult supervision is required for most of the recipes, but even the littlest chefs can have fun snapping pasta or shaking on grated cheese. After filling up on Scrambled Dregs and Hansel and Gretel Spare Ribs, you can curl up with your cooking partner to re-visit Matilda, James, Charlie, and a host of other thoroughly non-revolting characters.

Royalties and other proceeds from the work of Roald Dahl are used to support Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, a registered charity that seeks to improve the lives of seriously ill children.

Child Protection Month

Child Protection Month

Child Protection Month may be drawing to a close, but the tools and insights that you’ve found here can be used year-round. Irene van der Zande, Beth McGreevy, and all of the fine folks at Kidpower have shared lots of great resources and ideas; the members of Team Pickle would like to extend their heartfelt thanks.

As we move into October, parents and caregivers can find further safety tips and resources relating to Bullying Prevention Month. This Kidpower post from Irene van der Zande includes books and articles about bullying, and podcast examples of clear and common language that will help define what is happening when bullying is suspected or witnessed.

Some say that love makes the world go ’round, others say that it’s money. I think that safety is the real answer. Food and shelter to keep our bodies safe. Love to keep our hearts safe. Education to keep our minds and futures safe. Caring parents and outstanding organizations such as Kidpower to keep our children safe. By working together, we can make Child Protection Month last all year.

Free-range Parenting

Free-Range Parenting & Safety:

“Turning Problems into Practices” Free Coaching Call

As we continue sharing strategies for safety this month, Little Pickle Press is pleased to welcome another member of the Kidpower team. Today, Kidpower Communications Director Beth McGreevy discusses the benefits of a conference call for parents interested in the topic of free-range parenting.

After discovering how easy and useful it was to have large-group conference calls with the Hands and Voices OUR Children Project and the Positive Coaching Alliance, we decided to start hosting our own free regular conference calls, and held our first one on May 5. The name, “Turning Problems into Practices Coaching Call” is inspired by the many requests we have received from parents and teachers for phone coaching.

For our first call, we had over 70 people sign up to discuss the topic, Free-Range Parenting and Safety, and about 30 of those registered called in. Our call system lets people “raise their hand” during the call to ask a question, and Irene van der Zande discussed situations with several different callers in the hour:

  • How to set reasonable boundaries with neighborhood kids who are constantly knocking on the door and asking to play, so that there’s time for kids to get homework done or have a playdate with just one or two friends if they want.
  • How to prepare a ten-year-old who wants to walk to school alone on a busy street with no sidewalk and through a secluded park.
  • How to help a teen daughter feel more confident after she became uncomfortable with walking on her own in places where people who seem mentally unstable might approach her.
  • How to prevent kids who are walking on their own from being picked up by the police.
  • How to support young people in taking positive action to stop rumors that are harming their reputations at school.

Here is what one caller wrote afterwards (with her permission to use her feedback publicly):

I really want to thank you for today’s call. It was incredibly helpful and grounding. I especially love your emphasis on building skills to reduce anxiety—very helpful! Today as we scootered to school, my daughter said, “Me walking to school by myself is a really big deal.”

I asked, “in a good way or a bad way,” fearing that I had made too much out of it.

She said, “Neither. Just a really big deal.”

So she’s appreciating that I’m hearing her request for more independence, and readying herself to handle it. I’m going to convey your comments about kids and phones to my husband, who’s VERY old-school. I think it’s a strong argument. Especially, “The world has changed, and we have to change too.”

I really love the practicality with which you balance the need for safety and for independence. It’s not guess-work, it’s not open the floodgates, it’s systematically review, assess, and move forward. Very reassuring!

***The full recording of Irene’s coaching call about Free-Range Parenting and Safety and a summary of the questions, practices, and resources that were discussed is available through the original post. Click here to listen.***

Summary of the Questions and Practices discussed, and Links to Resources:

Introduction: When we talk about safety with “free-range” parenting—what we are looking at is how to balance the tension between freedom and safety as our kids move out into the world and go more places on their own.

Goal: We want to balance the growing independence of our kids with giving them safety skills and knowledge that match their developmental stage. For example, to walk to school on their own, they need to be at the appropriate developmental stage, which means being mentally and physically able to avoid problems in specific situations; starting with the ability to focus for the amount of time it requires to walk all the way to school or back without getting distracted.

Question/Problem: “Free range parenting in our neighborhood is resulting in a lot of door knocking as kids go around the neighborhood to see which kids can play. When we are trying to get homework done, this is very interruptive, even if we tell the kids we are not able to play, others still come to knock and it is frustrating to have to answer the door lots of times. In addition, there are so many kids in the neighborhood that sometimes my kids get overwhelmed when too many kids come to play. How can I manage this without hurting anyone’s feelings or having them feel left out?”

Practice/Solution discussion: Have a plan and make sure everyone in the neighborhood knows the plan. You can set certain hours for playing, or ask kids to respect a sign on the door to remind kids. Like, “Homework in progress, please no knocking.” Or, “House is full.”

It is important to remember that, you can’t always avoid hurt feelings, but you can manage them. If a parent gets upset about their kids being left out or thinks the signs are not welcoming, first make a bridge in boundary setting by saying, “Your kids are great, and we like having them over to play—and we are overwhelmed at certain times with the number of interruptions, so we need to find a way to overcome this so playtime works for everyone. We are going to put up a sign when we are not available to have the door knocking. In addition, if there are kids over and more come over, we may put a “house is full” sign on the door, not because we want to leave anyone out, but we want to support our children’s request to only play with one or two friends at time.”

Sometimes when things change, people might get upset, so plan for that with a role play where you tell the parents your concerns about getting overwhelmed, explain the plan, and ask for their input and help in implementing the plan.

Question/Problem: “I have been reading on the news where a six-year-old and older sibling were walking on their own and the police picked them up. As my child gets ready for more independence, what can I do in a city environment where we don’t know all the neighbors or if they would call the police on a child walking on their own? What can I do to make sure my child won’t get bothered by neighbors or police?”

Practice/Solution discussion: When your child is ready, then my suggestion is to reach out to as many neighbors as possible, and the police, to let them know who you are, that your child will be on their own at given times, what the plan is, and what the child has permission to do on their own, so they do not panic. Walk the route with the child first, introduce yourself to people on the route, in the stores, and other areas along the way. Tell your child where they can get help if needed. Say, “Hello, my kids are going to be walking here, if you have any concerns, here is my number, give me a call.” Reaching out to police can be hard, but most are just trying to keep everyone safe and do the right thing. Communication with the community is a big part of preventing problems and finding solutions.

Also, the laws are confusing about what age is okay to be left alone or be on your own in different cities and states. Let your child know that even though someone is in a uniform and has an official looking car, they are still a stranger. They need to be polite and not run away if a person in a uniform stops them, and a child can say, “I need to tell my parents where I am, I am going to call them right now. Before I go with you, I need to call 911 to make sure you are a police officer, because I don’t have a way to know.” Then practice with the child so that they can stay calm and are prepared, because it will be hard, but practicing makes it easier.

Question/Problem:  “My daughter wants to walk to school on her own, but there is a busy street with no sidewalks and there is a secluded park she has to walk through with homeless people living there. How can I prepare her for this?”

Practice/Solution discussion: To prepare kids for success, walk the route with her so you can see the potential places where there are safety issues and discuss with her the strategy and practice skills for avoiding problems; such as where she can go to get out of the road if a car is coming too close, or which houses and stores along the way she can go to for help. Consider allowing her to have a phone for safety—there are plans that are very limited. There are so few public phones these days and if the route is secluded in some parts, it may be the best option if she needs help in an emergency. Discuss with her that you will co-pilot until she is ready and walk a certain distance behind her; allowing her to gain the experience and confidence, while giving you peace of mind that she knows what to do in the possible safety situations. Be sure to also practice with her friend who will walk with her. You can say to her, “For my peace of mind, we are going to practice and you are going to show me.” Pose “what if” scenarios and have her answer them. Put your agreements about where she can go, use of the phone, etc., in writing and make sure the consequences are clear if the agreement is broken.


Question/Problem: “Our young teen daughter has been walking on her own. After 4-5 weeks of doing this, she is now having anxiety and no longer wants to walk this specific route on her own anymore. She doesn’t like the way some of the people are looking at her and some people do strange things, like walking with a stroller and no child in it. She is refusing to walk anywhere on her own. I am concerned that learning about the possible problems, she has become even more scared. She is also worried about the male adults, even if they are not threatening her, and other kids walking as well. She is not sure how to handle this. How can I help her regain her confidence?”

Practice/Solution discussion:  Sometimes when you raise awareness, it can raise anxiety. The best thing to do is to keep practicing until she feels more confident and tell her that learning the safety rules is part of growing up. There is a process for developing independence and helping her get used to dealing with people looking at her and that some look different than she is used to is part of that. In order to practice effectively, you need to walk the route with her and see the same things that she is seeing. Then you can practice the skills on how to handle specific situations. For example, if someone asks for spare change—you can practice having her keep walking with calm, respectful confidence and say, “Sorry, no.” Or “No thanks.” When she walks with you a few times, you will model for her what to do. This gives her something to say and do rather than just “wishing” they were not there. You can say to her, “Part of growing up is knowing how to deal with people when they make you feel uncomfortable with what they say, or do, or what their appearance is.” Real-world practice with you and her together is key—and you will figure this out together.


Question/Problem: “I’m a professional counselor in middle school and have a female student who has bullying issues where former friends are spreading rumors about her. How can I help her, as she does not want to come to school anymore and it is affecting her learning? I would like for her to have some tools where she feels she can handle this.”

Practice/Solution discussion: Gather more information: Who are the friends? What are they saying? so that you can give her the tools to practice with for these specific situations. Identify with her, who are the adults she can go to for help. There are some good Emotional Safety tools she can use—it is important to help her take the power out of the words that are being said about and to her. Here are three of the emotional safety practices you can work on:

  1. One practice is to take the specific mean words and say them out loud, then say the word for her favorite food. Pair them over and over again—out loud—and soon the power goes out of the hurtful words. The meanest words in our own language can sound completely benign if said in a language we don’t know—and understanding that the words themselves only have the power we invest in them is an important idea to protect our emotional safety.
  2. The Kidpower Trash Can technique:  Help her practice physically throwing the mean words into an imaginary trash can instead of letting them get stuck in her heart or her head. Then replace the mean words with kind words about herself to build herself up.
  3. There are some peer pressure communication techniques that we can use as well, such as saying to a peer: “I feelsad, when you say mean things to me or spread rumors, would you please stop.” There might be negative reactions and preparing her for this will help—read our Teenpower Boundaries article for specific boundary setting phrases, common ways people react and specific responses to their reactions that keep the boundary without escalating the situation.


Going Out Alone

Going Out Alone:

How to Prepare Kids to Be Safe

Our partners in safety have kindly allowed us to share this article from their Kidpower blog. Please take a look at the resources cited in the article, and feel free to weigh in on the debate about “free range” versus “helicopter parenting.”

How and when can we let our kids go out alone in public or online—and still keep them safe?

Is it neglectful or empowering to allow your kids go out alone and walk to and from school, ride on public transportation, play in the park, or go to the store without an adult to protect them? When can they safely explore the Internet or other online technology without adult supervision?

There is a lot of heated debate on this issue, especially because of recent cases in the US of parents facing investigations or even arrests after being reported for allowing their children between 6- to 10-years-old to walk home or play in the park without adult protection.

Parents who believe in raising “free range” kids want to make the decisions about allowing their children to go out alone—and point to reassuring statistics showing a reduction in stranger abductions and many other crimes.

At the same time, in the US, there are hundreds of thousands of reports a year of children being approached by a stranger trying to get them into their cars or being approached by a potentially dangerous person online. And there are far more reports of children being harmed by people they know. Even if the kids involved in an incident get away safely, the fact that someone tried to kidnap or abuse them can be traumatic for their whole community.

At Kidpower, we believe that the answers lie in assessing different situations and the capabilities of different children realistically, teaching them skills for avoiding trouble and getting help, and providing them with life experiences to develop their independence. We know that the “Illusion of Safety” can harm kids—and so can anxiety and being so protected that they don’t have the chance to grow.

When there have been a series of kidnapping attempts, having guidance about what to teach kids can increase safety and reduce anxiety for parents and kids alike. This article by our North Carolina Center Director Dr. Amy Tiemann was written after several kids had been approached by strangers in Wake Forest and covers the essentials very clearly: Stranger Safety: Stay Out of Reach, Move Away, and Check With the Adult In Charge. 

Here are several more Kidpower articles that can help parents and other caring adults stop worrying about headlines and slogans like “stranger danger,” “helicopter parents,” or “free range kids,” and focus on what we can do to keep our kids safe most of the time—by preparing them with knowledge and practical safety skills to help them be successful with more and more independence.

Preparing Children for More Independence – A Five-Step Plan From Kidpower
Safety for Kids on Their Way to School – A Checklist for Parents
Helicopters or Protectors: How to Keep Kids Safe Without Unhelpful Hovering
Resisting the Illusion of Safety
How “Stranger Danger” Hurts Kids: Teach Stranger Safety Instead
What If I Get Lost? – Kidpower Skills for Teaching Children How to Get Help

The same skills for being safe in person are also true online. These skills include using your awareness, moving away from someone who is not acting safely, and checking first with your adults before giving personal information and before agreeing to meet in person anyone who you meet online. As parents and other caring adults—until our kids have the understanding, skills, and life experience to make wise choices online—we need to know what they are doing. In the next few weeks, we will be adding articles by two young adult experts about how to safely connect with people online and how to stay safe in gaming environments.

Becoming more independent is one of the joys of growing up—and with thought, preparation, and practice, we can create opportunities for our kids to go out alone, further and further away from us, as they are ready.

National Safety Council Library

The National Safety Council Library

For more than one hundred years, the National Safety Council Library has collected and shared information on safety practices relating to all aspects of life. Home or away, at work or at play, the NSCL can provide precautionary measures for your family and community.

From a single file drawer full of clippings, the National Safety Council Library has grown to a collection of nearly 175,000 pieces, some of which date back to the early 1900s. Regulations, training manuals, and best practices are some of the topics covered by the thousands of books and articles available.

While the materials are available to non-members for a small fee, membership in the NSCL offers a number of bonuses. Online training, downloadable resources, and safety seminars are just a few of the perks of membership.

If you’re after something specific, you can cruise the Shop page. Books, instructor kits, and handy odds and ends can be found here, relating to all sorts of topics, including first aid and driver safety.

It’s a wild world out there, and safety depends on each and every one of us. While you’re looking out for each other, the National Safety Council Library is looking out for you.