Building Over Our Blocks

4 Barriers LGBTQ+ Youth Experience and How To Help Them Overcome

An Improv Acting teacher once explained “blocking” to me as the rejection of an idea. When two actors are on stage with no script, one actor presents an idea and the other actor has a choice to either continue the idea or block it by rejecting it completely. They may block the scene out of nervousness, spite, or simply because they don’t know where to take it, but whatever their reason the scene is halted. The objective of the class was to condition and equip us as students to not block ideas so that progress could always be made when we were on stage. It’s a lesson that served my classmates and me well in acting, and has carried over into my daily life. Being aware of and equipped to avoid blocking has helped me investigate, explore, learn, and observe the world around me, rather than rejecting an idea just because it’s uncomfortable, scary, in opposition to “trends,” or something that has never occurred to me before.

As an LGBT+ youth I often encountered blocks in my life growing up. Sometimes the blocks were laid out of hatred, sometimes out of fear, and other times simply out of ignorance, but regardless of the reasoning, they were an enormous obstacle to me personally — and remain the biggest obstacle to progress for our world as a whole.

The young LGBTQ+ community has felt a rejection from society, their peers, and even at home, and often this is because no one has taken the time to try to understand; instead they have blocked the “scene.” Often these reactions can feel like literal blocks dropped in the path, leaving some of our youth feeling rejected by a barrier that they don’t know how to overcome. As adults, it’s our job to help avoid and remove these blocks, and most importantly learn to stop saying no to progress.

Conceived in Pre-Conception

One barrier LGBTQ+ youth face from birth is a preconceived idea of how biological gender and identity intersect. From birth we have pink baby showers and blue baby showers, based on biological anatomy. We have “boy” toy aisles and “girl” toy aisles, that told me only to play with action gear, guns, or sports related things simply because of my anatomy. The idea that an individual has to fit a certain role based on their body is restrictive. One of the beautiful things about being gay or transgender is the idea that you don’t have to fit a mold. Realizing that even with my facial hair I could enjoy Disney musicals was an amazing moment. Although it seems simple, it opened a world of possibilities, creating a domino effect that removed many unnecessary pressures. 

Since a large majority of LGBTQ+ youth come from cis-gendered (that is, not trans or non-binary) heterosexual parents, it is often a parent’s instinct to apply these “rules” to their children, whether it be pressuring a daughter to like dance or expecting a son to play football, simply because this fits their pre-conceived ideas. What’s important to realize and celebrate about a gay or trans child is that they don’t have to have any pressure on them to be anything other than who they want to be. The idea of rejecting socially-constructed gender pressures is something that can apply to any child, but it’s especially important to realize that the fact that a gay or transgender child is already operating outside of the societal “norms” makes them more aware of their freedom and more sensitive to being stifled by rules that don’t apply to them.

Mean Meanings They Didn’t Mean

Another barrier that faces LGBTQ+ young people is the way someone can often speak poorly of them, to them, without realizing it’s about them. Before I came out it was common for me to have relatives make anti-gay comments, or to be told I couldn’t watch a certain movie because there was a gay character portrayed briefly. If I brought any of those scenarios up now, aside from the truly hateful people, most of the responses would include the phrase, “I didn’t mean that about YOU.” It’s important to realize that discrimination is discrimination, no matter who you’re saying it to, or whether or not your intention was to discriminate. Whether I had come out or not should not have changed the fact that the judgement (i.e. blocking) that was being spoken or promoted was not right. 

It would make a huge contribution to a young person’s life if we would all simply make an effort to communicate to everyone around us that intolerance is not acceptable behavior. This could mean telling an Aunt not to say negative things about transgender people, or telling a store employee not to tell your child where the “men’s” section is when they’re buying “woman’s” clothing. It’s often the small shows of support that go a long way in a young person’s life. Words have deep meanings that can stay with us forever. I can personally say with confidence that I would have felt comfortable being myself a lot sooner if I had known adults willing to speak against discrimination instead of promoting it or remaining silent when I was a child.

Educate and Celebrate

There is a problem when society is learning everything they know about the LGBTQ+ community from TV shows that are designed primarily to make money. Often these shows prey on stereotypes and dramatic representations are exaggerated to boost ratings. This leads to a lot of unanswered questions in the minds of non-queer individuals; questions that will eventually be asked of our LGBTQ+ youth. I never take offense to being asked questions about coming out or growing up in the closet, and have even had my own questions, but it is tremendously helpful to our young people when we take the initiative to educate ourselves so that we can successfully celebrate with them. Often young members of our community are still trying to figure things out themselves, and it makes a huge difference when the adults around them have voluntarily taken the time to understand some of the history of the LGBTQ+ community and current research that’s being done about their experiences.

The queer community is rich with history from the drag queens at Stonewall, to the San Francisco riots, and even dating back to the Roman Empire or older. Instead of basing your knowledge of Drag Queens on Ru Paul’s races, take some time to really look into the history and significance behind it. Attend festivals, go to a drag show, read books regarding by LGBTQ+ authors. It’s hard to emphasize the difference it would make to our youth enough. To grow up strong and confident they need more adults who can comfortably talk about the amazing history of people like them and celebrate it with us.

Reject “Norms” not Normalcy

One of the biggest barriers that LGBTQ+ youth face is the idea of not living a “normal” life. Close to when I was going to come out, I remember one of my main struggles being the idea that I would never be able to be considered “traditional” or “normal.” We get so caught up in either hating it, fearing it, being fascinated by it, or promoting it, that sometimes we forget that LGBTQ+ people are just that: people. It would speak volumes if we treated them as a human first and foremost.Especially for young people who are struggling to find their identity in a society that has been built on excluding them. A son wanting to put makeup on does not have to be cause for anger or celebration; it can just be him. A daughter that wants her hair cut short or wants to be called “him” does not have to send anyone into a panic or cause gossip throughout the neighborhood; he could just be him.

“Normal” is a social construct meant to indicate a majority of the population’s consensus on what most people agree is common – but normal changes. In some cultures, it is considered normal to have size ‘0’ models and in other cultures it’s a sign of prosperity to be as big as possible. When I say normal I don’t mean “norms” because those can change in the blink of an eye. “Normal” is accepting things as they are or people for who they are. When I told people that I was gay, I didn’t want them to react in excitement, alarm, or the all too common indifference of “I already knew that.” I just wanted people to hear me verbalize who I was and understand my personhood that much more. Treating people as people, with respect and acceptance, goes a long way in telling a young person who you are in the same way they want to tell you who they are.
I attended a Pride Festival recently and one of the main joys throughout my time was seeing the young people who were able to express themselves as their correct gender, as their correct sexuality, and wear what they wanted and do what they wanted without barriers of rejection that face them in their day-to-day life. Within the community you can feel comfortable that you have at least some people around you who do not have pre-conceived ideas, who will not say hurtful things, who know the importance and history, and who will treat you as a person without regard to social “norms.” There, the same blocks do not exist.

I couldn’t help the thought crossing my mind that some of the young people who most likely still live at home were in the only place they could be themselves and would eventually have to go home to a family that would continue to block who they are — or may not even know who they are — because that young LGBTQ+ individual does not know how to break the barriers in their way.

I understand that not all adults place barriers on LGBTQ+ lives out of hatred. Some are afraid of their child not having a normal life, or selfishly ashamed of telling their adult peers that their child is outside of society’s unrealistic expectations of “normal.” Some might not even be aware the barriers exist at all, or have a number of other reasons to block the idea of being LGBTQ+. Whatever the reason for the barrier, it’s important to recognize it, understand it, and attempt to find a way through it.

When an actor blocks a scene, it’s thought of as an escape or “easy way out” for that actor, but it’s also considered “burning” your partner because you’ve left them with their idea gone and nowhere else to go. Rejecting an idea is a fearful reaction; a true hero will take the idea and lift it into something even greater.

Celebrating The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Women & Girls from Bali to Boston

Recently, two weeks into an Indonesian adventure I set out on early last month, I encountered a rarity on the small island of Bali: a female driver. Though it’s not uncommon for women to work here — as maids, cooks, servers, shop keepers and more — she was the only woman I’d seen working as a professional driver to that point and remains the only one I’ve seen since. Her english was also impeccable — something all but one of the male Balinese drivers I’ve ridden with have struggled with — so as we snaked our way up a nearby mountainside on her motorbike we were able to connect over work-life balance, the beauty of the countryside, and the superiority of the small bananas you can get at most roadside stands and Balinese markets. (They really are sweeter and more flavorful than their larger counterparts.)



What I’ve learned both before and since on this trip is that, aside from the occasional driving gig, entrepreneurship is widespread among women in Bali. In fact, some reports estimate that Balinese women operate up to ninety percent of the small food stands and restaurants, called warungs, that line the streets from Denpasar to Ubud to Lovina, Amed and Padangbai. In fact, the tourist industry on Bali is — with the exception of drivers and tour guides — dominated by women. And their entrepreneurial drive is palpable.



Around the world, like around the island of Bali, we know economic empowerment is key in granting women freedom and equality. Which is why we’re excited to dedicate the month of March to the entrepreneurial spirit of women world wide as we celebrate both Women’s History Month here in the U.S. and International Women’s Day around the globe on March 8. 

Because as we at March 4th, Inc. have long preached: entrepreneurship isn’t just business. Being an entrepreneur means drawing on courage, resilience and determination to solve problems at home, work and everywhere in between. 


If you’d like to help foster entrepreneurship in girls in your community this month, check out Rana DiOrio and Emma D. Dryden’s What Does it Mean to be an Entrepreneur? For teachers, we also have free activities and curriculum for use in the classroom.

Black History Month at School: Normalization is the Best Celebration

The most dangerous conversations are always the ones we’re not having. If I want to know what is important in any given discussion I end up searching out the parts we’re not talking about. Reading between the lines is as important a skill as any. I learned this, among other things, during more than twenty-three years working in education by listening to other teachers, working on committees for equity, and experiencing my own issues of marginalization within the system. It wasn’t easy but I learned that what we wouldn’t discuss could inform me of our collective values just as much as what we did discuss. And that was, often, a painful place to be.

For example, we haven’t talked very much about racial equity in schools but the issue comes up in other ways. We’ll talk about an “achievement” gap without giving credence to biased testing or we’ll discuss why diversity is important and reach for the easiest answer: gender. But, race? We educators don’t make that a priority often enough.

Celebrating Black History Month, like many other things, doesn’t belong to a monolith. Not everyone will agree on it and there are two schools of thought: one, we should definitely celebrate it because important contributions have been made that make up the fabric of this nation or, two, if we did a better job of distributing African American history throughout our textbooks we wouldn’t need to “other” it by separating it apart from the rest of American history. I lean towards the latter, and I’ll tell you why:

Regardless of the school of thought, educators are often the first ones who look at Black History more this month than usual. It’s something that I realized wasn’t healthy to do for my students when I recognized that I was also compartmentalizing the achievements of Black Americans in my own mind. After a few years, I began to supplement the curriculum I was given by introducing it in ways that normalized it as a part of their learning instead.

By trade, I’m an English teacher and we’re told to stick with The Canon, but The Canon doesn’t always work for our students. Classrooms are increasingly (some 53%) not looking as homogenous as they have in the past. The natural growth in this nation following the de-segregation rules handed down by the Supreme Court means that those classrooms are now filled with the kind of diversity that reflects a shared history. So I began to believe that teaching a shared history, rather than a compartmentalized one was the best way to serve students of all races.

Of course working in public and private education also taught me to look for the results and seek out the research and here is what I learned: all students do better when diversity is celebrated regularly and is reflected in the teaching staff. If we want all students to do better we have to start having the conversations we’ve been avoiding around race and culture and the best way to do that is to stretch the historical contributions of Black Americans out all year long. The same can be said of Latino, Asian, Muslim, and a host of different cultures as well.

So celebrate Black History in the classroom this month if you must, but use it as a springboard for on-going curriculum not just one compartmentalized unit in the greater scope of students’ education. Normalization is the best celebration.

Kelly Wichkham Hurst is the Founder and Executive Director of Being Black at School where she advocates for equity and safety for Black students in classrooms across the nation. Before founding BBAS, Kelly spent more than 23 years in the education system as a teacher, literacy coach, guidance dean, and assistant principal. For more ways to promote equity in schools and help improve the experience of Black students check out the BBAS blog on Medium.

New Year, New Direction

Dear Friends:

Eight years ago, I founded Little Pickle Press, Inc. (now, March 4th, Inc.) to develop media that encourages meaningful conversations between children and their caring adults about topics that really matter. The challenge, of course, is that children learn best when they are unaware they’re doing so. We met this challenge by creating stories that engage and entertain children while relaying the value of character—qualities such as kindness, honesty, bravery, and patience—and inspiring its development.

Practicing What We Preach

Now more than ever, we believe that if society is to flourish (even survive), it must imbue character in its young people. Recent domestic and international events have made it increasingly clear that time is of the essence, and this sense of urgency has caused us to question whether we are doing all we can in service of young people, their caring adults, and our stakeholders. We concluded that our platform simply could not facilitate the impact we intended in a timely manner. So, practicing the growth mindset we preach, March 4th pivoted. Yesterday, we announced a new partnership with Sourcebooks, Inc., pursuant to which Sourcebooks acquired physical, e-book, foreign, and audio rights in all our existing titles, and Little Pickle Press became an imprint of Jabberwocky, Sourcebook’s children’s brand.

Why Sourcebooks?

With their steadfast belief that books change lives, a dynamic entrepreneur in Dominique Raccah at the helm (Publisher’s WeeklyPublishing Person of the Year” and Book Industry Study Group’s “Innovator of the Year”), and a seasoned crew of book-lovers, we quickly became convinced that a March 4th/Sourcebooks partnership was the best route to maximizing both the effect of our stories and shareholder value.

What Does This Mean?

The partnership with Sourcebooks not only validates all that we’ve accomplished but also gives us the benefit of an “800-lb. gorilla”—with a dedicated sales force covering the trade, as well as schools and libraries, and gift and specialty markets—to further our interests. Our powerful partner will now be the driving force behind our legacy business, leveraging strong industry relationships to place our stories in the hands of more children and paying March 4th licensing fees based on those improved results.

What About March 4th?

March 4th will, well, . . . march forth! We will contribute to the March 4th/Sourcebooks collaboration by sharing sales information and best practices (e.g., who knew that Ag In The Classroom has 50 chapters, most of which are interested in The Cow In Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen?). We will also help to chart a course for the Little Pickle Press imprint of Jabberwocky, so we’ll be seeking more intellectual property (so please keep the submissions coming via Authors.me). And we will leverage our intellectual property into stories and characters brought to life through videos, films, merchandise, EdTech platforms, and aStories™ (i.e., augmented story apps) for young people and in support of books and e-books published by our partners (Sourcebooks and others)—all with the continued purpose of inspiring character development in young people.

I’m very proud of the Sourcebooks partnership, as I deeply believe it serves the best interests of us all. Your belief in our purpose, patience, and support of our efforts have catalyzed this result—thank you! We are energized and excited about our future and look forward to briefing you about exciting new developments as they emerge. We hope that your New Year is filled with peace, laughter, fulfillment, and prosperity.

Very kindly,
Rana DiOrio
RanasSign

 

What Does It Mean To Be An Entrepreneur? selected for 2017 Best STEM Books list

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Reading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) trade books is the perfect way for students to build literacy skills while learning STEM content. Building upon a strong legacy of recommending science trade books, this year the a newly created book review panel has been appointed by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to select the Best STEM Books of the year. The first list will be selected by volunteer educators, assembled in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council (CBC).

STEM is more than a concept diagram with connections among four (or more) subject areas. It’s a unique way of knowing and exploring the world. The STEM approach involves the essence of the practices of science and engineering. Tools like mathematics, technology and communication skills are interwoven in STEM explorations. That seamlessness is what challenges educators around the world. And nowhere is that more obvious than when teachers look to find literature to integrate into a STEM curriculum.

To represent the philosophy of STEM, NSTA invited a unique collaboration with three other groups, the American Association of Engineering Educators, the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, and the mathematics reps from Society of Elementary Presidential Awardees. Through almost a year of study, the group came up with these criteria for the best STEM literature for young readers:

The best books would Invite STEM-like thinking by

  • Modeling real world innovation
  • Embracing real world design, invention and innovation
  • Connecting with authentic experiences
  • Showing assimilation of new ideas
  • Illustrating teamwork, diverse skills, creativity, and cooperation
  • Inviting divergent thinking and doing
  • Integrating interdisciplinary and creative approaches
  • Exploring multiple solutions to problems
  • Addressing connections between STEM disciplines
  • Exploring Engineering Habits of Mind
    • Systems thinking
    • Creativity
    • Optimization
    • Collaboration

The best STEM books might represent the practices of science and engineering by

  • Asking questions, solving problems, designing and redesigning
  • Integrating STEM disciplines
  • Showing the progressive changes that characterize invention and/or engineering by
  • Demonstrating designing or redesigning, improving, building, or repairing a product or idea
  • Showing the process of working through trial and error
  • Progressively developing better engineering solutions
  • Analyzing efforts and makes necessary modifications along the way
  • Illustrates at points, failure might happen and that is acceptable providing reflection and learning occurs
    • Communication
    • Ethical considerations

Best STEM Books is a joint project of the American Society for Engineering Education,  International Technology and Engineering Educators AssociationNational Science Teachers AssociationSociety of Elementary Presidential Awardees, and the Children’s Book Council. The list aims to provide recommendations to educators, librarians, parents, and guardians for the best trade books with STEM content. 

 

entreBuy ‘What Does It Mean To Be An Entrepreneur?’
Download the Discussion and Activity Guide

 

 

 

To access the list, click here.
To download the list, click here.

Little Pickle Press March(es) 4th!

Why Little Pickle Press changed its name to March 4th

You may have noticed we recently changed our corporate name from Little Pickle Press, Inc. to March 4th, Inc., and here’s why.

Why change the name?

Earlier this year I wrote an article for The Independent titled, “It’s the Why that Matters.” The “Why” of Little Pickle Press has been “to create media that fosters kindness in young people and to do so in a manner congruent with that mission.” Just like the audience for whom we create stories, we’ve experienced growth and change since launching in 2009. This has led us to broaden our purpose to better reflect that maturity and to adopt the name March 4th in support of that change. As March 4th, we remain steadfast to our original “Why,” yet we now aim to magnify its impact by “inspiring character development in young people.”

We further determined that our expanded “Why” would best be met through changes in our corporate structure. The “Little Pickle” brand will continue as one of three marketing age-appropriate stories and related products to consumers—Little Pickle Stories (ages 0-10), Big Dill Stories (ages 11-14), and Relish Stories (ages 15+). We will also establish two wholly owned subsidiaries—March 4th Properties, our intellectual property (IP) holding company, and March 4th Productions, an operating company tasked with leveraging that IP beyond publishing (e.g., videos, feature films, merchandise, audio, and apps).

Why March 4th?

“March 4th” is the only date in the year that, when spoken, is also a declarative sentence (try it: “March forth!”), and not just any sentence, but one that connotes forward momentum and strong character traits such as decisiveness and courage. The fact that March 4th acts as both a homophone and double entendre is a fitting homage to our literary roots.

Why should you care?

The recent US election only deepened our belief that if society is to flourish (well, survive), it must imbue character traits such as kindnesshonestybravery, and patience in young people, both by example and through education. The challenge is that people, especially children, learn best when they are unaware they’re learning—that’s where March 4th comes in. We view this challenge as an opportunity to shape our future by providing young people and their caring adults an ever-increasing selection of stories and products that engage and entertain young minds while relaying the value of character and inspiring its development.

Kind regards,
RanasSign.png
Rana DiOrio
Founder and CEO, March 4th, Inc.

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Rae Recommends

A Holiday Gift Guide Just for You!

Hi everyone! It’s Rae!

This is my very first edition of Rae Recommends. I am a voracious reader, and I want to share some of my favorite books with you and the people on your gift list!

 

 

  • My best friend and band mate, Alex, loves dolphins and she is always smiling. That must be why she loves Ripple’s Effect.
  • I have friends who come from countries all over the world and they all love What Does It Mean to Be Global?. These books are great for kids who have been bitten by the travel bug, like me!
  • DeFEET the norm with my favorite (non-matching, of course) socks. Tell them Rae sent you and use code RAESPICKS for 15% off and free shipping at palssocks.com. My friends at Cool Mom Picks love these, too!

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KirstenSofia'sDream_frontFinal Fireflies: A Writer's Notebook

  • I love singing along to Canticos: Los Pollitos with my neighbor I babysit. It’s in English on one side AND in Spanish on the other!

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  • I gave my favorite teacher, Mrs. Duncan, the Teacher Appreciation Pack for just $35. It comes with 4 books AND fabulous posters she can put up in our classroom! My room (and now Mrs. Duncan’s classroom) is covered in posters!

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Be sure to also check out the holiday bundle deals. You can get free gift packaging and free shipping on all orders over $30 through December 12th. Use code FREESHIPPING at checkout.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Gifting!
Love,
rae

cover of "What Does It Mean To Be An Entrepreneur?"

 

 

Want more Rae? Pick up What Does It Mean To Be An Entrepreneur?.

Sharing Our Experience

Thurgood Marshall Elementary School reads What Does It Mean To Be Global?

Thurgood Marshall Elementary School wrote to What Does It Mean To Be Global? author Rana DiOrio to share the adventure that our book helped them embark upon— one that they never could have predicted! They have graciously allowed us to share the letter and pictures with you:

Dear Ms. DiOrio,

We are writing to share how your book, “What Does it Mean To Be Global?,” sparked an incredible journey for our students that touched the lives of their peers in a small village in Africa.

Asbury Park School District’s new mission statement is to ensure that students “possess the skills and character to succeed in a diverse, evolving global society.”

Since this mission statement is recited each day, our first goal was to bring meaning to these “big” words for our students.

So, to help us with this task, we started the year off with your book!

They loved the humor and illustrations. It was truly the springboard for the adventure that followed…

Anxious for our students to have authentic learning experiences, we joined the Epals online community and met Livingstone Kegode, Director of HIP Academy in Kenya, Africa (hipafrica.org).

Our students developed a friendship with HIP Academy students. Through correspondence, (photos and emails), they were shocked to see the conditions at this school in Africa. They quickly expressed their desire to help. With our assistance (baking 600 cookies), the students organized a fundraiser to purchase and ship school supplies to assist HIP Academy students.

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Our students were unknowingly responsible for introducing their peers in Kenya to the sport of baseball!

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Afterward, a Skype call was arranged so we could meet each other.

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At the start of this school year, we were asked to present our Skype experience to district teachers.

“What Does it Mean To Be Global?,” was front and center!

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We hope you can see how your book helped create something special!

Thank You,
Dacia
Carolyn
Jodie

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Buy the book
Download the FREE lesson plans

Happy Book Birthday to The Treasure of Barracuda!

Written by Llanos Campos and Illustrated by Júlia Sardà, Translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel.

Today we celebrate the English publication of The Treasure of Barracuda, now available wherever books are sold, including right here on our website. To celebrate this treasure, we’ll be extending pre-order pricing and continue offering 25% off for the rest of the month of October!

A birthday wish from the translator, Lawrence Schimel:

“For me, translating a novel is like following a treasure map… sometimes in the beginning there are a few red herrings or false starts, but when you do find the voice of the character(s), especially a voice as fun and endearing as Sparks’ is, that feels like finding a treasure chest indeed!
 
So I’m excited now to share this treasure I’ve found and “dug up” with all of you, the readers in English, and hope you enjoy these adventures of Barracuda’s crew.”
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Sparks is an 11-year-old deck hand on the Southern Cross, a ship full of illiterate pirates led by Captain Barracuda. When Sparks and the crew dig up a treasure chest left by the infamous pirate Phineas Johnson Krane, they discover it’s empty – except for a book! Now, they must learn to read in order to decipher its contents and find Krane’s real hidden treasure.An adventure packed with pirates, outlaws, danger, a diphthong or two, and, in the words of its narrator, no second chances.
For pirates ages 9-12.

#readingisthetreasure

Happy Birthday to The Treasure of Barracuda!

 

What’s Growth Mindset? The best adult and kid explanations

We’re big fans of Dr. Carol Dweck, and her TED talk, “The Power of Believing You Can Improve.” It’s a great introduction to Growth Mindset for adults.

Love that “Not Yet” idea!

For kids, our favorite introduction to Growth Mindset is our very own Your Fantastic Elastic Brain picture book. Here’s the book trailer:

We’re running two sales on our Growth Mindset titles, the Your Fantastic Elastic Brain picture book, and its chapter book sequel, The Owner’s Manual For Driving Your Adolescent Brain:

A bundle of both books for $25

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Or The Owner’s Manual For Driving Your Adolescent Brain at 50% off for the month of September.

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Enjoy stretching and growing your brain—and encouraging the young people in your life to do the same!

Very kindly,

Team Pickle

 

 

Roar Like A Girl is here! A Guest Post by Author Coleen Murtagh Paratore

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It’s A Book Birthday and we’re celebrating!

Author Coleen Paratore

The Author!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love Willa Havisham. She has been a central focus of my creative life for more than a decade now. Almost daily I notice something and think “Willa would like that” or “Willa would wonder about that.” I clip news stories, buy trinkets, jot notes and drop them in the Willa box in my writing studio. Willa is with me always. She’s not fiction; she’s family. To me, Willa is real.

I created the character of Willa Havisham in 2002 as I wrote my first novel, The Wedding Planner’s Daughter, released in 2004 by Simon & Schuster. From the moment I began hearing Willa’s words and feeling her feelings….her worries, wounds and wishes….it was a joy to bring Willa to life on the page. My “research” for this character was a “me-search”….a journey inside. What do I care about? What do I want? What’s important to me in life? I imbued Willa with a great love of books and writing, the ocean…candy…family, friends… a studied conscience…an indefatigable optimism… an open heart… a desire to make a difference in the world.

That desire to make a difference, what Willa calls paying her “community rent,” became a running plot line in the five succeeding Willa books. At the start of each novel, Willa is living her normal teenage life… dealing with family issues, friend issues, boy issues and then she observes or experiences something that sparks in her a need to respond…. a need to act, to “roar.”

Over the years, Willa has stepped up and spoken out. Among other things she has saved her town library, spearheaded a housing program for the homeless, initiated a “go green” campaign….and a spare coin collection “Change for Good” plan… and a free perennial book garden, leaving favorite classic books on a park bench in town where readers can enjoy and pass along to others.

Willa’s life on Cape Cod has been golden. She lives in a beautiful Inn near the ocean in a quintessentially perfect New England town with family and friends who adore her. She’s living her dream come true.

As Roar Like a Girl begins, tragedy strikes. One crushing blow is followed by another, then a third, and Willa must cross over the Bourne Bridge in the wrong direction, the away-from-Cape Cod direction. Faced with heartbreaking change, what will be the true measure of Willa Havisham’s character? Will she still be the person fans have grown to know and love?

On a personal note, I needed to move Willa off Cape Cod because I no longer have a home there. I couldn’t bear to leave my beloved character behind. I needed to take her with me. And so I moved Willa to Troy, NY. Another place I know and love. My hometown. At the beginning of the story, I had no idea what would happen to Willa once she got here, but then Willa began venturing out, meeting new people, including a group of younger girls who wind their way into her heart and help her feel “at home” at the same time she is helping them learn to “roar like a girl.” Oh, and, Willa quickly meets a gorgeous boy. It wouldn’t be a Willa book without Cupid. Hope you enjoy the story! ☺

Kirsten

#RoarLikeAGirl with: Kirsten

When we work together, we all share the rewards. Members of the Suffrage Movement worked together to secure voting rights for women, and every woman living in the United States today can take pride in that accomplishment. Jut ask Kirsten Gillibrand, US Senator (D-NY).

A New York native, Kirsten’s earliest influences were the independent-minded women of her family. No strangers to politics, they gave young Kirsten an up-close view of the landscape of governance, from the foothills of lobbying to the summit of state legislative action.

Kirsten absorbed the free-thinking and hardworking ethics of her family, graduating magna cum laude and earning a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. She worked as a corporate attorney until the words of current Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton inspired Kirsten to venture into politics.

Elected to the House of Representatives in 2006, Kirsten currently serves her state as a senator, the youngest elected member thus far.

Inspiration and hard work can take us to undreamed-of heights; just ask Willa Havisham, from our new middle grade book, “Roar Like A Girl.”

Kirsten

In a stunning turn of events, Willa Havisham has to leave the comfort of her beloved Cape Cod and move to Troy, New York. She’s fourteen years old and everything seems new; her questions, her ‘community rent,’ even a new boy—but through it all, she’s Always Willa.

The much-loved adolescent introduced in Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s “The Wedding Planner’s Daughter” series returns in this girl-empowering novel that takes readers on a journey from the comfort of Cape Cod to the newness of New York.

A call for submissions July 2016

A Call For Manuscript Submissions, Especially YA Novels

By Rana DiOrio, Founder and Chief Executive Pickle of Little Pickle Press

July 27, 2016

This past June our Acquisitions Committee generated our forward production calendar through 2019. We identified some gaps that we would like to fill, and it would delight us to do so with stories written and illustrated by Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators members. Setting that as our intention, and in anticipation of SCBWI’s Annual Conference in Los Angeles, CA, here is what we are seeking currently . . .

The common denominators. All of the manuscripts we select involve conveying meaningful messages to children or youth. They catalyze conversations between parents and children, teachers and students, about the topics that matter most to the generation of children we are shaping today. The manuscripts are well written, thought-provoking, progressive, fresh, distinctive and, if a picture book, lend themselves well to not only illustration but also to extrapolation into other mediums, such as interactive eBooks, book apps, and animated shorts, as well as related products, such as toys, games, notecards, etc.

The heart of the matter. At present, we are most interested in receiving young adult submissions. What subject matters are most interesting to us at this point? They include (in no particular order and not exclusively):

• Kindness—the power of it
• Dare To Be Different
• Choices: It’s Not All Black And White; Most of Life is Gray (Moral Compass)
• Political Awakening: the choices made by people in power effect us all
• Racism—the deleterious effects of it
• Refugees
• Adoption
• Complex Family Structures
• Anti-Princess Themes
• Creativity—the importance of it, fostering it, etc.
• Leadership and/or Entrepreneurship
• Divergent (vs. Convergent) Thinking
Systems Thinking
• Responsibility/Accountability/Moving Beyond Gen M Thinking
• Taking Care of Yourself and Your Community/Planting the Seeds of Being a Locavore
•  Understanding Mental Health—Yours and Your Loved Ones
• Being The Change You Seek In The World

What we don’t want are books with hidden messages to grownups. We want books that convey true messages to children and youth. It is also worth mentioning that we do not shy away from controversial subjects, and we are open-minded about the genres and literary vehicles employed to convey the messages.

First things first. As you consider submitting your manuscript, please learn a little more about Little Pickle Press and our young adult imprint, Relish Media. We are about to re-brand our imprints—Little Pickle Stories for 0 to 10 year olds, Big Dill Stories for 11 to 14 year olds, and Relish Stories for 15+ year olds. Our submissions platform is powered by Authors.me and sets forth our submissions guidelines here. Consider liking Little Pickle Press and Relish Media on Facebook. Please also consider following @LPP_Media and @Relish_Media on Twitter.

Our selection process. Once we receive your submission, our First Reader designated for the target age range of your work reads it within four months and sends the Acquisitions Committee his or her preliminary thoughts. If the First Reader has a favorable opinion of the manuscript, then we have another member of the Acquisitions Committee read it. If the second member of the Acquisitions Committee likes it, then we have a Junior Reader (a reader in the intended age group) read it. If the Junior Reader likes the manuscript, then it gets presented during the next acquisition meeting. If at any point during our process, a team member thinks that the work does not fit for us, then we let you know. Our Acquisitions Committee will next meet to consider submissions on November 10, 2016.

Thanks for your interest. I kindly thank you for your interest in Little Pickle Press and Relish Media and for reading this post. If you choose to send us a submission, thank you also for considering us as your publisher. I know from experience all that you have gone through to get to this point, and I respect and honor you for it.

Elizabeth

#RoarLikeAGirl with: Elizabeth

Freedom is rarely, if ever, free. Even if you don’t have to earn it yourself, a great many of the opportunities that we hold dear have been secured for us by the actions of someone else. Case in point: Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Born in 1815, Elizabeth was a passionate and gifted speaker and writer, influencing and working with suffragists and abolitionists such as Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott. Elizabeth helped organize the first women’s rights convention in 1848, and spent most of the rest of her life campaigning, speaking, and writing on behalf of the rights of women.

Elizabeth championed equal rights in all things, from riding a bicycle to casting a ballot. She was also a powerful force behind the abolition of slavery, the liberalization of divorce law (which until that point was strongly in favor of men), and the resistance to religious-based denial of rights.

Here at Little Pickle Press, we cherish our champions, including Willa Havisham, from our new middle grade book, “Roar Like A Girl.”

Elizabeth

In a stunning turn of events, Willa Havisham has to leave the comfort of her beloved Cape Cod and move to Troy, New York. She’s fourteen years old and everything seems new; her questions, her ‘community rent,’ even a new boy—but through it all, she’s Always Willa.

The much-loved adolescent introduced in Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s “The Wedding Planner’s Daughter” series returns in this girl-empowering novel that takes readers on a journey from the comfort of Cape Cod to the newness of New York.

Staying Safe While Playing Pokémon GO

 

Pokémon Go logo

It’s the newest craze! But with everyone staring at their phones (rather than where they’re walking) there are some safety things to keep in mind.

Our friends at Kidpower have put together a bunch of important safety tips for caring adults to consider when young people (and we adults as well) play Pokémon GO.

From Recognizing the Possible Safety Problems (Including Crossing Physical Boundaries and Looking Like Trouble) to Cyber Safety and Awareness concerns, the idea of having a Pokémon GO Safety Plan is a smart one.

We highly recommend you check out the article here. Those skills and many more are covered in these three books by Irene van der Zande, the Founder of Kidpower:

cover of "Kidpower Safety Comics: People Safety Skills for Children Ages 3-10

Kidpower® Safety Comics: People Safety Skills for Children Ages 3 to 10
Written by Irene van der Zande and illustrated by Amanda Golert

Even young people have big powers. Mouth Closed Power. Stop Power. Walk Away Power. Kids—and their adults—learn how to be safe. Based on the Kidpower Safety Program that’s helped over 4 million youth and families.

cover of Kidpower Youth Safety Comics

Kidpower® Youth Safety Comics: People Safety Skills for Kids Ages 9 to 14
Written by Irene van der Zande and illustrated by Amanda Golert

How older kids can stay safe while becoming more independent. With practical tools to stay safe from bullying, abuse, and violence. Based on the Kidpower Safety Program that’s helped over 4 million youth and families.

cover of Fullpower Safety Comics

Fullpower® Safety Comics: People Safety Skills for Teens and Adults
Written by Irene van der Zande and illustrated by Amanda Golert

The tools for teens & adults to take charge of their emotional and physical safety and develop positive relationships that enrich their lives. Based on the Kidpower/Fullpower Safety Program that’s helped over 4 million youth and adults.

 

Margaret

#RoarLikeAGirl with: Margaret

You’ve no doubt seen, heard, or perhaps even used one of her quotes at some point in your life, but do you know who Margaret Mead was?

Born in 1901, Margaret earned a Ph.D. in 1929, not long after her elevation to assistant curator of ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History. Her multiple trips to the South Pacific resulted in best-selling books and a profound shift in the overall approach to the study of human cultures.

Margaret demonstrated the differences in gender roles, and how those differences varied between societies. She argued that it was conditioning by those societies, rather than inherent characteristics, that determined gender roles and personalities.

Her open-minded approach not only yielded startling results, it also made anthropology itself a much more accessible topic and field of study for the general public. Here at Little Pickle Press, we believe in open-mindedness, accessibility, and learning, much like Willa Havisham, from our new middle grade book, “Roar Like A Girl.”

Margaret

In a stunning turn of events, Willa Havisham has to leave the comfort of her beloved Cape Cod and move to Troy, New York. She’s fourteen years old and everything seems new; her questions, her ‘community rent,’ even a new boy—but through it all, she’s Always Willa.

The much-loved adolescent introduced in Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s “The Wedding Planner’s Daughter” series returns in this girl-empowering novel that takes readers on a journey from the comfort of Cape Cod to the newness of New York.

Susan

#RoarLikeAGirl with: Susan

“Susan B Anthony? Oh, yeah. Wasn’t she on a quarter or something?” Her name rings a bell, but time will never take its toll on her legacy.

Born in 1820, the Quaker-raised Susan spent many years as a teacher before the siren call of activism convinced her to redirect her energies. She had a fine example in her close family, who hosted Frederick Douglass and other stalwart abolitionists in their home. After meeting Elizabeth Cady Stanton at an anti-slavery conference, Susan devoted nearly all of her time to causes near and dear to her heart.

Though belittled as a “mere woman,” Susan championed anti-slavery efforts, women’s rights, and the temperance movement. She was once arrested and fined for casting a vote in the 1872 presidential election, but refused to let the incident be more than a stumbling block.

Though she died before her dreams could be realized, Susan never gave up fighting for her own beliefs and for the rights of others. Here at Little Pickle Press, those same values are shared by Willa Havisham, from our new middle grade book, “Roar Like A Girl.”

Susan

In a stunning turn of events, Willa Havisham has to leave the comfort of her beloved Cape Cod and move to Troy, New York. She’s fourteen years old and everything seems new; her questions, her ‘community rent,’ even a new boy—but through it all, she’s Always Willa.

The much-loved adolescent introduced in Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s “The Wedding Planner’s Daughter” series returns in this girl-empowering novel that takes readers on a journey from the comfort of Cape Cod to the newness of New York.

Anna

#RoarLikeAGirl with: Anna Quindlen

Copy girl, reporter, editor, author; Anna Quindlen has seen more sides of the print game than your average wordsmith. She also holds the distinction of being one of the first women to write a regular column for the Op-Ed page of The New York Times.

Born in 1952 in Philadelphia, Anna took a job as copy girl for the Times right out of high school. After her college graduation, she was hired away by The New York Post, working as a reporter for several years before returning to the Times.

She soon rose through the ranks, reaching deputy metropolitan editor in 1983, and writing columns until 1994. The following year, Anna left the newspaper game, choosing to focus on her desire to become a novelist. This dream quickly became a reality; she has since published several best-selling books. Her body of work includes fiction, self-help, and children’s books; three of her novels have been made into films.

Here at Little Pickle Press, we’re big advocates of following dreams, just like Willa Havisham, from our new middle grade book, “Roar Like A Girl.”

Anna

In a stunning turn of events, Willa Havisham has to leave the comfort of her beloved Cape Cod and move to Troy, New York. She’s fourteen years old and everything seems new; her questions, her ‘community rent,’ even a new boy—but through it all, she’s Always Willa.

The much-loved adolescent introduced in Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s “The Wedding Planner’s Daughter” series returns in this girl-empowering novel that takes readers on a journey from the comfort of Cape Cod to the newness of New York.

Outsmart The Summer Slide With Little Pickle!

Road sign that reads: Slide Area

In some countries, kids have school all year round. Here in the United States, the big summer vacations built into the school year that started for agricultural reasons are still around, and that time off has a documented side-effect: Many kids slide backwards in abilities during the summer months, and start the school year behind where they left off.

Many of us at Little Pickle Press are parents ourselves, and we’re all about figuring out ways to keep our kids – and yours – from experiencing the summer slide. Our word-guru Audrey shares,

“Around our house, the summer slide is a descent into discontent. Junior, now eight years old, was diagnosed with Autism at the age of four. He craves the structure and boundaries of a standard school day; at least once each week now, he stomps around grumbling, “I cannot have school until August!”

To provide that structure (and to help Junior retain what he’s already learned), a therapist comes to the house several times each week. Using the tools of Applied Behavior Analysis, they work on geography, English, Algebra, and piano theory, among other things.”

Like Audrey’s child, every young person can benefit from exploring what they’re passionate about, and fully engaging their minds and bodies. In particular, books and apps that encourage creativity and a growth mindset (where achievement and acknowledgement are effort-based) are great ways to help outsmart the summer slide.

For the month of July, we’re offering a special deal (both books for $25) on a bundle of our two award-winning Brain Books, Dr. JoAnn Deak’s picture book, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, and Dr. Deak’s chapter book, The Owner’s Manual For Driving Your Adolescent Brain.

brainbundle

We’ve also dropped the price on our Brainiest app for Your Fantastic Elastic Brain (with hundreds of fun “brain workout” exercises!) and on our most creative writer’s journal app, Fireflies (with freehand drawing, bottomless pages, prompts, and plenty of helpful tips!)

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain App logo

Chasing Fireflies App logo

 

We hope these books and apps can help you turn the summer slide into a stairway to success!

Oprah

#RoarLikeAGirl with: Oprah

When her given name of Orpah proved too troublesome to pronounce, her family began calling the new baby “Oprah.” We’ll never know for sure, but that initial alteration seems to have inspired a lifetime of world-changing decisions.

From her legendary breakout in the film The Color Purple to the Oprah Winfrey Network to her book club and magazine, Oprah Winfrey is an astonishing media success story. Her name and face are instantly recognizable across the globe, but it is her philanthropic heart that is most often spoken of.

From humble and at times traumatic beginnings, Oprah rose above the assumptions of the day to exceed beyond anyone’s expectations. A woman of color, born in the mid-50s to unmarried parents, she seized her fate with both hands, seeking a degree in Speech Communications and Performing Arts and taking steps to gain and ultimately transform her own talk show.

The rest isn’t yet history, but it is historic. Oprah was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and has earned numerous awards, titles, and “firsts.” She has used her influence and wealth to fund charities, schools, and scholarships, and was instrumental in pushing Congress to create a nationwide database of convicted child abusers.

Big hearts make big decisions, and there is no doubt that Oprah Winfrey will continue to do exactly that. Here at Little Pickle Press, we’re excited to share the story of our own big-hearted heroine, Willa Havisham, from our new middle grade book, “Roar Like A Girl.”

ROAR_Cover_Sept 2015

In a stunning turn of events, Willa Havisham has to leave the comfort of her beloved Cape Cod and move to Troy, New York. She’s fourteen years old and everything seems new; her questions, her ‘community rent,’ even a new boy—but through it all, she’s Always Willa.

The much-loved adolescent introduced in Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s “The Wedding Planner’s Daughter” series returns in this girl-empowering novel that takes readers on a journey from the comfort of Cape Cod to the newness of New York.

Louisa

#RoarLikeAGirl with: Louisa

Running races, climbing trees, and writing melodramas for her friends; these were the pursuits preferred by Louisa May Alcott during her early years. Not content to be pigeonholed into society’s view of proper ladylike behavior, Louisa chose instead to follow her heart.

A writer early on, Louisa used her stories to give vent to a vivid imagination, creating exciting tales to entertain her sisters and their friends. By the age of fifteen, she knew that the world would hear of her, and vowed, “I’ll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won’t!”

Determined to help her poverty-stricken family, Louisa sought work. Society in the mid-1800s offered few opportunities for women seeking employment, limiting them to positions such as seamstress, governess, or servant. Louisa took whatever jobs that she could find, and wrote in every spare moment.

At the age of twenty-two, in 1854, Louisa published her first work. Flower Fables was followed by other pieces, and her thirty-fifth year saw the publication of Little Women.

The rest is history.

While her personal wealth is irrelevant, Louisa certainly achieved two of her goals. She was happy, writing enthralling tales and poetry, and she is still famous, having created immortal characters beloved the world over.

Here at Little Pickle Press, we love Louisa’s characters, and are always seeking more who will inspire and entertain. One such character is Willa Havisham, from our new middle grade book, “Roar Like A Girl.”

ROAR_Cover_Sept 2015

In a stunning turn of events, Willa Havisham has to leave the comfort of her beloved Cape Cod and move to Troy, New York. She’s fourteen years old and everything seems new; her questions, her ‘community rent,’ even a new boy—but through it all, she’s Always Willa.

The much-loved adolescent introduced in Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s “The Wedding Planner’s Daughter” series returns in this girl-empowering novel that takes readers on a journey from the comfort of Cape Cod to the newness of New York.