Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reading Fiction Improves Your Social Skills

“Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.”
G.K. Chesterton
Did you know that reading fiction can strengthen your social ties and even change your personality?

I read an interesting article in Scientific American called Fiction Hones Social Skills. As an avid reader, lover of learning, and a social worker, this article made me extremely happy. I have often heard people talk about how they only read non fiction because fiction is a waste of time. There is scientific reasearch that shows that reading fiction is good for your life.

Researcher, Keith Oatley explains how reading fiction can enhance your life....

1. It can fine-tune your social skills by helping you better understand other human beings.
2. Entering imagined worlds builds empathy and improves your ability to take another person’s point of view.
3. A love affair with narrative may gradually alter your personality—in some cases, making you more open to new experiences and more socially aware.
In an interesting study by Keith Oatley , ninety-four (94) people were asked to guess the emotion of a person by looking at a photograph of their eyes. The study discovered that:

“The more fiction people read, the better they were at perceiving emotion in the eyes, and…correctly interpreting social cues.”

The moral of the story is that reading fiction will help us better understand real human emotion, and in turn improves our social skills.

Continue to read your nonfiction, newspapers, but don't forget to....
Read More Fiction 
P.S. You must have a subscription to read the Scientific American

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From My Bookshelf to Yours: Best Me I Can Be series by Julia Cook

I Just Don't Like The Sound of No is a story about a little boy named RJ. He has a problem accepting no. He likes to argue in the hopes that he can change that answer into something else.  A teacher teaches him about the Say Yes to No Club. He learns the valuable skill of accepting no.

This book is a must for parents, teachers and anyone else that has contact with children. This story will help them learn a valuable social skill in a fun way. At the end of the book there are tips for parents and educators that will help teach children on how to accept no and how to appropriately disagree.

The Worst Day of My Life Ever is another story about RJ who is having a really bad day. What he learns is that a lot of his problems come from him not listening or following directions. This story teaches the important lesson about listening and following directions. I love how it teaches children to be responsible for their actions, own their mistakes and take control of their day. Also I like how the book explains that hearing is not the same as listening. This book also ends with tips for parents and educators.

RJ is in trouble again in Sorry I Forgot to Ask! He and his friend decide they don't want to take the bus home from school. They walk instead and make a few stops. When he gets home he learns about asking for permission. He forgets to ask about a few other things over the weekend. He learns the importance of asking for permission and also how to apologize correctly.

This story has a great message. Kids get in the habit of saying "I'm sorry" as a reflex and not really meaning it. This book teaches them the steps to sincerely apologize. This book also ends with tips for parents and educators.

These are only 3 of the wonderful books of Julia Cook. I will be reviewing more later. I am having a hard time giving these up because as a therapist I think that these are valuable tools. If you would like the chance to win one of these books leave a comment here or go to Wild About Reading. Please comment on why you would like to win one of these books. Only open to U.S. Sorry, I had a book not make it to Japan and it is very expensive!

Click here to read Julia Cook's Interview
*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Interview with Author Julia Cook of the Best Me I Can Be series

About Julia Cook

Julia Cook was born and raised in Salt Lake City Utah. While living in Utah, she became actively involved in teaching children how to ski. That experience led to a love of teaching in general.  Julia now lives in Fremont, Nebraska.  She has a Master’s degree in Elementary School Counseling.  While serving as a guidance counselor, Julia often used children’s books to enhance her classroom lessons.  She is now well-recognized as a national award-winning children’s book author who has presented in over 700 schools across the country, regularly delivers keynote addresses at national education and counseling conferences, and  has 26 published children’s books. The goal behind all of Julia’s books and efforts is to actively involve young people into her fun and creative stories and teach them to become “better.”  Inspirations for her books come from working with children and carefully listening to parents and teachers. Julia’s books have been referenced in such publications as Parent’s Magazine, The New Yorker, Yahoo.com, and babyzone.com. In her spare time, Julia enjoys spending time with her husband and family.

Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.
I can ride the unicycle and play the accordion at the same time, I love banana popsicles, I think more like a kid than a grown-up.

What inspired you to write the books?
Kids that struggle with solving their problems

What are your favorite children's  authors/books?
The Box Car Children!

What advice would you give other aspiring writers? 
 Use empathy in your stories so that kids can live what they read

What are you working on now?
I book called I Just Want To Do It My Way – on staying on task and asking for help 

What do you hope your books will impart to children?
Help all who read them become life long problem solvers

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A school guidance counselor

What obstacles have you experienced in your writing journey?
Getting my books in the right hands and truly making a positive difference to both kids and grown-ups

Anything else you would like to share?
Never underestimate the power of the words “I Can!”

Where can people buy your books/.Do you have a web page or fan page?
www.juliacookonline.com, amazon, Barnes and Noble, NCYI.org Boystown Press, Booksamillion – Just about everywhere!!

Thank you for interviewing me! Julia

Click here to read Review of Julia Cook's Books

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If Someone Hadn't Taken the Time to Notice Me I Would Not Be Here Today

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

My 33rd birthday was Monday and I was sitting back contemplating my life. Where I have been and where I am going. I couldn't help but remember a very hard time in my life. This is weighing heavily on my heart so I will share with you.  I was in the 9th grade. I went to a private school. My parents worked themselves to the bone to make sure my sister and I had the best education possible which meant we wore clothes from the thrift store. We had a raggedy car that backfired everytime my mother came to pick me up from school. I was bullied. I was called names, spit on, pushed around and vicious rumors made up about me. There were other terrible things done to me that I will not mention. I would hide in the bathroom during lunch. Although I was nowhere near fat I became anorexic.

I contemplated suicide several times and even attempted. Then one day a wonderful man, Dr Fehl, noticed me. He took me under his wing. He shared lunch with me, he opened his door to me anytime I wanted to talk. He shared with me that in me he saw a leader and a person who would change the world. He gave me hope. If it wasn't for this man I would not be here. I would not have two wonderful and beautiful daughters. I would not have been there for the many clients that have shared vulnerable parts of their lives with me. Dr. Fehl was a school counselor but you don't have to be a counselor to notice someone in pain and help them find the help they need.

I share this with you because bullying is topic that is close to my heart. Almost every research paper I have written since 1997 has been about bullying, bullycide and prevention. One of the reason I decided to become a therapist was so that I could be the light in the darkness for a lost child or aolescent with no hope. I hope that one day I could start some type of program to empower victims of bullying. In 1993 they did not have a term for what I went through and almost succeeded in, but now they call it bullycide.

 Bullying is a problem that affects millions of children and adolescents of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. The consequences  can seriously affect the victim for the rest of their lives. It is a silent killer. Everyday someone choses to take their life instead of facing another day of bullying. I beg you to take notice of your children and the children around you. Some signs that they are being bullied are: If your child or teen is being bullied they may exhibit symptoms of withdrawal, depression and anxiety. If they have missing or damaged items, physical bruises and other outward signs of abuse, these are apparent signs of bullying. Other signs of bullying include:
  • Has change in eating habits
  • Makes excuses not to go to school
  • Has fewer friends
  • Feels helpless
  • Talks about suicide
  • Acts out of character
  • Avoids certain places or playing outside alone
  • Feels like they are not good enough
  • Has trouble sleeping
  • Blames themselves for their problems
Prevention is the best way to prevent suicide or bullycide. Things you can do to help are: Talk to them about what is happening with them. Make sure they know  they can always come to you for help no matter what. Make a safety plan with them on what to do when they are feeling unsafe. Even if your child is not a victim of bullying, teach them about it and the signs. They are more likely to notice changes in their peers.


This is dedicated to Dr Fehl. Not only did you save my life but by doing so you have touched the lives of others through me. Thank you!

P.S. I know this is not the most eloquent thing I have ever written but I had to get it off my chest.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Please Help Me Choose the Cover for "I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies"

"I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies" is almost ready for production. I would be honored if you all would help me to choose which cover you like the most. If you have little ones please ask them also. You guys rock! I appreciate all of your support!

Cover 1

Cover 2

Cover 3

Thank you!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

From My Bookshelf to Yours: Adventures with Scarlet the Dolphin by Jennifer Wallis

Adventures with Scarlet the Dolphin: Green Sea Turtles is a cute and informative book. In this book a little girl named Hailey goes for an underwater adventure with her best friend, Scarlet the Dolphin. On this adventure they learn all about the endangered Green Sea Turtles. The illustrations are colorful and sure to keep your child's attention. They will enjoy learning all about our underwater friends.

You can buy the book on www.amazon.com and at www.barnesandnoble.com

The website is: http://www.scarletthedolphin.com/ You can also follow at Twitter or FaceBook

Do you want to win a free copy of this book?  Visit Wild About Reading and comment on the link why you would like to win this book. Good luck!

Click here to read Jennifer Wallis Interview

*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Interview with Jennifer Wallis author of Adventures with Scarlet the Dolphin: Green Sea Turtles

Tell us a bit about yourself.I have been married for almost 8 years. I have 2 daughters, a 4-year-old, Addie and a 2-year-old Faith. I work part time as a school social worker and also teach adjunct at a few local universities.

Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you?
1. When I was 19, I went on a family vacation and had a dolphin encounter with a dolphin named Scarlet.
2. It is my goal to travel to each state at least once during my lifetime.
3. It was my goal last year to read at least 18 books, I ended up reading 33!

What inspired you to write Adventures with Scarlet the Dolphin: Green Sea Turtles?
I have always been interested in sea life and love dolphins so I decided to make learning about sea life fun for children. Plus, I wanted to teach my own daughters to follow their dreams and nothing has made me happier than reading my own book to them.

What do you hope children learn from your book?
In this book, it is my hope they learn all about Green Sea Turtles. For the series, it is my hope for children to learn about all the different animals in the sea.

Do you have any other books you are working on? If so give us a sneak peek.
The second book in the series, pending publication, will be Adventures with Scarlet the Dolphin: California Sea Lions. And in this book Hailey and Scarlet will go to San Fransico to learn all about California Sea Lions.

How old were you when you began to write stories?
I came up with this idea years ago, but did not start writing until I was 29 years old.

What are your favorite children's authors/books?
As a school social worker, one of my favorites is Cheri Meiners. I also really like Eric Carle, but I do love all children's books and have quite a collection at home.

What advice would you give other aspiring writers?
Never give up on your dreams!

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
What makes you the proudest?
I have had a lot of accomplishments over the years, however nothing makes me prouder than being a mommy to Addie and Faith. They are truly the most amazing children and always bring a smile to my face. They are the greatest gifts I could have ever asked for.

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not writing?
Spare time, what's that!!! In my spare time I enjoy reading and traveling.

What has been an obstacle in your writing career?
Finding time to write, and to find the courage to send it off to a publisher. I wrote this book 2 years ago and it sat on my computer. During the summer of 2011, I finally did some resreach on different publishing companies and picked one to send it to as a trial run. I was fortunate that the first person I sent it to liked it and wanted to publish it.

Anything else you would like to share?
I want to thank everyone for all their support on this remarkable journey. This has been a dream come true.

Where can we buy your books? Do you have a web page or fan page?
You can buy the book on www.amazon.com and at www.barnesandnoble.com

The website is: http://www.scarletthedolphin.com/ You can also follow Jennifer at Twitter or FaceBook

Click here to read Scarlet the Dolphin Book Reviewl