Someone Wonderful Is Coming

Something Wonderful.612ElbG3o9L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Regardless of specific faith, the holiday season focuses on family, generosity and being a light for others. They Told Us Something Wonderful Was Coming written and illustrated by Bev Stone,  beautifully captures the joy which envelopes a family as they anticipate a new child’s arrival. The narrator explains to the reader that the entire world recognized that “something wonderful was coming.” Animals and insects, clouds and rainbows, all quivered with joyful anticipation. And what could ignite such wonder and excitement? The arrival of a new child of course!  The story concludes creatures, great and small “somehow, they knew about you!”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)AQ* Lens: This story serves a feast for the eyes and the heart. Delicate watercolors fill each page depicting the manifest ways that the world brightened in anticipation of a marvelous event. Each page turn delivers a unique moment of excitement that builds the reader’s excitement as he wonders what could provoke such happiness?

All of us–child and adult–love to hear and feel that are arrival was celebrate. The age of the child on whom the story centers is not specified; it could be a baby, toddler, teen or any age in between which makes this story a great fit for adoptive families.  Many books honor the anticipation and arrival of a new baby but rarely do we find a book that expands the arrival of a new family member who is older. As adoptive parents we know how important it is for older children to feel welcome, important and special. Five stars

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Full, full, full of love.51a0ldDzfzL._SY490_BO1,204,203,200_Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cole is another story that elicits warm, snugly feelings. It follows a grandson’s visit with his grandmother. Together they prepare the Sunday feast for the extended family. Jay Jay is excited to  spend time with his Grannie. Their tender connection jumps off every page. Grannie keeps Jay Jay busy “helping”  which distracts him until everyone arrives. It also teaches an important lesson about work: it is not a punishment but rather a way of showing how much we care. Young children yearn to “help”; often it is easier for adults to deflect their awkward attempts because it is easier for adult to do it alone. This story shows how if draws the boy closer to his grandma and reinforces the desire to work.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)AQ* LensFull, Full, Full of Love depicts an African-American family in a universal  experience. Aunts, uncles, and cousins gather for a home-cooked meal at Grannie’s. It’s not to observe a holiday or some major event but simply to celebrate the blessing of being a family. I appreciate the ordinariness of this.  

This book would be a wonderful choice for any child, regardless of race. It serves to depict the commonalities we share and thus, is a great choice for advancing a multicultural awareness.

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And Here's to You..51ccZotpV8L._SX452_BO1,204,203,200_And Here’s to You,  by David Ellitott and illustrated by Randy Cecil is an exuberant riff on tolerance and respect for others and the universality of our experiences. Cartoon-like illustrations pair with a refrain that carries throughout the book. Whether it is birds, bugs, cats, dogs, bears, or all manner of people, each is wonderful and valued. Now that is a message we all enjoy hearing. Again and again and again.

 

 

 

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)AQ* LensFull, Full, Full of Love depicts a variety of characters both animal and human and infused with diversity that is the foundation of the story’s premise. It reinforces another important concept of unconditional love: “Here’s to the sweet you/The messy and the neat you/ the funny-way-you-eat you/ The head to your feet you…Oh, how I love you!” Kids can never get enough reassurance that their parent’s love is not conditional on behavior, looks or anything else.

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“You Can Do It!

You Can Do it.61Sy9tW0zOL._SX218_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_FMwebp_“You can do it!”  Those are words we all like and need to hear. The belief which others have in our ability fuels one’s own courage, willingness to try and persist through to success. This is especially true for children. They need our focused attention and thrive under the positive expectations of parents and teachers. (Equally true, kids who constantly hear negative, discouraging or demeaning messages, absorb those as well. They soon learn to expect little of themselves.) The self-fulfilling power of expectations is well documented.

What a delight it was to discover You Can Do It which was written by #1 New York Times best-selling author and professional football player Tony Dungy and illustrated by Amy June Bates. In the story, Linden wrestles with feelings of doubt and shame. Teachers mistake his restlessness for mischief. Linden can’t seem to figure out who he is and who he wants to be.

With the mentorship of a patient older brother, the encouragement of his parents, and the compass of the family’s Christian faith, Linden learns to notice and value his unique talents. Now, the success of those around him inspire him instead of making him feel inferior.

You Can Do It is upbeat and not overly preachy.  The wonderful illustrations by Amy June Bates depict Linden and his family feature a middle-class African-American family living in a multicultural community. I like that You Can Do It  depicts African-Americans in successful, professional occupations, e.g., Linden’s dad is a scientist and the family dentist is also black. This is an important for all readers, regardless of their own race.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)AQ Lens: I believe this book transmits an important message for kids who were adopted. Because information is frequently missing, they may have to struggle harder to recognize and appreciate their talents. The message of You Can Do It  is that sometimes it takes time for one’s gifts to manifest themselves and it doesn’t lessen their importance. Parents must be alert for indicators of potential talents that their children may possess and will want to nurture them–especially those that diverge from the adoptive family’s “typical” choices. Be intentional about encouraging children to be their best selves, so they develop all their abilities even those which “stand out” from the family’s history. Both parents and children will be enriched by this diversity.

For families who have adopted transracially, it is a plus to see a family of color that is not the stereotypical struggling urban family. This is also an important example for families who are not racially mixed as it helps them step beyond the limited view of success as primarily limited to Caucasians. All families can benefit from the earnest values espoused: hard work, persistence, faith, community, studying etc.

A five star read.

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Tony Dungy has written fifteen books. In addition to his children’s books, he has written several for adults as well. He  supports many charitable causes. Visit his author page on Amazon for details.

The Gift of Waiting

wait   Adoptive parents know the frustration of waiting for something that has become nearly all-consuming. Waiting allowed us time to prepare emotionally, physically and financially, to become educated for parenting in general as well as  for the unique demands of adoptive parenting in particular.

Once the long-awaited placement referral happens we immerse ourselves in the day-to-day hubbub of family life. As we struggle to balance the demands of family, work, community and church, time becomes singularly precious. We forget how hard it was/is to wait.

One of the gifts our children provide is the opportunity to see the beauty in the ordinary, the miraculous in the mundane. Children operate in the present moment. They want to enjoy it before they race to the next activity on our parental agenda. Tardiness–an adult construct–is irrelevant to them.

Wait by Antoinette Portis offers a gentle invitation to stop and smell the proverbial roses. At the child’s insistence, they pause. The mom gets a chance to appreciate what she would otherwise blindly bypass as she bustles along. Young readers will enjoy scrutinizing the illustrations for hidden treasures. Parents will be reminded to appreciate the world around us but also the enthusiasm and wonder which our children exude. It is a treat to reconnect to that part of ourselves.

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AQ LensAdopted children bear an additional “waiting” burden compared to their non-adopted peers. They must figure out when and how they will incorporate their biological connections into their lives. Depending upon the degree of openness of their adoption, this task may exist more in the present than in the future. But, to a degree, the full flowering of their triangulated family ties will not come until adulthood. It is beneficial to our children and ourselves to develop the ability to be both full of anticipation and at peace with waiting.

In the meantime, we can remain mindful of the challenge and the gift of waiting. Sometimes it is we who must wait and sometimes it is our children!

 

Zen Ties written and illustrated by  John J. Muth introduces the reader to a  panda aptly named Still Water. A gentle giant, Still Water “runs deep and calm” and makes a reassuring, if unexpected friend. His words are wise and often spoken in haiku form.

Muth write with subtle humor and uses word play to add layers to his stories, e.g., when Still Water welcomes his nephew at the train station, he calls out, “Hi, Koo!” Still Water introduces Koo to the neighborhood children and engages them in imaginative play. When one confesses that he’s anxious about an upcoming spelling bee, the bear provides the best distraction:  helping out the neighborhood grump, Miss Whitaker.

Time passes quickly. Instead of focusing on his worries, Michael and the other children immerse themselves in drawing, cooking and otherwise cheering up Mrs. Whitaker. They find satisfaction in their accomplishments. In the process she becomes a true friend who then helps Michael prepare for the spelling bee.

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AQ LensAdoptees shoulder a lot of questions about what it means to walk through life as an adoptee. They wait to assemble the complete picture as parents dole out pieces of their “story” in age appropriate increments.

There is great value in helping kids cope with the mystery and challenge of this task by nurturing their sense of capability and meaning. Just like Koo encouraged the children to engage with their neighbor, parents can encourage their child’s willingness to “help.” Sometimes this assistance increases the work instead of lessening it. However, it is by doing that children learn and experience the pleasure of contributing to the family.

The challenge for parents is to “wait” for their children’s learning curves to work through the inept stage until they arrive at the point where their efforts actually.  Encouraging this burgeoning capability benefits everyone, Admittedly, it isn’t easy for parent or child to wait until mastery has replaced the struggling beginner stage.

 

Waiting is an early picture book written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. A variety of toys rest on a windowsill. Each awaits something different. As the story unfolds, each finally receives their wish. While they wait they spend their time observing the world around them. During that period of waiting, they appreciate many wonderful things. The pastel illustrations drawn with colored pencils and watercolor exude a dreamy quality that strike a complimentary note to the text.

Young readers will enjoy perusing the illustrations for elements that might normally go unnoticed. Each of the toys finds something to appreciate. Their eclectic interests help children to see and value things that might not immediately come to their mind. As with the other two books reviewed in this post, Waiting depicts a strategy that concentrates on appreciating the present even while anticipating the events of the future.

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AQ Lens: Beyond the other insights offered by the two previous books, Waiting includes a unique story thread: one of the toys is a Russian nesting-type doll in the shape of a cat. The reader is asked to predict what the cat is awaiting. Nothing seems obvious. She does not appear to be waiting for any of the same things as the other toys. Finally, the illustration reveals the little cats inside. This offers an easy segue to talk about pregnancy, birth and adoption and how both the expectant mother and the adoptive parents spent their time waiting for the child to arrive. Always allow your child’s maturity and comfort level to guide your conversation. Create an atmosphere of approachability , openness and acceptance.

 

 

Jack & Emma’s Adoption Journey

Jack & Emma's Adoptee JourneySince November is National Adoption Month, I wanted to highlight a book that speaks about adoption through the adoptee’s personal lens. Jack & Emma’s Adoption Journey does just that. It is a short yet powerful book. Written by Pam Kroskie, an adult adoptee, the story focuses on the thoughts and feelings of Jack and Emma. The text on each page is accompanied by an author’s note addressed to the adoptive parent. This side bar clarifies the moment/issue for the parent and shines light on Jack and Emma’s action or thought being depicted on the page.


magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)Although this book is brief, it touches on some important adoptee issues, e.g., identity questions, yearning to fit in, anxiety, fear of rejection, wondering about birth parents, ambivalent feelings about birthdays, self blame, anger  and longing to understand biological ancestry. All of these thoughts are common to adoptees. Mentioning them in the story, helps to normalize their thought processes and opens the door to important family conversations in which parents can listen, validate and support their child’s feelings and concerns. Jack and Emma’s Adoptee Journey would be an excellent addition to the family adoption library.

When parents share such conversations, they reassure their children that their love is unconditional and does not require kids to choose between their two families. It affirms that each is an integral and treasured part of the child, and by extension to the entire family.

Pam KroskiePam Kroskie served as the past President of the American Adoption Congress, is a Congressional Angel in Adoption Award Winner, the current president of H.E.A.R. (Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records,) and for many years has raised her voice on behalf of adoptees. She hosts AAC Adoption News and Views on Blog Talk Radio.

Souping Things Up

Pumpkin Soup  written and illustrated by Helen Cooper unfolds a reinterpretation of the classic “Stone Soup.”  This retelling features many delightful twists. As in Stone Soup, the characters work together to create a tasty concoction. A bagpiping cat, a banjo-strumming squirrel and a singing duck joyfully prepare marvelous pumpkin soup. “Everyone has his own job to do. Everyone is happy. Or so it seems…”

Then the story shifts to a new direction. No longer about collaboration and pooling of scarce resources, Pumpkin Soup now focuses on the tension among the former friends. Duck isn’t content with her assigned task. She insists on trying her hand at stirring the soup. But, Cat and Squirrel wish for things to stay the same. Duck insists on having her chance to stir. The friends quarrel. Angry and frustrated, Duck leaves the cabin.

The story continues to unfold as Squirrel and Cat come to wish they had given Duck a chance. They worry when Duck doesn’t return. “Not even for lunch.” Young readers will readily identify with this conflict-among-friends scenario because it happens so often in their own lives.

The book does a great job of capturing the character’s frustration, remorse and most importantly their commitment to their friendship as well as their willingness to repair the breach. Their solution provides an excellent template for readers to embrace.

Pumpkin Soup offers an important reminder to parents as well that we must allow kids to try things. Although it takes longer and often results in a mess or in parents having to be satisfied with a less-than-perfect performance. The reward is a child’s increased competency and a reinforcement of their willingness to persevere through multiple “imperfect” attempts to ultimate success.

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magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: Many adopted kids avoid trying new things because they feel that failure will result in loss of acceptance, approval and at their most anxious level of fear, a loss of their family.

As Cat and Squirrel worry about their missing friend, they wonder if Duck has found “better friends.” It would be an easy segue to talking about loyalty among friends and then on to discussions of family permanency.

 

Ditch Perfect. Embrace OK.

the oka bookAmy Krause Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have collaborated on many delightful books. The OK Book  is another of their quirky and insightful picture books that delivers a powerful message: sometimes “OK” is the channel to excellence not its enemy! Concise text is paired with illustrations that perfectly further the larger story without being preachy.

Rosenthal has an exceptional talent for capturing a simple premise and highlighting it in a way that makes readers think, “It’s obvious and so true. How did I miss that?

Lichtenheld’s brilliant and precise illustrations transform the letters O and  into a recognizable stick figure who serves as the main character. Simple, unexpected and very effective, these graphics bring the story to life!

Young children dream of being the best super hero, athlete, or most-liked friend. Their fantasies overflow with images of themselves shining above the competition. Such magical thinking rarely understands that it takes time consuming effort and practice to achieve such excellence. Much to their chagrin, they must work through the often-discouraging process–and hard work–of being a beginner who struggles and fails through multiple attempts. All too often, their spirits waiver and they give up. This book reinforces the idea that OK is the first step on the long road to expertise. As parents we work to encourage this attitude of perseverance  while they march their way towards mastery.

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magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: Many adopted children struggle with fears of rejection and of not being good enough. Some pursue perfectionism in a mistaken belief that it is the only way to prevent the loss of their adoptive family. After all, their first family rejected* them. Why couldn’t it happen again? This need to be perfect makes them fear failure. Although most kids hate the floundering feeling of being a beginner, for some adopted children this weakness feels threatening and unsafe. To ensure they always measure up, they tackle only what they know they can do well.

The OK Book is an excellent way to talk about the challenge and importance of the uphill journey from beginner to winner. It can help parents uncover their child’s hidden beliefs and fears. Too often kids infer that parental love is conditional on performance. This peek into their hearts and mind offers a wonderful chance for parents to reassure their child and become closer. These types of conversations help to build essential life skills: security and emotional literacy.

Bonus: the message of The OK Book is often one which parents also need to hear and remember.

*Adoptees yearn for frequent reassurance that their adoption did NOT result from the child’s inadequacies but from adult problems, lack of resources and capabilities.

 

Libraries Open Worlds and Conversations

Lola at library.51iJdPufLuL._SX433_BO1,204,203,200_ Lola at the Library written by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, has garnered numerous awards*. It deserves each one of them. The story is engaging and features Lola, a sweet African-American girl as the main character. Lola is so excited about her weekly visit to the library, she can’t sleep. She awakens her mother early so they can get ready (with plenty of time to spare!) Lola packs her bag with the books she needs to return, grabs her library card and walks to the library with her mother. Once they arrive, Lola hands the books to the librarian, then she enjoys visiting with the other children. They sing songs, listen to story time, and then choose new books to take home. Lola and her mother enjoy their walk home. At bedtime, they snuggle together and read Lola’s new books.

Lola at the Library portrays three strong messages. The most obvious: the library is a fun place to visit. Second, Books captivate Lola’s imagination and she loves choosing and reading.  Third, mother certainly values reading. After all, she’s spending her time and energy to take Lola to the library and to read her selections to her. A fourth important, although more subtle, message is that mother values reading for herself too. Young readers will intuit this because each time mother and Lola visit the library, mother also selects her own reading material.

We know that parental actions teach our children more persuasively than our words. Mother’s actions live out how she values reading. This reinforces Lola’s interest. Kids who love reading and are exposed to lots of books before they attend school usually fare much better in school. They have broader vocabularies and tend to learn how to read more easily and more quickly. his in turn, reduces stress and encourages kids to like school.

Finally a subtle but pivotal message threads through the story: Lola is repeatedly shown as capable and self-reliant. She gathers her own books. She fills her own backpack. She hands the books to the librarian. When kids are small, they enjoy helping and doing for themselves. Their initial efforts are usually clumsy, time consuming and less-than-perfect. Busy parents may find it hard to “watch and wait” as kids struggle to handle tasks. Patience pays off when kids master tasks. They build a pattern of self-sufficiency that nurtures independence. In the long run, it pays off for the entire family. When kids learn responsibility and independence, this frees parents from having to shoulder it.

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magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens*: Nurturing capability is an exceptionally important practice especially for adoptees who often wrestle with feelings of not being good enough. Building self-reliance results when the family approaches life as a learning conversation. Failure is accepted as the channel for mastery.

Another benefit of reading Lola at the Library  is the message it telegraphs that books create a shared moment between parent and child as they read together. This creates a model for young readers. If the family book shelf  has a wide selection including some on adoption children will see them as a great chance to open adoption conversations!

Beardshaw’s delightful illustrations include a mix of ethnicities in the library, story time and when Lola is out in the community.

 

AWARDS*

Bank Street College of Education’s The Best Children’s Books of the Year

Book-of-the-Month Cub, Alternate Selection

EarlyChildhoodNews Director’s Choice Award–Judges Selection

National Parenting Award, Honor

 

Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw have written two more Lola books. Lola Loves Books features Lola and her daddy while Lola Reads to Leo, tells how Lola reads to her new baby brother. Check them out!

 

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Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children

 

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our ChildrenShades of Black is also written by Sandra L. Pinckney with photographs by Myles C. Pinkney. It  is a delightful book that examines race from a slant of color appreciation. In direct contrast to the popular (but ill-placed notion*) of adoptive parents seeking to create “color blind” families, Shades of Black asks the reader to notice race and to notice the diversity that racial identity includes.

The text is a rich blend of vivid and unexpected metaphor. The accompanying photographs bring these novel images to life. The book’s premise is presented with respect and warmth and depicts the spectrum of skin tones of children who identify themselves as black. All families can benefit from reading it as a great way to explore race. Black children will especially appreciate the message of inclusion and celebration which the book offers.

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AQLens: As often stated in this blog, whether we are transracial families or not, adoptive families have a vested interest in cultivating tolerance, inclusion and multiculturalism. We are poster families for “difference” and frequently face the challenges of people questioning the validity of our families, posing intrusive/offensive questions and imposing expectations of gratitude (on our children,) and heroism (on us, for “rescuing” our kids.)

Beyond the obvious message of appreciating the rainbow of humanity’s color, this book invites discussion of race, of difference, of acceptance and of respect. Some might argue that the book reinforces the belief that anyone of a mixed heritage which includes only the slightest bit of African-American ancestry might more accurately consider themselves of mixed race and not simply as black. These are important topics for adoptive families yet they are not easy to introduce; this book offers an excellent gateway.

*Integrating a child’s birth heritage Once a child joins a family, his heritage is grafted to the entire family. It is not something that pertains only to him; the entire family honors and lives it. Beyond an occasional ethnic meal, trip to an exotic restaurant or occasional reading of a cultural fairy tale, families must immerse themselves as deeply as if it were their own natal heritage.

Transracial families must actively develop friendships and expose kids to mentors that share their race. Parents must foster a spirit of curiosity and learning around race. Recognize that a transracially adopted child’s experience as he journeys through the world will differ from yours. Moreover, because of the reality of white privilege, it will vary when you are with him and when he is on his own. Validate his experiences. Help him develop skills and tools to successfully navigate his challenges. Have conversations that empower. Don’t simply fan angry feelings. Avoid the fantasy of “color blindness.” Instead, foster color appreciation. Treating race as if it were irrelevant sends the hurtful message that it lacks value and importance.

Parents and children must walk in one another’s worlds and share the experience of being the minority. Teach kids how to handle prejudice. Explain your coping strategies. Be straightforward about the challenges. Acknowledge the reality of discrimination and work together to prepare them to face a world that notices the skin we are in. Read more of this earlier blog post.

EVERYBODY’s Got Talent

jack's talentKids tend to view the world in all or nothing terms and often respond to struggles with discouragement and defeat. It is an all too easy slide to generalizing to “I am a failure.”  From small amounts of data, they form conclusions which often are inaccurate. It takes strong evidence to persuade them this is not true and to regard failure as the stepping stone to success and competency. School is one environment where kids makes such rapid–and inaccurate–conclusions about their abilities. They decide if they are smart or not, capable or not, interested or not.  Maryann Cocca-Leffler’s picture book, Jack’s Talent highlights one of these moments.

The story occurs on the first day of school and unfolds in vivid, cartoon-like illustrations which include a robust multicultural cast. Miss Lucinda, the teacher asks each pupil to introduce himself and tell about their best talent. One-by-one, each student proudly discusses their talent. As each one speaks, Jack becomes increasingly discouraged. He believes he has no talent! Jack’s turn arrives. Brokenhearted and embarrassed, he recounts each of his classmate’s talents with the refrain, “I am not good at … like….”

Reframing Jack’s words, the teacher deftly points out to him–and the rest of the class–how precisely Jack recalled his classmates words. “You are good at remembering.” She reassures Jack who beams with equal measures of relief and pride. The entire class agrees because they have experienced the truth of her assertion. Miss Lucinda transformed what could have been a spirit-crushing experience into an exercise in recognizing and valuing difference. What a valuable lesson!

courage beginnerAQ* Lens: Encouraging and nurturing competence is an essential part of parenting–especially adoptive parenting. Grief and loss issues chip away at self-esteem. It requires intentionality to build confidence, pride and capability on evidence that kids can believe and trust. One tiny step at a time, parents can help children build experiences of success onto success. It takes time to establish this resilient attitude.

Encouraging children’s efforts–instead of praising outcome–focuses children’s attention on striving. Persistence is an essential trait and far outstrips the value of easy success. Instead, parents can help them concentrate on the satisfaction that comes from trying. (You sure are a hard worker, ” versus “You are so smart.” And it is easy to feel the difference between : “You missed,” versus, “You almost succeeded. Next time you’ll come closer.” This dampens a child’s attachment to immediate success with minimal effort (which we know is unrealistic.) Reinforcing a willingness to try things through multiple unsuccessful attempts grows a pattern of resilience and paves the way to mastery.

Parents can allow kids to be privy to their own struggles to learn and master new things. Let them see how many times you have to attempt tasks before accomplishing goals. They can share a kid-friendly version of the inner dialog that adults play inside their own heads. By making this script audible, kids can note that not only do their parents struggle, they also require many attempts before they succeed. Otherwise, they tend to assume that your accomplishments occur without effort.

Stick and Stone: A Story of Friendship

stick and stoneStick and Stone written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld is a delightfully unexpected spin on the way we usually think about sticks and stones. Instead of being “weapons,” Stick and Stone are two characters in a sweet but powerful story. Sparse prose brilliantly captures the budding friendship of two solitary loners: Stick and Stone. They discover that everything is better when shared with a friend. Lichtenfeld captures the depth and range of their friendship in simple, bright illustrations that pulse with warmth and coziness. When Stone is bullied by a mean and prickly pinecone, Stick comes to his defense, using his words not his fists. “Because that is what friends do.”

Stick’s intervention on behalf of his friend is a model for the power of one individual to make a difference. (Refer to last week’s blog The Power of One.) Stone is surprised by Stick’s brave gesture. Stick replies that is what friends do. Readers will connect with the moment of friendship in action, of loyalty and courage to speak up. Kids know what it is like to need that buddy. They also understand how challenging it can be to stand up against a bully. This story offers a chance to place themselves in both situations and imagine how they might feel, think and act. Later in the story, Stone has the opportunity to return the favor of friendship when he rescues his friend Stick. Again the refrain “That’s what friends do,” is repeated.

The AQ* Lens: We’ve all heard the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We all know the fundamental untruth of this saying through direct personal experience. Words have immense power—to heal, to connect, to divide and to destroy. As adoptive parents we know we must prepare our kids to face the dreaded day/s when a rude remark about adoption, birth parents, being given away, etc.

We can use words to empower our kids. Provide them with an arsenal of respectful adoption language. Help them to reframe ignorant remarks as an opportunity to educate other kids, even adults. Unfortunately, sometimes the speaker intends to shame, humiliate, or insult. If that is the case, do not minimize the experience. This would invalidate the reality of their experience and create a relationship disconnect. Instead, talk about why other kids might not understand adoption and how that can create fear and misunderstanding.

It’s never too early to teach kids about personal boundaries—especially around their adoption. Help them to understand the distinction between private and secret. Adoption is not secret. Nonetheless, parts of their story are private—not for general discussion with any/every curious person. They need not feel obligated to divulge personal information just because a question is asked. (This goes for us adults as well. The best way to equip kids with firm boundaries is by our own example. As they observe us when we encounter intrusive, inappropriate questions about their adoption, our children can “study” our respectful, courteous “boundary-establishing” response.