Eight Things to Teach by Eighteen that They Can’t Learn from Google

My son on his 18th birthday.

My son on his 18th birthday.

Once, before I had children, I ran into a friend who’d just had her first child. 

“How’s motherhood?” I asked.

She didn’t answer with the usual “Great!” or “Exhausting!” responses I expected.

Instead, she said, “I can already tell I’m going to be worried for the rest of my life.”

I’m not sure truer words have ever been spoken.  My son was born about two years after this conversation. And while there have been SO many joys over the years, there have also been worries. Lots of worries. Endless worries.

This month he turned eighteen. Eighteen! Eighteen years of worrying about things I can control.  And with every year that passes, more and more time spent worrying about the things I can’t. What’s a mother to do?

While the goal of every good mother is to teach her child to be independent, as that bittersweet eighteenth birthday passes, I can’t help asking myself: Have I taught him everything he needs to know to make it in the world?

I think most mothers wrestle with this question.  I’ve seen other posts listing things we might forget to teach our children because we do these things without thinking, like how to mend ripped fabric or cook a meal. And yet – with the power of Google at every teen’s fingertips — I know my son can find out how to do things like sew on a button with the touch of a screen. But what things does he absolutely need to know that he can’t find on Google?

Here’s my list of 8 things to teach them before 18.

1.Empathy: Teach them to consider how others feel.

feelings facesThis will make them better people. They will add to their own value when they show that they value the feelings of others.  There’s truth in the saying, “People don’t care what you know, until they know you care.”

2. Self-Worth: Teach them to value themselves.

Show them that what they have to offer matters to you and to the world.  The best way to teach your child self-worth is for you to value you.  I’m serious. Show your child that you are worthy of respect and love. You will be modeling the most important characteristic for them to develop.

3. Life is Unfair: Teach them not to expect fairness.

scales of justiceIt would be impossible for me to calculate how many times I heard my own father tell me life’s not fair.  He is a judge, so somehow, I always expected him to be on the side of fairness. Instead, he was on the side of “Deal With It.”  And dealing with it, is something we have to learn to do. See number four, below.

4. Bravery: Teach them to be brave in the face of failure, because they will fail.

This, they must accept.

5. Don’t judge: Teach your children not to judge others.

They will be happier if they are not constantly measuring the value of other people. They must learn that humans come from all situations and circumstances, and that sometimes it is almost impossible for a person to make good choices. (I included this because you should try to teach it, but you will fail. Judging is part of the human condition. Still, we must try. See number four, above.)

6. Self-Advocacy: Teach your children to advocate for themselves.

When they are growing up, you are their biggest advocate, but this will change when they leave the nest. So equip them with the skills needed for self-advocacy. Teach them not to be afraid to speak out logically and reasonably to defend their rights or to ask for what they need. Self-advocacy will not always bring desired results, but that’s okay, you’ve already taught them numbers two, three and four!

7. Humor: Teach them to embrace laughter.  

laughterIf your child learns to laugh, not only in happy times, but also in the face of failure, you will have taught them to find joy in unhappiness. And you will give your child a quality valued by all others. Everyone loves to laugh.

8. Faith: If you want your child to have a sense of faith, model this for him or her.  

It does not matter what your religion is, if faith is something you want for your child, you must ground them in it.The world will not do this for you. Google will not do this for you.

My son is now eighteen. Do I still worry? You bet! Have I taught him all of the above? I’ve tried, but I doubt it. I’m learning, though, not to beat myself up over this. I’m going to trust that with the foundation of love and guidance we’ve given him, he’ll be okay. 

For everything else, there’s Google!

The Nerdy Shopper: Unlock your Spidey Senses

melanie conklinToday, we have a lovely guest blogger, Melanie Conklin. Melanie is a product developer turned middle-grade author, now represented by Peter Knapp of Park Literary Group. In between books, she spends her time doodling and chasing after two small maniacs. She is also a founding member of Kidliterati.com, and writes a consumer blog called Consumerisms.

Welcome, Melanie — thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

Nearly every day, there’s a new consumer safety scare making headlines: tainted spinach, recalled beef, unsafe strollers and car seats. It’s pretty scary to see a headline and think, Oh no! Is that the one I bought?

It’s even scarier to stand in front of a shelf at the store and ask: Is this product safe for my family?

The good news is, most food products are monitored for safety, and a great number of watchdog organizations are eager to spread information to consumers. But when it comes to non-food products, there is much less regulation than you might expect of the products sitting on the shelf.

Medela_pumpAs a product developer, I’ve seen what happens behind the curtain at the companies producing your consumer goods. Most companies set out to create products with the consumer in mind. Some of those companies lead the way with innovative, thoughtful designs, such as Medela (a leading maker of breast pumps with whom I’ve worked). But other companies are keeping a closer eye on their bottom lines than your family’s needs.

How can you shop better (and safer)? By unlocking your Spidey Senses!

Yes, I know, shooting gooey webs from your wrists doesn’t sound all that awesome, but let’s focus on Spiderman’s other amazing ability: observation. His senses are heightened, which allows him to pay close attention to his environment. In combination with strong intuition, this Spidey Sense allows our superhero to conquer all.

How do you apply this to shopping? By taking the exact same steps: don’t read what an advertisement or label promises. Instead, trust your senses.

  • Examine products closely. Look for defects in the material and construction, like white creases in colored plastic, which indicate a high likelihood of breakage. Do not assume that because it’s on the shelf, you must disregard your own observations. Many products are produced with expectations of a high recall rate.
  • Use your sense of smell. I’m always amazed by the average consumer’s ability to disregard what their nose is telling them about a product. The next time you consider purchasing an item that may need to “air out,” think about what you’re inhaling. There are usually other options: metal, glass, and wood materials pass the sniff-test with flying colors. Your nose will point you in the right direction.
  • Trust your intuition. I’ve heard many consumers disregard what their gut is telling them about a product. It’s easy to say, what do I know? But the truth is, you know when a product fails: certain shoelaces drive you batty, or your tongs don’t work unless you squeeze them the right way. You are not imagining these failures. On the contrary, companies are often AWARE of their shortcomings and counting on you to overlook them. Take a moment to call a consumer feedback line, or drop an email. You’d be amazed at how many products are altered because of consumer feedback, and how few people report or return faulty items. You’re also quite likely to get a refund or replacement product for free!

The next time you go shopping, remember that you are in control of what’s on your shelf. Trust your Spidey Senses to guide you to the right purchases—and if those purchases don’t exist, remember, it’s not you. It’s them. Give companies your feedback and demand better products. You deserve them.

Refrigerator_research

Three Questions With Rebecca Petruck

I met wonderful Rebecca Petruck a few years ago at a novel writing retreat, and have been fortunate enough to cross paths with her several times since at writer events. I’m thrilled to share that Rebecca Petruckher debut novel, STEERING TOWARD NORMAL, forthcoming from Abrams in May, is already making a big splash as an American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce New Voices selection and a Spring 2014 Kids’ Indie Next List selection. Knowing Rebecca, this doesn’t surprise me at all. 

STEERING TOWARD NORMAL is the story of eighth grader Diggy Lawson and the year he attempts to compete with a calf in the Minnesota State Fair — the same year Diggy’s family life is turned upside down when a half-brother he didn’t know he had moves in with he and his father. You can read a more about it HERE! But first, check out Rebecca’s great answers to these three questions. Thanks for joining us today Rebecca!

1.      I always think the best books touch readers on an emotional level. How will readers connect with your main character, Diggy?

Diggy thinks he’s a tough guy but is all heart. Diggy’s mom left him as a baby in a very public way that has become part of the town lore, so her absence is always present for him. He pretends it doesn’t hurt, especially because he has a good situation with his dad, but it never leaves him. So when something happens that seems to threaten Diggy’s relationship with his dad, he’s not as prepared to deal with things as he thinks he is. Which, frankly, I think is pretty true for all of us.

What ends up helping Diggy most is something that hurts him, too. He raises and competes show steers. Competitors spend several hours a day every day with their animals, and the steers become like a beloved pet. But a steer is only and ever market beef. Every year, the steers, especially champion show steers, are sold to the packer and slaughtered. Why would kids do this year after year? Fall in love with an animal and care for it as a best friend, knowing it will be sold? What I heard from all the competitors I met over the years is that it is the cycle of life, and that they had a year to love the steers and give them a better life than what they would have had on a feed lot. Despite the pain—loading day is called the “Day of Tears” for a reason—the kids cherish the time they have with their animals.

 Approaching a situation like this year after year and learning how to cope with the heartbreak has prepared Diggy to cope with other difficult situations. He doesn’t realize it, of course, and there are times when he wants to give up, but raising steers has taught him how to keep his heart open, despite the inevitable pain, and that ends up being the gift he shares with and that saves his family.

2.      What’s something you like to do that might be considered a tiny bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? 

NerdyChicks_papercityscapeI love to work with paper. I’ve long collected beautiful paper, and I have drawers of pages ripped from National Geographic magazine. When a close friend died suddenly from cancer, I organized a project to fold 1,000 origami cranes, in the tradition inspired by Sadako Sasaki, and I folded most of them from the Nat Geo pages I had saved. I also love paper engineering and have tried my hand at learning basic paper construction. One year I folded book bursts for holiday gifts for everyone. And in playing with all the manuscript pages I recycle, I’ve been slowly building a cityscape from paper tubes [image included]. I’d really like to try book sculpting, too, and I aspire to own a piece by Su Blackwell one day.

I love art because to me it is another kind of storytelling, and the pieces I collect personally all have something to say. So I’m particularly thrilled and inspired by the blending of books, paper, and art. Because the paper art I enjoy also has a technical component (folding, cutting, building), when I tinker with paper and books it is like putting my brain on notice that both sides have to do their fair share of the work.

3.      You’ve been a cheerleader, but also love books and have participated in math competitions! Do any of your characters have nerdy sides?

I think the real question is, “Do any of your characters try to be ‘popular’?” All of my characters are geeks and nerds, even the ones who don’t think they are, just like me. I approached steering toward normalcheerleading with the same nerdy determination I approached Mathcounts, 4-H, and sticker collecting.

The thing about cheerleading was that I thought it would “legitimize” me in some way by proving to people I could be “cool.” What I learned, though, was that I was already cool. I had great friends and made more friends, not because I was a cheerleader but because I let them get to know me. I had been intimidated about talking to certain people because I had put them above me in my own mind, not because they had put me lower in theirs. 

It was a good thing to learn in eighth grade because by high school I was over it. Sure, there were people I was nervous about talking with—mostly very cute boys—and most of my friends were theater and choir geeks because theater and choir are AWESOME. But my best friend was a “guidette,” and I had friends from a variety of groups. Though the groups definitely existed, they just weren’t that important for a lot of us, and I think that is even truer for students I see today.

Those answers were so great that each one could have been its own separate blog post!  I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Steering Toward Normal. To find out more about Rebecca, visit her WEBSITE, particularly her Creativelings page where she maintains a haphazard list of things she finds interesting.

Some other things that interest her are:

4-H: http://www.4-h.org/

Show Steers: http://www.showsteers.com/Default.htm

#30mdare—because it’s fun and all are welcome! (A Twitter writing challenge Rebecca started!)

Fair warning: If you follow Rebecca on Twitter or Facebook, you will find yourself sucked into the many interesting articles she posts! Thanks again Rebecca. We’re looking forward to seeing STEERING TOWARD NORMAL out in the world. 

 

 

The Education of the Nerdy Chick: A Chat with Margie Myers-Culver

mmcThis week, we are talking to Educator-Blogger-Literacy-Advocate-Extraordinaire, Margie Myers-Culver. Margie began teaching as a school librarian in 1973.  She says, “It has been the single best decision I have ever made.”  She has worked at all grade levels, loving each for their unique characteristics.  She continues to this day to believe the learning experience shared with her students is a give and take, where each is both student and teacher. Her blog is Librarian’s Quest.

As a librarian and teacher, we wanted Margie’s thoughts on The Education of the Nerdy Chick, especially when it comes to reading. Thank you, Margie, for talking to us today!

We asked Margie to finish some of our sentences — here’s what she had to say:

“The differences between girl readers and boy readers are…not how reading recommendations have ever been made in any of my school libraries.  When a class, group or individual student enters the library, they have always been greeted by a variety of book displays around the room based on genre, themes or format, not according to gender.  Booktalks feature a wide range of fiction and nonfiction titles with a mix of reading levels.  Students are encouraged to get any book which interests them.  Tastes in reading are like thumbprints, each individual is unique.”

“Girls can be reluctant readers, too. To get girls to read, I…address them as I do all readers.  A mantra learned in college has served me (and many, many others) well over the years; …the right book for the right reader at the right time.  Readers are advised according to their individual wants and needs.  I ask them:

  • about their activities outside the school day,
  • what their favorite thing to do is when they have free time,
  • is there a dream or goal they want to reach, perhaps we can find a title on that topic,
  • what was the last book they read or had read to them which will remain in their hearts forever.”

“It’s extremely important for girls (all readers) to know you care about them as individuals; that you sincerely want to know as much about them as possible so you can pair them with a book they will enjoy and remember.  There is nothing better than hearing a book you recommended to one student being recommended by them to another.  In that moment you know a flame has been kindled.  I want to keep that flame fanned with titles as often as I can for as long as I can.  It’s about trust and connection.  For many years I hosted brown bag lunch book groups with girls.  This past summer I had a very small group of girls who would come to my home as I read books aloud to them.  We even Skyped with one of the authors.”

“It can be hard for younger girls to embrace their inner Nerdy Chick. But what is great about when that happens is…it’s as if a load has been lifted; they are free to be themselves, to bravely follow their heart.  It’s almost magical to watch.  It spreads from one girl to another and to another.  Sometimes they will read the same book together.  Or sometimes they will explore subject areas or genres they have not previously visited.”

“When a Nerdy Chick comes into my library, I notice…the air of confidence they carry.  Now they not only know what they want and need but they are able to voice it too.”

“Even Nerdy Chicks need guidance. To help her expand her reading interests, I…would suggest she join an online reading community like Biblionasium or Scholastic’s The Stacks. I would share my own book community experiences using Goodreads (and as a member of the Nerdy Book Club).  We all have, as Donalyn Miller, teacher and author of The Book Whisperer:  Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child and Reading in the Wild:  The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Life Long Reading Habits, calls them, book gaps.  I might invite her to join a challenge or start one of her own.  Again I would share my own experiences with online challenges and reading outside my main interest area.  Each year reviewing journals publish their best books of a given year.  I would refer her to those also.”

“As a Nerdy Chick, I…was the student who knew the answers and bravely raised my hand even when I knew I would be teased as being some kind of brainiac.  I have always talked about books and reading with anyone who would listen.  No one is immune to my suggestions including complete strangers in bookstores who look like they need help.  Even one of my former students in his mid-twenties who has been doing some painting for me, remarked as he was leaving today, “You can get anyone excited about reading.”  I was booktalking the graphic novel series Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale.

“Once a Nerdy Chick always a Nerdy Chick.  Come join the flock!”

Once again, a big thank you to Margie for joining us. Want to read more of her brilliant thoughts? Follow her on Twitter. And go find your right book today!

Oh, and in case you thought we forgot…

We have a winner in the original art giveaway! Everybody put your hands together for

@BookishAmbition!

Thanks to everyone for entering!

 

The Quotable Nerdy First Lady

The saying goes, Behind every great man there’s a great woman.

It’s not clear who came up with that, though we certainly hear it all the time and in many variations. (My personal favorite variation is A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.) On Presidents’ Day, we wanted to honor the women who have supported the man in the Oval Office – while these First Ladies were not elected to their positions, without them, their husbands’ presidencies would have been very different. Let’s hear it for the women behind the Presidents.

File:DolleyPayneMadison.jpg“It is one of my sources of happiness never to desire a knowledge of other people’s business.”

-Dolley Madison

“It’s always been my feeling that God lends you your children until they’re about eighteen years old. If you haven’t made your points with them by then, it’s too late.”

-Betty Ford

File:Abigail Adams.jpg“If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.”

-Abigail Adams

“The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.”

-Lady Bird Johnson

 File:Rosalynn Carter chairs mental health hearings - NARA - 177626 crop.png“You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try – you don’t take the risk.”

-Rosalynn Carter

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

File:Michelle Obama 2013 official portrait.jpg“Choose people who will lift you up. Find people who will make you better.”

-Michelle Obama

The Quotable Nerdy Book: Valentine’s Edition

On Valentine’s Day, there are so many ways to say I love you — and when you can’t find the right words yourself, there are so many people you could quote! Here are some of our favorite passages from children’s books that express that lovin’ feeling or to comfort the brokenhearted…

On the meaning of love:

The Little Prince“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

On what love should feel like:

Pooh's Little Instruction Book

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.”― A.A. Milne, Pooh’s Little Instruction Book

I Like You

“I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
And that’s how it would happen every time.”

―Sandol Stoddard Warburg, I Like You

When your Valentine is your child:

You're Lovable to Me

“No matter what your feelings are, whatever they may be . . . I’m your mama. You’re my bunnies. And you’re lovable to me.” ―Kat Yeh, You’re Lovable to Me

For the brokenhearted on Valentine’s Day:

“I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I love her none the less because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection.” ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

To understand a broken heart:

File:Peter Pan 1915 cover.jpg

“All he thinks he has a right to when he comes to you to be yours is fairness. After you have been unfair to him he will love you again, but he will never afterwards be quite the same boy. No one ever gets over the first unfairness; no one except Peter.” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

On why you should always believe in love:

Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“You should never, never doubt something that no one is sure of.” – Roald Dahl, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our readers!

REMINDER: Remember to enter the ORANGUTANGLED giveaway and Corrine Jackson’s giveaway!

ORANGUTANGLED Book Birthday! (and Giveaway!)

We have a winner in the original art giveaway! Everybody put your hands together for

@BookishAmbition!

Thanks to everyone for entering!

 

Have you ever had a day that starts out bad…and then gets worse and worse and worse? One of those days where you know it’s one disaster after the other no matter what you do? And you know that fighting it won’t make it better…but you fight it anyway?

It was a day like that that inspired ORANGUTANGLED. I’m proud to announce today is this darling book’s birthday!

orangutangled coverIn honor of this book, we have a very special giveaway.

Illustrator Aaron Zenz has very graciously created an original piece of ORANGUTANGLED artwork.

orangutangled art Aaron Zenz

(I’ll tell you the truth — I want to cheat and just declare myself the winner so I can keep this gorgeous piece.)

I’m sure you’re all wondering How do I win???

This is how:

1) Required. Fill out the entry form below. (Don’t forget to hit ‘Submit’!)

2) Copy one of the following blurbs and post it to Facebook or tweet about it. Here are your choices:

ORANGUTANGLED is here! Original art #giveaway! http://goo.gl/KXLKJa @SudiptaBQ @AaronZenz

(This one links to this blog post)

Have you ORANGUTANGLED? http://goo.gl/WDQHL0 @SudiptaBQ @AaronZenz

(This one takes you to Sudipta’s ORANGUTANGLED page)

Meet @AaronZenz on @MatthewWinner’s great Busy Librarian podcast http://goo.gl/35eQTw @SudiptaBQ

(This links to the Busy Librarian’s podcast with Aaron)

ORANGUTANGLED is here! http://goo.gl/ctLX6h @SudiptaBQ @AaronZenz

(This takes you to the publisher’s ORANGUTANGLED page)

3) Every post or tweet will count as one entry (make sure you make your Facebook posts are public so we can give you credit! Even better, tag Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Children’s Book Author on the Facebook posts!). Keep spreading the word, increase your odds of winning.

The contest will close on February 17, 2014 at 11:59pm. At that time, we will gather up all the entries and choose a WINNER!

GOOD LUCK!

REMINDER:

Do you like winning? Want to win more? Check out Corrine Jackson’s giveaway, too!