BookS on MondaY: Husband-wife team Bruce & Heather Galpert talk about their new children’s book, MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY, a mouthwatering discussion on a breakfast staple, the environment, more

By Leslie Lindsay 

Can a pancake save the world? That’s the question this delightful children’s tale sets out to seek. 

Before going fishing one day, Ethan eats his favorite breakfast–pancakes! As his mom explains how pancakes are made with the help of the sun, clouds, rain, animals, and farmers, Ethan sees the world in a new way. 30764934

While playing outside, Ethan decides to create a big splash by throwing a can of in the lake and accidentally contaminates the environment. Time passes and one day Ethan notices that his pancakes taste different. Could that can in the lake have made that change? Ethan enlists the help of his friends to correct his mistake. Do Ethan and his friends repair that mistake, but most of all–what do they learn in the process?

Today, I am honored to have Bruce Galpert here to chat with us…over a big plate of pancakes! 

Leslie Lindsay: I’m always curious about what inspired the idea behind stories, what drives someone to spend countess hours crafting a story…can you tell us your inspiration behind MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY?

Bruce Galpert: As a young father with two sons, I read a lot to my kids…I also spent most Sundays cooking pancakes with and for them–I ate quite a few myself! Trying to teach my kids life lessons, recycling and protecting the environment were also concepts that were important, but difficult to teach to young kids. I always felt that it was hard for children to grasp how their actions could impact the environment positively or negatively. The idea of MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY! came out of that quest.

L.L.: Tell us more about the character of Ethan. How would you describe him? Is he modeled after anyone in particular, your own son, perhaps?

Bruce Galpert: Ethan is just like my youngest son Evan was at that age. The character of Ethan is built around Evan: Ethan is eight years old, observant, intelligent, fun loving, sweet and kind to nature, animals and others. He loves his pancakes and his mother!  He is smart and funny, has tons of friends, and is always asking questions.  In real life, I now have a three-year old grandson named Ethan by way of my son Matthew, so all bases are covered!

L.L.: Writing is certainly not easy or glamorous–at least not all the time. What was the biggest challenge you faced in writing MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY! ?

Bruce Galpert: Getting started, the beginning, the middle, and the end! Writing is not my strong suit! Fortunately for me, my wife Heather came into my life. Not only did she inherit my family, but she inherited this project of 20 years that I was unable to complete, even after attending children’s book writing workshops given by some of the best writers in the business. She is credited for helping me put a structure around the story and move it from an idea to something I can hold and read to my grandkids.

L.L.: What was the most rewarding moment you experienced while writing this book?

Bruce Galpert: Seeing the beautiful artwork that Barbara Cate did, and how it worked in harmony with the writing to really tell the story. Heather and I have had such a wonderful time working on this together – it’s our baby.

204255_origL.L.: How much research did you do for the book? What type of research did you do?

Bruce Galpert: Countless Sundays making all kinds of pancakes: blueberry, chocolate, apple fritters. Flipping pancakes and spending time with my boys, was the extent of my research, the best kind! And sadly, watching the growing environmental stress and crisis we are facing as the years march on.

L.L.: What does your writing process look like?

Bruce Galpert: A lot of hair pulling and the words just fall into place. Heather is the the writer in the family, I’m a numbers guy. She helped me tease out the story.

L.L.: Writers get their inspiration from all places. Where do you turn for inspiration?

Bruce Galpert: Heather

L.L.: I love children’s books and I know exactly why: they were embedded in my young life as my dad read to me after work, his arms draped over my shoulders. Where did your interest in writing–and reading–children’s books begin?

Bruce Galpert: I have always had my favorite books…The 4 Chinese Brothers, Ferdinand the Bull, A Fly Went By, A Fish out of Water, Go Dog Go…many of these were based on cause and effect…progressive events.  I am also a cartoon addict, still to this day I spend more time watching cartoons than any other medium.  My son Evan is a brilliant voice over artist and my dream is to see him as a character in an animated film.

L.L.: Switching gears a bit, what are some ways to get young people interested in the environment and what foods they eat?

Bruce Galpert: Farmer’s Markets, natural groceries, growing seeds from a packet at home. I think getting kids to engage with nature is the best way…sadly this is so hard for many kids around the world. I had the fortune to live in both Japan and the Philippines as a child and young adult, and the differences in the way each of those cultures reveres and cares for their environment is vast. It really begins culturally at a very young age.

L.L.: How should kids be taught about personal responsibility and their role in sustainability?

Bruce Galpert: By their parents, actions speak the loudest.

L.L.: How would you describe the importance of investing in our children?

Bruce Galpert: They are all we have for the future, a dollar invested in them is worth many more dollars in return down the road. You are seeing this in action today with all of the technology innovations from well-educated Millennials

L.L.: So I have to ask, how do you like to eat your pancakes? 

Bruce Galpert: I like putting chopped apples in the batter, adding cinnamon, and then topping with a blend of butter, syrup, and raspberry jam! Don’t forget to sprinkle powdered sugar on at the last minute. [Getting hungry for pancakes?! I am. Check out this delicious recipe from Bruce and Heather] Absolutely-fantastic-peanut-butter-pancakes-with-a-jelly-topping.jpg

L.L.: What do you hope readers take away from My Pancakes Taste Different Today!?

Bruce Galpert: I hope that parents read the book to their kids and that the book is also used as an early reader. This will be the best way to teach children how their actions impact their world.

L.L.: What future projects are you working on?

Bruce Galpert: We have two books in the hopper that we are both very excited about.  One thing at a time I am told by my wife, but creativity has no timeline!

To connect with Bruce and Heather, please visit these social media links:

  • Hashtag #ThePancakesBook

  • Facebook: The Pancakes Book

  • Instagram and Pinterest: thepancakesbook

  • GoodReads Giveaway: Enter to WIN! (Beginning October 10-22, 2016)
  • Book & Author Website

About the Authors & Illustrator: Bruce lives with his wife Heather in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He attended the University of Dallas, where he majored in International Finance and Economics. Bruce has two adult sons, Matthew and Evan, and two grandchildren, Ethan and Avery. Growing up, Bruce lived in the Philippine Islands and Japan. He enjoys traveling, writing, skiing, chess, playing guitar, cooking and entertaining, playing tennis and golf. As a professional, Bruce has been an investment advisor for 32 years, he recommends that the best investment is an investment in our children. Heather thinks Bruce makes the best pancakes in the Whole Wide World!

Heather lives with her husband Bruce in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Heather has worked and volunteered most of her professional career in producing special events and fund raising for non profit organizations such as the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, The Santa Fe Community Foundation, and The Santa Fe Botanical Garden. She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College where she studied writing, art and design. Heather enjoys traveling, entertaining, decorating, hiking and playing tennis and golf. Bruce thinks Heather is a gourmet chef and budding tennis star.

Barbara: The Artist

Santa Fe artist Barbara Cate is an illustrator of books and has a greeting card line which may be seen at and at My Pancakes Taste Different Today! showcases her latest paintings. Barbara has lived in Hawaii and enjoys teaching children. Heather and Bruce think Barbara is the bee’s knees. 2892364_orig.jpg

Purchase MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY from these fine retailers: 

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, through these social media links:

[Special thanks to PRbytheBook for this review copy. Images courtesy of author’s publicist. Interior illustrations retrieved from author’s website. Pancake image retrieved from]

BookS on MondaY: What we can learn from the “Happiest Country in the World,” a conversation with the authors of THE DANISH WAY

By Leslie Lindsay 

Denmark, home of Hans Christian Anderson and Lego toys, has been voted the happiest country in the world for 40 consecutive years, most recently in the 2016 World Happiness Report. What is the secret to this consistent success? Can happiness become the new Danish export? Photo-Nov-28-2-21-23-PM-1024x735-1024x735

That’s what THE DANISH WAY OF PARENTING (TarcherPerigee/RandomHouse, August 2016)  And I have to say, the concept became intriguing to me. When I learned the U.S. ranked 17th in “the most happy,” just under Mexico, I wanted to know why and what did the Danes have on us? Here’s a breakdown of the book, which spells out  P-A-R-E-N-T and is how each chapter is organized:

P – Play: Why free play creates happier, better adjusted, more resilient adults.

A – Authenticity: Why honesty creates a stronger sense of self and how praise can be used to form a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.

R – Reframing: How shifting our perception can improve relationships and well-being.

E – Empathy: How fostering an empathic household can help your children be more tolerant and less judgmental of others.

N – No Ultimatums: Why avoiding power struggles and using a more democratic parenting approach fosters trust.

T – Togetherness and Hygge (Coziness): Why a strong social network is one of the biggest factors in our overall happiness and by creating hygge we can give this powerful

THE DANISH WAY OF PARENTING is simply written, yet jam-packed with supporting evidence as to what and how we can parent better. And there’s always room for growth, right? The authors, one raised in the U.S. and married to a Dane and now living in Rome, and the other, a family and child counselor in Copenhagen tell us exactly how the Danish Way is different. Hint: the one major difference has to do with something called hygge, meaning togetherness. Read on to find out what this encompasses. And then consider trying it as early as tonight. 

Leslie Lindsay: The premise of THE DANISH WAY OF PARENTING is that Denmark is the happiest country in the world in large part due to their upbringing. It seems there may be multiple variables at play (such as parental leave policies),  but what are some things parents in the United States can implement immediately that can have a positive impact?

Jessica: Two major things we could do here at home everyday is to try to teach more empathy and learn how to “hygge” (pronounced hooga) which is cozying around together with those you care about in a drama-free environment. Danes value hygge time highly and it’s something we can easily incorporate here if others agree to try, too. In Denmark, empathy is a crucial part of education and it starts being actively taught in pre-school. It is just as important as teaching Math or English. Seeing that social connectedness has been proven to be one of the number one predictors of happiness, I think that teaching more empathy as a skill at home and incorporating hygge, we could make a big difference in in our overall wellbeing.  shutterstock_415695742-600x381

L.L.: We’ve heard the “Tiger Mother” philosophy and the French parenting angle, so what distinguishes the Danish Way from these other cultural parenting perspectives or styles?
In Tiger parenting and French parenting, what the parent says goes without question, period. It is very authoritarian. This is a generalization of course but it’s pretty common in these cultures. Tiger parenting is all about blind obedience. In French parenting, children are expected to have “allegiance” to parents, which is again authoritarian. It is literally all work and no play and Danish parenting is just the opposite.

Danish parenting is about respecting the child’s integrity, listening to their needs and encouraging learning through play, trusting them to trust in themselves and having empathy for others. In Denmark, children are encouraged to question rules they don’t understand so that they feel they are fair and exist for a reason. They focus more on democracy and avoiding problems by respecting children’s integrity and believing in their goodness. I firmly believe this is why Danes, overall, have a good self-esteem and are happier. When you grow up believing your feelings and thoughts matter and the world can be just, you feel good about yourself. The philosophy of Danish parenting is teach respect, be respectful and you will be respected.

L.L.: What are a few striking differences in the way Americans parent on a day to day basis versus how Europeans parent?

Iben: Americans in general strive to make their children better than others. This is subtly dividing not connecting. It doesn’t come from a bad place, it is just how you are raised. You all want to be more special and more individual. Because it makes you feel like better parents, better human beings. And being the best is prized. You are by nature competitive because you are raised to know that the “better kids” get rewards, praise, trophies, love and their pictures on the walls etc. In a dog-eat-dog world you do everything to try to make your kid the best. You were told for a long time that nature was built on survival of the fittest. So “I” have to survive against all the others. Denmark is built on a totally different foundation. We are collectivist and raised on teamwork, democracy and togetherness. We are programmed not to stand out, but always emphasizing the “we” and that which is created jointly.

L.L.: Jessica, as an American expat who married into a Danish family, can you describe the more Danish concepts of ‘reframing‘ and ‘hygge‘ and why they were surprising to you at first?

shutterstock_231997051-600x400Jessica: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing,” my husband would say if he had to go out in freezing rain. He had such a knack for finding the silver lining in things and reframing them. He was also often making me aware of when I used extreme language such as “I hate that” or “I am terrible at that” and he would correct me to get a more exact. He was very focused on the importance of language and not being hyperbolic. But when I realized he was also doing this with our daughter’s language around her general experiences of the world, I understood that reframing was a kind of Danish skill that gets passed on through the generations. Her fears became curiosity or her negativity became more tempered all through that language altering. This ability to reframe has a profound effect on long-term happiness because how you choose to see the world greatly affects how you feel about it.

In terms of ‘hygge,’ this was something I saw from day one with my husband’s family but it took me a lot of years to finally get how powerful it is and the breakdown of its psychological components. I describe the crux of hygge as a sacred mental space you enter into with those you love and care for which is free from competition, bragging, complaining or too much negativity. It’s a limited time when you are just there to connect with others and be in a nice environment and cozy around. Many people talk about mindfulness these days, but Hygge_oath_2.jpghygge’ is a sort of “we-fulness.” The purpose is simply to be together stress free, and that feeling of safe social connectedness makes you happy. It was hard for me at first because I wasn’t used to so much “we”-time that was controversy-free, but now I love relaxing into those peaceful moments and I see how much kids absolutely thrive in this we space.

L.L.: What inspired you to write this book?

Jessica: The day I was inspired to write the book was when I was reading the newspaper and Denmark had just been voted (again) as the happiest people in the world. At the very same moment I could hear my husband altering our daughter’s language around her fear of spiders as they talked about one. I reflected on how that was going to change her future. [My daughter] would be more curious, less scared and more open. It was so Danish what he was doing (reframing) and I suddenly felt incredibly lucky to have this influence in my children’s life because I never would have known about these Danish ways otherwise. And then it hit me. The light bulb went off. There is a Danish way of parenting! And it must be one of the reasons why they grow up to be the happiest people in the world! And so the book idea was born.

Iben:  I am Danish and have been brought up on the basis of Danish culture and norms, I am deeply aware that a Danish (or Scandinavian) upbringing differs from that of many other cultures. I believe very much in the importance of learning throughout life, and I am passionate about what I do. When Jessica asked if we should collaborate about writing a book, one could say it was a perfect match. I hope the book will offer a change in perspective or a paradigm shift for someone, which at the end can change children´s life to the better.

For more information, or to connect with the authors via social media, please see:

IbenAbout the Authors: Iben Dissing Sandahl is a certified coach, author and a licensed narrative psychotherapist, MPF, with her own private practice just outside of Copenhagen. She specializes in counseling families and children. Originally trained as a teacher, she worked for 10 years in the Danish school system before earning her degree in narrative psychotherapy. She is a frequent guest expert in magazines, newspapers, and Danish national radio. She is a wife and mother of two girls, Ida and Julie.

Jessica Joelle Alexander is an American author, columnist and cultural trainer. She Jessicagraduated with a BS in a psychology and went on to teach communication and writing skills in Scandinavia and central Europe. Married to a Dane for 13 years, she lives in Rome with her husband and two children, Sophia and Sebastian.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay at: 

[Special thanks to K. Platte at Tarcher Perigee/Peguin RandomHouse. Cover and author images courtesy of Tarcher Perigee and used with permission. All other images retrieved from the DANISH WAY website on 8.31.16]

BookS on Monday: Meet Patricia Spencer and Lynne Koester of NURTURING LANGUAGE & LEARNING IN DEAF & HARD-OF-HEARING INFANTS & TODDLERS

By Leslie Lindsay 

As a former child/adolescent psych RN and mother of a child with apraxia of speech (CAS), I gravitated toward this book for several reasons. But one that stands out is that I have a friend raising a son with mild-moderate hearing loss. Four years ago, they didn’t understand why he failed his newborn hearing test. 9780199931323 (1)Several years (and hearing aids later), they now have a much greater understanding of hearing loss in infants and children, the slower language acquisition, as well as the benefits of early intervention (EI). Plus, they have an amazing 4 year old who is making strides in social and academic settings; he’s not much different than any other preschooler.

Authors and researchers Spencer and Koester have culled the research for you, placing it between two covers and making the world of hearing impaired and deaf infants and toddlers more accessible. NURTURING LANGUAGE & LEARNING: Development of Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Infants & Toddlers is a wealth of information on “typical” infant-toddler development, paired with struggles of the child with hearing impairments. What might be different for a parent and child if hearing, a vital sense is affected? Spencer and Koester will show you through various examples and research.

Today, I am honored to have Patricia Spencer and Lynne Koester talk with us about the challenges faced by child and parent when hearing is compromised.

Leslie Lindsay: Thank you for popping by today, Pat and Lynne. I am absolutely amazed at the wealth of knowledge poured into NURTURING LANGUAGE & LEARNING: Development of Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Infants & Toddlers. Bravo! Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book, and who is your intended audience?

Pat Spencer: Our goal was to create a kind of “handbook” for parents whose little ones are identified to have hearing loss either at birth or during the early months and years of life.  What developmental accomplishments can be expected?  Which ones remain special challenges? What can parents do to best encourage and support these accomplishments?  We even put together a series of lists of developmental steps that might be expected at different ages, noting when limits to hearing (or to vision) present special challenges.  Despite remaining challenges, we wanted to emphasize the great progress that is being made by so many deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers. We have included stories about the relatively large proportion of young children with limited hearing who have multiple disabilities.  These children can also make much more developmental progress than in the past—but supportive early intervention services are required.

Lynne Koester:  Much of our writing together in the past has been primarily for academic audience, and we felt it was time for some of the “scientific” information to be made more accessible to parents and professionals involved directly with children in the early years. We also wanted to highlight – through vignettes at the beginning of many chapters — some of the cultural and economic variations that can have important influences on the development of children with any kind of disability. The progress being made depends on availability of supportive services, but early identification, early intervention, and even appropriate educational practices are still not available in many parts of the world.

Mother_signing_childL.L.: As much as we want our children to be exceptional, we are often saddled with things that aren’t so-perfect. My oldest daughter suffered from childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) when she was younger. I have other friends who have children with Down’s syndrome, Cru di Chat, AD/HD, and mild-moderate hearing loss. What might you advise parents who are grieving the loss of the so-called “perfect” child?

Pat Spencer: Just as each infant and toddler is unique, so is each parent.  We bring our own experiences and personalities, as well as our expectations of what our children will be like, to our roles as parents.   When our little one doesn’t act in the way we expect—or, importantly, when we have been led to believe that he or she faces overwhelming barriers—we can be thrown off kilter.  We worry whether we can be “the right kind” of parent for this baby…and  fears about our babies’ challenges can lead to some pretty devastating parental emotional reactions.  We want to emphasize, however, that this is not always the case.

“Parents find a variety of paths to overcoming their worries and finding their own and their baby’s strengths:  support from family and friends; sharing information as well as experiences and feelings with other parents; getting to know deaf and hard-of-hearing adults and their accomplishments; making use of support provided by early intervention and other professionals.” ~Patricia Elizabeth Spencer

It is most important, however, that a parent reach out to others—family members, friends, their intervention specialist—if he or she feels overwhelmed, becomes unusually sad, begins to withdraw from others, or even no longer finds that playing with or cuddling the little one is rewarding.  The intervention team should make sure that emotional support from a professional such as a social worker or a psychologist is obtained…whatever helps the parent, also very directly helps the baby.

Lynne Koester: […]social and emotional development are just as important to the overall health of any child as are advances in other realms (intellectual, language, physical, etc.).

L.L.: Full-disclosure: Our first-born failed her newborn screening test for hearing. As a new mom, I was puzzled. The nurse explained that there are sometimes false positives and recommended we re-test in a week or two. Her hearing was just fine when we returned. Still, it caused alarm. How do those newborn screening tests work and why are they important?baby-with-hearingaid

Pat Spencer Hearing screening(the newborn test) essentially asks “Does she respond to these sounds the way we expect for her age?  If not, let’s wait awhile and test again.”  Results of the screening can be thrown off by fluid or other material in the baby’s middle or inner ear for some hours or days after birth.  Or, screening findings can be influenced if the baby moves around or is crying.  As a result, it is not uncommon for a baby to be referred for further testing but turn out to have no hearing loss at all.

When screening for most things, we would rather miss by over-referring for further testing than miss by under-referring.  This is certainly true for infant hearing loss.  Why?  Good data—piles of information—show us that finding limits to hearing early, if early intervention services are then provided, it really promotes developing language, thinking skills, even social and emotional abilities…faster, more complete, more easily than if support for development doesn’t happen until later.  It can be really scary for the parents of a newborn to be told “more testing needed.”  We don’t mean to downplay the anxiety…but the benefits of finding those who are deaf or hard of hearing are so great.

 L.L.: As with hearing issues (deafness/hard-of-hearing/loss) in newborns, I am sure the causes vary. Can you speak to that please?

Pat Spencer:  Currently, about half of newborn or early hearing loss is “genetic,” resulting from different patterns in a baby’s  chromosomes or genes.  These patterns can be “recessive” and “hidden” for generations; others are “dominant” and tend to show up generation after generation.  Some tend to cause hearing loss only, while others (for example, Alport  or Usher Syndromes) present with disabilities in multiple areas.  In some cases, the hearing loss is not present at birth but occurs over the first few years.

In perhaps another quarter of cases, illness is thought to have caused  loss of hearing.  Sometimes it is an illness the mother has during pregnancy. These include viruses like CMV (cytomegalovirus) and (in parts of the world where vaccinations are not common) rubella or German measles.  Some viral diseases can be so mild in the mother-to-be that she doesn’t even know she has been sick.

Infants and toddlers can also contract illnesses after birth that can affect hearing—for example, viral meningitis.  Certain types of antibiotics, which may be needed to save a baby’s life, can cause loss of hearing.  In addition, birth trauma, prematurity, breathing problems, and even severe jaundice can—but do not always—result in hearing loss. 

Medical and genetic specialists are still unable to identify the cause of hearing loss in about a fourth of cases.  Knowing what caused limited hearing can help us predict special challenges that will be faced—and occasionally how we can best address them.  However, in many cases, knowing the cause doesn’t tell us how a baby will progress.  Even babies with the same identified cause have great individual differences in how they can best learn and the paths they take developmentally.

L.L.: What specific challenges does a parent of a child with deafness (or hard-of-hearing) encounter on a daily basis? Can you provide a few examples of how a parent may successfully overcome some of those?

Pat Spencer: Many parents report that the biggest challenge is having enough time–Time for visits to doctors and audiologists, time for home visits from the early intervention specialists, and time for other children or family members.   All this in addition to all the time that any baby or toddler requires!

The primary concern for parents of a deaf or hard-of-hearing baby is how to best support communication and language skills.  We emphasize in the book (based on solid research) that if there are no other developmental challenges, hearing loss should not delay basic communication skills.  These include expressing emotion, gesturing, actions with toys and other objects.  Learning language is, however, a different matter and requires that babies and toddlers have an accessible language model used in their daily activities.  This can be  language received through vision (sign language or cued speech) or through hearing, using a hearing aid or cochlear implant.  Many deaf and hard-of-hearing children benefit from combining both approaches.

josh01_MDL.L.: I understand early intervention is highly recommended. The sooner a child is fitted with a hearing aid, the better. Can you describe what that process looks like?

Pat Spencer: Younger brains are more flexible and much early learning is supported by naturally-occurring, everyday experiences. (Later, more structured activities may be required.)  Babies learn how to use their hearing better if they begin wearing a hearing aid before rather than after 6 months of age….and 3 months seems even better.  This also prevents them from falling farther behind on listening experience.

For the baby, getting a hearing aid tuned up and in the ear is easy; it doesn’t hurt!  It is not so easy, however, for the audiologist (hearing specialist). Special training and experience working with babies is necessary.  Parents need to be directly involved in the process, too: making sure the hearing aid is actually worn, and reporting to the audiologist how the baby reacts to sounds during daily activities. Parents may respond to special questionnaires to help the audiologist know whether the aid is increasing various sounds as best possible.  Repeated audiology visits will be required to monitor the effectiveness of the hearing aid over time.

Hearing aids aren’t magic.  They often don’t provide full access to sounds, especially when the hearing loss is severe.  Although the technology continues to advance, sounds received through them may be distorted—and it is especially difficult to hear clearly when in a noisy situation.  These are some of the reasons that signs or cued speech are also often used with deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers.

L.L.: But early intervention is more than “just” a hearing aid. It may involve parent education and support, small group work, and more. Yet, it seems state funding for such programs are decreasing. What might parents do to ensure their child (and themselves!) receive the supportive programs they need?

Pat Spencer: Federal legislation, Part C of the IDEA  (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), extended intervention services down in age to birth to 3 years.  These services are to be available to all little ones with developmental delay or “potential for developmental delay” due to physical, cognitive, or medical issues.  The definition of “developmental delay” is made at each state level, however, so parents need to find out what is available in their own state. Intervention services should be in place by the time an infant is 6 months old. A team of professionals should be involved, including a case manager or primary intervention specialist who is trained and knowledgeable about little ones with limited hearing.  Services should be provided to the family as a whole and not focus on the child in isolation. 

Parents may have to advocate for their child’s needs.  Current information about recommended services is available from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association.  Parent organizations, such as Hands and Voices can be helpful . The CHIP (Colorado Home Intervention Program,) provides a model for proven high quality services for deaf or hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers.  In addition, Dr. Marilyn Sass-Lehrer’s new book “Early Intervention for Deaf and Hard-of Hearing Infants, Toddlers, and their Families: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” is a good resource about recommended serviceshandsandvoices

L.L.: Is there anything I may have forgotten to ask that you’d like to share?

Pat Spencer: The impact of warm, responsive interactions between parents or caregivers and young children cannot be over emphasized.  Many of the skills and behaviors that most adults “intuitively” use with little ones seem amazingly well designed to support their development…development of social and emotional abilities as well as motor (or physical), visual attention, communication, and language abilities. EI

We tend to use lots of sensory channels during interactions (holding and cuddling, crooning, smiling and nodding in rhythm with the baby’s movements), an we tend to show and direct attention to toys and people, while assuming that the baby’s behaviors have meaning and responding to that meaning.  These kinds of experiences provide the base from which later skills will develop regardless of the baby’s hearing abilities.  Parents  should recognize the power of these naturally-occurring behaviors…perhaps increasing some of them as their individual baby or toddler shows them what is working best, what is most appealing or engaging.  Despite remaining challenges for deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers (and their parents), great progress continues to be made.

L.L.: Thank you so very much for this very important book and for taking the time to chat with us, Patricia and Lynne.

Patricia and Lynne: Best wishes and congratulations on all you are contributing.

Final Note: As for that sweet four-year old mentioned above, he’s doing great! His mom, Meghan recommends these books and resources for more information on deaf and hard-of-hearing children:

A strong, supportive foundation for optimal learning is achieved from early, positive, and responsive 9780199931323 (1)experiences. With Nurturing Language and Learning, Patricia Elizabeth Spencer and Lynne Sanford Koester provide the expert information and guidelines needed for professionals and parents in order to build that critical foundation. ~Oxford University Press, 2016

  • For more information, please take a look at Oxford University Press’s page.
  • Available in print and ebook.

Patricia Elizabeth Spencer, Ph.D. has been a teacher, assessment specialist, and educational advocate for deaf Patricia Spencerand hard-of-hearing students (including those with multiple learning challenges) across the age range of infancy through post-graduate levels. Her work at the Gallaudet Research Institute focused on early interaction, play, and language development. She has worked internationally as a researcher and educational consultant and has written extensively on issues related to development and education of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Lynne KoesterLynne Sanford Koester retired after 25 years of teaching developmental psychology at the University of Montana and at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. She has also worked in Ethiopia, Austria, and Germany, and is the former Director of the Intercultural Youth and Family Development graduate program at her university. Her research has focused primarily on infant development within the family context – parenting behaviors and cultural influences, early parent-child interactions, and intuitive parenting.

[With special thanks to C. McCarroll at OUP. Cover image used courtesy of OUP. Author images provided by P. Spencer and L. Koester and used with permission. Mother signing with child retrieved from on 1.23.16, baby with hearing aid retrieved from the CDC on 1.23.16, boy with instructor retrieved from on 1.23.16


BooKs on MondaY: SOMETIMES is opening boundaries in children’s literature

By Leslie Lindsay 

When I was younger, my parents emphasized learning a second language, preferably Spanish. It was a close cousin to Italian, my paramour and so Spanish it was. I’m no where near fluent, but I can see the appeal it had to my parents. I’ve used my limited Spanish skills in various jobs I’ve held from R.N. to writer, and sometimes in the highly Hispanic community in which I live. download (3)

Written by Texas elementary teacher Hugo Ibarra and expert ELL educator John Seidlitz, SOMETIMES is written from first-hand experiences from their students and parents as well as Ibarra’s own story of immigration.

Andreas and Clara are living in Mexico with their mother. Their father has been absent from the family for some time now, sending money to the Qwik Mart each week…until one day the money stops. Eventually, Andreas and Clara’s tia (aunt) arrives from Texas with a promise to take them home with her, but leaving their mother behind. Immigrating from Mexico to a strange U.S. town brings new sights to their young eyes, from boarder patrol to a new school, Andreas and Clara can’t fathom a life away from their mother. With help and encouragement from a beloved teacher, their young lives improve and a welcome surprise comes at the end.

Told in simple, easy-to-read text with colorful images, SOMETIMES is a most touching story on immigration, an authentic experience being made a reality by more and more people.

Best suited for kids ages 4-8 and their caregiver, SOMETIMES is a heart-warming tale of what some families have to do to survive, as well as the amazing sacrifices and influences of an amazing teacher.

If you read SOMETIMES, here are some discussion points to enhance your experience:

  •  Ask your child(ren) about teachers at their school. Is there a particular teacher they feel comfortable talking with about their worries and concerns. Emphasize that teachers play unique roles in the lives of their students: stable role model, leadership, mentor, and more.
  • Have a discussion with your child(ren) about what immigration means. With 2016 being an election year, your children may be hearing more and more about the concept. What is your stance? Consider sharing America’s history with your children/students. After all, America is a melting pot of various cultures. Did your family immigrate from Ireland? Italy? Germany? China? Somewhere else? Read about Ellis Island. Study your family history/family tree.
  • Talk about how teachers can help students with any transition, whether it’s a move across town or across the country, teachers are there to help and encourage.
  • Do you have neighbors from another country living near you? Perhaps you can attempt to understand their ethnic backgrounds. In our suburban Chicago suburb we live near families from Russia, India, China, and other countries. How might we break cultural barriers and become neighborly? What if they don’t speak English?

For more information on SOMETIMES, or to order, please see: 


download (2)John Seidlitz, founder and CEO of Seidlitz Education, works with teachers around the country implementing strategies that promote academic language development through innovative trainings and materials. Mr. Seidlitz is a former social studies and ESL teacher, and has served as a secondary ESL program coordinator and a state education specialist. In 2009 Mr. Seidlitz founded Seidlitz Education with the mission of Giving Kids the Gift of Academic Language.™

Hugo Ibarra immigrated to the United States when he was 25. After studying 91OOGEpWXEL._UX250_immigrant children for his thesis, he received a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from The University of Texas at Tyler and began his career as a Bilingual Education Teacher in Longview, Texas. Ibarra is currently the an elementary school principal in Bryan, Texas. Sometimesis his first children’s book


BookS on MondaY: Laura Choate talks about raising girls in a toxic culture, the importance of the family dinner, stress & coping in tween years


Girls these days have a lot to live up to. Not only does society harbor the impression that girls ought to be bright, thin, beautiful, thin, hot, sexy, and strong yet soft and feminine. They need to be divas, yet liked by peers and adults. They should exude kindness, but still “get ahead.” The world gives our girls a lot of contradictory images to uphold and it’s no wonder we falter in supporting them. Laura Choate, therapist and mother to a daughter (and son), has taken it upon herself to present a balanced approach to parenting a daughter in this so-called “toxic culture,” this concept of SWIMMING UPSTREAM.

As a former child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. with a strong interest in supporting adolescent girls in self-esteem and coping skills, and a mother to two pre-teen daughters, I get it. It’s not easy raising a daughter. Yet, as parents we have such an important job to convey our messages of love and support, and being there with the tough gets going.

Today, I am honored to have Dr. Laura Choate pop over to chat with usabout  SWIMMING UPSTREAM: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture.

Leslie Lindsay: Laura, it’s wonderful for to you swing by! You’re a counselor, professor, and mom. What ultimately inspired you to write SWIMMING UPSTREAM? Was there an ‘ah-ha’ moment?

Laura Choate:  In 2013 I had just finished a book, Adolescent Girls in Distress: a Guide to Mental Health Prevention and Treatment (Springer Press), and it was geared to counselors so that they could better understand cultural influences directed towards girls, girls’ development and mental health, and how to treat common mental health problems in girls. After it was published I had a “light bulb” moment when I realized that while counselors need these types of resources, it is parents who are in need of information about today’s culture, how it can affect their daughters, and about what they can do to help their daughters stay resilient in the face of cultural influences. As a parent of a 10 year old daughter, I also recognized how toxic the culture is for today’s girls and how much support parents really need. So I decided to write a new book specifically geared towards parents, and that’s how this book came to be.

L.L.: Because of these seemingly unattainable standards, many girls experience stress, anxiety, eating disorders, self-doubt, depression, and even suicidal ideation.  Can you speak to that, please?

Laura Choate: I agree, and it is a real concern that these problems are on the rise in adolescent girls, and that they disproportionately affect girls and women more so than boys and men. For example, boys and girls experience similar rates of depression until around age 12, but after 12 girls are twice as likely as boys to be diagnosed with depression. We also know that rates of depression triple in girls between the ages of 12-15 – from 5% at age 12 to 15% by age 15. It is clear that the transition to puberty and early adolescence is a high-risk period for girls.  They really need our support during this time.

L.L.:  I really love the fabulous text boxes sprinkled throughout the book. They contain activities readers can try (and discuss) with their daughter(s), as well as self-reflection activities for parents.  It makes the narrative so much more accessible for busy families. What are some of your favorite activities mentioned within the book? And have you tried them with your own daughter?

Laura Choate:  I am glad you like them! I tried to make the book as practical as possible so that parents would have some actual tools for applying the concepts described in the book. One thing that is always important and fun to do with my own daughter is co-viewing media and asking her e481fbed721f29d2-163x255questions about what we are watching (e.g., “Why is the female hero in Jurassic World wearing a tight white tank top, skirt, and heels while running through the jungle, while the male hero is wearing hiking boots? or “Why do you think they are using these images to sell this product?” or even “What do you like about this show?” ) I don’t overdo it because it can become annoying when she is just trying to enjoy a show, but I think it is important to instill critical thinking skills in our daughters at a young age.  It is also great to ask questions with print ads as well: “What is the product they are trying to sell? Why did they choose these particular models? What image are they trying to convey? Will using this product bring about the lifestyle being promoted in the ad?” These are great conversations to have and they work well to promote media literacy in our daughters.

I also like to use exercises to help girls evaluate their friendships. To see if their friendships are healthy, they can ask themselves some of the questions I describe in the book: (1) List 5 qualities you are looking for in a friend (2) Do your current friends have these qualities? If not, what draws you to these friendships? (3) Do you have these same qualities? What can you do to work on these qualities in yourself? And finally, (4) Does spending time around your friends cause you to feel better or worse about yourself? Do they support you and build you up, or are they a source of stress in your life?

L.L.: One piece of advice I came across in SWIMMING UPSTREAM is the importance of face time, family rituals, parent self-care, and family meals. Can you share more?

imagesLaura Choate:  A big theme in the book is Love and Acceptance.  A girl needs to feel accepted as she is, not according to who the culture tells her she should be. If she looks to the culture for acceptance, she will feel that she never measures up—not pretty enough, thin enough, accomplished enough, popular enough.  But if she feels loves and accepted just as she is by her parents and support system, this builds resilience and keeps her from desperately looking to others to validate her or pay attention to her.  So accept your daughter just as she is, not who you wish she could be…not if she loses a few pounds or makes better grades or wins first place. Let her know that you love her and that you like spending time with her. Help her know that she is wonderful just as she is!

L.L.: But sometimes there are issues and concerns that go beyond family dinner and listening. How do we know when our girls need a little more assistance than we can provide at home (i.e. therapy, in-patient hospitalization, medication)? What threshold should we be looking at?

Laura Choate: I agree, and that is why I included a chapter in the book about signs and symptoms of common mental health problems in girls: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, and sexual trauma.  Parents should be familiar with these symptoms and pay attention to any changes in their daughter’s attitudes and behaviors that might be of concern. It is hard to state all of the warning signs here, but I would say that if you notice changes that concern you, seek professional help earlier than later. Prevention and early intervention is always more effective than waiting until her problems have become deeply entrenched.

L.L.: You mention this wonderful coping skill set that I wanted to reiterate. It goes something like this: 1) Find something fun to do 2) Find an activity to release energy/stay healthy, 3) engage in a soothing/relaxing activity, 4) increase social support, and 5) find a way to change the way you think about a situation. Wow! That’s an amazingly simple and effective recipe. Can you talk more about that?

Laura Choate: Yes, these are suggestions for developing a coping skills repertoire—the idea is that you need to have some coping strategies in place to help you manage multiple types of stressors. For example, sometimes you need something to release energy in order to feel better, while other times you just need to relax. It’s important to realize what you need and to have a go-to strategy when you need it! These strategies are drawn from the ACTION treatment program, a research-based program designed for the treatment of childhood depression, but I find that they are helpful for everyone.

L.L.: What advice would you give to parents of t(w)een girls in four words?

Laura Choate:  Love her, Accept her, Validate her, Like her!

L.L: What other books or resources might you recommend for raising girls?

Laura Choate:  I have a recommended reading list in my book, but some resources I used heavily in the book are: Ginsberg (2011) Building resilience in children and teens; Homayoun, A. (2012) Myth of the perfect girl; Helping our daughters find authentic success and happiness in school and life; Deak., J (2003). Girls will be girls: Raising confident and courageous daughters; Hemmen L. (2012) Parenting a teen girl; Crash course on conflict, communication, and connection with your teenage daughter; Levin, D. & Kilbourne, J. (2008). So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids; Steiner-Adair, C. (2013). The big disconnect: Protecting childhood and family relationships in the digital age, and finally Levine, M. (2012). Teach your children well. download (1)

And I write as a parenting expert blogger on Psychology and address these issues regularly, so that is another place you can go for additional reading!

L.L.: Oh, I feel like I could go on and go…alas we both have other things to attend to! Is there anything I should have asked, but forgot?

Laura Choate:  Just a final note that parenting is hard, and parenting tween girls is both a blessing and a challenge!  I think it is important that parents become aware that the current culture is toxic for our daughters, and so we need to take action to decide how we are going to respond. I encourage parents not to throw up their hands and accept that “this is just the way things are…”; instead we can make decisions as to what we want for our families and what kind of adults we want our daughters to grow up to be, and then parent from those values. We don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. As I say in the book, we can choose to swim upstream.

L.L.: Thanks, Laura for being with us and sharing your wonderful book, SWIMMING UPSTREAM: Parenting Girls For Resilience in a Toxic Culture.

Laura Choate: Thank you so much for your careful reading of the book and for giving me an opportunity to share some of the highlights!

Laura ChoateLaura H. Choate, EdD, LPC, is a Jo Ellen Levy Yates Endowed Professor in Counselor Education at Louisiana State University. Dr. Choate is the author of three books:  Girls and Women’s Wellness: Contemporary Counseling Issues and Interventions (2008), Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Counselor’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment (edited; 2013), and Adolescent Girls in Distress: A Guide to Mental Health Treatment and Prevention (2013) with her fourth book, Swimming Upstream: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture, published in November by Oxford University Press. She lives in Baton Rouge with her husband and preteen son and daughter.

Laura is a regular contributor to Psychology Today and tweets @DrLauraChoate.

[With special thanks to E. Hallick at Oxford University Press. Cover and author images courtesy of OUP. Image of tween girl selfie from on 12.3.15, family meal image from ] 


By Leslie Lindsay Casey's Bright Red Christmas

Calling all cookie lovers and tractor fans! That’s right–we’re bringing the farm to you this holiday season with this delightful storybook for children ages 4-8. CASEY’S BRIGHT RED CHRISTMAS.

Books for the youngest tractor fans

Real equipment and cartoon characters converge in new children’s series that makes
modern farming the hero. 

In a fabulous new series, we spend the holidays on Happy Skies Farm with Casey, Tillus and friends and their beloved farm. But there’s so much to do with regular farm chores, plus decorating, cocoa and carols, that the task seems almost impossible…and where’s Casey?

Readers will delight in the bright, colorful illustrations, as well as the classic message of slowing down to enjoy the festivities. Oh, and that cookie? Well, there’s a lovely frosted sugar cookie recipe at the back of the book…cause ya know, all of those farm chores sure works up an appetite!

Got a farm guru on your hands? How about a little person who loves tractors, combines, and cultivators? Maybe you live on a farm?! Check out the rest of the fabulous titles from Octane Press.

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Meet the Author & Illustrator:
Holly Dufek
has spent nearly 15 years writing and working with educational curriculum for publishers such as Holt McDougal, National Geographic Education and Riverside Publishing. Holly has worked to develop content to enrich the National Common Core Standards for elementary through high school classrooms. She holds a master’s degree in Education and lives in Kenosha, WI, with her husband,Matt, and their three children.

Paul E. Nunn is a full-range artist who has worked for Disney, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street. He lives in Racine, WI, with his wife, Amy, and their two children.

For more information: 

[With special thanks to PRbytheBook] 

Books On Monday: Meet the 10 year-old author of COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS

By Leslie Lindsay

‘Tis the season when Christian families start looking forward to the fun and festivities surrounding the birth of Jesus. Of course, children get very excited about the celebration to come (hey, I once passed out and had to spend a portion of Christmas Eve in the ER; I was fine just over-stimulated and dehydrated). But really, do the kids in our lives understand why Christmas is such an exciting celebration? Countdown to Christmas

Meet, Theresa the 10 year old author of THE COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS: The Jesse Tree Tradition. Theresa comes from a big family–seven in all, including mom and dad. But Jesus came from a big family as well. Every year, Theresa’s family celebrates the Jesse Tree tradition, here’s why:

“First, the Jesse Tree is a small Christmas tree with paper ornaments on it. Each ornament has a picture of a different person from the Bible. The ornaments are really pretty, but the reason the Jesse Tree is so important to us is simple. The Jesse Tree is a family tree. It is His family tree, the tree of the Son of God.”

Here’s how it works:

  • Beginning on the night of December 1st, gather your family and read a story from the Bible.
  • Sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
  • Hang a paper ornament on a tree to honor a person in the story. There’s Adam and Eve, Sarah and Noah, and Abraham, David…and a host of others.

But THE COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS: The Jesse Tree Tradition is so much more than that. It’s a beautifully illustrated companion book to your holiday traditions (or the start of a new one!), which includes sturdy punch-out ornaments that can be preserved for seasons to come. Each day, a story is presented telling you exactly what to share with your family. It’s a timeless piece of Biblical history and family tradition all rolled into one. Plus, it’s designed by a 10-year old girl, “I wrote this book because I wanted to share the Jesse Tree tradition with you. It is treasured by my family, and good things like this should be shared. I hope you like it, and I hope you might want to make the Jesse Tree part of your family’s Christmas tradition.” 

Check out my interview with Theresa:


Leslie LindsayDo you remember when you first had the idea to write COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS, what inspired you?


Theresa Seidltz: I was 10 yrs old and my Dad kept trying to find kids story books for Bible Stories that we were using for our Jesse Tree. I started to write the story for us to use. I would read them in the bible and then write the stories for my Dad to use when we put the ornaments on the tree. One day we started talking and thought,“hey this should be a book.”


L.L.: Did you always want to write a book?

Theresa Seidltz: Yes, I have always loved writing since I was very young. I also love telling stories.


L.L.: What do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of books do you think you would write if you became an author?  


Theresa Seidltz: I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up but I know I want to write I especially would like to write fantasy books, but right now I am more focused on comedy related to my family and friends.


L.L.: What was your favorite part about writing this book?


Theresa Seidltz: Looking up the stories because I like finding out what happened to the characters in the bible.


L.L.: What do you think the hardest thing about writing a book is?


Theresa Seidltz: The work!! Putting all your thoughts down on paper. It takes time. It is really hard not to give up.


L.L.: What advice would you give to other kids who want to write books?

Theresa Seidltz: Don’t give up!! Keep at it, it is a lot of work but if you keep going, eventually you will finish.


L.L.: What are some of your favorite books to read during Christmas season? I have so many books I like to read at Christmas time.


Theresa Seidltz: I like the book “The New Advent book of Traditions” that have the stories behind all the things we do in December like Christmas cards and candy canes. I also like a book called “The Donkey’s Dream, “St Francis and the Christmas Donkey,”  and “Merry Christmas Curious George.”


L.L.: Which story is your favorite story in Countdown to Christmas? What is the important message that it shows?


Theresa S of COUNTDOWN CHRISTMASTheresa Seidltz: The Nativity is my favorite story. I think it shows patience because throughout the whole Bible, people are waiting for Jesus to come. They go through a lot of difficult things. Then He finally comes and it is a happy


For more information, or to purchase please see: 

  • Canter Press, the publisher of THE COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS
  • Follow Canter Press on Twitter  using this hashtag: #countdown2christmas
  • Buy on Amazo


BookS on MondaY: Meet the author & Illustrator of Bestselling Children’s Books THE POUT-POUT FIST

By Leslie Lindsay 

If you’ve been around children’s literature of late, you’ll know this grumpy little fish has some dreary, weary days. Well, he’s back this holiday season but can’t seem to find any suitable gifts for the folks (fish), on his list…sigh!

Today, I am honored to have bestselling author-illustrator duo Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna with us to have a merry little chat. NOT VERY MERRY POUT POUT

Leslie Lindsay: How did you come up with the original Pout-Pout fish book in 2008?

Deborah Diesen: The story grew out of an actual pout! One day many, many years ago, when my elder son was a preschooler, he was having a very grouchy afternoon. Hoping to amuse him, I made an exaggerated pouty face at him. He smiled and then pouted right back, which got us both laughing. “We look like fish,” I said. “Like pout-pout fish!” As soon as I said that out loud, it became a story idea. I jotted the idea down and I started writing The Pout-Pout Fish that same day. Years later, I started sending the story to publishers, and in 2005 it was accepted at Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers. The book was published in 2008 and began a series of stories, all featuring Mr. Fish, his friends, and their adventures.
L.L>: What is Mr. Fish up to now? Does he have a case of the “dreary wearies” in the latest book, too?
DEBORAH DIESEN: Mr. Fish’s newest adventure is called The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish. In it, Mr. Fish is in a bit of a holiday panic, searching for perfect gifts for all of his friends. His shopping trip is unsuccessful, and Mr. Fish is sure that he’s let all of his friends down. But his friend Miss Shimmer reminds him that the best gifts of all come straight from the heart, and she helps him craft simple and meaningful presents to bring to the holiday party. His friends are delighted with their presents, and together everyone celebrates peace, joy, and love – what a very merry gift!
L.L: What do you hope young readers (ages 3-6) will learn from The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish? Is there a message here for grown-ups as well?
DEBORAH DIESEN: I hope that Mr. Fish’s latest tale will help children to realize that presents don’t need to
be expensive or complicated or splashy. Simple, heartfelt presents that connect us to one another are the best gifts of all. A drawing; a craft project; time spent together; even just a smile! These sorts of gifts are the most cherished and the most enduring. It’s a lesson we grown-ups have to re-learn periodically as well.
L.L.:Do you have any tips for parents of toddlers about the joy of giving presents, rather than just receiving them, this holiday season?
DEBORAH DIESEN: Kids love to give presents, and they especially love having an active role in the process of
creating the presents. Try a craft idea or project that’s extremely simple and stress-free, and then let your child have at it with a minimum of help. The more messy, lopsided, and imperfect the results the better! Have fun with the process, and as you do you’ll create not just gifts but memories as well.   

Leslie Lindsay: Since the first book, we’ve seen Mr. Fish go to school, learn to smile, face the dark, discover how to dream and play hide-and-seek. What do kids (and their parents) love most about the series?
DEBORAH DIESEN: I think one of the things that makes Mr. Fish an appealing character for many kids and parents
is that kids and parents alike can identify with his experiences. Toddlers sometimes pout; so do adults! Preschoolers have things they’re scared of; so do adults! Kindergarteners get nervous about starting something new; so do adults! Mr. Fish’s experiences provide a way for kids and grown-ups to explore those issues together. In addition, the stories have rhyme, repetition, and wordplay, which are fun in a read-aloud book. And Dan Hanna’s illustrations! They’re fantastic.They truly bring the stories to life.
L.L.: Ooh, what a wonderful segue…Dan, what’s your  advice for aspiring picture book illustrators?
DAN HANNA: Buy one thousand parrots and place them in a room with a looped recording saying something like: “Dan Hanna can sure draw fish!” Then release the parrots, using a helicopter, over each of the major publishing houses. When the editors leave for lunch they’ll hear the parrots in the trees screeching,“Aaaaccck, Dan Hanna can sure draw fish!” Now I know this scheme seems rather elaborate, but it worked for me.
L.L.: Do you enjoy researching or do you prefer working totally from your imagination?
DAN HANNA: Initially I let my imagination run wild. Then I knock it out with a tranquilizer dart while I do some research.
Finally, my groggy imagination re-awakes, snarls angrily and then runs wild again. I’ve found that this approach works best for me.
For more information, teacher resources, order books, find activities, and more, please pop over to the POUT-POUT FISH website. 
Deborah D POUT POUT FISHDEBORAH DIESEN currently works for a small nonprofit organization and has also worked as a reference librarian and a bookseller. She lives in Grand Ledge, Michigan. You can learn more at her website
Dan POUT-POUT FISTDAN HANNA has over ten years’ experience in the animation industry, and his work has appeared on BBC America and the Cartoon Network. He lives in Santa Barbara, California. He is the illustrator of the Pout-Pout Fish books.You can learn more at his website
[Author/illustrator/cover images provided by A.Wike at PRbytheBook] 

BooKs on MondaY: HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap & Prepare Your Kid for Success with Julie Lythcott-Haims

By Leslie Lindsay 

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and GET THIS BOOK! It’s Malcolm Gladwell meets Paul Tough meets Madeline Levine in a fresh, timely take on raising excellent adults from former Stanford freshmen admissions dean and parent Julie Lythcott-Haims.HTRaiseAdult

Never preachy, and oh-so-relatable Lythcott-Haims is spot-on with her approach to parenting, over-parenting, and preparing your children for the adult world. Julie gets it–she’s a mom raising her two (now) teenaged children in Silicon Valley where it’s customary for kids to have most of what they want, thanks to high-powered and successful parents with seemingly endless resources. With compassion and empathy, Lythcott-Haims takes parents through the minefield of raising kids to be independent, and how that is, in fact, the best way to honor and support your children’s individuality.

Brimming with research and laid out in a manner all parents can appreciate, HOW TO RAISE AND ADULT is a deeply informed narrative, which reads as if you’re chatting with a good friend over coffee. You’ll come across cringe-worthy anecdotes of parental over-involvement gathered from the author’s observation and interviews with parents, teens, educators, coaches, and more.

HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT is about letting your children fly while offering them stepping stones to critical thinking, problem-solving, and resilience.

Due to an uber-busy book tour this fall–in fact, she’s in my neck of the woods right now–Ms. Lythcott-Haims is unavailable to join us for an interview, but…fear not, for here’s a little cheat-sheet for your next book group, coffee break, or anytime you’re with like-minded parents and want to delve into some of the topics addressed in HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT:

1. For better or worse, eighteen is not the magical age at which a child becomes an adult; ADULTHOOD is more than just a number. So what does it mean to be an adult? On page 145, Lythcott-Haims offers a response to this question with the help of Professor William Damon, who states that “an adult social role is one that is intrinsically not about you.” Do you agree or disagree with this definition? How would you define adulthood?

2. As Lythcott-Haims discusses in her introduction, parenting styles, values, and methodologies in the United States have changed through the years and between generations. Does (or will) your parenting style differ from that of your own parents? In your lifetime, have you noticed a broader shift in the ways we, as a culture, think about and practice parenting?

3. In the twenty-first century, TECHNOLOGY influences nearly every facet of our lives, including the ways in which we parent. On page 14, Lythcott-Haims presents the following examples of how technology has affected parent-child relationships: “Take, for example, the mother of a Beverly Hills high schooler who insisted her son text her hourly on his way to and from a beach outing with friends. . . Or the Stanford parent who contacted the university to say he thought his daughter was missing because he hadn’t heard from her in over a day.” How does technology play a role in the way you parent (or plan to parent)? Is the ability to be in constant contact a blessing or a curse?

4. As parents, it pains us to see our kids get hurt, or fail, or face ANY VARIETY OF DISAPPOINTMENT But Lythcott-Haims argues that the experience of failure is key to building resilience in children and young adults. To what extent, and in what ways, is failure a necessary crucible for growth? At what point, if any, should parents intervene to prevent struggle?

5. Developmental psychologists generally agree that there are FOUR TYPES OF PARENTING: authoritative, permissive/indulgent, neglectful, and authoritarian. These types are diagrammed on a Cartesian chart on page 146. If your parenting style were a plot point on this chart, where do you think it would fall? Has its position changed over time?

6. There are numerous examples throughout How to Raise an Adult of parents who become exceedingly INVOLVED in their children’s schoolwork and responsibilities—sometimes through college and even beyond, into their children’s professional career. Is it ever appropriate or acceptable for parents to assist their children with schoolwork? College applications? The job search? 

7. On pages 81 to 83, Lythcott-Haims proposes a CHECK-LIST OF LIFE SKILLS that any self-sufficient eighteen-year old should be able to exhibit. Do you agree with the contents of this list? Are there skills or behaviors that you think should be added to or removed from the list?

8. On pages 166 to 174, Lythcott-Haims describes a 4-STEP STRATEGY FOR TEACHING LIFE-SKILLS: 1) first we do it for you, 2) then we do it with you, 3) then we watch you do it, and 4) then you do it completely independently. She acknowledges that the third and fourth steps are often the most difficult for parents to carry out, and require an enormous leap of faith. In your experience, why is it hard for parents to stand back? What are the fears and hopes involved, and how can a parent mitigate them?

9. One of the book’s major concerns is the PRESSURE that young people feel—to get straight As and perform well in extracurricular activities, and ultimately to gain admission to top-ranked universities and to obtain job offers from well-known companies—and the harms to mental health that result from this pressure. To what extent is it possible for individual parents to encourage effort and striving, and to reward achievement, without risking their children’s mental health and without fueling the “brand name brouhaha,” as Lythcott-Haims calls it on page 248? In what ways does our current collective value system resist individual efforts to turn the tide?

10. As discussed in Part 4 of the book, over-parenting not only negatively affects our children, but often places undue STRAIN ON PARENTS themselves. How does your parenting style affect your stress levels and your sense of self?

So…have you made it to the bookstore yet? Let me know your thoughts! 

For more information, please visit: 

  • The HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT website where you can share your story, read interviews from TIME, CBS this Morning, MSNBC, THE HUFFINGTON POST, the LA TIMES, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, find a book tour near you, and more
  • HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT on Facebook
  • Julie Lythcott-Haims on Twitter 

Julie Lythcott-Haims_Author photo for publicity and marketing_Credit to Kristina VetterBio: I am deeply interested in humans – all of us – living lives of meaning and purpose, which requires figuring out what we’re good at and what we love, and being the best version of that self we can be. So I’m interested in what gets in the way of that.  I wrote this book because too many adolescents and young adults seem to be on a path of someone else’s making, while being subjected to a lot of hovering and lot of help to ensure that particular path is walked, all in furtherance of a very limited and narrow definition of “success.”  I come at this issue from the dual vantage points of former university dean and parent of two teenagers, and with great empathy for humans.

I majored in American Studies at Stanford University (1989) and studied law at Harvard (1994). I practiced law in the Bay Area in the 1990s before returning to Stanford to serve in various roles including Dean of Freshmen, a position I created and held for a decade. In my final three years at Stanford I was Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising, and in 2010 I received the university’s Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for “creating the atmosphere that defines the undergraduate experience.” Since leaving Stanford in 2012 I’ve been pursuing an MFA at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

In addition to non-fiction I write creative non-fiction, poetry, short stories, and plays. My work has appeared on TEDx talks and in the Chicago Tribune, Forbes, The New York Times,,, and Huffington Post. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband, our teenagers, and my mother.

[Special thanks to Leslie Brandon at Henry Holt & Co. for this review copy. Discussion questions retrieved from Ms. Lythcott-Haims website].