"Noni is nervous about a lot of things. She is nervous about her playdates with her bossy friend Susie. She is nervous about global warming. And, today, she is nervous about her first day of school."
Noni bites her nails. She twirls her hair, and talks too much. Her parents are concerned, and Noni is worried. What if the teacher is mean? What will she wear, and where will she sit on the bus? How will she ever calm her nerves about school?
Noni makes a new friend, and soon she gets to know other kids. With each new day, Noni's fears about getting lost, opening her juice box, or having an accident gradually disappear. In fact, the more she gets to know the kids and the routine, the more she likes school. Her family is still anxious to hear about her day, but Noni announces: "School was great! Sheesh! I really don't know what you are all so nervous about!"
I spoke with former E! Entertainment celebrity host and author Heather Hartt-Sussman. "I am Noni!" she confessed. She remembers being a nervous wreck as a kid, and being a people-pleaser. Many kids will relate to what Noni is feeling, so Hartt-Sussman suggests parents open the dialogue during the course of reading. "Questions like, "Have you ever felt like this?" "How did you feel on the last day of school?" are starting points for conversation."
Hartt-Sussman, who discovered her passion for writing kids' books before she had children, thinks "Noni Is Nervous" has valuable lessons for both children and parents. "New challenges are scary, but facing your fears is a great way to build self-esteem. Friends can be very helpful in unsure surroundings."
Young readers will enjoy the gentle watercolour illustrations, and will relate to the charming tale of Noni Is Nervous. Perfect to read aloud and share before the start of the school year. Highly recommended for ages 3-7.
Also available by Heather Hartt-Sussman: Noni Says No
My kids don't know how lucky they are. How could they possibly know? They live in their sheltered world, in which play dates, music lessons and toys are a given.
Yet, I want my kids to understand that there's a world beyond their "needs" of the moment. But, how does one teach kindness, compassion, and gratitude?
I thought that volunteering as a family would be a good place start, but quickly hit a wall: Many organizations do not accept child volunteers.
Here are five kid-friendly places where you can volunteer as a family. I've also included suggestions for simple acts of kindness you can do together, without an organization.
1. Nursing and Retirement Homes. Visiting with a senior, writing letters, or drawing pictures, are great ways to get involved and forge relationships. Older kids may be able to assist with games and special events.
2. Library. Reading Buddies and Tutoring programs often welcome tweens.
3. Deliveries. Many organizations ask volunteers to make deliveries. Sometimes kids can assist with loading the van, and tag along with parents. In Calgary, there is a wonderful organization called Made by Momma, which collects and delivers goods to mothers in need. They welcome young helpers with parents, and engage in a variety of activities. Grassroots organizations like Made by Momma tend to be more open to children volunteers, so check for similar groups in your community.
4. Soup Kitchens, Food Banks, Shelters. Some soup kitchens will allow older children to serve food. Younger kids can help out by shopping with parents for food items to be donated. Although kids won't likely be interacting with residents of shelters, many families in distress would appreciate donations of books and toys. Encourage kids to donate items from their collection that are in excellent condition, or select something to buy together.
5. Fundraising Bikes, Walks, Runs. Joining these active fundraisers is a great way to enlist the whole family in a good cause. Many opportunities are available in the spring and summer months. This is exercise that is good for the body and soul.
If you can't find an organization that's right for you and your kids, try creating your own acts of kindness! Here are some ideas:
Lemonde Stand. Kids can donate the proceeds to a charity of their choice.
Visit Friends Going Through A Rough Time. Teach your kids that when people are sick or sad, friends can help them get through rough patches. A visit with a homemade meal can mean so much.
Bake Cookies For the Neighbours. Delivering homemade cookies to neighbours is a great way to begin establishing a sense of community.
We are trying out some of these activities this summer, and hope to stick with them throughout the school year. As a bonus, we have so far managed to stave off boredom and keep some focus during summer break.
Just because school's out for summer doesn't mean reading is out. Books are the perfect end to a tiring day of outdoor activities. On a rainy day, books are great entertainment. The best part of summer reading? Kids can read purely for pleasure, without school interfering in their schedule. Children who read for pleasure are not only having fun; they are more likely to grow into academically and financially successful adults.
Parents can play an important role in nurturing a love of reading from an early age. Here are some tips for inspiring a love of books through the summer months:
It's easy! The TD Summer Reading Club is an annual reading program that inspires a love of reading by encouraging children across Canada to visit public libraries all summer long.
Check out the great books they are featuring for the 2013 TD Summer Reading Club!
Here are a few books my daughter can't wait to read:
By joining the club, kids receive activity kits, posters, and stickers with codes they can use on the website. My three kids have joined the club every summer, and couldn't wait to visit the library for more activities. What I loved about the club is that it got us excited about visiting the library regularly throughout the summer. My kids would browse the shelves, pick up a whole bunch of books, and meet other club members. Our library ran contests, readings, celebrations, quizzes, and crafts. Such a wonderful way for kids to pick new books and meet other readers their age! The website is an excellent resource for parents, providing book recommendations for every age, genre, and taste. Kids have fun on the site with jokes, scavenger hunts, and silly stories.
Last year alone, TD donated $4 million to children's literacy in Canada. More than 580,000 children participate in the TD summer reading club, collectively reading over 2.4 million books each summer. Children with vision loss also participate, in association with the CNIB. The program will kick off mid-June, and my kids can't wait to become members again!
Pack your favourite snacks and books, and don't forget a blanket and some cold drinks. It's such a treat to be outdoors, running, eating, and reading. We've even done this on our deck.
Kids are watching your behaviour, so make sure you practice what you preach. Let kids catch you reading a book often, and talk with them about what you're reading.
Summer is the one season when kids don't have to read what their teachers prescribe. Let them enjoy that freedom in order to foster a habit of reading for pleasure.
We tend to be out and about more often in the summer. You never know when you're going to get stuck in traffic, or when you're going to be waiting in a long line at the amusement park. Light-weight pocket books are the perfect antidote to frustration and boredom. Arm yourself with books, and your kids will be more likely to reap their benefits.
Happy Summer Reading!