Book Review: Julia Cook's Children's Series on Feelings

I have been searching high and low for children's books that have a solid approach on helping children recognize what they are feeling, and that it is okay to feel that way. Most books use more unrealistic animal characters, such as Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer, or the popular Llama Llama series by Anna Dewdney. We needed books that depicted real people.

After quite some time spent browsing, I ended up falling in love with Julia Cook's book series on feelings! They are very well written, and the illustrations by Anita Dufalla are awesome! If you are a first time reader on my blog, you may not know yet that my 7 year old son is diagnosed with high functioning Autism (formerly known as "Aspergers.) We struggle daily with recognizing feelings, and learning strategies to help everyone cope better when we are overwhelmed in the moment. The most important thing for me to explain to get across is that it is perfectly normal to feel any and every feeling(s) they feel when they do. I wanted my children to see that they aren't the only one who have these emotions, and learn how to handle them so they don't feel so intense. It was a big deal trying to help my son especially to understand that these feelings will pass. We have 3 rules to being upset, as long as these are followed, it is fair game how they choose to react" or cope with the feelings:

When I first put these rules into play, I didn't give them alternatives as I was interested to see what they would come up with as far as healthy coping and problem solving goes. We started off slightly rocky, with my logical thinkers thinking and they found loopholes, "What if I break "MY" things?" So we quickly intercepted and explained that there was a zero tolerance for ANYTHING broken, and that feeling of wanting to break something needs to be recognized far before it gets to that point.

This is where Julia's books really fit in well with what we were trying to get across to our 4 and 7 year olds. Noticing your face feeling hot, your heart beating faster, your brain feeling tingly, and being able to label all of those sensations as a feeling. One of my favorite books she wrote is "But It's Not My Fault!" A book where you tag along with a boy nicknamed Noodle, and he runs into every day problems where he is seemingly set up for failure. In the beginning you feel bad for the poor boy, while he is getting in trouble for things, that are what appear to be caused by everyone around him. However, in the end, his mother teaches him the valuable lesson about responsibility, and how these situations could have been avoided if Noodle didn't make a poor choice.

In Aspergers, or high functioning Autism, social cues are hard to grasp for many. My son particularly troubles in understanding responses from others around him coupled with his attention to logic, this can be difficult explaining another point of view. This book helped us in one particular situation, where he had shot a Nerf dart right at his sisters head from across the room. When I told him that he needed to put the gun down and take a break, he got upset with me and told me that she was in his way, and that she shouldn't be crying "like a baby."

Logically he is correct, if she weren't there, she wouldn't have gotten hit... however he should not have been aiming the dart gun in her direction. He needed to take responsibility for this, and take a "time out" to think of better ways to play with his toy that won't be a safety risk. We read this book later that evening, and it allowed him to take the roll of Noodle, and he was able to see it in a different perspective.

Some of her other great books to check out:

Soda Pop Head - His real name is Lester, but everyone calls him Soda Pop Head. Most of the time he is pretty happy, but when things seem to be unfair his ears gets hot, his face turns red and he blows his top! Lesters dad comes to his rescue by teaching him a few techniques to loosen the top and cool down before his fizz takes control. Soda Pop Head will help your child control his/her anger while helping them manage stress. It s a must for the home or classroom.

Baditude -In this book, Noodle thinks his life just stinks! Homework stinks. Practice stinks. And family pictures - they REALLY stink. Noodle's attitude, or 'baditude' is alienating everyone around him. With help from a teacher and his mom, Noodle learns how to turn his 'have tos' into 'get tos.'

That Rule Doesn't Apply to Me - Noodle is having a rough couple of days. The rules keep getting in the way of his fun! Rules for this and rules for that. There are so many rules - too many rules! Rules stink! And Noodle struggles because he doesn't think many of them actually apply to HIM! Can't he just have a rule-free day? Author Julia Cook's newest book in the Responsible Me! series will have readers in stitches as Noodle describes the variety of rules he deals with daily. Will Noodle's mother and teacher convince him that rules are meant to help, not harm, him?

My Mouth Is A Volcano - This book takes an empathetic approach to the habit of interrupting and teaches children a witty technique to capture their rambunctious thoughts and words for expression at an appropriate time. Told from Louis’ perspective, this story provides parents, teachers, and counselors with an entertaining way to teach children the value of respecting others by listening and waiting for their turn to speak.

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue - Parents who "battle the tattle" at home, on the playground, in the grocery store, or anywhere else, can use this book to both entertain and enlighten their children about "The Tattle Rules." Every adult that desires to help children understand the differences between unnecessary tattling and the necessity of warning others about important matters needs this book!

Decibella and Her 6-Inch Voice - Isabella is a spirited girl who enjoys shouting out her thoughts, ideas and feelings. In fact, she loves using her loud voice so much; it's earned her the nickname,Decibella! Young readers will be entertained as they see how Isabella learns the five volumes of voice and discovers that different situations require a different tone.

Lying Up a Storm - This book is a great resource to help children understand not only the consequences of telling a lie, but also how one lie can often lead to telling several more. It will help parents and teachers understand that lying can be a normal and sometimes healthy response for a child and offers tools to help guide children toward truthfulness.

Tease Monster - When One-of-a-Kind”is laughed at by Purple for being weird and Green playfully calls One a klutz after tripping on the stairs, is the Tease Monster to blame? With words of wisdom from Mom about the Tease Monster, One discovers that teasing is part of life. And not all teasing is the same. One learns that laughing at someone (mean teasing)has a hurtful bite, but laughing with someone is alright when it's not done out of spite.

Making Friends Is An Art - Meet Brown the least used pencil in the box. He s tall, geeky and lonely. Brown envies Red, Purple, Blue and all the other pencils who have fun coloring and playing together. Dark Green is trustworthy, Pink listens well, Orange has fun, and everybody likes Red! Brown doesn't smile very often because he doesn't get used much and hardly ever needs sharpening. When Brown asks the other pencils why no one likes him, he discovers that to have friends, he needs to be a good friend. If Brown learns to use all of the friendship skills the other pencils have, he can make friends and have fun too!

Personal Space Camp - Louis is back! And this time, he's learning all about personal space. Louis, a self-taught space expert is delighted to learn that his teacher has sent him to the principal's office to attend personal space camp. Eager to learn more about lunar landings, space suits, and other cosmic concepts, Louis soon discovers that he has much to learn about personal space right here on earth. Written with style, wit, and rhythm, personal space camp addresses the complex issue of respect for another person s physical boundaries. Told from Louis perspective, this story is a must-have resource for parents, teachers, and counselors who want to communicate the idea of personal space in a manner that connects with kids.

These are just a few of our hand picked favorites from Julia Cook, you can check out her biography and ALL of her books here! She seriously has a book for EVERYTHING!

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