Archive for March, 2014

March 12, 2014

Wedgies, Swirlies, and the Last One Picked

Wedgies, Swirlies, and the Last One Picked
by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard38-FE3-KathyHiggs-Coulthard

“It’s just a natural part of growing up.”
“Sticks and stones, you know?”
“He needs to get thicker skin.”
“Maybe he should join a new sport.”

 These are actual comments I received when I tried to talk to adults about the situation my child was facing in school. My son went from being a bubbly, outgoing, goofy fifth grader to a severely depressed sixth grader. We talked to his teachers. We talked to school officials. We were told things were being handled. And they seemed to be. We stopped hearing about the kid at school who called our son names and pushed him in the hallway. We stopped hearing about the group that shunned him at lunch.

We found out two years later that they hadn’t stopped. Our son had just learned that telling us didn’t change anything, so he quit telling us.

As parents we try our best to do the right thing. We didn’t want to make things worse for our son at school, so we trusted the school when they said they were handling the situation. But here’s the thing…bullying is not just about wedgies and swirlies and other outward acts of aggression—it is sneaky and invisible. It is about lack. Lack of invitations. Lack of compliments. Lack of feeling valued and cared for. And it is institutionalized—supported by a school culture that differentially values athletics over the arts, or the arts over athletics, or popularity over everything else.

So what can parents do? Talk to our kids. Believe what they tell us. Help them build social skills for problem solving and teach them kindness and inclusion. Oh! And read these books!

(Epilogue: My son finally found a place where he was valued for his goofiness. He’s a happy high school senior who landed the lead in Rumplestiltskin!)

ChrysanthemumTitle: Chrysanthemum
Author/Illustrator: Kevin Henke
Genre: Picture book


Title: The Hundred Dressesthe hundred dresses
Eleanor Estes
Illustrator: Louis Slobodkin
Genre: Fiction chapter book, Grades 2-6



dear bullyTitle: Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories
Author: Dawn Metcalf, Megan Kelley Hall, & Carrie Jones
Genre: Nonfiction Anthology



Title: Thirteen Reasons Why13 Reasons
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: Fiction–Middle & High School
Genre: Nonfiction–adult resource


What stories have you found to help children learn social skills and avoid unkindness?

March 2, 2014

Make an appointment with the doctor – Dr. Seuss

by Angela Verges

March is reading month and its Dr. Seuss’s birthday. This is a time of year that many libraries and schools create a celebration around the man of lyrical language, Dr. Seuss. Born on March 2, 1904, Dr. Seuss books have entertained and enriched many generations.

Dr. Seuss B-day

This year for Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I challenged by sons to select and read a Dr. Seuss book that relates to them in some way. Together we found Dr. Seuss books that we had never read before. I have labeled our reading challenge as an appointment with the doctor.

My fourteen-year-old son chose the book, Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! In this early reader, Marvin is encouraged to “Go”, whether it is by skates or skis he is asked to just go…Please! Although my son is past the picture book stage, he felt this book reminded him of me asking, no demanding, that he go and clean his room.

In the story, Marvin looked like a lovable character who got into mischief at every turn. He was asked to “go” and each time he was given ideas for a grand exit – by balloon, broomstick or even a Bumble-Boat.

Marvin K. Mooney by Dr. Seuss

Title: Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!
Author: Dr. Seuss
Illustrator: Dr. Seuss
Genre: Picture Book

My seventeen-year-old son thought it was quite amusing that he had to read a “kiddie” book. However, he was able to come up with a fitting picture book selection, If I Ran the Zoo. My son liked this book because he felt that our house is sometimes like a zoo. I’m sure he meant it is a home filled with excitement and fun (wink).

In the book, If I Ran the Zoo, the character, Gerald McGrew told how he would run the zoo. He would open every cage, unlock every pen, let the animals out and start over again. His animals wouldn’t have just four feet. They would have ten, wouldn’t that be neat.

Title: If I Ran The Zoo Author: Dr. Seuss Illustrator: Dr. Seuss Genre: Picture Book

Title: If I Ran The Zoo
Author: Dr. Seuss
Illustrator: Dr. Seuss
Genre: Picture Book

The story I chose to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s writings was, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? I like the title of this particular book. For me the book taught a lesson of how to appreciate who you are.

Title: Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? Author: Dr. Seuss Illustrator: Dr. Seuss Genre: Picture Book

Title: Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
Author: Dr. Seuss
Illustrator: Dr. Seuss
Genre: Picture Book

After reading our selection of Dr. Seuss books, our celebration was not complete without a meal of green eggs and ham and a side of toast. My boys did not eat much of their green eggs, but they had fun creating them.
If you have young children, why not add a craft project to your celebration?

Make a Cat-in-the-Hat, hat craft. If an edible project is more appealing, create a snack based on the book One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. It’s as simple as making blueberry Jell-O and dipping in Swedish Fish candies.

Do you have a favorite Dr. Seuss book? What will you read to celebrate March as reading month? Make your selection and celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday the entire month.