Tot Book Club

More Than Just a Story

Think About it Thursday: Anxiety

How do you help your tot handle worry, doubt, fear, and/or anxiety?

Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster provides a great tool to identify and discuss worry or doubt, and the plush Whatif Monster helps your tot have someone or something take tell about those feelings. The Whatif Monster loves worries, so you can encourage your tot to give all her worries to the Whatif Monster.

In this book, Michelle Nelson-Schmidt gives you the opportunity to ask your tot questions that will help discover how to best support your child in times of anxiety. After you read through
Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster, take a moment to ask your tot the following questions:
1. What makes you feel scared? Go through the book and ask your tot if any of those situations would make them nervous. This will almost certainly start a brainstorm. Consider writing them all down.
2. What do you think worries mommy and daddy? Discuss some of the things related to your child that give you anxiety i.e. wanting to keep her safe, keeping her healthy, helping her make good choices, etc…
3. What good things could happen when you put away your worry? Use the book again for brainstorming inspiration. What good things does Jonathan James think of?
4. What should you do if what you were worried about does happen? Help your child work through how she can cope with the possible negative outcomes. Remember empathy is key. Try not to invalidate her fears, but to understand and provide strategies for coping or conquering. When your child has confidence in how to handle a new situation, the worry tends to subside.

If you need a few tips on guiding your child through anxious moments, many have found this post on Hey Sigmund to be helpful. You can also check out the advice given on Aha Parenting.

After you have discussed your "whatifs," come up with a strategy to take those fears away. For some it may be creating your own whatif monster. For others it may be saying a special prayer or mantra or bible verse. You may decide to come up with a special signal that your tot can use to communicate to you that she is worried. You may even use a combination of these methods!

Tot 1 learned a song at VBS a few years ago, and we like to remind each other of it when we are feeling worried. It's simply a Bible verse, Philippians 4:6-7 put to a catchy beat, but we sing "Don't worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done!"

Of course, telling her not to worry about anything could be considered invalidating, however, the point being that she shouldn't keep worry in her mind, but tell someone who will understand and give her peace. If you didn't watch the video, the song(and verse) goes on to say , "if you do this, his peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

Given that we have a catchy tune to sing in times of doubt, I still like the idea of having something concrete for tots to feel like they have cast their worries away. This means it's time for a project or a purchase. Having a Whatif Monster that looks just like the one in the book may be the right solution, but it might be fun to make our own! Stay tuned for an upcoming post in which we imagine what our voices of worry would look like.

In the meantime, enjoy your discussions with your tots, and don't forget to try new foods tomorrow for Foodie Friday! Whatif it is the best thing you ever tasted?!


Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster

whatif monster plush

Michelle Nelson-Schmidt is on a mission to encourage kids to believe in themselves, to be confident in who they are and what they can do. With her book Jonathan James and The Whatif Monster, she personifies that voice that makes you talk yourself out of taking a chance on something new. With a little green monster, who is adorably ugly, bringing up all the negative possible results from trying new things, Jonathan James ends up sitting on the sidelines in a world of worry. Finally the worry gets tiresome, so Jonathan James learns how to talk back to that Whatif Monster and share all of the good possible outcomes.

By personifying worry and anxiety in this little green monster, Michelle Nelson-Schmidt has helped more children and adults than she could have ever imagined! For children caught in a world where everything seems to go wrong,
Jonathan James and The Whatif Monster has become a source of comfort and encouragement. The Whatif Military Challenge seeks to provide a Whatif Monster plush and book to families of veterans. View the video below to see how Michelle Nelson-Schmidt's book inspired this challenge:

Not only was The Whatif Military Challenge created, but another inspired reader, Jana Gruber, founded an organizations called
Books To The Rescue!. She partnered with her local police department to stock cruisers with Whatif Monster books and plushes for officers to give to children in crisis. I am actually hoping to partner with Jana Gruber and start my own branch of Books To The Rescue! here in LA County.

Pick up the book and see if it inspires you to action! Stay tuned for activities to inspire you to address anxiety and worry in your own home using
Jonathan James and The Whatif Monster.

If you want to see the author read the book, tune in to her LiveStream Story Time this evening at 7:30pm ET. She encourages viewers, gives away prizes, and reads a story. And tonight it is our Spotlight Story!


FREE Book Giveaway!

Continuing my celebration of International Literacy Day, I have decided to run a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.

"Recommended by "Dear Abby" upon its first publication in 1982, millions of parents and educators have turned to Jim Trelease’s beloved classic for more than three decades to help countless children become avid readers through awakening their imaginations and improving their language skills. It has also been a staple in schools of education for new teachers. This updated edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook discusses the benefits, the rewards, and the importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research (including the good and bad news on digital learning), The Read-Aloud Handbook offers proven techniques and strategies for helping children discover the pleasures of reading and setting them on the road to becoming lifelong readers."

Jim Trelease shares inspiring information to create a read aloud habit in your family for the benefit of all, but especially for language development and advanced literacy of your children. There are anecdotes that motivate readers to begin their own home reading promises, facts about the importance of promoting literacy in your family and community, and a resource of book suggestions. I highly recommend that you to pick up a copy of this book to help you give your child the best advantage in educational and professional success. Fill out the form below for a chance to win a FREE copy!


10 Things You Can Do to Promote Literacy

It's International Literacy Day! Join me in sharing the joy of reading with those around you! As for my tots and me, we are going to build a Little Free Library and find a good place to locate it in our neighborhood. If you want to assist in this endeavor, help us raise the funds!

Do you know that there is a global literacy crisis, and the United States is no exception! Look at these staggering facts:

did you know facts

Choose one of these 10 Ways to Promote Literacy:

  1. Build a Little Free Library in your neighborhood or a nearby neighborhood: Recruit the neighborhood kids to do a building project together and choose a place or a few places to locate a Little Free Library. Access to printed materials is key in encouraging reading.
  2. Read Aloud to your child from the womb until well after she is reading on her own. Pick up The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease for more information about the importance of reading aloud. ENTER THE CONTEST BELOW FOR A FREE COPY! If you can't read aloud yourself, provide audiobooks for your child and follow along with her. Grab a copy of Born Reading for some great interactive reading tips as well.
  3. Volunteer to read books: Teachers barely have time to get everything done in their days. Offer to come read on a regular basis or to organize other reading volunteers. Other places that can use reading volunteers: hospitals, women's shelters, senior homes, boys and girls clubs, daycares, etc… Just ask!
  4. Host a book drive for local nonprofits and charities with me: Using Literacy for a Lifetime, we can get more books into the hands of children in hospitals, women's shelters, foster care, after school programs, etc. Fill out the form below for more information.
  5. Introduce books to children from birth: Though they won't be as engaged as you are used to, babies benefit from being read to by hearing language. When you don't know what to talk about to your infant, grab a book and flood her with language. Consider giving a starter library as your next baby shower gift.
  6. Organize a community book club: Recruit readers on Next-door, choose a book, and get started. Meet weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. Once you have a few interested readers rotate hosting responsibilities.
  7. Spread Awareness About the Literacy Crisis: Search for Literacy Facts Videos, go to Reading is Fundamental, Literate Nation, or the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. You can even find literacy tips and facts on my Tot Book Club Facebook Page or follow some literacy organizations on Twitter.
  8. Introduce your child's school to reading incentive programs and book fair alternatives: Through Reach for the Stars or Reading is a Gift, we can add to classroom, school, and community libraries. Fill out the form below for more information.
  9. Get a library card: Although access to printed material in the home is very important, because you just can't make it to the library often enough, get a library card, and go. Libraries stock their shelves based on the same rules of economics of supply and demand. If you want your library to have exciting books, check out what they have and put in requests for what you'd like to see.
  10. Join my Team: With Usborne Books & More you can promote literacy by getting more books into the hands of children through literacy workshops, Facebook parties, home parties, book fairs, book drives, booth events, selling to schools and libraries, hosting story times, and so many more different avenues. Fill out the form below for more information.