Activities That Bring Joy Into Your Life

I don’t know about you, but this isolation thing is starting to get to me. I MISS PEOPLE! So I was ecstatic when a few friends of mine asked me to beckon lovely with them.

Simply put, Beckoning Lovely was started on 8/8/08 at 8:08p CDT by late author Amy Krouse Rosenthal. (And continued for 3 years after.) Her point? To bring more joy and wonder into the world by doing/creating random acts of silliness and kindness.

For ex, that first year she gave a bunch of flowers to someone who showed up to the ‘Bean,’ someone she’d never met before, and asked him to give a flower to various strangers who passed by. The surprise and joy on the faces of the recipients was priceless. To get more background and understanding about Beckoning Lovely, watch Amy’s Ted talk.

In light of the pandemic, one of my friends suggested we beckon lovely via Zoom last week. Though not a substitute for real life, it added laughter and love to our lives, and we hope to yours if you decide to watch our playful party.

We came up with 10 activities to share with each other, and if you want to do them along with us while watching the vid, please have the following stuff handy:
-A small bowl of popcorn, M&M’s or other small, tasty food item
-A candle of any size Matches or a lighter
-A small serving of a food you really love to eat
-As many of your favorite books as you can hold up in front of a video camera
-A poem or part of a poem to share—and yes, your own poems are eagerly welcomed!
-A danceable song cued up on your computer or smart phone to play loudly
-A handwritten message of thanks, hope, or encouragement you’d like to send out to the world
-A special item that brings you beautiful memories of someone or something special to you.

No pressure! Do some or all or none. Watch what we did and then create your own Beckoning Lovely event with those you are sheltering in place with, or on Zoom. And if you do beckon lovely, please reply to this email, or comment on our Youtube video and tell me all about it. We can always use more ideas for the next time we add more joy to the world. Hopefully in person!

Weekly Rad Resource From The Library: Did you know most public libraries offer access to free digital magazines and even some newspapers like the New York Times? Go to your public library digital resources page and see what’s there. This is from Chicago Public Library Online Resources page.


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WHAT I LEARNED AT THE LIBRARY

Lucky am I to have been hired as a Youth Services Library Associate at Winnetka Library! If you live in the area, you’ll know where to find me. That is when the library re-opens. For now, here I am.

Libraries have gone way beyond their original purpose, and now often serve as the community centers for their patrons. For ex. did you know you can borrow ebooks from libraries at any time? Just download FREE apps like hoopla using your library card number. Also, some libraries feed kids after school snacks, register voters, host seminars on biz topics, provide hours of entertaining, educational enrichment for little and big kids alike…ALL FOR FREE! (My library even gives out STEAM kits.)

I’m getting access to all kinds of neat library resources. So when I learn or do something new, I’m gonna share it here with all of you.

For my first share, I’d like to give you all the tools to create ‘STORYTIME’ at home with your kids. (If you are ‘big kids,’ take what I’ve shared here and make a DIY book club kit. I’ll be doing those for older kids later on.) The idea is to get off your screens for a while, and do something in real life. (Though some of the offerings do require a screen.) All of the suggestions here are either free or very inexpensive.

So without further ado, here’s my first Storytime kit using the picture book, I’M BORED by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Seemed like a timely book for these times. 🙂

DIY STORYTIME KIT

I’M BORED is a fun, clever story about a little girl rediscovering the power of imagination once she’s called boring by a potato. Yep, a potato. The bold, emotional illustrations bring the text to the next level, while giving kids ideas of what to do next so they’re not bored even after the story ends.

  1. WATCH: Michael Ian Black read the story, and then Debbie Ridpath Ohi (illustrator) offers an art demo and creative challenge at timestamp 5:17.
  2. Other book related activities to extend your learning:

READ: The Boring Book by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Available on Hoopla) This LOL picture book uses the feeling of boredom as a doorway into an engaging and enriching experience.

-PRINT READY ACTIVITY SHEETS, including how to make finger puppets and coloring pages

https://www.debbieohi.com/im-bored-activity-pages/

-MAKE POTATO ART

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/children/potato-craft-ideas-for-kids.htm

https://www.fun-stuff-to-do.com/easy-crafts-for-kids-8.html

Potato Sprout People

https://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-and-experiments/potato-sprout-people

Potato Book Characters:

http://fourcheekymonkeys.com/play-love-learn/read-play-learn-potato-book-characters/

-DANCE AND SING while learning about Flamingos, do they fly, where do they live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsUWR9hkT5M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhNrC0VjzMU

ENCOURAGE IMAGINATIVE PLAY

https://www.horizoneducationcenters.org/blog/5-easy-ways-to-encourage-imaginative-play

Make an Imagination Prop Box:

-Consider creating a prop box or corner filled with objects to spark your child’s fantasy world. You might include:

Large plastic crates, cardboard blocks, or a large, empty box for creating a “home”

  • Old clothes, shoes, backpacks, hats
  • Old telephones, phone books, magazines
  • Cooking utensils, dishes, plastic food containers, table napkins, silk flowers
  • Stuffed animals and dolls of all sizes
  • Fabric pieces, blankets, or old sheets for making costumes or a fort
  • Theme-appropriate materials such as postcards, used plane tickets, foreign coins, and photos for a pretend vacation trip
  • Writing materials for taking phone messages, leaving notes, and making shopping lists

IF YOU’VE GOT MORE TIME:

Teacher Guide for kids 5-10 yrs old using book to teach ideas in most subjects including: Math, English, Science, Art etc.

http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/605335/24139138/1388670294790/IM+BORED+Guide-v2.pdf?token=bt%2F%2FYt4wh9tTG%2FcXxwEYyMJVfeI%3D

Don’t forget to have fun!


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Behind The Vids: Anny & Christina tackle Colby Sharp’s The Creativity Project

On the surface, Colby Sharp is a 5th grade teacher in Parma, MI. But scratch the surface a little bit, and you find out he is so much more.

For one, he’s a rockstar in the kidlit world. Among his achievements is Nerd Camp, which he, his wife, and a team of volunteers run every year in Parma, MI. It’s main goal is to promote a love of reading in children. In order to do that, Colby and Alaina realize they have to educate us too–us being writers, educators, parents, aunts etc. So the first two days of Nerd Camp is jam packed with chats and workshops led by some of the leading lights in kidlit and kid education. (R. J. Palacio, Wonder, Tracey Baptiste, Jumbies, and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, one of my fav illustrators, teacher Chad Everett)

I had the pleasure of attending the event last year. Two takeaways of many: Discovered why it’s vital not to classify books by gender, i.e. ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ books, but to encourage kids to read whatever strikes their fancy. For one thing, a boy reading a book about girls can help him gain empathy for what it’s like to be a girl in our world, and vice versa. This wisdom supplied by the best-selling Fantasy author Shannon Hale (Princess Academy among others.) Met and learned about how to talk about and promote diversity in the kidtlit world from librarian Kathy Burnette, who is starting The Brain Lair, a diverse bookstore in South Bend, IN.

Colby’s latest contribution to kids, and the rest of us, is The Creativity Project. Colby asked well-known kidlit writers and illustrators to supply creative prompts for each other, and then use those prompts to create a short story or illustration. You see the fruits of the creators’ labor, and then there are about 40 prompts in the back of the book created for us, the readers. (Of course you can do any of the prompts in the book.)

For this week’s vid, Christina and I each did a prompt. Not only were we pleased with the results, but more importantly, they allowed us to stretch our creative wings. Colby’s book reawakens, or strengthens your creativity muscles. And creativity leads to innovation, a stronger and more diverse community, learning, and so much more. In my case, I discovered something new about my Uncle Earl.

I hope you’ll listen or watch our video about the Creativity Project when it posts tomorrow. For now, here’s a moment from the video: Uncle Earl and the journal I used to write his story.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
A purple Hummingbird


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Behind The Vids, Barbara Binns, Blue Spaghetti and #OwnVoices

Barbara Binns is a unique children’s author. She is obviously female, but she writes from a male point of view. In fact her website’s tagline is: Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men…and the people who love them.

She even teaches a course for female writers who want to learn to write from the male point of view. (I should probably take it. I hear it’s terrific!)

Writing from another gender, or race’s point of view is tricky. They say write what you know, but how can you fully stand in the shoes of another who is so different from yourself?

This is a big debate right now in children’s literature too. It’s called #OwnVoices. There are those that believe we can only tell our “own” stories and others who believe that if we do the deep research, and get a ‘sensitivity reader,’ one who is from that gender or race or country etc., to vet our book, then it’s okay.

For ex. J.K. Rowling’s book The History of Magic In North America which is up on Pottermore was crucified by Native American scholars/writers. Debbie Reese,who writes the blog American Indians in Children’s Literature, which carefully reviews young people’s literature with representations of American Indians said, “I don’t think she has the knowledge necessary to do justice to marginalized peoples.”

In my opinioin, Barbara gets the male voice right in her new book, Courage. And she is writing what she knows. She hails from the South side of Chicago, where her book is set. 

What do you think? Would you be open to reading a book done by an ‘outsider’ if it were researched and vetted properly? Let me know by replying to this letter, or posting in the comments section on Barbara’s vid tomorrow on our YOUTUBE channel.

Barbara also did me a solid without knowing it. Luckily for me her favorite food is spaghetti! Mine too. At last I got to eat something I love, even if it was blue.

Below a special moment from the video.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
My favorite food on the planet..well minus the ‘eyes!’


Posted in Acceptance, Books, choose acceptance, Creativity, PLAY, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Behind the Vids, Betsy Bird, Kidlit Rockstar Librarian, and Tough Conversations

Becoming well-known in any field is tough. There are only a handful of superstar librarians in the children’s literature realm, kidlit as we call it–Betsy Bird is one of them.

For authors/publishers, this means if Betsy gives your book a great review, it’ll generate sales. She’s the ‘Oprah’ of kidlit.

This all started in 2006 when Betsy launched her blog: A Fuse #8 Production.

At the time she had a full-time job as Youth Materials Specialist at the New York Public Library. (She has since moved to Evanston Public Library, which is great for me cuz I get to hang out with her from time to time.) So she could only blog at night.

Her passion and prescience about all things kidlit was obvious from the start. Soon School Library Journal asked her to move her blog to their site, where she’s been since 2008.

Betsy receives about 80,000 visitors monthly. She’s the one to read when you want to find that picture book for your grandkid, or a Middle Grade for your son or friend’s kid, or a MG/YA for yourself!

Betsy combines detailed/precise reviews, with an openness to unique and daring books combined with a quirky and fun sense of humor. On top of that, her passion, some may say obsession, with kids books shines through.

It’s her openness and quirkiness that made us want to interview her for our series on play and acceptance.

A tidbit from our interview: Betsy said that reading children’s books and blogging about them is a form of play for her. “My blogging allows me to have conversations with people who don’t necessarily agree with me . . .we can have discussions/conversations that I wouldn’t usually have [Because I’ll go out of my way to not confront someone about something].”

Kinda reminds me of the Dalai Lama who said that if China ever meets with him, he would invite them to a feast with music and dancing to get them laughing before he ever brought up Tibet.  They need to be in a happy mood before you talk about something difficult, he said.

Does playing with others help you ease into tough conversations you’d avoid otherwise?

The game we made for Betsy.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
One of the best purple books ever!


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Behind the Vids, Claire Harfield, BBQ sauce and Triscuits

Claire Hartfield uses stories that explore the past to create a brighter future. Her latest book, A Few Red Drops, looks at the various racial, financial and political conditions that came together to create the Chicago race riots of 1919.

What I love about Claire’s book is that it is a primer on prevention. By focusing on what created the event, rather than just the event itself, it can be used to disrupt and better current tensions to prevent the violence that pervades our country. True to her mission, Claire’s book uses the past to help us better our future. If we’re willing to use it that way. (Too modest to recommend it for our book review this week, she chose another book, We Are Okay, which you’ll hear about on Thursday’s vid.)

A Few Red Drops reminds me of what my Gramps used to say, “Money doesn’t care who owns it.” Seen from that lens the poor, be it Irish,  Black, White or whomever, have more in common than not–a desperate desire to survive, even thrive.

Part of the key to choosing acceptance more often it seems, is the ability to focus more on our similarities than our differences.

What we’re beginning to see with our play experiment is that by laughing and sharing a common goal, such as getting out of an escape room, we focus on our similar needs, or on the strengths we each bring to the task, not our differences or weaknesses. We see our commonality.

Maybe if schools brought in more play, such as an escape room exercise once a week, or fun team building events, our kids would grow up choosing acceptance more often.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts with me either by replying to this letter or commenting on one of my channels. (Links below.)

If you haven’t tried an escape room yet, I highly recommend it!

For those of you who haven’t watched our interviews yet, Christina takes perverse pleasure, as do our guests, in making both of us eat weird stuff related to our guests’ preferences. It’s all part of the torture, er game, of acceptance. Here I’m eating a Triscuit dipped in BBQ sauce.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance
 

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Purple Giraffes


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Behind The Vids: Laura Jimenez, Tossing Books, and Blue Tamales

Laura Jimenez, a prof at Boston University, walks around with a bullseye painted on her back. That’s because she’s the voice behind the popular and controversial blog BookToss.

Book Toss tells its readers which books to toss, to keep, or to share. Laura has lambasted some pretty popular books, such as Wonder. Laura feels that Auggie’s attempts to make others feel comfortable in the face of his deformity is a form of ableism. It’s not his job to make his deformity palatable for others.

No Easy Book Love

Her quest to shed light on creators and books that reveal what it’s like to be the ‘other,’ and toss books that continue to perpetuate an outdated, or harmful point of view, made her perfect for our Acceptance Game.

While having fun, we touched upon how play can allow for serious topics to be discussed, and she gave us a practical tip on how to evaluate books, movies etc in terms of whether they validate racism, sexism, ableism etc. or not. And I gotta tell you, it’s not easy to spot some of these things if they’re outside of your immediate experience.

Her take on Wonder really threw me at first.  As Mike Moody, a writer with a craniofacial disorder similar to Auggie’s said in a School LiIbrary Journal article, Initiatives such as Choose Kind “[force] marginalised (sic) people to be ever gracious and polite in the face of people who ignore, mock, or vilify us.

Gotta admit, before we interviewed Laura, I only saw the Choose Kind movement as positive. But I’m learning every movement’s meaning is in the eye of the beholder. Nothing works in every situation for every person. Even choosing acceptance has its limits.

Because Christina and I continue to explore the limits of acceptance, please share an experience with me where choosing to accept someone or something was the wrong response. We value your experiences.

Below a special moment from the video. Watch here.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Purple Tamales


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Behind The Vids: Elisa Gall, Inclusion and Play

This week we’re playing the Acceptance Game with Elisa Gall.

Elisa is the Youth Collection Development Librarian at Deerfield Public Library in Deerfield, IL and is also a contributor to the Reading While White blog. (One of the best blogs about diversity and inclusion period, and esp if you fit the title’s demographic.)

Reading While White’s Mission:
We are White librarians organizing to confront racism in the field of children’s and young adult literature. We are committed to working in the ongoing struggle for authenticity and visibility in books. We are learning, and hold ourselves responsible for understanding how our Whiteness impacts our perspectives and our behavior as we strive to advocate for this movement.

Because Elisa’s passion is inclusion and empowering underrepresented voices, we wanted her to help us test our theory that play makes it easier to choose acceptance. That play creates a safe space where tough and honest conversations can be had.

Watch this week and let us know what you think. Does playing with others allow acceptance to flourish?

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Watch the video to find out why…


Posted in Acceptance, choose acceptance, Inspired Creativity, PLAY, Self-Acceptance, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

I’m baaack, New YouTube Channel, New Point of View

Doing a YouTube channel by myself got lonely. I needed a partner in crime. So at the end of last year I found the perfect criminal, I mean partner.

Her name is Christina Hoover Moorehead. She is a teacher, a writer for kids, and a former TEDx Kyoto head curator. But more than that, she’s able to create the right mix of silly and serious for our channel.

I mean the Dalai Lama giggles most of the time not because he doesn’t see the seriousness of what he’s dealing with, but because he knows it puts others at ease. People at ease, are open and more willing to face tough topics and/or discussions.

So by sucking up to Christina, I got her to join me in creating a brand new YouTube channel. It’s called CHOOSE ACCEPTANCE.

We want to explore an on-going challenge for humans–the ability to accept that which is different.

Our goal is to join with other equally curious people to explore acceptance. Our guiding question: must we have agreement or approval in order to accept that which is different?

We have no idea where this journey will take us, or you, but our hope is that we’ll discover tools that can help each of us choose acceptance more often in our daily lives.

For the first phase of our experiment, we’re looking at whether play makes it easier for we humans to accept each other. What does it mean to choose acceptance?  What are the potential benefits—and limits—to choosing acceptance?   

Towards that end, we’ve created the Acceptance Game. I’m’ not going to ruin the surprise, but I will say it has a high silliness quotient! And we’re grateful to the participants who’ve agreed to go boldly where no one has gone before! The ‘game’ will be posted on Tuesdays, followed up by a book review suggested by our contestants on Thursdays. Our first new video was posted today!

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance
 

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Purple Pudding. You’ll see why when you watch first video!


Posted in Acceptance, choose acceptance, PLAY, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.