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Reach and Teach - News

E-books Now Available (Article by Drew Durham)

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I am super excited about certain additions to the store for the NEW YEAR 2012!!! Now, on our website we are offering a few new e-books! 

In this article I will review some of our currently available e-books in no particular order.

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Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils - Listen to this Kid!

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"Would you rather pay the farmer or the hospital? I know which one I would choose!" Out of the mouths of children come some of the wisest thoughts! Check out this video of an 11 year-old at a TED Conference. After a wonderful weekend at the Bay Area Environmental Educators Resource (BAEER) Fair, at which we had several glowing endorsements of Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils, one the best books on the market for helping kids get this kind of passion about food and then act on it, we discovered this video and thought we should share it and the book.

Don't Healthy Foods from Healthy Soilslet the title fool you. This book is NOT just about farming. It is a food manifesto! It is  incredibly well written, engaging, fun, and packed with great lessons and activities to help kids take charge of their diets (and their family's diets and their school, community....). 

Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils invites you and your students/children to discover where food comes from, how our bodies use food, and what happens to food waste. You'll participate in the ecological cycle of food production > compost formation > recycling back to the soil, while helping children understand how their food choices affect not only their own health, but farmers, the environment, and your local community.

Elizabeth and Kathy use simple concepts and fun activities to show children the big picture-how quality soil is the basis of nutritious foods, and how eating a variety of wholesome foods leads to healthy bodies. Their program enhances existing curricula through methods that include writing, art, scientific investigation, music, and puppetry. Suggested resources encourage you to adapt the program to your needs, small scale or large. For instance, the activity "What If All I Ate Were Potato Chips?" encourages children to investigate the nutritional value of foods, while a seed-sprouting experiment "teaches through the taste buds." School gardens such as an Appetizer Garden or the legendary Three Sisters, or a series of classroom worm-composting activities help students discover the role nutrients play in healthy plant production. Handy extension activities demonstrate ways that students can help effect change in their own lives and communities. Background information, suggested readily available materials, and clear instructions give you enough guidance to integrate these activities into your classroom right away.

This manual grew out of a successful pilot program funded by the USDA. Elizabeth Patten is a licensed dietitian working in the field of preventive health. She lives in Freeport, Maine, with her family and several thousand red wigglers. Kathy Lyons is an environmental educator and puppeteer in Orono, Maine. Annelida the worm puppet was first created for a recycling program but has happily joined the team as "spokesworm" for the Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils project. Helen Stevens is an illustrator and graphic artist in Gardiner, Maine.


Children's Literature - Chris Gill
Want to help kids plant a rainbow garden? Build a worm condo? Understand how much sugar one cola contains? This is the book for you. A Hands-on Resource for Educators is the subtitle of this teaching manual. Food choices affect not only personal health but also local economics and global environmental concerns. You can lead children to consider ways to create a healthier and more sustainable future. Authors Patten and Lyons have been using these concepts and methods in their teaching since 1995 when they started a pilot project with funding from the USDA's Food & Consumer Service. Four sections cover where food comes from, food choices and nutritional issues, putting garbage to work, and growing your own food. Lessons are keyed to the "Benchmarks for Science Literacy" with each lesson providing goals, key points, background information, instructions, and other helpful resources. Sprinkled throughout the sections are hands-on activities like making pizza dough and constructing worm condos. From Agriculture to Zoo Gardens, this manual can support your classroom efforts to bring a greater awareness of food and nature to your students.

Anna Blythe Lappé, Co-author, Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet
Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils is just what we need now! Never before has it been so critical that young kids learn healthy eating habits and an appreciating for eating local, in-season, balanced diets. As we struggle to help our kids get connected to the earth and the food they eat, in a world where most kids think vegetables grow on Aisle 8, this book is a great tool. Patten and Lyons make learning about food fun!"

Click here to order this book!


Watch Reach And Teach on TV / Internet This Week

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Craig and Derrick had a wonderful time appearing on the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center's monthly TV program, Other Voices. The topic was "Shopping with a Concsience" and we covered "fair trade" and "green" products. Here are the times the show will be on the air on Cable Channel 27 in the Peninsula / Palo Alto area (and available via live stream on the web):

  • Tue, Dec 20th 7:00pm
  • Wed, Dec 21st 2:00am
  • Wed, Dec 21st 10:00am
  • Thu, Dec 22nd 7:00pm
  • Fri, Dec 23rd 6:00am
  • Fri, Dec 23rd 2:00pm 

Watch the live stream of the program on at any of the days/times above by clicking here or copying and pasting the link below into your browser.


Defense of All Families Pledge

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Defense of All Families Pledge PosterThis pledge was created in October, 2011 to provide a more welcoming and inclusive understanding of family. Is this something you can personally endorse? Please join Reach And Teach in The Defense of All Families Pledge. Our immediate goal over the next month is to get over 10,000 signatures and we can use your help by signing the pledge and spreading the word. You can also get a poster of this pledge here that helps support this project and lets you visibly get this pledge out.

URL: http://www.reachandteach.com/s/doafp



We value and respect — and we pledge to protect — every family that is committed in mutual love and that provides for the safety and well-being of its children and each other.


"We value and respect — and we pledge to protect — every family"

Today the family comes in all shapes and sizes. There are families with one parent or two or three or four. There are families in which the loving caregiver is not a parent at all but rather a grandparent, a cousin, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, or an older sibling. Our families include mixed-gender and same-gender couples. They come from a variety of ethnic, spiritual, and faith backgrounds.  Our families include children by birth, foster children, adopted children, or no children at all. For these reasons, we stand for the diversity of family and against a one-size-fits-all model of a family ideal.

"that is committed in mutual love"

A commitment to love, caring, responsibility, and mutual respect extends across all faith and belief traditions in our country. For this reason, we stand with families committed to acting out of love as a primary rule. We stand against those who would deny a loving family's right to exist.

"and that provides for the safety and well-being of its children"

Not all families include children, but for those that do, the most basic concern to both a family and the community to which that family contributes is a deep and committed desire to lovingly and responsibly look out for the safety and well-being of children. For this reason, we stand with all families that commit to nurture the most vulnerable of our society. We stand against all who would strip away from a family the legal protection and ability to fulfill this role.

"and each other."

A family today goes beyond the "nuclear family" model of the past.  We need our extended support networks of family and friends to care for all within our community and the larger world. For these reasons, we stand for the extended family in all of its beautiful diversity. We stand against those who seek to define families so narrowly as to exclude and devalue not only same-sex nuclear families, but also the extended family which in its diversity nurtures the interconnectedness of our society.

Current number of signatures:

Thanks much to Tikkun Magazine/Network of Spiritual Progressives, More Light Presbyterians, Believe Outloud, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, San Jose Peace and Justice Center, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center and many other friends, supporters, and organizations that are helping to spread the word about this pledge. Together we are making a difference.

Creative Commons License
The Defense of All Families Pledge by Derrick Kikuchi / Reach and Teach is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Liberia in the News - Abe in Arms

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With the election in Liberia potentially ushering in a new era with a potential for peace in a long-troubled nation, the legacy of war has left many scars that will take a long time to heal. Among the tragedies of Liberia's long civil war was the enslavement of children as child soldiers. Abe in Arms. Reach And Teach's first YA novel, brings the tale of child soldiering to light, while also showing how the love and commitment of a family, friends, and community can help bring someone back from the worst of all possible pasts. For the next two months, Reach And Teach will donate $2 from the sale of each copy of the book to the UNICEF fund for their work in Liberia.
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It Gets Better - Especially with Programs like Camp Ten Trees and People Like Alex Sennello!

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As we've been marking the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the White House calling the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, the "It Gets Better" campaign rings very true. At the same time, though, a Connecticut high school threw out a student for being gay and an Oklahoma legislator called homosexuality "a greater threat to America than terrorists." So there's lots of work to do.

Late last week we received a newsletter from Camp Ten Trees, an incredible place which I'll let the letter below from camper Alex Sennello describe. Reach And Teach has proudly supported the camp since we were introduced to them by Jacinta Bunnell (Girls Are Not Chicks and Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon). With places like Camp Ten Trees, and people like Alex, we can celebrate the work that's been done to make things better for GLBTQ people and those who love them. And, by supporting programs like Camp Ten Trees, we can keep making it better and better. We're grateful that Alex granted us permission to repost her letter and post some of her photos from Camp Ten Trees.

Ready to be inspired?

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Big History? Start with the Big Bang at a New Price!

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Great Ball of FireThe other day, while chatting with the author/artist who created one of our very favorite books, Great Ball of Fire, I learned about a project called "Big History." Betty-Ann Kissilove told me about the Big History Project. Here's how the idea is described on the Big History web site:

Everything has a history: each person, plant, animal and object, our planet, and the entire universe.

Each history offers valuable insights. Together, they reveal even more. Big history weaves evidence and insights from many scientific and historical disciplines into a single, accessible origin story - one that explores who we are, how we got here, how we are connected to everything around us, and where we may be heading.

The Big History Project is dedicated to fostering a greater love and capacity for learning among high school students. Started by Bill Gates and David Christian our goal is to get big history taught to as many students around the world as possible.

Wow! The idea by itself is exciting. Knowing that Bill Gates is involved means that the project will happen. The team here at Reach And Teach is big on the idea of us all being connected, and that everything that has happened since the Big Bang has an influence on who we are, what we do, and where we will go. This project takes "learning from our past" to a whole new level. Given today's No Child Left Behind environment, where history is NOT getting the attention it deserves, we're glad to know that a project of this nature exists to help put history back on the front burner, in part helped along by the project's connection of science, math, and other key disciplines into the course materials AND mapping content to national standards. 

Check out this short animation that in a few minutes gives a good overview of what Big History is all about.

Inside Page from Great Ball of FireOf course the connection of everything from the Big Bang to today is not something totally new to the team at Reach And Teach. We've had Betty-Ann Kissilove's wonderful book, Great Ball of Fire, in our shop for about a year now. Here's how we've been describing this book:One of the greatest joys in our work is discovering gems, both people and products, while we are out and about introducing folks to Reach And Teach. At this year's Bay Area Environmental Educators Resource (BAEER) Fair, we met Betty-Ann Kissilove. She had a wonderful spark of energy, I thought as I spoke to her, and she said "I've got a book I'm working on that I'd love to show you." Little did I know that her book was about another kind of spark, the one that started our universe! Betty-Ann had combined amazing illustrations and photographs, with beautiful poetry, and weaved in a whole bunch of science into a book that is truly hard to put down.

The poetry, pictures, and story-telling will cause some to want to delve deeper into science, others to want to dig into art, still others into spirituality/faith, and hopefully most will gain a deeper love for our planet and her people and of course she leaves a little room for those who might be tempted to explore beyond this one planet.... this is the Poetic Telling of the Universe Story, after all.

Carl Sagan, meet Dr. Seuss!

New Price

While Bill Gates and David Christian are planning to make the Big History course materials available for free to schools and individuals, Betty-Ann Kissilove and Reach And Teach don't have that luxury (unless Bill decides to give us a few bucks). We've sold a lot of copies of this beautiful book for $25. As Betty-Ann works towards the next big printing, she's decided to make this issue a little more affordable. The new price is $19.95. We thought it was worth every penny at the original price! So, if you agree with us and want to get one of the most beautiful and fascinating books ever created (really it is that good), click here to buy a copy of Great Ball of Fire!

More Information about Big History

If you want to learn more about the Big History Project, check out this video from TED Talks.

More Big History Resources

In addition to the Big History Project Bill and Dave are working on (hmmmmm where have I heard of a pairing of Bill and Dave?????), Betty-Ann let us know about some more interesting resources and projects out there. Here's a quick list you might want to check out:

We'll keep an eye on the Big History Project in the coming months and let you know more news about it right here! Gee, I wonder if any of Howard Zinn's writing will make its way into the materials.....

Looking for Activities, Curriculum, and Music for a More Peaceful Community & World?

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Mosaic Project CurriculumWhen we started Reach And Teach one of our key goals was to treasure hunt for resources that were wonderful but which might not have the "Reach" to "Teach" people beyond the area and timeframe in which the resources were created. Organizations often create incredible books, curriculum, activities, DVDs, and posters for a particular program or project and successfully use those resources. Then... Well... In this month's newsletter we want to tell you about three treasures.

  • The Mosaic Project's Peacing It Together,
  • Kids Can Make a Difference: Finding Solutions to Hunger,
  • Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco (the 4th book published by Reach And Teach along with a web portal with tons of great resources/links to help teach about and do something about homelessness).
After that we'll let you know where you can find Reach And Teach in the next six weeks.

Peacing It Together - The Mosaic Project's Musical Curriculum & Accompanying Materials

Image from the Mosaic ProjectA few months ago some of our peeps told us we HAD to check out The Mosaic Project. Here's how they describe themselves: The Mosaic Project works towards a peaceful future by reaching children in their formative years. We unite young children of diverse backgrounds, provide them with essential skills to thrive in an increasingly diverse society, and empower them to strive for peace. We create a microcosm of the diverse, inclusive, just world we want to see and show our young students that peace is possible. We seed the future population of middle schools, high schools, and all the venues of adult life with thousands of individuals who have seen a new possibility of what the world can be. Not only are our students inspired to work towards peace, they have been given concrete skills to do so and are empowered to take action.

After years of success in a variety of venues including five-day peace camps and in-school programs, The Mosaic Project has created an incredible resource that anyone can use to weave their time-tested and proven activities into any program. Whether you use the entire curriculum, some parts, or just teach one of the wonderful songs, you'll be planting seeds of peace.

The Mosaic Project’s Musical Curriculum supports students (K-6) in developing the social and emotional competencies that are key to their success in the classroom and beyond. The musical curriculum and accompanying experiential activities teach students vital skills about conflict resolution, social justice, community, diversity, interconnectedness, and peacemaking. The curriculum package includes:

  • Music and lyrics for each of The Mosaic Project’s 11 songs
  • The Mosaic Project’s CD
  • 18 lessons designed to accompany The Mosaic Musical Curriculum on themes including:
    • The Mosaic Values (Mutual Respect, Open-mindedness, Self Respect, Attitude, Individuality and Community)
    • Diversity
    • Empathy
    • Conflict Resolution
    • Interconnectedness
    • Peacemaking
    • Emotional Literacy
  • Experiential activities that include music, art, games, role plays, cooperative challenges, and extended group projects
  • Creative ideas for integrating Mosaic music into a wide range of classroom learning and pedagogy
  • Mosaic Class Meetings overview and suggested framework
  • Suggested Children’s Literature to accompany each song and theme
  • Correlations to the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) Standards
  • Children’s Glossary of social justice and conflict resolution terms

Click here to check out The Mosaic Project's products on the Reach And Teach web site. Click here to visit The Mosaic Project's web site.

Kids Can Make a Difference

Kids Can Make A DifferenceThis is an AMAZING resource for teachers and others who work with young people. It goes way beyond introducing the concepts of hunger and activities kids can engage in to make a difference. Instead, it delves into the root causes of hunger and poverty around the world, holding no punches as it examines colonialism, gender issues, the vast difference between the haves and the have-nots, developing versus industrialized nations and their lifestyles (over-consumption versus barely surviving). Combine this with The Mosaic Project's curriculum, Teaching Economics As If People Mattered, 25 Math Investigations that Will Astound You, and Real Lives and you've got the ultimate package of world-changing education.

We first discovered this wonderful book when we were working with a national homelessness organization, putting together lesson plans to teach kids about homelessness. Through that we got into the promotion of "service learning" and from there we discovered the Kids Can Make A Difference Organization (kidscanmakeadifference.org).

About the Book:

Finding Solutions To Hunger: Kids Can Make A Difference, is an innovative Teacher Guide developed by World Hunger Year board member and teacher Stephanie Kempf. This is an excellent resource for teachers, parents, leaders of after-school groups, and faith-based organizations working with children and youth. The Guide contains 25 lessons that provide valuable background and creative suggestions to help students answer the difficult questions dealing with hunger and poverty. The book helps students move beyond negative feelings into constructive actions that show that they can make a difference in their community, country and world. The book includes fund-raising ideas, organizations to contact, and a listing of available videos and books for use with lessons.

Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco and the new Reach And Teach Homelessness Education & Action Portal

Ivy, Homeless in San FranciscoOne of our earlest projects was rescuing curriculum about homeless children from a dusty old closet at a non-profit organization. Ever since then we've continued to hunt for and develop resources for education about homelessness. Well, when we discovered that one of the authors in our publishing cooperative had written a book about a homeless girl in San Francisco, we had to meet her. And, then we learned that the book had gone out of print and that we could pick it up. Summer Brenner, the author, has done a complete rewrite and the amazing Brian Bowes has put together awesome illustrations and now the book is now available. 

Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco. In this empathetic tale of hope, understanding, and the importance of family, readers face the difficult issue of poverty and the many hardships of being homeless through an inspiring young heroine named Ivy. Ivy is the story of a young girl who finds herself homeless on the streets of San Francisco when she and her father, Poppy, are evicted from his artist loft.

Struggling to survive day to day, Ivy and Poppy befriend a dog who takes them to the ramshackle home of quirky siblings Eugenia and Oscar Orr, marking the start of some amazing adventures. Blending a spoonful of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist with a dash of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and a few pinches of the Adventures of Lassie, Ivy's tale will appeal to young readers as well as give adults material to discuss with children.

Click here to check out our new web portal for resources on homelessness PLUS buy the book!

Toby Says - Why Don't These Guys Just Stay Home?

We got really positive feedback about a recent newsletter that included a few words (barks) from Toby, our muttscot. So, here's Toby!

Every morning I run around like a complete maniac up until the minute Craig and Derrick finally open the door to the garage and let me in the car. Then we're off to a dog park for a good walk (they call it a good walk if I .... well, you know) and after that we head over to the shop. Did you know you can find me (and pet or feed me or feed AND pet me) at the shop in San Mateo, Tuesday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm? That's right! If you need a little love, come visit me. Of course at 5pm I run around like a nut again because I know it is time to go home! Actually, I run around like a nut any time I get to go anywhere with my pets. I'm usually pretty happy except for those times when my pets go off galavanting to some "event" like the ones that are coming up. So, if you want to see my pets, and give them some grief about leaving me all alone to mope... you can visit them at:

My pets have a trainer coming into the shop this week. I guess they need some training to do a better job of making me happy. Maybe the trainer will tell them that I'd be much happier if they didn't do all these events, leaving me home all alone. We'll see. Or, maybe the trainer can teach them how to bring me TO these events too! Wouldn't that be fun? I'd run around like a complete nut if I could go!

From Sex Workers to Community Leaders - Life Bloom Transforms Lives in Kenya

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Life Bloom LogoOne of the most difficult traps to escape from is the life of a sex-worker. Forced into a lifestyle that is both massively marketed and equally shunned, young girls lose their childhoods and any promises of a decent adult life. What hope is there? Life Bloom Services International offers hope, through training and mentorship to take girls and women who have been enslaved by the sex trade in Kenya and offering them a new lease on life.

Reach And Teach is honored to be working with Life Bloom as our newest 10/10 program partner, and we will soon be offering fair-trade crafts made by girls and women who have been empowered to start life anew through the training and mentorship Life Bloom offers.

Today, we want to introduce Life Bloom and a group of young women and girls who have been accepted into the May 23rd 2011 mentoring and leadership program and who are seeking assistance with the $146 tuition. It is hard to imagine that $146 can make a huge difference in someone's life, but Life Bloom has proven that it can, and will, with your help.

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Looking for a Wonderful Picture Book? Our Favorites!

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Eddie's GardenOne of the most packed area of our shop is the Picture Book section. Over the years we've heard from parents, teachers, and others that teaching important lessons is often easier when you have a good picture book that covers what you are hoping children (of all ages) will learn. We'd like to introduce you to a few of our very favorite picture books and share why we love them so much. Each week we'll pick three books to share in this area of our web site, so come back often to learn about more wonderful books. And... if you have a book that you love that we should know about, contact us!

Eddie's Garden and How to Make Things Grow

Watching a child's eyes light up when the first speck of green pokes through the earth..... realizing that he or she made it happen by planting something and caring for it, is a wonderful experience. In today's world, where too much of a child's food comes from the drive-through and too many of a child's experiences come through the TV, it is wonderful to have this book that sparks an interest in gardening. The book is fun to read, with great illustrations, two very different kids (one very curious, earnest and adventuresome and the other in that everything-is-about-me toddler phase), a wonderful mom leading the way, and a grandpa who can't get over what the children have created.... are all characters we'd love to have in our lives!

This is a terrific companion to our Wonder Soil Sprout House! Yeah - shameless self-promotion.... but really, it is a great combination.

We're very excited to see the locavore movement spreading across the world. Food sovereignty is not just about other countries - we need food sovereignty in every community and as many homes as possible. Instead of using the land around us just for ornamental purposes, we can grow some idependence by growing our own food. Intimately connecting with the earth is a critical step to learning how important it is to protect the earth. Yet you can't do that simply by whining about all the bad things that are happening. Instead, introduce joy and wonder and good things will follow. This is a joyous book that also includes specific instructions on how to grow specific things in the yard and indoors in pots. Great stuff. 

The Lunch TheifThe Lunch Theif

Our very first Reach And Teach project was dealing with the issue of homelessness and one of our most important areas of focus is anger management / bulltying. This book touches on both issues in a tender, thoughtful, and impactful way. The illustrations are beautiful, as is always the case with our friends at Tilbury House! We highly recommend this book.

About the Book:

Rafael is hungry-because someone stole his lunch. His mom had packed his lunch bag with two burritos, a bag of corn chips, some carrots, and an apple. Once a week she tucks in a slice of her special lemon pound cake. Rafael saw Kevin, a new kid in his class, sneak his lunch bag from underneath his desk and tuck it in his backpack. But how can he do something about the theft without picking a fight? Inspired by his mother's advice to "Use your mouth before your fists," Rafael bides his time, but other kids' lunches are disappearing, too. On an errand with his mom, Rafael sees Kevin carrying a bundle of laundry into a motel room, and his mom tells him Kevin's family might be one of the families who lost their homes in the recent wildfires. Rafael rethinks his anger. The next day, instead of accusing Kevin, Rafael invites him to share his lunch, letting him know he's been caught, but offering friendship as well as a good meal.

Anh's AngerAnh's Anger

Getting angry is normal. The question is how do you deal with your anger. In this incredibly powerful story, Anh gets really angry and gets sent to his room to "sit with" his anger. Anh not only sits with his anger, he chats, dances, and plays with his anger. This story is simply amazing, healthy, beautiful..... a gem.

About the Book:

Children experience anger on a regular basis, but lack the coping skills to guide them through these difficult moments. In Anh's Anger, five-year-old Anh becomes enraged when his grandfather interrupts playtime with a summons to the dinner table. When Anh’s grandfather takes the time to help Anh fully experience his anger by suggesting he go to his room and "sit with his anger," Anh discovers a positive method by which to work through his feelings. This remarkable book teaches children to both acknowledge and resolve their difficult emotions, making it an invaluable tool for parents and teachers alike.


These are the books we're recommending this week (April 26th - May 1st). Check back next week for three more favorites!


Green America approved