Great news on Psyched Writer Blog this month! I have added categories linked to the topics of the book reviews/activity ideas. So, from now going forward, it will be much easier to find the topic you are looking for. I'm hoping this addition will make this blog experience much more user-friendly. The categories are listed on the right side of the post. Just click the category of interest and all of the book reviews/activities related to that topic will pop up. Check it out!
A Book Review of Emily's Blue Period
For example, if you are looking for a book on anxiety, you go to the "Anxiety" section and, VOILA, there are all of their books that address this topic in one spot! The books are mostly fiction and represent all age levels from adults to young children. Definitely, a bibliotherapist's dream! If you live in or visit the area, I definitely recommend checking it out in person. If not, their books are available for purchase on-line too! Check out their website here.
Emily's Blue Period is one of the books I picked up at Oh Hello Again in September! I knew going into the store that my blog was lacking books on divorce. So, when I arrived into the store, I went to the section on "Divorce" and, VOILA, this book was calling my name!
Emily's Blue Period is a picture book/early chapter book hybrid. It's divided into a few chapters and the length is a bit longer than a traditional picture book. However, it is full of beautiful illustrations. I would use this book for a wider range of children, specifically 4 - 10 year olds. The younger readers may need to read it in more than one sitting, depending on their attention span.
The author, Cathleen Daly, does a fabulous job integrating a love of art, facts about a famous artist and the experience of separation/divorce into one story. The art focus in the story, in addition to teaching kids a bit about art history, lightens up the intense feelings portrayed in the book.
The main character, Emily, wants to be an artist when she grows up. She is learning about Pablo Picasso in school and makes efforts to emulate him. After Emily's father moves out of their house into an apartment, Emily uses her knowledge of Picasso to help navigate her experience. She compares Picasso's art of mixing things up to her family being mixed up.
When Emily learns about Picasso's blue period, in which he was very sad and only painted in shades of blue, she relates and decides she is in her "blue period" also. During this time, her sadness comes through clearly in the book, as she refuses to participate in art class unless she can use the color blue. The book also brings in the strong emotions of Emily's brother, Jack, as he responds to the family situation with anger.
The climax of the story comes when Emily learns about collage in art class. The teacher assigns the class a project to make a collage of their house. This is sad and confusing for Emily as she does not know which house to call her own. With the help of her family, she learns that "Home is where the heart is," and eventually comes up with an idea. Emily creates a collage in a heart shape and integrates special things from her mom and dad's house on her one heart. She calls it the home of her heart. This activity is very therapeutic for Emily and marks the end of her "blue period."
The illustrations by Lisa Brown are detailed and in muted colors which fit the mood of the story. She uses a dull shade of blue throughout much of the book to accentuate the sadness that Emily is experiencing.
I highly recommend this book for children who are navigating through separation and divorce of their parents. The collage activity from the story is such a great therapeutic activity, that this is the activity I'm going to recommend this month.
Check out the author's website and explore other books by this author here.
An Activity Idea of Emily's Blue Period
This month we are going to create the same project as Emily in the book. It is an amazingly therapeutic idea for children of divorce, so I want to highlight it. This project is likely going to take more than one session.
-large paper roll
-glue stick and strong glue
-crayons or markers
-photos of parents, siblings, houses, etc.
-Collected reminder items from each home
that child would like to include
-cut out computer images if needed
-heart stickers (optional)
A Book Review of The Invisible String
The Invisible String
Written by: Patrice Karst
Illustrated by: Geoff Stevenson
Publisher: DoVorss & Co., CA
Welcome to my first Blog post!! I thought Valentine's Day would be a perfect day to kick off my first post with this lovely book about connections of the heart. I am dedicating this post to my former Infant Mental Health team at Easter Seals Michigan. Due to the intensity of our work together, working with vulnerable young children and their families, we developed very strong connections to each other. This book became a frequent go-to for all of us in dealing with loss in young children.
In my opinion, this book is most appropriate for children from three to eight years of age, but truly it resonates with people of all ages in providing comfort in the event of a loss. After all, loss is a universal experience that, like it or not, we all experience at one time or another and in one way or another. It is a painful experience that parents simply cannot protect their kids from, nor should they try.
Liza and Jeremy were twins that became scared one night from a thunderstorm and ran out of their room and into their mother's arms. This situation is a frequent occurrence and common fear that many kids can relate to. Ms. Karst does a beautiful job showing appropriate expression of feelings of Liza and Jeremy throughout the book, as does Mr. Stevenson through the illustrations.
This is a beautiful, comforting book that subtly touches on the many losses we incur in our lifetime. It presents the concept that we never really lose people we love, they stay in our hearts forever-always connected through that invisible string! Ms. Karst's creative concept of "the invisible string" is a magical concept that adds to the anticipation and mystery that draws kids into the book. At the end of the story, Liza and Jeremy are able to withstand the storm in their own beds comforted by their new knowledge that the people they love are always with them, even if not physically.
I have used this book so much in my practice that I have worn it out! It is very useful with kids who have been separated from their families through foster care or adoption, jail, or death. I have found it helpful for military families when kids have a parent serving overseas. It is also useful for kids with separation anxiety and for just the day to day life happenings of a child, ie. staying in their own bed at night, starting preschool or Kindergarten, or missing their non-custodial parent who no longer lives with them.
This story strongly resonates with children and adults alike and provides a comfort that only connection and relationships can provide when going through difficult times. I use this book as a great starting point to address all of the losses stated above. Many times, I follow the reading of this book by a therapeutic activity, to drive the concepts home.
1. Cut out large heart from construction paper, in child's favorite color, and write child's name in the middle of the heart.
Note: Work together with the child and parent, cutting if child is too young, having child pick out the colors and write name if they can.
To make the hearts, I simply fold paper and make them the old fashioned way! Kids love the magic of opening up the shape after it's cut and seeing the heart! See photos.
2. Cut strings and tape on back of large heart. See photos.
4. Have child pick out color for each of his/her connections and cut out smaller heart for each one. You can trace the first heart you cut so they are all about the same size. (Don't forget to let the kids do the "magic" by opening the heart!) Write the connection's name on heart using child's name for that person.
6. FINISHED PROJECT! During and/or after activity, discuss favorite memories they have about each connection. Suggest to parent/guardian to hang project in the house somewhere where child can see it often. Drive home the message "Even though ______ isn't with you now, you are ALWAYS CONNECTED by the invisible string! You are in each other's hearts forever and no one can take that away from you."
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Acceptance & Commitment -Therapy Skills
Acceptance Of Others
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Skills
Coping With ADHD
Coping With Depression
Coping With Feelings
Grief & Loss
Negative Self Talk
Parent W/Mental Illness
Parent W/Substance Abuse
School Lockdown Drills
Sexual Abuse Prevention
Standing Up For Others
Supporting A Friend