Rainy day reading.
As critical to quality of life as rhythm, music, and a delectable dance partner? No. But there is good reason to check out the series of workbooks by UnXpected Development, LLC that are meant to help kids sort through their feelings, goals, and options as they grow and learn. Titles in the series include I’ve Got Feelings (about recognizing and dealing with emotions), I’ve Got a Choice (about considering consequences of your actions), I’ve Got a New Home (for coping with moving), and I’ve Got Plans (with an eye toward the future). There’s also an autograph book for kids called I’ve Got Friends.
These workbooks, written by Taryn Grimes-Herbert and illustrated with charming photos by Lenee Gordon, are probably best for 4th- or 5th-graders. At this stage kids can read, write, and draw independently, but are not yet too busy rolling their eyes at mom and dad to sit down and talk. Each title includes exercises to help kids examine different aspects of the topic. In I’ve Got a Choice, for example, there are pages on tough choices, bad choices, choosing words carefully, and how to stop and think before acting. I’ve Got a New Home is particularly strong thanks to the author’s personal experience. It zeroes right in on the fears and worries and gives children some constructive things to do about them.
Throughout the series, the creative team’s love of children comes across clearly. The activities combine writing and drawing, in acknowledgment that not everyone learns the same way. The five books are tied together by the common theme of empowerment: let’s give kids the tools they need for self-control and self-determination. Amen. Kids will need help interpreting the meat of the subjects, though. I’d want to go through the workbooks together with my child even before he dug into any of the exercises, and again after he finished.
One of the biggest parenting challenges I face is getting my son to see the big picture: how his feelings color his behavior, how his actions impact other people, how his choices shape his future. Granted, he’s only two. He has yet to learn that he is not, technically, the center of the universe. But if he were eight or nine, I might pull out one of these books on a rainy afternoon and see where it took us.
About the Author:
The youngest of seven children, Taryn Grimes-Herbert began her acting career at the age of nine, performing in regional theaters up and down the east coast. At 18, she made her off-Broadway debut and since then has appeared on Broadway and in numerous productions on television, film, and radio. She continues to perform and has been a writer and producer for the past twenty years. She is currently the Executive Producer of Entertainment for UnXpected Developments, LLC, a production company which she co-owns with her husband, journalist, T. Sean Herbert. The couple currently lives in Orange County, NY with their 2 children.
Many thanks to Katherine Bahnsen Stikkers for writing this review. Find Katherine’s occasional blog at www.runrunleap.com.