(Artwork from My Name Is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry and Mike Litwin)
With all the mounting possibilities and opportunities for women, what a wonderful time it is to be a young girl growing up! As mothers and fathers, we'll want to nurture our girls with love and encouragement, give them our time, and make them always feel supported and safe.
Lead the way by being their role model! Be transparent—let them see your strengths and even a few of your weaknesses. They'll most likely learn to follow your example at a young age, so make sure your setting a good one!
In honor of International Women's Day, we'd like to share a few tips to help your daughters grow up with positive self-esteem and a strong sense of self-worth. So they can, one day, go on to accomplish their biggest goals and make their dreams a reality.
1. Allow her to be curious and persistent—to voice her opinion, knowing that you're listening. In fact, require that she does! Demonstrate to her what it means to be true to herself: strong in her stance and confident in her own skin.
2. Urge her to dream big, play dress up, and be imaginative. Remind her that she can be anything she wants when she grows up: a dentist, a teacher, a scientist, a doctor, an author. Don't sugarcoat any of the work it takes to become one of these figures, of course. You'll still communicate to her that it takes hard work, but explain that this is what makes the experience so rewarding.
3. As she enters school, make sure she is forming meaningful relationships with female figures in school or outside of school. It's important for young women to have mentors outside of their home, too.
4. Help your daughter focus on who she is—defined by her heart, character, abilities, self-worth, those who love her—rather than her physical appearance.
5. Show your daughter how to set and track achievable short term and long term goals. You can show her how to start small and stay grounded in what she chooses to write down, but also make sure she doesn't limit herself. However, it is important that the goals are realistic to her abilities. Be sure to revisit these goals together as often as possible!
Your daughter's self-esteem and development is the most malleable and impressionable in the first three years of her life. Use this stage of her life to really teach her how to value herself, her thoughts, her mind, her heart.
Don't be hard on yourself though! Remember that some girls develop a sense of independence with more ease than others, and this is not a reflection on your parenting. It's never too late to start teaching your daughter self-worth, whether she's two or fifteen.
Every girl needs guidance, YOUR help with discovering her talents and abilities, and your support in the careers, goals, dreams, etc. she chooses to pursue. With your time, patience, and guidance, she will grow up to be an amazing woman!
We encourage you to share scientist Marie Curie's story with your little girl today to inspire her to plan a big future and chase after her dreams! Marie Curie was the first to learn how radiation works and the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. This blurb can be found, along with other amazing women who have changed history, in Jennifer Fosberry's personalized book My Name Is Not Isabella.
Show your daughters how to dream big with the two personalized books below!
My Name is Not Isabella Personalized Book
My Name is Not Isabella takes your child on a journey through time to learn about some of the amazing women who changed history. Your daughter will go on an adventure of discovery—and find out how imagining to be these extraordinary women can teach her the importance of being her extraordinary self.
Dream Big, Little Pig! Personalized Book
Turn Kristi Yamaguchi's New York Times bestselling picture book into a personalized hardcover keepsake that your child will always cherish! This customized book will make your story time an extraordinary experience you will both remember forever.
(Artwork from Marianne Richmond's Hooray for You!)
First and foremost, it's never too early to start reading aloud to your child, or even to the bump in your belly! Reading to your little one, or simply reading together, no matter your child's age, is one of the most organic ways to bond with your child.
Furthermore, reading aloud helps develop your child's literacy skills at a young age. From vocabulary to phonics to comprehension, storytelling, and interaction with the printed word, reading books to children is a powerful tool for any parent looking to instill an early love of reading and learning!
If your child is getting ready to enter preschool or kindergarten, reading aloud together is a great preparation for this big, exciting change in his or her life. By reading books and stories aloud as often as possible, you're already introducing them to the importance of reading and getting them ready to start on their amazing journey of education.
If you have a baby or children and you're still feeling a smidge nervous to read aloud to your child (yes, it's normal!), choose books with a natural rhythm or rhyme to them. Perhaps practice when you're alone if you think it would help, and make sure you put yourself in a comfortable situation. Despite any sort of nerves you may feel, your child will be delighted and enthralled by the sound of your voice, even if you stumble over words or mispronounce a character's name. Go for it! You'll get used to it and learn to love it, we promise!
Every Parent Needs to Hear Some Positive Reinforcement…
• Babies love, love, love the sound of your voice! They also love to look at colorful pictures. Reading a book with your baby in your lap is one of the easiest, and most natural, ways to bond.
• Even if you think your child is too old to be read aloud to, think again! Reading aloud is great for older kids who are just starting to read aloud at school as well as voice their opinions in class. Take turns reading chapter books aloud, or let your child read the chapter book to you. Your child is never too old to enjoy a good book read aloud. Even though they may fight it at first, fight back and read aloud anyway!
Before You Read
• Start by turning off all distractions. This includes phones, televisions, laptops, etc.
• Find a comfortable place to read—a special rocking chair, find a seat on your favorite comfy couch or chair, or make a nest by the fireplace. Find somewhere that you can call your special reading spot.
• Commit to a routine time (morning or evening) and do your best to fit in reading aloud whenever possible. Reading aloud for at least 15 minutes each day will really make a positive difference in your child's development, as well as enhance their willingness to learn and read as they grow.
• Before you start reading the book you or your child has picked out, ask your child what they think the book is about. Show them the cover, read about the author, and look at some of the pictures together. Let them observe the book's details before you start. Compare your hypotheses once you've finished the story!
While You Read
• Get into your reading character. Use the book's cues to dress up or dress down your voice as appropriate. It's important for your child to hear you reading with changes in your voice and at a varying pace.
• Remember to use the correct tone, volume, and animation as you see fit. Incorporate sounds if you feel so inclined! There's no reason to hold back! Read with confidence and expression! Reading in a funny, intense, or loud voice to accommodate the tone of the book will really help your child get into the story, and they'll love it!
• Make sure you read slowly enough so your child can still soak the story in and have enough time to process the pictures and artwork.
• Let your child hold the book and/or turn the pages. Urge your child to point out pictures they like or things they find interesting in the illustrations or words.
• Encourage your children to ask about the characters, pictures, or words. Or, if they're reluctant, ask them questions about the story. Take the time to discuss the story afterward by asking your child about certain parts of the books, especially if there is a prominent lesson or powerful message (in most cases there is!).
After You Read
• If you have time, scan the book before you and your child get together to read and see if you can find connections to your family's personal experiences. You can then discuss them after you've finish the story!
• If you end up reading a story your child is particularly familiar with or it's already one of their favorites, challenge your child to tell you the story and praise them for their retelling!
Reading stories aloud is such a productive and happy way to enjoy books on a personal level together. Happy World Read Aloud Day!
Recommended Reads to Light the Way in Celebration of World Read Aloud Day! Find Below a Few of Our Personalized Books with Repetition and Rhyme:
Isn't it amazing that we can still recite the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Little Pigs, or even Cinderella, years after they were told to us? Telling or reading fairy tales to children helps them grasp the meaning behind a story and relate to its moral or message. Sometimes a particular fairy tale speaks to a child directly and resonates with them deeply without them even realizing it!
"You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right."—Rosa Parks
(Artwork from Jennifer Fosberry's My Name Is Not Isabella)
Today is Rosa Parks' birthday! We felt it was the perfect day to celebrate Rosa Parks as a role model and to share a few insights to help teach the children in your life to be brave. It doesn't matter if you're a teacher, a sibling, a parent, a grandparent—we can all help encourage little ones to become more confident by setting an example. Show your children that you're brave by stepping out of your comfort zone, by confronting fears, and helping them confront theirs. Your brave example will inspire them.
• Teach your children right from wrong. Establish a value system within your family that translates into your children's everyday routine. Make sure you see that your children do their best to live by this value system. Observe how they interact with others and step in if you feel they're not standing up for themselves.
• Communicate with your children. Let them know that you're there to listen. Help them work through issues and problems by talking with them. Remember to ask them about their interactions on a regular basis—at school, with friends, etc. Show them the way by giving them advice on how to deal with issues that come up.
• Challenge your children. Teach them to be fearless! Encourage them to try new things—from foods, to activities, to big, scary roller coasters. Even if they decide they really didn't like that food or activity, praise them for being brave and willing to confront their fears by trying something new and unfamiliar.
Celebrate bravery today by teaching your children how to be confident and why it's honorable to stand up for yourself! Today, we're inspired by Rosa Parks, and also by a little girl named Isabella from My Name Is Not Isabella who is courageous, strong, and proud to be imaginative.
Celebrate brave women today with Jennifer Fosberry's bestselling book: My Name Is Not Isabella
As 2014 begins, we hope you had a very enjoyable holiday season filled with celebrations with family and friends. If your holidays were anything like ours, they were full of fun, family, friends and lots and lots of wonderful holiday treats! Now, though, we all have to think about how to have a healthy AND happy 2014.
(Artwork from If I Could Keep You Little... by Marianne Richmond)
If your child was averaging about two candy canes, one piece of fudge, and a couple cookies a day, he must be in dire need of a healthy routine reboot. December, aka the month of sugar-stricken kids running around the house like crazy people, has come to an end. It's now time to whip your family back into shape, or at least re-introduce some healthy habits after all the sugar, junk, and irregular routines.
Not sure where to start? See below!
1. Purge the fridge. Go on, get rid of it…all of it. Cookies, cakes, holiday leftovers, any stray bits of candy, etc. that should no longer be consumed—toss it. Even if it hasn't gone bad yet, throw it out anyway. It's a new year, start fresh.
2. Get back to the root of your day: a balanced, healthy breakfast! Yogurts, oatmeal, fruits, eggs, or wheat toast with peanut butter are all good items to sample. Skip the juice and try a small glass of milk, almond milk, or a homemade smoothie (with ingredients you trust) instead. Breakfast is a great time to connect with one another. If your children are still on break, take advantage of the last few morning meals without having to rush to get to school!
3. Avoid fast food, soda, sweets, and big rich meals. Even if these foods are in your family's regular diet, take a break from them. Especially now, while everyone resets for a healthy year.
4. Take an excursion. Go on an active family outing: skiing, sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, or bowling. Anything will do, just get off the couch and away from any screens!
5. Invite fruits and veggies to all meals. Set a good example for your children by eating these foods in front of your children and serving them with breakfast, lunch, and, dinner. If you're feeling creative, try a fruit skewer or some sort of fun shape to entice your little ones.
6. Make meals a team effort. Train your children to be your little sous chefs. Let them choose from a selection of healthy recipes, make a shopping list together and take them along to the grocery store. Children are more likely to eat the foods that they help make in the kitchen.
7. Look for healthier substitutes for your family's favorite recipes. Chances are, your children won't even notice the swap. Or, for super picky eaters, find ways to disguise veggies. For example, try making a pasta sauce by using a blender to mix lots of veggies together into a purée—they'll never know!
8. Create a fortress against illness. Make sure you regularly go over hand hygiene with your little ones. Check up on them to ensure that they're washing and scrubbing their fully-soaped hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing with water. Cold and flu season is still upon us, and can often times be in full force come February. Also, don't forget to help them bundle up with the appropriate clothing if it's cold outside.
9. Re-establish a normal sleep schedule. Holiday festivities often disrupt your children's sleeping patterns. The anticipation of Santa's arrival and staying up until midnight to celebrate New Year's Eve are enough alone to throw off a routine. Getting enough sleep is fundamental for you and your children.
As you reboot and reorganize post-holiday season, remember to help your children get back into a regular routine, reinforce a normal sleep regimen, and replenish the body with healthy foods and physical activity. (Hint: These tips aren't just for your kids.)
Let's welcome 2014 with a healthy and happy family!
Do you have any healthy recipes or ideas for activities to start the New Year fresh? We'd love to hear your thoughts.
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