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When I was going through my thyroid diagnosis and treatment, I never felt like I should keep it a secret. I was going to an endocronologist, I knew I was doing the right thing for my health, and no one judged you for taking thyroid medication or getting treatments.

So, why is it not the same when it comes to mental health?

It should be, and I truly believe that one of the first things we could do as a community to change how it is talked about and the stigma around it is by changing the term we use. Mental health has a negative connotation in that many believe that our “mental state” is something we can control, and if we can’t control it, it is because we are weak. You can see this connotation is how people use mental informally to mean crazy. Mental is intangible.

So, why not instead call the study of mental illness

Brain Health

?

And instead of mental illnesses, we suffer from brain disorders?

These changes in terms show that the illnesses that many, including me, suffer are from imbalances in the brain, not something we are making up in our intangible thoughts. Brain health and brain disorders are very tangible things–they are all tied to chemicals, hormones, genetics, and trauma.

Let’s eliminate the stigma by changing the discussion! If we are suffering from brain health issues, we should see a professional, just like if we had heart or thyroid or other health issues. If we need time off for our brain health, just like if we had a cold, and we should be able to say that.

Think of how many lives we could save if kids (and adults!) realized that our brain health is as important as ear, nose, and throat or cardiology?

Advocate with me, and end the stigma!

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Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker
Author: Mara Rockliff
Illustrator: Simona Ciraolo
Published: September, 2018 by Chronicle Books

Summary: Meet Alice Guy-Blaché. She made movies—some of the very first movies, and some of the most exciting! Blow up a pirate ship? Why not? Crawl into a tiger’s cage? Of course! Leap off a bridge onto a real speeding train? It will be easy! Driven by her passion for storytelling, Alice saw a potential for film that others had not seen before, allowing her to develop new narratives, new camera angles, new techniques, and to surprise her audiences again and again. With daring and vision, Alice Guy-Blaché introduced the world to a thrilling frontier of imagination and adventure, and became one of filmmaking’s first and greatest innovators. Mara Rockliff tells the story of a girl who grew up loving stories and became an acclaimed storyteller and an inspiration in her own right.

About the Creators: 

Mara Rockliff has authored many books for children, including: Anything But Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of MagicAround America to Win the Vote; and Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Simona Ciraolo is a children’s book author and illustrator. She grew up in Italy where she received a degree in animation from the National Film School. She also earned an MA in children’s book illustration at Cambridge. She lives in London.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ and discussion guide I created for Lights! Camera! Alice!:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about the book on Chronicle Book’s Lights! Camera! Alice! page.

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My Name is Wakawakaloch!
Author: Chana Stiefel
Illustrator: Mary Sullivan
Published August 27th, 2019 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Summary: In this lighthearted picture book, the intrepid, determined, and savvy Wakawakaloch learns to embrace what makes her special while lifting up her neanderthal community.

No one can pronounce Wakawakaloch’s name. Why couldn’t she be called something simple . . . like Gloop? That’s a name you can find on a T-shirt! But after a visit with her tribe’s elder, Wakawakaloch discovers what her name means, and how powerful names can be. Gloop may be easy to say, but the girl who helps her friends embrace differences and wear their names proudly? Her name is Wakawakaloch!

Praise: “Wakawakaloch’s frustrations surrounding the mispronunciation of her name will resonate with many. . . .This bombastic main character allows the story to shine.” —Kirkus

About the Author: CHANA STIEFEL is the author of more than 25 books for kids about exploding volcanoes, stinky castles, and other fun stuff. In addition to My Name Is Wakawakaloch! she is the author of Daddy Depot, illustrated by Andy Snair (Feiwel & Friends, 2017). Recent nonfiction titles include Animals Zombies . . . . & Other Real-Life Monsters (National Geographic Kids, 2018), which was selected as a Top Ten YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers in 2019. Check out the fun book trailer and more at her website: chanastiefel.com.

Twitter: @chanastiefel
Instagram: @chanastiefel

ReviewThis is such a timely books for classrooms, well for society in general! Pronouncing and remembering students’ names correctly is so important and not can have a lasting effect:

https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/gift-of-pronunciation/
http://neatoday.org/2016/09/01/pronouncing-students-names/
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/a-teacher-mispronouncing-a-students-name-can-have-a-lasting-impact

Wakawakaloch starts this conversation at a young age, not only for teachers but for other students. Name is part of our identity and Wakawakaloch should be mad that others aren’t trying!

Not only is the concept important, it is really well done! Done in a way that doesn’t feel preachy, is funny, but also still gets its message across clearly.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: If I was reading this aloud in my classroom, I would focus on the theme then complete activities about names. Every name has a story, either a personal one or a historical one.

(Please be careful about asking about history of names with all students as this may be a tough subject for anyone who doesn’t have access to a stable family environment to discuss why they were named their name. Make sure to have alternate assignments for this situation.)

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why is it so important to know peoples’ names?
  • Why is Wakawakaloch’s name so important?
  • What does not learning someone’s name say to them?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: What if We Were All the Same? by C.M. Harris, The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, My Name is Elizabeth! by Annika Dunklee, Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal, My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits

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**Thank you Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review and giveaway!**

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What Can a Citizen Do?
Author: Dave Eggers
Illustrator: Shawn Harris
Published: September 11th, 2018 by Chronicle Books

Summary: This is a book about what citizenship—good citizenship—means to you, and to us all: Across the course of several seemingly unrelated but ultimately connected actions by different children, we watch how kids turn a lonely island into a community—and watch a journey from what the world should be to what the world could be.

• What Can a Citizen Do? is the latest collaboration from the acclaimed behind the bestselling Her Right Foot: Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris.

• For today’s youngest readers about what it means to be a citizen and the positive role they can play in society.

• Includes beautiful illustrations and intriguing, rhyming text.

What Can a Citizen Do is an empowering and timeless read with an important message for all ages.

Praise:

“[This] charming book provides examples and sends the message that citizens aren’t born but are made by actions taken to help others and the world they live in.” —The Washington Post

“Obligatory reading for future informed citizens.” —The New York Times

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ and discussion guide I created for What Can a Citizen Do?:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about the book on Chronicle Book’s What Can a Citizen Do? page.

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Barkus: Dog Dreams
Author: Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrator: Marc Boutavant
Published: August 7th, 2018 by Chronicle Books

Summary: Barkus is back! With new tricks. New friends. And lots more fun.

The lovable Barkus and his lucky young owner romp through the pages of this delightful series from Newbery Medal–winning author Patricia MacLachlan. The simple text told in short chapters is just right for children ready to take their first steps toward reading on their own.

View my post about Barkus to learn about book one.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for the Barkus series:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Barkus on Chronicle Book’s Barkus Book 2 page.

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Polly Diamond and the Super Stunning Spectacular School Fair
Author: Alice Kuipers
Illustrator: Diana Toledano
Published: May 7th, 2019 by Chronicle Books

Summary: Polly and her magic book, Spell, have all kinds of adventures together because whatever Polly writes in Spell comes true! But when Polly and Spell join forces to make the school fair super spectacular, they quickly discover that what you write and what you mean are not always the same. Filled with the familiar details of home and school, but with a sprinkling of magic, this book is just right for fans of Ivy + Bean, Judy Moody, and Dory Fantasmagory, as well for aspiring writers, who, just like Polly, know the magic of stories.

View my post about Polly Diamond and the Magic Book to learn about book one.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for the Polly Diamond series:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Polly Diamond on Chronicle Book’s Polly Diamond Book 2 page.

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The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
Author: David Arnold
Published: May 22, 2018 by Viking

Guest Review by Natalia Sperry

Summary: This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → sees changes—inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories—in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations . . .

Review: The longer I sit with this book, the more I feel like I’m still it; every time I sit down to think about it, I find new things to consider. If that’s not the sign of a good book,I don’t know what else is. The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hipnotik is a surreal exploration of identity, friendship, and family on the brink of the many changes protagonist Noah Oakman faces (both before and after his hypnotic episode) as he looks to the future beyond high school.

Above all else, I loved the nerdom in this book, both in its literary and historical detail as well as the variety of pop-culture references. In particular, much of the book (including its title) is drawn from musical icon David Bowie, so I’ll admit,  it’s hard to go wrong. The humor also brings some lightness to the moral questions and philosophical questions of self and reality, which helps keep the largely internal narrative afloat.

Through it all, this book captures an important to capture the emotional gamut of someone’s life, especially when it feels like everything is ch-ch-ch-changing around you. Whether you’re looking for fun or serious contemplation of reality, this book will let you escape for a while (and even for a while longer after you’re done!)

Teacher’s Tool For Navigation: Though grounded in humor and pop culture references, this book would make for a really interesting companion to classics like James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, or J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. In asking students to compare the latter with Strange Fascinations, there are some really interesting parallels to be made both in the coming of age story and in the respective protagonists’ relationships with their sisters.

Discussion Questions: Do you agree, like Circuit, that genuine conversations are rare in the contemporary world? What do you think of Noah’s “strange fascinations?” Do you have any “fascinations” of your own, in this sense?

Flagged: “Some books are songs like that, the ones you go back to, make playlists of, put on repeat” (page 108).

Read This If You Loved: Mosquitoland by David Arnold, Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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