Reading for Research

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The first advice I received about being a children’s author was to read, read, read. It seemed like a daunting task. If I spent so much time reading, how would I ever find time to write? I’m one of those word-by-word readers, the kind that read as slow as they would if they were reading aloud. But I took up the challenge, finding some books I enjoyed and reading long into the night. This summer, though, I changed pace. Instead of focusing on children’s fiction, I opted for some books on research and development—child development, that is.

wholebrainThe Whole-Brain Child is a book I’d recommend for anyone who has interaction with kids. It isn’t a usual psychology book and even has comics illustrating the different pros and cons of discipline methods. My favorite phrase now is “connect to redirect.” Instead of commanding a child to change her behavior, we can help her talk about her emotions and empower her to take charge of her actions. Of course, the amount of responsibility varies with age. I love how this book explains the “why” behind behaviors in children and adults.

Another excellent book is The Connected Child. Written for parents who foster and adopt, this book encourages parents to recognize their own childhood hurts and relate to the unique circumstances of their new children. The authors express connection and trust is needed first, then negative behaviors can be corrected. This means rough days are to be expected, but with time and continuity there is hope for the parent-child bond to grow.

These books have helped me in my writing in many ways:

  • connectedchildThey give me a reference for a wide range of behaviors in children.
  • They show me the positive and negative effects of how adults respond to them.
  • The Whole-Brain Child gives me parenting scenarios and explains the way our brains process things.
  • The Connected Child helps me understand the challenges in diverse families.

My current novel has a child in the foster care system and another recently reunited with his mother. Without these two books I would not be able to write in-depth about these children’s emotions and growth. Hope you consider reading them!

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