Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Big Al

Andrew Clemens, Artwork by Yoshi, For Ages 4-7

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Think about what it would be like to try and make friends if you were the biggest and ugliest fish in the sea. This is the problem that Big Al faces when trying to make friends. He is the friendliest fish in the sea but he is lonely because no one wants to make friends with him.

An important social emotional skill is the ability to make friends and young children often need to learn strategies that they can use. There are a number of books that we recommend for this and Big Al is great for younger children aged 4-7. In the story Big Al uses a range of different strategies such as disguising himself, trying to make himself bigger and smaller. Unfortunately none of these things work.

However in the end when the other fishes are caught in a net Big Al shows that he is a true friend and rescues them.

From this book children can learn to be true to themselves, that they don’t have to pretend to be anything that they are not. They will also learn about the value of accepting that others are different and that real friendship means helping each other.

Book Review: The Invisible String

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Did you know that everyone has an invisible string connecting them with their loved ones? You might think it is impossible but surely you can feel the tug from heart to heart even when we are alone or far from our family and friends.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst is a favourite children’s story book that was specifically written to address issues of loneliness and separation. It uses a very simple approach with a heart warming message that there is an invisible connection of love. Even if you can’t see or touch it you know it is there because you can feel it deep in your heart.

Many young children experience separation anxiety. Perhaps it is because it is their first time away from their primary caregiver or a close relative has left or died.

In The Invisible String Jeremy lets his mother know that he feels sad when he is away from her, she reassures him with the knowledge that she is still there as they are connected with an invisible string that he only needs to tug and he will feel her love. The invisible string represents the love people have for each other.

The need for a sense of connectedness is important for children to develop resilience. Feelings of separation anxiety can arise which are difficult for a child to manage without guidance. The Invisible String is a great learning tool to address this issue and facilitate discussion with young children around separation anxiety.

Some feedback about this book include

“We can’t read this to a class without a few tears, as this simple story really touches young and old alike.”

“It was a great help when my children’s grandfather died. They could believe that the invisible string reached all the way to heaven and that their grandfather’s love was still with them.”

“Nice picture book about how we don’t stop loving each other just because we are apart.”

“The most requested book in our house, and has held this status for quite some time.”

“Great if you or someone close to you are moving or if a loved one dies to explain how love works at a distance.”

Book Review: How Puzzles Improve Your Brain by Richard Restak

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Richard Restak is not just a world leading Neuroscientist, he is motivated to find ways to “keep my brain working at its best.” He describes his studies in this area as his “personal odyssey” and has written several books on this topic. How Puzzles Improve Your Brain: The Surprising Science of the Playful Brain explores both the underlying neuroscience along with practical methods utilizing puzzles to develop your brain.

Are puzzles something you loved as a kid or, like some of us at Pathways to Resilience Trust, you still love to do them? Did you go through mazes, tell riddles, solve crosswords, do Sudoku or engage in creative problem solving? Puzzles can be fun and we generally understand that puzzles should be somehow improving our brains.

Leading neuroscientist and puzzle maker Scott Tim team up to not only present a great range of fascinating puzzles but also look at how different puzzles improve specific areas of brain function.

Did you know that Sudoku can improve our logic, you can develop your creative problem solving skills with nothing more than a box of matches, and emoticons such as 🙂 and 😦 can help us develop our emotional understand of other people. Also learn how to improve your visual skills so you can perceive rather than just look and try various exercises to make your memory better.

This informative book will not only teach you more about how the brain works, it will also provide you with many fun and practical ways to improve both you and your student’s brains.