Barefoot Ambassador Success Stories: Allison Diehl | Barefoot Books

What does success mean to you? Whether it’s paying off student loans or winning a trip overseas, spending more time with family or inspiring your students to love learning, our Barefoot Ambassadors pursue their own definitions of success every day. And so can you!

Barefoot Ambassador Success Stories: Allison Diehl | Barefoot Books

Don’t believe us? Meet Allison Diehl: mom, wife, archaeologist and Barefoot Ambassador! Throughout her Ambassador journey, Allison has continually turned her detailed mind to making her business a success. In 2005, she researched the book world thoroughly before joining the program; ten years later, all her hard work paid off with the ultimate prize: a trip to France! Financially, the rewards have been fabulous: “My Barefoot income has enabled me to finance several family vacations, cover unexpected medical expenses and repair bills and replace our family computer,” Allison says. “I have also been able to cut back from working 40 hours a week at my paycheck job to 30.”

Barefoot Ambassador Success Stories: Allison Diehl | Barefoot Books

Allison enjoys a drink during the Ambassador trip to France!

But business success alone far from encapsulates all Allison has achieved since 2005. “My journey as an Ambassador [has] brought me out of my shell,” Allison says. “As an introvert, I had always preferred working alone, but this endeavor has helped me find joy in working with others. I am now much more comfortable with talking to others.”

She’s not just comfortable: she’s powerful! Allison’s knack for helping others see the positive side of business challenges—and courageous abandonment of her cozy, quiet shell—has enabled her to grow her team, the Barefoot Business Builders, into a dynamic force that stretches across North America.

Barefoot Ambassador Success Stories: Allison Diehl | Barefoot Books

Allison meets Mama Panya's Pancakes authors Mary and Richard Chamberlain at the Tuscon Festival of Books!

“Through Barefoot Books, I’ve met so many other people who share my passion for stories and literacy,” Allison says. By developing new resources, helping fellow Ambassadors set goals and mentoring teammates one-on-one, Allison has not only found a like-minded community: she’s made it grow! “Of all I’ve accomplished as an Ambassador,” Allison says, “I’m most proud of helping others succeed in their own Barefoot business ventures.”

And we are SO proud of her! When we empower people like Allison to drive the change they want to see in their lives and communities, we’ve achieved our definition of success!

So whether you’re looking to gain new business skills or learn about children’s literacy, to meet like-minded people or update your school’s library with multicultural books, you’ll find the support you need to succeed with Barefoot Books.

Ready to get started? Start your Ambassador journey now to take advantage of our $99 Starter Kit sale (save $40!) and to register for our Ambassador workshops, coming to a city near you! We can’t wait to see what YOU might achieve!

 


5 Reasons to Start Your Ambassador Journey in March | Barefoot Books

Do you believe that children’s books can change the world? Do you long to unlock your potential to drive that change and make a big impact on families in your community…and beyond? If so, you’re in the right place!

Flexible and fun, with no minimums or hidden fees, the Barefoot Books Ambassador Program empowers you to share stories that open children’s hearts and minds to the world around them…and to earn an income! You run your business your way and pursue your own goals–and get great discounts on the books you love!

This March is a amazing time to start your Ambassador journey! Here’s why:

1. How does snagging $300 worth of Barefoot Books products for only $99 sound to you? Good? Then you’ll want to hop on our March Starter Kit sale! Purchasing your Starter Kit is the very first step of your Ambassador journey. Don’t miss your chance to take your first step for less and get your hands on books kids love!

5 Reasons to Start Your Barefoot Journey in March | Barefoot Books

NEW in March!

2. Speaking of books…we have NEW books! From a one-of-a-kind yoga deck to a showstopping picture book about Leonardo da Vinci, our new March products offer something for every child in your community…and beyond!

Each of our books is carefully designed to nurture kids’ love of storytelling, creativity and diversity, empowering them to see the world in a whole new light; and our new March books are no exception. Plus, we chose to publish these books based on Ambassador feedback, so we know there’s a market for them–just waiting for YOU to tap it!

Not convinced you can? We’ve got the perfect new tool to get you going…

3. A NEW catalog! Our shiny new Spring/Summer 2016 catalog is just as much a work of art any of our books. Packed with Ambassador spotlights and childhood development tips, this amazing sales tool will not only pique your potential customers’ interest, but will also empower YOU to gain new skills and grow your business!

5 Reasons to Start Your Barefoot Journey in March | Barefoot Books

Come to our workshops this spring to meet fellow Ambassadors!

4. Once you’ve got a potential customer hooked, reel ‘em in with our our Spend $60, get 20% off March offer! We created it to equip YOU to take immediate advantage of your first customers’ interest in our new March books. Once they’ve seen one, they’ll want them all…and this offer is the perfect way to cinch the deal!

5. But the BEST reason to join in March? Our Ambassador workshops, coming to a city near you! When you become an Ambassador, you join a thriving, entrepreneurial community that’s passionate about sharing stories that open kids’ hearts and minds. Happening all across North America this spring and summer, our workshops will be the perfect opportunity for a new Ambassador to get plugged right in!

In these workshops, Home Office experts and veteran Ambassadors will give you the tips and training you need to unlock your potential and achieve YOUR financial and personal growth goals. You’ll get an exclusive peek into the creative process and meet dozens of parents, educators and innovators just like you who love kids and love stories. From sharing your story with fellow newbies to partying with the Home Office team, you’ll find the community and support you need take risks with confidence and grow your budding business into a blooming success!

Are you ready to begin your Barefoot journey? We at Home Office are so excited to help you reach toward YOUR dreams and can’t wait to see what you achieve!

 

 


Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this February | Barefoot Books

Join in February to get The Girl with a Brave Heart in our Love & Acceptance Set!

Are you looking for a new opportunity to learn and grow? To open children’s hearts and minds with multicultural books they’ll love to read? To be recognized for all your hard work? To make a big impact on families in your community…and beyond? If so, you’re in the right place!

Flexible and fun, with no minimums or hidden fees, the Barefoot Books Ambassador Program empowers you to run your business your way, to pursue your own goals–and get great discounts on the books you love!

This February is a fabulous time to start your Barefoot journey! Here’s why:

  1. Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this February | Barefoot Books

    Good friends + great conversations + gorgeous books = a Barefoot event!

    Join before February 29th to receive 6 of our favorite books…in addition to the Starter Kit! This month, we’re sending each new joiner our Love & Acceptance Set - consider it our Valentines’ Day gift to you! Including The Girl with a Brave Heart (pictured above), The Boy who Grew Flowers, and other Barefoot favorites, this hand-picked, multicultural selection of stories about compassion and confidence will perfectly complement your Starter Kit. These 6 books will give you an extra edge as you launch your business and begin to make a difference in children’s lives!

  2. Double Host rewards: If you’re worried that you’ll have trouble convincing people to book events in this cooooooooold month, don’t be! Everyone is looking for ways to stave off the cabin fever. You’ll have plenty of eager hosts chomping at the bit to hold Barefoot Books events at their homes–especially with our special Double Host rewards! Such a can’t miss Host special makes it all the easier for you to land bookings right away and get your business off to a great start.

    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Ambassador in February | Barefoot Books

    The opportunity is completely flexible, so you can achieve YOUR dreams YOUR way!

  3. Reading Resolutions: This February, we’re challenging families to stick to the Reading Resolutions they made in January. As an Ambassador, you can use our buy 3, get 4th free consumer offer to enable families to get more books for less cash! Our Children’s Literacy Workshop event theme pairs perfectly with this offer. Plus, we’ve created fresh new content about children’s literacy — check out our blog posts on why you shouldn’t pressure kids to learn to read early and the visual literacy benefits of wordless books. They’re perfect for reminding a potential hostess of her treasured dream of seeing the children in her life grow and thrive.

  4. Speaking of dreams…what are yours? You can use the Ambassador program specifically to help you achieve the personal growth YOU want to see in your life. If you long to conquer a new challenge or gain recognition for your skills; to step outside your comfort zone or inspire others to do so; or to pay for a family vacation or pay off student debt, our supportive Ambassador community and expert training will equip you to reach YOUR goals.
    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Ambassador this February | Barefoot Books

  5. Lastly, and most importantly, becoming an Ambassador is a decision you can feel great about. When you become an Ambassador, you join a community passionate about sharing stories, connecting families and inspiring children. You share beautiful, educational and inclusive books and products with your community; and in doing so, nurture a love of storytelling, creativity and diversity that empowers children to see the world in a whole new light.

Are you ready to begin your Barefoot journey? We at Home Office are so excited to help you reach toward YOUR dreams and can’t wait to see what you achieve!

 

 


Why You Shouldn't Pressure Your Child to Read Early | Barefoot Books

Should we expect our 4-year-olds to read? You may be surprised: that is actually not a developmentally appropriate expectation! Perhaps the better question is this: should we expect our 4-year olds to love storytime? To that, I say the answer is YES. The most powerful indicator that a 4-year-old will have long-term success with reading is for that child to adore books and read-alouds.

The Pressure of Common Core

I recently met someone who told me with pride that all of her children learned to read by 4-years-old, and that she will make sure her grandchildren do the same. I can see why this is important to her. In response to Common Core kindergarten guidelines, the public education system in the United States has been putting more and more pressure on kids to perform academic skills, like reading, earlier. One study, “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?,” compared kindergarten teachers’ attitudes nationwide in 1998 and 2010 and found that the percentage of teachers expecting children to know how to read by the end of the year had risen from 30 to 80 percent. Teaching methods have changed in response, with teachers of even prekindergarten students expecting children to spend extended periods of time doing seated work, like phonics worksheets, independently. There’s the thought that if we want them to read younger, we need to teach them how to read earlier using a direct instruction approach.

Why This Doesn’t Really Work

Direct instruction, however, isn’t the best way to teach children to read, because learning to read is like baking a cake. When you bake a cake, you need to combine ingredients — eggs from the fridge, flour from the pantry, and so on. But the thing is, those eggs did not miraculously appear in your fridge. They came from your store, and before that from a packaging facility, and before that from a chicken. And the flour — it was packaged in a factory, and before that, it was wheat, and before that it was a seed. In other words, there were a lot of steps that needed to happen before you could even reach for those ingredients to mix them up and bake them.

Reading is the same way. The act of reading is made up of a huge number of foundational skills — some very sophisticated — that develop with time and practice, and include far more than recognizing alphabet letters and sounds. Learning to hear and manipulate sounds, sustaining attention, remembering information, thinking abstractly — these are skills that cannot be taught through direct instruction alone. In order for a child to learn reading in the true sense — to be able to read to obtain, interpret and evaluate information — we cannot skip steps. Can some young children technically learn how to sound out words? Sure. But more often than not, these children cannot meaningfully understand what they are reading. They are not set up for long-term reading success.

Research bears this out. Studies show that by fourth grade, children who were reading at age 4 were not significantly better at reading than their classmates who’d learned to read at age 7. What’s more, in Finland and Sweden, kids don’t even start formal schooling until they are 7 years old. Yet, Finnish and Swedish teenagers outperform American teens in international tests of reading, math and science.

A Better Way to Learn to Read

Here’s the good news: the ideal method for teaching reading is fun and free from pressure. The best way to develop the foundational literacy skills children need is to read aloud to them often, from birth – and to make these experiences joyful and interactive. Frequent conversations and pretend play also help develop the complex  language and cognitive skills necessary for reading and academic success.

So it is our job to instill a love of reading at an early age to set our children up for strong literacy skills. It’s amazing that the best outcome will come from the most joyful approach!

Want to learn more about how to ignite your child’s love of books and stories? Consider hosting a Children’s Literacy Workshop,which we’ve carefully constructed just for you. Your expert Ambassador will share the tips and tricks you need to prepare your child for strong literacy development – by making reading fun!

Stefanie Grossman, Sr. Product Director | Barefoot Books

 

Stefanie Grossman, Sr. Product Director | Barefoot Books

 

 


Stefanie Paige Grossman, M.S.Ed.

Sr. Director of Product, Barefoot Books


Out of the Blue: How Wordless Books Boost Visual Literacy | Barefoot Books

Meet the superheroes of the picture book world: wordless books! From engaging children with developmental differences to fostering intercultural communication, wordless books do it all.

Out of the Blue: How Wordless Books Boost Visual Literacy | Barefoot Books

Perhaps one of the best Barefoot books for boosting literacy, Out of the Blueis a wordless book by celebrated illustrator Alison Jay. Page by page, Jay’s striking alkyd oil paint and crackle varnish artwork tell the story of a young boy who lives in a lighthouse with his father. After a fierce storm shakes the seacoast, the boy’s beachcombing adventures take a surprising turn! Out of the Blue is more than just another picture book: richly detailed and elegantly plotted, it’s a memorable work of magical realism for children. Plus, it’s a picture book for the twenty-first century: children need tools to learn to analyze and interpret the visual media that permeates our world, from commercials and billboards to comic books and films.

And a wordless book like Out of the Blue is the perfect tool.

Out of the Blue as Visual Art

Have you ever heard the saying: the best way to learn something is teach someone else? That’s exactly how wordless books work. When children read a wordless book aloud, they’re both the storyteller and the audience! As kids watch the story unfold, their brains works to identify important visual details on the page, interpret the abstract meaning behind those details and express that meaning in words—a process that strengthens not only their verbal skills, but also their visual and analytical skills.

Out of the Blue: How Wordless Books Boost Visual Literacy | Barefoot Books

As with any work of visual art, the key to Out of the Blue lies in its visual details. Like any story, Out of the Blue features a beginning, middle and end; a protagonist, an obstacle and a goal. To make the perspective and plot points clear, the illustrations draw on Western conventions established by Renaissance painters and used widely by today’s filmmakers, comic creators and other visual artists–for example, the window imagery on the second spread frames the protagonist in order to align the reader with his perspective.

Spread by spread, Jay’s illustrations also parallel the Hero’s Journey, described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and since adopted by Hollywood screenwriters as their baseline plot arc. (Take a look at Out of the Blue’s second and seventh spreads in particular to see what I mean!) Thus, reading Out of the Blue introduces children to the structure and motifs they’ll see over and over in visual media, from superhero films to Super Bowl commercials.

Out of the Blue: How Wordless Books Boost Visual Literacy | Barefoot Books

Of course, once you identify key details, you have to figure out what they mean! Reading a wordless book is an interpretive exercise, which means that no two people will read it the same way. Readers invariably find their own meaning in the visual details.

For example, consider two different reviews of Out of the Blue: Publishers Weekly says the beached octopus was tangled in a net, while Kirkus Reviews suggests that some inconsiderate biped has “netted it to the ground.” The former emphasizes passive human mismanagement of the environment, the latter active abuse. Those are two very different stories!

In this way, kids and grown-ups alike bring their own meaning to the visual story—as they do to any film or comic book, but a wordless book makes this interpretive process more obvious. By reading a wordless book themselves, and then listening to someone else read it, children will discover that there is always more than one way to understand a story, always more than one thing it might mean.

And the more you read Out of the Blue with the children in your life, the more the book’s little details will come to life—and the more you’ll boost your kids’ visual literacy.

Catch the wave of excitement!

We’re not the only ones excited about the power of Out of the Blue to build visual literacy! In her guest blog post, Barefoot Books Ambassador Laurie Mattaliano outlined how wordless books develop children’s literacy skills, including visual literacy:

Because these books relate a story entirely through the illustrations, they encourage children to apply visual literacy skills, and not only draw inferences from what is pictured but also respond to the quality of the pictures and note details that adults sometimes miss.

Book blogger Melissa LaSalle also praises those tell-tale details in her review of Out of the Blue: “As with any great wordless book, it takes several ‘readings’ to grasp all the details and sub-plots at work here.” For a closer look at those vital visual details, check out this great fan-made video!

But it’s Ambassador Pam DeCicco’s daughter Lydia who really nails it in her YouTube reading of Out of the Blue: “As you can see, there are no words in this story, so I’m making up the story off the top of my head! And if you don’t like my story, you can buy this book and make your own!”

You said it, Lydia!

So get ready to help the kids in your life build strong visual literacy skills with Out of the Blue! We’d love to hear about the different stories the children in your life find in the book. Share your favorites with us in the comments below!


Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador in January | Barefoot BooksAs we roll into 2016, are you looking for a new opportunity to learn and grow? To meet new friends with common interests…and perhaps travel with them to France? To make a big impact on the children and families in your community…and beyond? If so, you’re in the right place!

Flexible and fun, with no minimums or hidden fees, the Barefoot Books Ambassador Program empowers you to run your business your way, to pursue your own goals–and get great discounts on the books you love!

This January just might be the BEST time yet to start your Barefoot journey! Here’s why:

Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this January | Barefoot Books

Good friends + gorgeous books = a great Barefoot event!

  1. Join before January 31st to get $50 Barefoot Bucks! Barefoot Bucks work like Host rewards, giving you $50 off whatever product you like. That means you get more beautiful, multicultural books for less money! When you join, you also receive amazing business tools, resources, support and training for FREE!

  2. Double Host rewards: If you’re worried that you’ll have trouble convincing people to book events after the holiday season, don’t be! In this cooooooooold month, everyone is looking for ways to stave off the cabin fever. You’ll have plenty of eager hosts chomping at the bit to hold Barefoot Books events at their homes–especially with our special Double Host rewards! Such a can’t miss Host special makes it all the easier for you to land bookings right away and get your business off to a great start.

    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this January | Barefoot Books

    Help families keep their reading resolutions in 2016!

  3. Reading Resolutions: This January, we’re challenging families to set–or restart–reading resolutions! As an Ambassador, you can use our buy 3, get 4th free consumer offer to enable families get more books for less cash. Our Children’s Literacy Workshop party theme pairs perfectly with this offer–and with everyone’s natural desire to help the children in their life grow and thrive in the new year.

  4. Speaking of resolutions…what about yours? You can use the Ambassador program specifically to help you achieve the personal growth YOU want to see in your life. If you long to conquer a new challenge or gain recognition for your skills; to step outside your comfort zone or inspire others to do so; or to pay for a family vacation or pay off student debt, our supportive Ambassador community and expert training will equip you to reach YOUR goals.

    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this January | Barefoot Books

    How far will YOU fly in 2016?

  5. Lastly, and most importantly, becoming an Ambassador is a decision you can feel great about. When you become an Ambassador, you join a community passionate about sharing stories, connecting families and inspiring children. You share beautiful, educational and inclusive books and products with your community; and in doing so, nurture a love of storytelling, creativity and diversity that empowers children to see the world in a whole new light.

Are you ready to begin your Barefoot journey? We at Home Office are so excited to see what 2016 will bring–and can’t wait to see what YOU achieve!

 

 


Four Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

Welcome to the Year of the Monkey! According to lunar astrological calendar, every year in a twelve-year cycle is ruled by a different animal—and as of Lunar New Year on Monday, February 8, 2016, the monkey is in charge! The monkey’s place in the Lunar Zodiac was established in the mists of time, when the Jade Emperor decided that a different animal should rule each year and, to determine the order of the animals, challenged them all to an epic race. The monkey finished ninth, earning it the ninth place in the Lunar Zodiac. If you were born in 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 or 2004, this is your year. You’re known for being happy, confident and enthusiastic, no matter what place you finish in any race!

Cherished in China, Korea and beyond, Lunar New Year is a great way to introduce the children in your life to another culture’s traditions. Here are a few kid-approved ideas for celebrating Lunar New Year:

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

From The Great Race

Have a Lavish New Year’s Eve Dinner

Traditionally, the festival opens with a lavish New Year’s Eve dinner held in honor of deceased ancestors. This meal is a time for all living family members to come together with the deceased, creating a united community to celebrate past and present generations.

In the past, family members filled bamboo stems with gunpowder and burned them to drive evil spirits away; today, people use firecrackers instead. Each is rolled in red paper, as the color red is considered lucky.


Send Letters to Loved Ones in Red Envelopes

The use of red extends to red envelopes or red packets that are traditionally passed out during the celebrations. The packets almost always contain money­— sometimes chocolate coins— and the amount is always given in even numbers. The number eight, for instance, is considered lucky, as is the number six, because in Mandarin it sounds like the word for “smooth,” promising a smooth year.

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

From Lin Yi's Lantern

Make a Paper Lantern

The fifteenth and final day of the celebration is commemorated with the Yuan Xiao Jie, or the “Festival of Lanterns.” Gathering under a full moon, adults and children light up the sky with their lantern displays and a lantern-carrying parade. Like the children in the photo above, learn how to make a paper lantern in the informational notes in Lin Yi’s Lantern, a gorgeously-illustrated Barefoot tale from China!

Share a Story to Learn More About the Culture!

Research shows that children (and grown-ups!) often draw incorrect conclusions about other cultures. In order to help children challenge stereotypes and develop global literacy, it’s important for adults to educate themselves and correct their own misconceptions. It’s easy to get started: just share stories from other cultures with the children in your life. It’s a great way to prompt conversations about diversity!

Keen to explore East Asian cultures? You’ll experience the excitement of a rural market in Lin Yi’s Lantern (ages 5-9), discover the warmth and wisdom of Buddhist thought in The Barefoot Book of Buddhist Tales (ages 6+) and meet “The Beggar Princess” in The Barefoot Book of Princes Stories (ages 4-9).

And, of course, be sure to watch the Jade Emperor’s epic race unfold—and find out why there is no Year of the Cat—in The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (ages 4-9). Find additional tales from China and beyond here!

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

Want more ideas?

For more information on the traditions and customs of Lunar New Year, and for recipes and crafts you can make with the children in your life, check out our Pinterest board!

Want to find out which animal you are? Download a Lunar Calendar from The Great Race to use in your classroom, for fun at home or as a festive desktop wallpaper!

Do you have any Lunar New Year traditions? What is your Lunar zodiac animal? Share your stories in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

 


From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

Talented artist and Barefoot Books illustrator Rachel Griffin now adds Christmas tree designer to her list of credentials! Her unique decorations (like the one pictured above) are inspired by her gorgeous and diverse illustrations from her picture book The Twelve Days of Christmas. By using memorable icons from her book, Rachel’s array of materials and vibrant colors help weave a story throughout the tree.

Rachel traveled all the way from England for this special event! The tree is now available to view at the Concord Museum.*

While she was here, Rachel delighted us by sharing her insight on the finished product:

Now that you’ve finished, do you have a new favorite ornament, or is it still the three French hens?

The French hens are still my favorite individual ornaments, but as a whole I really like the way the “three geese a laying” have been displayed on the tree—the blue eggs look good where they hang! Instead of painting them, I drew on dirt which give them a more natural look. And everyone seems to love the Indian elephants!

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

What has the entire process felt like for you?

I’ve really enjoyed it! Now that it’s all done, it’s wonderful seeing the final product, though it took longer than I thought to get here.

What are you hoping viewers will get from your Family Tree experience?

I’m really hoping that way people look at the tree will be the way they look at my book. That they will then look more deeply at the details of the pieces. When you see the French hens, for example, you can then examine it up close and see all the fabric and beads that go with it.

Were there any challenges throughout the process and if so, how did you overcome them?

When I finished decorating yesterday, I felt fine about it but not brilliant. Taking it down today and then doing it all over again was a little overwhelming because there was so much work to do! Especially when rehanging the pears for the fifth time. I feel really pleased with it now. It reads just like the book—people can stare at each section and take it all in and then move to the next one. Its eye catching and familiar to the story and the song.

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel GriffinDo you have any favorite Christmas traditions in your family?

We go out to the moor and find an amazing branch—it takes a lot of time—everyone has their own opinion on what it should look like. I like to decorate it very simply.

Questions from Ambassadors:

Which page of Twelve Days is your favorite and why?

The first one because it was done in France when I was there for three months. I sketched the tree and added a French twist to it.

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

Rachel, your artwork is gorgeous! How did you develop this unique style?

It took a long time. When I was very little I was always collecting things and I still collect things. When on holiday and traveling, I just collect pieces. The creation of the Oxford calendars is where I really developed my style.

*Each year, the Concord Museum located in Concord, MA fills its galleries with over thirty uniquely decorated trees featuring artwork inspired by acclaimed children’s storybooks. If you’re in the area between November 25 through January 3, be sure to check out the exhibit for yourself! For more information about Family Trees or the Concord Museum visit www.concordmuseum.org.

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin


Read the book that inspired the decorations!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

A sparkling version of the popular Christmas song, in a new edition embossed with silvery-gold foiling and beautiful fabric illustrations by Rachel Griffin. This book includes an insightful note from the illustrator, information about the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas (history, including the pre-Christian tradition, and customs), and the history and meaning of the song itself.

For babies to 10 years; Hardcover ($14.99)


 

Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books

There have been some lively exchanges at Home Office lately about the need for spirited and dynamic heroines in our stories, rather than ‘limp-wristed blondes’ (I quote our esteemed senior editor, Kate De Palma, who has a different hair colour). Being quite a feminist bunch, we are on our guard to avoid storylines where the message seems to be ‘just lie around looking beautiful and a man will come along and solve your problems’.

So where does this leave stories like ’The Sleeping Beauty’? This question has preoccupied me, as I have reviewed my midwinter entertainment options and realised that what I most want to see is Matthew Bourne’s super-famous production of this ballet, which will return to Sadler’s Wells in London for the festive season.

Am I betraying my feminist principles by making this choice?

I don’t think so. Here’s why.

First, there is a quite particular dynamic in the set-up of this story that sets the context for Aurora’s fate. The king makes a serious mistake by failing to invite the thirteenth fairy, Carabosse. Perhaps it’s because he’s so overwhelmed with joy at the birth of a much longed-for baby girl that he simply forgets. Perhaps it is an intentional slight. Perhaps, as Angelina Jolie suggests in Maleficent there is an even darker backstory. Whatever way you look at it, though, this is a wounding of the feminine principle (Carabosse is a woman; only twelve fairies are on the godmother guest list and the number thirteen is the number of moon cycles in a year, driven out by more recent Western cultural traditions).

And this is the wound that sets the story in motion.

Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books

From The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales, retold by Malachy Doyle and illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

At the baby Aurora’s christening, there is a compelling power struggle between the death-giving anger of Carabosse and life-giving power of the Lilac fairy, both of them super-strong female presences. The outcome of this, as we all know, is that Aurora is saved from death, but destined to fall into a deep sleep when she pricks her finger on a spindle. So now we have an impasse—the life-death/good-bad wishes of these two magical women have created a situation which needs masculine agency to come into play for another shift to occur.

This can only happen at the right time, though—plenty of princes try at the wrong time and don’t get through the thicket of thorns to the palace. Florimund, the prince who is lucky enough to be successful, is a young man whose name strongly suggests that he is in touch with his inner feminine (his name translates ‘Flower World,’ after all). For him, the thickets bloom into rose bushes and part. To me, this speaks to that aspect of feminism which seeks to value and support feminine qualities in boys and men. Florimund does not need to be a sword-wielding hero; what he does need is the courage to step into a vast, surreal and eerie series of rooms where everyone appears to be dead—not an easy task and one which, I would suggest, can only be met by someone who cares about what has happened and is not afraid to step into a death-like space to find out.

A word too about Aurora before she pricks her finger. This girl is lucky enough to be blessed with many qualities from her twelve fairy godmothers, all of them ones which I think any mother wishes for her daughter. However, the godmothers cannot give this child a trouble-free journey through life any more than we can for ours. Aurora is also given to be curious  and independent—she is not a goody two-shoes who just hangs out at her sixteenth birthday party lapping up the compliments of local gallants; at the earliest opportunity, she slips off to do some exploring (uh-oh).

For me, there is something satisfyingly complete about the shape of this story: the feminine principle is wounded by a king’s careless act so it must be rectified by the loving gesture of a next-generation hero.

And it is.

What do you think? Is ‘Sleeping Beauty’ feminist? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books

…by the way, I think Tchaikovksy’s music for this ballet is wonderful. It’s no wonder to me
that ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ is the world’s longest-running ballet production. I am booking my tickets today!

Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books

If you’d like a refresher on the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ story before deciding for yourself, you will find three versions of it in this season’s catalogue, in The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales, The Barefoot Book of Princesses and The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories:

Join the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot BooksJoin the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot BooksJoin the Conversation: Is Sleeping Beauty Feminist? | Barefoot Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

The major themes of the story are the same in each retelling, so you can take your pick! 


Barefoot Books Removes Minimum Sales ThresholdIn a bold move, children’s publisher Barefoot Books announced this month that it is removing the minimum sales threshold for its Ambassadors, making it easier than ever for passionate individuals to start their own business through Barefoot’s direct-selling opportunity.

With the Ambassador community growing quickly, President Jessica Kim says, “We know that every person joins Barefoot Books with their own personal goal and time commitment in mind. We’re excited about this change, as it will enable us to offer this exciting opportunity to more people, including those who simply love children’s books and want to share stories in their spare time.”

In the past, Ambassadors were required to maintain a minimum of $500 in sales every 6 months to remain active. Now, Barefoot Books is removing this requirement, while still offering one of the industry’s most generous compensation plans.

“The Barefoot Books Ambassador program is a wonderful opportunity to earn income in a way that fits your family needs and lifestyle,” says Barefoot Books CEO and Co-founder Nancy Traversy. “Ambassadors have the flexibility and freedom to run their business in their own way without any sales minimums or hidden fees.”

Thanks to this increased flexibility, teachers and students can earn extra cash over the summer; budding entrepreneurs can grow their businesses and enjoy a supportive, like-minded community; and parents and literacy advocates can earn free copies of beautiful, multicultural books. Whatever your goal is, now is the perfect time to join Barefoot Books.

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