How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot Books

How can you help children build empathy, manage everyday emotions and reduce stress and anxiety? With mindfulness! It’s the latest hot buzzword in education and early childhood development, for good reason: a growing body of research shows that practicing mindfulness has a direct impact on kids’ brain development and behavior. Mindfulness teaches you to focus your attention, expand your awareness, and build kindness and patience. These skills help kids become compassionate global citizens, which fits perfectly with our core mission here at Barefoot Books!

 

Why a deck of mindfulness cards?

Mindful Kids is the very first deck of mindfulness activity cards for ages 4 and up. Like our bestselling Yoga Pretzels, Mindful Kids is a deck of 50 activity cards packaged in a sturdy box for easy portability, so you can carry it with you and use it all day long. Each double-sided card is fully illustrated with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions. The activities are divided into 5 categories designed to fit into each part of the day, from morning to night.

How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot Books

The activities and an 8-page instructional booklet include tips that make them accessible for children with a wide range of abilities. (More about that below!) And the large, laminated cards make it easy for kids to grab the cards they want and keep them close for reference as they explore the deck.

 

Developing Mindful Kids

We started by commissioning the text from an expert! Whitney Stewart is an award-winning children’s book author and mindfulness instructor. She has practiced meditation for over thirty years, and is certified to teach by both the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Teens Program and the Prison Mindfulness Institute. Whitney has tested each activity in this deck with children in her own classes and programs.

Next, we turned to our very own Stefanie Paige Wieder, M.S.Ed., to make sure the activities and language were developmentally appropriate for even the very young end of our target audience (ages 4 to 104!). In the process, we tested them repeatedly in the office. Ever since, I’ve been practicing these activities myself when I need to find a few moments of inner peace during the day!

 

Making the deck diverse and inclusive

How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot Books

We worked extensively with Beth Cox and Alex Strick at Inclusive Minds to make sure the artwork shows a diverse cast of characters, and that the activities are accessible for a wide range of children. We discussed everything from choosing the clearest term for a pointer/index finger (we chose “pointer,” because that tells you what it does!), to considering when it was appropriate to change the instruction “stand” to “stand or sit” (which makes the activities more inclusive for children who might not be able to perform them standing), to what a kid-friendly hearing aid looks like.

 

How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot BooksI especially loved discussing the depiction of children with disabilities in the illustrations. For example, one of the characters has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. Beth and Alex coached us through the art-direction process to make sure that we were portraying a sporty, modern-looking wheelchair, as well as showing this child outside of his wheelchair, using other supports like couch cushions, on several cards—to combat the stereotype that children who use wheelchairs are inseparable from their equipment.

 

Bringing the product to life

One of my favorite parts of the editorial process was working with fabulously talented illustrator Mina Braun, whose artwork brings such whimsy and humor to each activity. It’s not every artist who can take an abstract brief like “girl

pretending to be a tree” or “child sends love to the whole universe” and turn it into sweet, sophisticated artwork. Kids will love all the funny details in the illustrations…including the mindful pets!

How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot Books

 

When can you use Mindful Kids?

Do the kids in your life ever need to calm down? To practice patience? To think about the way someone else might be feeling? You can use these activities in any of these situations, and many more. When else do you think you’ll pull out a few Mindful Kids cards during your day? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! Or if you want to follow the conversation on Twitter, look for #mindfulkids.

Mindful Kids will be available in October 2017.

 

Lisa Rosinsky is Senior Editor at Barefoot Books. You can follow her at @LisaRosinsky.


Building Empathy in Children: Lessons From Early Childhood Education by Stefanie Paige Wieder, M.S.Ed. | Barefoot Books

By Stefanie Paige Wieder, M.S.Ed., Senior Director of Product at Barefoot Books. Originally appeared on Edweek on October 31, 2016.

Imagine if we stopped teaching math to children over the age of 5, yet expected them to grow up to be totally proficient with math in their daily lives. Sounds like a pretty bad idea, right?

Sadly, this is exactly how we treat social-emotional learning (SEL) in most cases. The good news is that, since early childhood education has long included SEL as one of its pillars, educators of school-age kids don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel.

The “empathy gap” has been getting a deluge of attention recently, and with good reason. Just google “empathy” and you’ll quickly find that the ability to understand and share the feelings and perspectives of others is now widely considered a crucial 21st century competency. It’s also the foundation of global citizenship. Students might learn about other people and about world events, but without empathy, they won’t necessarily care what’s happening or choose to be agents of progress and change.

It’s wonderful that SEL is now getting the attention it deserves for students of all ages, but early childhood educators have known about the importance of empathy for a very, very long time. Friedrich Fröbel, Rudolf Steiner, and Maria Montessori, among other luminaries of the 19th century, grounded early childhood education in the importance of nurturing the whole child.

The Recipe for Empathy

Empathy can be defined as having a number of components. To my mind as a child development specialist, there are three major social-emotional and cognitive skills that come together to create the ability to empathize. These are:

  • Self-awareness, or the ability to identify and label one’s own feelings and motivations
  • Perspective-taking, or the ability to see things from someone else’s point of view
  • An understanding of cause-and-effect, or how one’s own actions might impact others

In other words, empathy relies on an awareness of self, an awareness of others, and the ability to understand how the two interrelate.

A Snapshot of SEL in Early Childhood Education

Children in high-quality early childhood classrooms have ample opportunities to develop their understanding of themselves and others. SEL is considered a fundamental part of each child’s preschool education, just as important as early literacy, math, and science skills. It’s a key component of both curriculum design and student assessment. SEL also gets reinforced in countless “teachable moments” every day. Take a look at how the pre-K teacher in the following example fostered SEL in multiple ways:

Two 4-year-old children, Max and Suki, are in the block area of their pre-K classroom. Suki grabs a block out of Max’s hand. Max yells, “No!”
A teacher approaches and asks, “Hey guys, what’s going on?”
Max cries, “She took my block!”
The teacher, getting down to the children’s eye level, asks, “Suki, why did you take the block Max was using?”
Suki says, “Because I needed a block like that one to build my bridge.”
The teacher asks, “Max, how did that make you feel?”
Max says, “Sad. And mad!”
The teacher then inquires, “Suki, what could you do instead of grabbing the block?” [No response from Suki.] “Why don’t you try asking Max if you could use that block?”
Suki asks Max if she could use the block. He says, “No, I need it now.”
The teacher responds, “Okay, Suki. Max is using that block now. Let me help you find something else to build your bridge. Let’s look at the block shelf.”
Suki hands the block back to Max and follows the teacher to the block shelf.

In this scenario, the teacher:

  • Set the stage for a safe and open conversation by signaling a neutral (rather than disciplinary) tone.
  • Prompted Suki to reflect on the motivation for her actions, promoting her self-awareness.
  • Gave Max practice with identifying and labeling his feelings.
  • Helped Suki see that her actions had an impact on another person, which encouraged her to think about cause and effect.
  • Gave both students the opportunity to assert their needs in an appropriate way.
  • Modeled respectful problem solving.

Over time, with consistent scaffolding from teachers, young children can begin to internalize these behaviors and do them more independently. This is the foundation of empathy. But students need continued guidance and opportunities for practice as they grow and their cognitive and social skills become more advanced.

SEL for School Age Children

Building Empathy in Children: Lessons From Early Childhood Education by Stefanie Paige Wieder, M.S.Ed. | Barefoot Books
Although many formal curricula and learning standards for older children pay scant attention to “the whole child,” I’ve seen firsthand how SEL can successfully continue past the early childhood years. When I was with the Lesley Ellis School in Arlington, Massachusetts, I had the pleasure of witnessing skilled teachers of elementary and middle school students continuing to weave SEL into the classroom. At times they adopted aspects of formal curricula like Open Circle, and at other times informally wove SEL into the existing curriculum units using books and activities.

While studying immigration, the 5th and 6th grade students at Lesley Ellis not only learn what some of the push/pull factors are that lead to people immigrating, but they also examine the emotional toll immigrants can go through by staging a mock Ellis Island. By “putting themselves into the immigrants’ shoes” (so to speak), the students can, for instance, “experience” getting turned away if they are asked to represent someone who has a cough or doesn’t fit some other type of health requirement. The students then write a journal entry, in the voice of their Ellis Island persona, describing the immigration experience.

This is a beautiful example of how SEL can and should grow with children as their skills develop. Like the students in the pre-K example, the kids in this scenario practice self-awareness, perspective-taking, and the appropriate expression of feelings through language. By not only learning about people from other parts of the world, but also experiencing what they might feel, these kids are on their way to becoming caring global citizens.

Getting Scrappy with SEL

Even if you teach in a program where you have little control over the formal curriculum and there is no SEL curriculum in place, there are still ways to take the cue from early childhood education and meaningfully integrate SEL into daily classroom life. Here are some resources that will help you informally incorporate books, assignments, and discussions that promote self-awareness and perspective taking.

  • Barefoot Books is an independent children’s book publisher with a wide selection of global, diverse, and inclusive books that foster SEL for children from birth through ages 8+.
  • Dr. Michele Borba, author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, offers practical articles and resources for educators on her website.
  • Roots of Empathy offers a fascinating, evidence-based classroom program used around the world that has been shown to raise social/emotional competence and increase empathy. Learning about their curriculum can give you some ideas for SEL lessons.
  • The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley website includes an education section with links to a variety of SEL articles for educators.
  • The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence website describes its “RULER” program, an evidence-based approach to teaching emotional intelligence, and has a publications section with research articles about the impact of SEL.
  • Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative offers the Start Empathy toolkit for educators Homa Tavangar, author of Growing Up Global, provides an overview.
  • Jordan Catapano, a high school English teacher in the Chicago area, wrote an excellent blog post in which he offers simple, empathy-boosting strategies teachers can use.
  • School 21 in London uses what they call a Wellbeing framework to approach SEL. You can read about it and find practical tips from their curriculum.

Building Empathy in Children: Lessons in Early Childhood Education by Stefanie Paige Wieder, M.S.Ed. | Barefoot Books

 

Stefanie Paige Wieder, M.S.Ed, is Senior Director of Product at Barefoot Books and a child development expert with over 20 years of experience. She earned her dual master’s in Early Childhood General & Special Education / Infant & Parent Development & Early Intervention from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education and her B.A. from Harvard University.

 

Want more of Stefanie’s expert tips to nurture your child or students’ empathy? Download a FREE empathy-boosting activity and discussion guide here!

Building Empathy in Children: Lessons from Early Childhood Education | Barefoot Books


4 Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Children | Barefoot Books

Welcome to the Year of the Rooster!

According to the lunar astrological calendar, every year in a twelve-year cycle is ruled by a different animal — and as of the Lunar New Year on Saturday, January 28, 2017, the rooster is in charge! The rooster’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 rooster (or “cockerel”) finished tenth, earning it the tenth place in the Lunar Zodiac.

So if you were born in 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993 or 2017, this is your year! You’re known for being adventurous and hardworking; but it’s your kindness — no matter what place you finish in a race — that friends and family really appreciate.

Cherished in China, Korea and beyond, the 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 the Lunar New Year:

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.

4 Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Children | Barefoot Books

From The Great Race

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.



To create your own special Lunar New Year letters for loved ones, print our FREE Share your Love DIY Letter / Envelope on red construction paper, or on white paper and slip inside a red envelope!

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. Learn how to make a paper lantern in the informational notes in Lin Yi’s Lantern (US / Canada), a gorgeously-illustrated Barefoot tale from China!

4 Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Children | Barefoot Books

From Lin Yi's Lantern

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) (US / Canada), discover the warmth and wisdom of Buddhist thought in The Barefoot Book of Buddhist Tales (ages 6+) (US / Canada) and meet “The Beggar Princess” in The Barefoot Book of Princesses (ages 4-9) (US / Canada).

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) (US / Canada). Find additional tales from China and beyond here!

4 Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Children | Barefoot Books

Want more ideas?

For more information on the traditions and customs of the 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 with us on Facebook or Twitter!

 

4 Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Children | Barefoot Books

 


Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

By now we all know that #WeNeedDiverseBooks — both that children benefit tremendously from being exposed to diversity through literature, and that the statistics about diversity in picture books remain pretty grim.

The solution to this problem is simple: we as publishers just need to make books that feature children of all different shapes, sizes, races, abilities, cultures, lifestyles and backgrounds. Brandon Taylor observed in a recent article that “There Is No Secret to Writing about People Who Do Not Look Like You” and in many ways this wisdom relates to many parts of creating a book — illustration, art direction and editing.

In other words, talking about the need to represent all children in books is easy; actually doing so is another matter entirely!

Diversity in Barefoot Books’ Picture Books

Introducing children to other people and places and ways of life has been part of the mission at Barefoot Books since we started making books nearly 25 years ago. For us, diversity means creating versions of classic tales from various cultures to add to our collection of global picture books. It means creating stories with main characters of color, whether they’re from countries or cultures that might be foreign to Western readers, like Chandra’s Magic Light (US), Lin Yi’s Lantern (US/CA) and Girl with a Brave Heart (US/CA), or from places that might look familiar to Western readers, like Sand Sister (US/CA) and Shopping with Dad (US/CA) and the Ruby books (US/CA), to name a few (Find more here!).

Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

From Ruby's Baby Brother

Diversity means featuring strong, substantial female characters in our books, and including children with a range of different disabilities in our books — particularly in our line of singalong stories, which often feature diverse groups of kids going on adventures together and bopping to the beat. It means representing diverse lifestyles — different family structures, different socioeconomic statuses, and even choices like breastfeeding.

And it means always looking for new ways to make our list and our company even more diverse and inclusive. We’ve learned that being a publisher that prioritizes diversity is an active process — and I’d love to tell you more about it!

Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

From My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words

Diversity in our books starts with diversity in the humans who create them. We search for authors and artists (and home office staff!) of all different cultures and backgrounds. We’ve learned that we can’t just sit back and wait for a diverse range of contributors to cross our paths, so we’re trying to actively seek out contributors who bring those diverse points of view to our books, which includes communicating our need for diverse contributors to agents, who are often critical gatekeepers to the publishing process.

The Wonderful Diversity of Wonderful Words

Visual representations of human diversity are a huge part of diversity in picture books. When we decided to create My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words (US/CA) — a big, busy word book full of scenes with crowds of people — we knew we had an opportunity to include lots of different kinds of people.

Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

From My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words

So we worked with a group called Inclusive Minds in the UK as we developed the illustrations to help us out. Inclusive Minds helped check that our representation of people, particularly those with disabilities, was accurate and positive. For example, we discussed at length the best way to represent a child who might be on the autism spectrum, and decided to include a child on the playground who is happily absorbed in playing alone (see above) — an image that readers can interpret as they wish.

But inclusivity in picture books doesn’t start and end with people! In the illustrations on the left, you’ll see that we also added accessible equipment to the playground, a hearing aid loop sign to the library and textured pavement to the sidewalks (used at intersections as an aide for people with visual impairments).

There’s Still Work to be Done

Despite all the talk about diverse books, there’s still SO far for us to go before the books on offer catch up with the narrative. As creator of books for children, I feel a tremendous responsibility as someone who has an amazing platform to reach children to create the diverse books that the industry and the world so desperately needs.

But more importantly, as a mother, I want to get my daughter off on the right foot. Children start building their concrete ideas about the world long, long before they can understand the abstract notions of diversity and inclusivity. I want to normalize diverse and inclusive depictions of the world so that they are a part of my daughter’s schema, part of her world from the beginning.

I’m sure many of you parents, educators and caregivers can relate! How has the issue of diversity in children’s publishing impacted your family and your life? I’d love to hear from you on social media! Use the hashtag #AllChildren to join the conversation!

And be sure to check out The Barefoot Book of Children, our new book that tackles issues of human diversity head-on with inviting artwork and an accessible text. We consider it the culmination of Barefoot’s mission to open hearts and minds. Share it with a child today, and do your part to change the world for the better!

About the Author


Kate DePalma
Senior Editor, Barefoot Books
Co-Author of The Barefoot Book of Children

As Senior Editor at Barefoot Books, Kate DePalma has helped develop dozens of picture books; Kate also writes picture books under her pseudonym, Sunny Scribens. She holds an M.A. in Classics from the University of Texas and is also a published poet and scholar.


How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children

Do you struggle to find books that represent the children in your life? If so, the statistics about diversity in picture books show that you’re not alone. That’s why we created our one-of-a-kind new book, The Barefoot Book of Children - for families, classrooms and daycares just like yours. As a mother of a young child and one of the co-authors of the book, I’d love to tell you all about how we at Barefoot Books made this beautiful book for all children.

The Making of The Barefoot Book of Children

We assembled an entire team of specialists to work on The Barefoot Book of Children: our own Stefanie Paige Grossman, M.S.Ed, Child Development Specialist; Maria-Veronica Barnes, Director of Education at Lexington Montessori School in Massachusetts; and Beth Cox and Alexandra Strick at Inclusive Minds. A book of this scope and magnitude called for bringing in lots of knowledgeable people.

These specialists helped us make sure that our book was truly achieving its goal of being inclusive and accessible to all readers, and that it was depicting the rich diversity of the human experience in the best way we could in 64 pages.

How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children

From The Barefoot Book of Children

With their help, we made small but important changes to the text, like asking readers not what they can “hear and see and smell” from where they are but instead asking what they “hear or see or smell” (emphasis mine) so as to not assume that the reader has full use of all 5 senses. It took input from the entire team to decide the best and most age-appropriate way to address the idea that people can be transgender or experience gender dysphoria in the endmatter section for our Bodies spread. We decided on the following wording: “Some people feel comfortable in the bodies they were born in. Some people don’t.” Readers can interpret this a number of ways.

The result of our hard work on the details of The Barefoot Book of Children is something incredible to behold. David Dean’s illustrations not only introduce readers to a huge range of different ways of life, but also specifically seeks to represent children in ways that defy stereotypes that young readers might have already absorbed. We think images like artistic Darnell (see image on left) and the adventurous hijabi girl photographing the Kuwait Towers (whose hijab is made of the bojagi quilt the Korean children are sewing, see image below) are significant and essential to the book.

How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children

From The Barefoot Book of Children

Join the conversation!

Children’s publishing has a serious diversity problem, and I feel a tremendous responsibility as a creator of children’s books to be a vocal part of the solution. I consider diversity and inclusion every single day as I do my job as an editor and author, and I’m so proud to work for a company that has prioritized creating diverse books for decades. Starting conversations about diversity cannot be the sole responsibility of those who are underrepresented. But conversations about diversity must include a diverse range of voices.

So I’d love to hear from you! How has the issue of diversity in children’s publishing impacted your family and your life? Share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #AllChildren to join the conversation!

And be sure to check out The Barefoot Book of Children, a book that tackles issues of human diversity head-on with inviting artwork and an accessible text. We consider it the culmination of Barefoot’s mission to open hearts and minds. Share it with a child today, and do your part to change the world for the better!

About the Author

How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children


Kate DePalma
Senior Editor, Barefoot Books
Co-Author of The Barefoot Book of Children

As Senior Editor at Barefoot Books, Kate DePalma has helped develop dozens of picture books; Kate also writes picture books under her pseudonym, Sunny Scribens. She holds an M.A. in Classics from the University of Texas and is also a published poet and scholar.

 


Bringing a global worldview to business...and to kids! | Barefoot Books

Bringing a global worldview to business...and to kids! | Barefoot BooksOur CEO and Co-Founder, Nancy Traversy, had the pleasure of being on The Global Mom Show, a podcast for moms with global worldviews. Host Mary Grace Otis talked with Nancy this week about living her life with a global worldview and how she brings this mission to Barefoot Books and the products we create.

As Nancy shares in the interview, she and Editor-in-Chief Tessa Strickland co-founded Barefoot Books in 1992 as two young moms working from home with the dream of creating beautiful books that celebrate diversity, spark curiosity and capture children’s imaginations. From the very first books they published, they sought to share stories from cultures all over the world to help children see and value all the things we hold in common, no matter where we live or who we are.

Today, we’re more committed to publishing diverse and inclusive books than ever before! Check out the interview to get a sneak peek with Nancy into a very special book coming out in September. Listen in now!


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 Wieder, M.S.Ed.

Sr. Director of Product, Barefoot Books