Take 2 brilliant Psychologists, who also happen to be moms, add an intense desire to help young children, a healthy dose of creativity and a deep interest in children’s mental health, and what do you get? A fabulous book that belongs in every parents’ bookshelf (and hands), in my humble opinion.
F is for Feelings is visually and verbally engaging, using the familiar structure of the alphabet and expressive illustrations to weave its way through a series of emotions that all children will find themselves faced with at some point in time.
As local ladies with Ph.D.s Goldie Millar and Lisa Berger have known each other since graduate school. When Millar decided to act on her goal of publishing a children’s book with substance it was Berger she immediately thought of. “We’ve known each other for over 15 years” says Millar. “I knew what I wanted to do, and that I did’t want to do it alone. Lisa was the best person I could think of.”
“We really wanted to say something in our professional voice, to get people talking about feelings while children are till young” she adds. While the pair have both written for scientific journals this was “our first children’s book, so it was completely different. It was an opportunity to be a bit less structured and get creative!”
F is for Feelings helps parents and children begin a conversation about a wide range of emotions. It reinforces the idea that all emotions, those that are comfortable and those that are not, are all natural and important. The book includes a guide for parents, teachers and caregivers on how to keep the conversation going.
Millar and Berger believe that when children learn at an early age how to share their feelings in clear and healthy ways they are more likely to grow into adults that feel capable of handling life’s challenges. The ability to manage emotions assists in stronger relationships, building empathy for others, and better performance in school.
Millar and Berger joke that they “met in every coffee shop in Bolton, with laptops of course. It was really a series of coffee shop conversations” smiles Berger. “We truly respect each other both as friends and as colleagues and I think our friendship genuinely enhanced the process.”
Free Spirit Publishing, who focuses on social-emotional learning, guided the duo towards a number of potential illustrators for their book and Hazel Mitchell was the winning choice. “We loved her use of colour as well as the way she captures realistic expressions” says Millar. “As for Free Spirit we found them to be very collaborative and professional and we would not hesitate to go back to them if we produce further work. We really feel we have a relationship there.”
The publishing process is a fairly lengthy one the two admit, with well over 2 years passing until “book in hand”, but they both found the experience exciting.
F is for Feelings, published in August 2014, is suitable for ages 3 to 8. It is widely available in both hard cover and soft cover online at Amazon, as well as an e-book, and at local shops such as Forster’s Book Garden in Bolton.