Is There a Place for Character Education in School?


As summer draws to a close and we start shopping for school supplies, our thoughts naturally turn to what our children will be taught in school this year.

I read a provocative article recently about whether there was a place for character education in our public schools. Stephanie Petit, the writer of the article, says that not everyone agrees on what “good” character is, nor exactly how to teach it, and that results are anecdotal, therefore, maybe it shouldn’t be.

According to Petit, there are several ways to teach character education from encouraging good character through posters called the “cheerleading” approach all the way to a strict environment enforcing good character called “forced-formality.”

I would like to encourage dialogue on this topic but will give you some of my thoughts here.

While teaching good character may be difficult, I think teachers influence values and behavior regardless of what they do so it might as well be done in a conscious rather than unconscious way.

I also have read articles that state if the whole school is in on the teaching of good character, this goes further than each individual teacher teaching it. I agree with this because if everyone in the school is on the same page, it creates a culture and that has more impact than the culture in one specific classroom alone.

With my background in psychology, I don’t believe that good character should be forced or punitively instituted. I believe role modeling what character is desired and then reinforcing it with words and in teachable moments has the greatest lifelong impact.

So, what do you think? Yay or nay? Or something in-between?

You can read the full article here

Wonderful Children’s Books that Feature Sports

picture of Suzan Johnson, children's author, outside on the grass by a tree and water
Suzan Johnson, Children’s Author

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a special children’s author that I met at a recent book event in beautiful Boca Raton, FL. When I  met her, I immediately knew she was going places. I want to share her interview with you and you’ll see for yourself what I’m talking about.


Tell me something about yourself. (Where did you grow up, significant relationships, what do you do for fun besides writing, as little or as much as you want).


I am from the Caribbean but I grew up in the South Florida area, with my mom and brother.  Besides writing I enjoy reading, going out with friends, shopping, and trying new things like skydiving.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have always written journals but after college, I began to write stories in my head.  Then about six years ago I decided to put them on paper.


What have you written? Tell me about them.


So far I have self-published five children’s books:

My friends’ daughter Sofia inspires the first two.  In Sofie at Bat, she has the dilemma of learning how to hit the ball without using the tee.  In Sofie at Dance, she has become friends with Chloe from her dance class, and their friendship is challenged when they both want the top spot in an upcoming recital.  My third book is a compilation of poems dedicated to the children that I know and have worked with.  The book is called My HeartbeatsAiden the Soccer Star! Is my fourth book.  My cousin’s son who is also named Aiden inspired this book.  Aiden has to overcome his fear of a new position on his soccer team.  My latest book is Our Military Family. This book tells how a family has to cope when Mom is away serving in the Army.

Sofie at Bat, a children's book by Suzan Johnson, book cover
Available on Amazon


What is your favorite genre to write?

Currently, I am enjoying writing Children’s Books


Tell me about your writing process.


When I write, I create the stories in my mind first.  I will change and rearrange the story multiple times before I actually write it down.  Sometimes I write an outline other times, I scribble down the whole thing.


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?


My inspiration comes from people that I have met, then I ask myself, What if?


What sort of research do you do for your novels?


Depending on the book I may talk to people who play the sports, I have read about players involved.

With my latest book, I combined my ideas of how to help military families with those I found online from public agencies.


Do you have a special place where you write?


I can write anywhere,  different locations are better for me.


Do you have any type of music you listen to while you write?


I don’t really listen to music, while I write.  But background noise does not affect me.


Do you have any rituals before or while you write?


My writing ritual is to handwrite my outline/story first then I type it up.


How long does it usually take you to complete a book?

The time varies, because I organize the stories in my head, first.  The stories are ongoing all the time.


What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

After my mom passed away, I felt more inclined to do what I had not done before.


Do you write full-time or part-time?

I write part-time


How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I feel that I constantly moving, and with each book, I become more confident in what I write, that is my evolution.


What are you passionate about?


I am passionate about education.


Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?


The poetry book had a great effect on me.  One of my poems was dedicated to my mother, called Flashback, and I wrote it in one setting from my soul.  I did not know I had it in me.


What can we expect from you in the future?


You can expect more children’s books, I have another series in mind, and I want to complete the Aiden trilogy.


In the far future, I plan to put my adult books together, for now, I am just rolling the stories around in my head.


If you could jump ahead in time, w, at would be happening for you?


I will be touring my children’s books, doing readings, and projects with the kids.  I will also be touring my adult books and doing book signings.


What influenced your decision to self-publish?


I began with self-publishing because I knew two people who went that route.  I have considered the traditional way, and I may try that too.


How do you market your book?


I market through, Facebook, Instagram, and my website.  I have also joined writing associations to help with networking.


Do you design your own book covers?

I do not.


Suzan Johnson has been the Media Specialist at an elementary school for the past nine years. She is a voracious reader of books of all genres. Growing up, she loved and enjoyed participating in sporting activities such as cheerleading and softball. As a teacher, she encourages her students to read a variety of books and participate in sports. Suzan is a member of Florida Reading Association and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Johnson currently lives in the South Florida area.

Facebook and Instagram: shjstories

All of Suzan’s books are available on Amazon


Peace Talks: 101

lioness with open mouth showing teeth
Children can sometimes make you want to scream!

Do your children like to argue with one another? Are you at your wits ends to stop the fighting and want to scream yourself? Today, we have our favorite child psychologist to help our children learn the art of peace talks.


Dr. Valerie Allen

Licensed School Psychologist ~ Case Manager


Peace Talks :   101

Part of being a child is “testing the waters”, with siblings, peers, parents, and authority figures. Children can quickly hook us into a debate or refereeing to settle their disputes. There are strategies which encourage youngsters to stop and think before they take action. We can use these skills to help children think for themselves and solve their own problems.

  1. State the facts. Avoid the who, what, why response. Questions such as “Who started this? What are you into now?” and “Why did you do a thing like this?” focus on blame and gathering evidence. It also puts you in as “judge and jury” to decide the issue. Stating the facts helps children distinguish between fact and opinion.
  2. Seek solutions. Simply state the problem and invite children to offer ideas to solve it. Don’t be critical of their suggestions, no matter how wild or inappropriate. Talk them through it with responses such as “If we did that, what do you think would happen next?” or “How do you think so-and-so would feel it we did it that way?” or “How do you think that would make things better?” Considering various solutions helps children see things from another perspective and fosters responsibility for their decisions and behavior.
  3. Words as tools. Teach children to use words to express their thoughts, emotions, and needs. Eventually, they will learn to use language to express their point of view, negotiate a compromise, and persuade others. Help them label their emotions beyond “happy” and “sad”. Expanding their emotional vocabulary will enable children to identify and discuss their feelings more accurately.
  4. Stand their ground. Children must learn when to stand their ground. They need to know in some situations it is alright to tell someone to go away or to stop bothering them. It is okay to tell a friend they do not want to play or share their things. They need to be able to say they need time to be alone or their feelings have been hurt. Knowing what they need, how they feel, and verbalizing it helps children become self-confident and self-sufficient.
  5. Zero tolerance. Children must develop a firm belief that it is never alright to hurt others, physically or emotionally. Along with this is the fact it’s never okay for someone to hurt them, call them names, or take or destroy their possessions. Zero tolerance helps children learn that aggressive behavior should not be denied, minimized, or justified.
  6. Calling in the troops. There are circumstances when the wisest thing a child can do is walk away, ( perhaps run!) Youngsters need to learn when the situation is beyond them and the best choice is to get someone else involved. Asking for help teaches children there is a difference between tattle-tales and needing adult intervention.

# # #

Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She has published two childrens’ books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hat, Good Hair, New Friends.”for grades 3 -5. Oh yes, she has also has raised six children!

Children’s Author Interview & Books with Imaginary Friends

picture of Children's Author, Asia J. Crandall
            Children’s Author,                  Asia J. Crandall


I’d like to introduce you to a new children’s author that I met recently at a book event. Her name is Asia Crandall and she writes wonderful books that are creative, has a sense of humor, and help kids be better kids.

Tell me something about yourself. (Where did you grow up, significant relationships, what do you do for fun besides writing, as little or as much as you want).

Well, I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. I moved to Orlando four years ago with my son Jahlil and daughter Nyasia. Fun for me outside of writing would be Karaoke, shooting pool, amusement parks and I love trying new restaurants I’ve never been to before.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was in elementary school. I dreamed of becoming a Journalist. I wrote poems and plays in a black and white composition notebook.


What have you written? Tell me about them.

 I wrote My first published play in 2008 titled Collect Call. I was part of an adult literacy program in New York and entered a writing contest and actually won. My first self-published children’s book Along Came Maddie: Football Tryouts was released last year 2016 it’s a series about a boy named Josie and his “know it all” sometimes bossy imaginary best friend (a girl) Maddie. their relationship and the many fun adventures they go on. I’ve written six books of the Along Came Maddie series. Other titles I’ve written still in manuscript forms are; Loud, Rhonda and the Great Escape, and several poems.

Along Came Maddie Football Try-Outs Book Cover
A fun children’s book

What is your favorite genre to write?

Fiction! I use to exaggerate the truth a lot as a child. I could make up a story just like that from the top of my head without thinking about it LOL. Once I was old enough to know what fiction meant there was no stopping me. I stuck to writing fiction stories for children.


Tell me about your writing process.

Oh gosh! No music, no people, a pencil, and notebook. I clean before I write which sounds weird, but cleanliness keeps me focused. I ask myself “what should I write about?” the first thing that comes to mind is always what I write about. When I begin to write, I do not stop until my heart says enough. It’s like blowing up a balloon, you know when to stop and tie it up.


Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

My inspiration comes from family and my childhood. For example; when my three nephews were younger they always pretended to be superheroes. Well, one summer they vacationed in Florida and kept telling my daughter how they would destroy her and turn her into things. I thought it was hilarious so I named one of my books Along Came Maddie: Superheroes in their honor. When I was a child another family member used to wet the bed, I titled this book Along Came Maddie: Queenie Wets the Bed. I have stories for days.


What sort of research do you do for your novels?

 I read books in my genre, I attend webinars, conferences, listen to podcasts, and I’m also a member of multiple writing groups. I read blogs and community boards and I always ask questions.


Do you have a special place where you write?

Yes, my dining room table alone during the day, or my bedroom late at night. Home is where I love to write. In my own space.



Do you have any type of music you listen to while you write?

No, I do not.



Do you have any rituals before or while you write?

Yes, I must clean my apartment first.


How long does it usually take you to complete a book?

With the Along Came Maddie series, it took me two hours to complete each book.



What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

One morning my family and I were talking laughing at one another’s corny jokes when my daughter says “we should write a book.” Later that night when everyone was asleep I did just that. And that was the birth of the Along Came Maddie series.


Do you write full-time or part-time?

I write part time lol, I must admit, I procrastinate. Not as much as I use to, but I’m still working on myself.


How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I love being creative, it’s part of my DNA. I work as a Program Coordinator for afterschool programs. My job allows me to be as creative as I want to be. I work with little humans which also helps with my creative development.


What are you passionate about?

My Faith, family, self-development, and kindness.



Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

No, not a book, but I wrote a poem titled Note to Self. It’s a letter I wrote to myself that chronicles my life from being bullied in kindergarten to the very moment I conceived my daughter at the young age of nineteen. It’s about one thousand words and pretty deep.


What can we expect from you in the future?

I love writing for children. I’d say plenty of picture books, and maybe a memoir.


 If you could jump ahead in time, what would be happening for you?

I would be negotiating a deal with a popular TV network to turn my stories into cartoon series for kids.


What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Honestly, I was an amateur and did not know the difference between traditional and self-publishing at the time.


How do you market your book?

I use social media; I contact schools I offer discounts I attended conferences and sign up for book reviews.


Do you design your own book covers?

Yes, I found an illustrator from her name is Goodaughter. She’s wonderful. 


Thank you for joining us today and learning more about Asia and her books. I know your kids are going to LOVE them!!

Is Your Child Anxious? Here’s Help Today!

Anxious Child
Is your child showing signs of anxiety but you don’t know it?


How do you know if you have an anxious child?

Some children show signs of anxiety that are obvious but others show signs that aren’t that obvious.

Natasha Daniels is a Child Therapist and has a blog, website, and YouTube videos to help parents who have children that are anxious. Her website is called appropriately

She loves to help parents and kids. So, she created a 5 part video series to help parents “see” the less obvious signs of their anxious child.

Once you know your child has anxiety, you are better equipped to deal with it.

And don’t worry, in case you don’t know what to do to help your child who has anxiety, Natasha will help you help your child.

Here’s a link to the first video in the 5-part series.

You can read more here

anxiety and children
Is your child showing signs of anxiety but you don’t know it?

Want to Write an Amazing, Knock-your-Socks-Off Picture Book?

Think Like a Child—Write Like an Adult

      What You Need to Know BEFORE You

Write For Children


Today I would like to introduce everyone to a lovely woman that I recently met at a book event. Her name is Bobbie Hinman and she writes the cutest books for children that I’ve ever seen!

All 5 of Bobbie Hinman's Fairy Picture Books
Bobbie Hinman’s Fairy Picture Books

If you’ve ever thought about writing a children’s book, here’s some of her helpful tips. For even more of her suggestions, buy her book How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book–available on Amazon.


One of the advantages of writing for children is that this gives you permission to think like a child and get away with it. But, how do children think? Having been a teacher, mother, grandmother and successful children’s book author, here are some of my observations about how children think:


Children are enthusiastic, creative and self-centered. They are eager to know what’s coming next in a story. They are excited when good things happen to the characters, their imaginations allowing them to almost live in the world of the story. Ask them what they think will come next in a story, and their thoughts run wild. Most of all, children enjoy reading books that relate to them, finding it exciting when they can picture themselves as the characters.


Children love illustrations, adjectives, fantasy and rhyme. Thriving on visual stimulation, children love bright, colorful illustrations, and prefer pages with more pictures than words. They will react far more positively to a description of a “roly-poly, yellow duck” than to just a “yellow duck.” Instead of “a big monster,” they love a “hurly-burly monster.” Children have no trouble at all believing that chickens can talk or rabbits wear clothes. They have fun believing in make-believe, so why not let them believe as long as possible? They also love the rhythm of rhyming lines and are often able to memorize a rhyming story after hearing it just a few times.


Children live in the present and seek happy endings. It’s fine to have your story take place over a few days, but when you talk about “three years later” or “when he grew to be a man,” children have no point of reference; they are not able to identify with what is happening if your story extends over a long period of time. As far as the ending of a book, I can’t think of any reason ever to have a children’s book with a sad ending. Childhood should be a time of optimism and fun. I’m not saying you should completely stay away from important issues that children encounter, such as divorce, but stories should offer young readers a resolution and conclude with a sense of hope for the situation.


Children have short attention spans. Generally, the younger the child, the shorter the attention span. However, even older children are easily bored if the material itself is boring. For this reason. it’s essential to have things happening on each page. One of the beauties of a picture book is that both the words and pictures are “talking” and “moving,” giving the young reader a lot to look at.


So, if you have an idea for a story, start by writing it down. Then find yourself a group of children — perhaps the children of your friends and neighbors, or in your local library, perhaps even a class in a local elementary school. Read them the story, watch their faces and, if you have the courage, ask for their opinions. Above all, listen to what they have to say and adjust your story accordingly. Remember that your goal is to think like a child; they already do!


Bobbie Hinman






Bobbie Hinman has a B.S. degree in Elementary Education and has been a speaker and presenter at numerous schools, libraries and book festivals all across the United States and in Canada. Her 5 rhyming picture books have received a combined total of 27 children’s book awards. In her new book, How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book, Bobbie tells you how she self-published and sold over 50,000 copies of her books. Her picture books are titled The Knot Fairy, The Sock Fairy, The Belly Button Fairy, The Fart Fairy and The Freckle Fairy. The premise of her books is simple: Who better to blame it on than a fairy? You can see more about Bobbie and her books at

6 Must’s for Teens to Land a Summer Job

one dollar bill on countertop
Want to Make Money this Summer?


The Joy of Summer:  Teens at Work


Dr. Valerie Allen


            For many teens the joy of summer is exceeded only by the thrill of cash. If you are thinking, your teen should be thinking about getting a job, the time to start is now. Adolescents may hesitate to approach the world of work for many reasons. We’ve all had that feeling of being overwhelmed when we first begin a job search. We’ve all experienced uncertainty when we complete a job application. We’ve all had fear of rejection when we go for an interview. We’ve all had that frightening first day on the job. Somehow we made it through and so can your youngster–with a little help from you.


Support and encourage your teen to improve his/her chances of getting a job and hearing those two magical words “your hired.” Help him/her make that trip out into the big, hard, cold world, a little less threatening by using these tips.


  1. Dress for the occasion. Look as if you really want this job. How to dress? Look at the other employees; consider the type of work you will be doing. Sure shots: take a shower, get a hair cut, eliminate the jewelry, downplay the makeup, cover tattoos and be conservative (forget style!). Make sure all body parts are fully covered, no midriff reveals or saggy pants. Remember the interviewer will probably be someone like your parents!


  1. Be prepared. Show you are organized, detailed, and task oriented. What to bring? A pen, a pencil, a note pad, your Social Security Card, driver’s license, and a list of classes or certificates that are job related. Other things that might give you an edge: proof of previous employment, letters from teachers, coaches, scout leader, or your pastor, awards from extra-curricular activities or other certificates of achievement. A list of volunteer work where you have been involved with community service. Note any special skills such as handling pets, babysitting, yard work, computer skills, bike repairs, sewing, jewelry making, etc.


  1. Have a positive attitude. No one owes you this job; prove you want it. Convey enthusiasm and a good attitude. How? Shake hands, introduce yourself, smile, have eye contact, speak clearly, listen carefully, show an interest in the company, and ask questions. Go online, find and read information about the company. During the interview be sure to mention something you found while visiting their web site. Bonus points if you address the interviewer by name; be sure to use Mr. , Ms, or Ma’am , Sir.


  1. Show self confidence. Consider your achievements. What have you done well? What have you accomplished? What are you proud of? What do others say are your strong points? How can these accomplishments relate to on-the-job tasks? Let the interviewer know you are eager and willing to learn new job skills.


     5.  The 3 R’s: Responsibility, Respect, Reality Check. Demonstrate responsibility by       making an appointment for the interview, call ahead to confirm the time, bring important documents with you, be on time, and thank the interviewer for his or her time. Show respect, be courteous, pay attention, take notes, respond verbally and don’t interrupt. Do not use slang words or profanity. Do not make negative comments about others.


  1. Remember: you will probably be completing with many others for an entry level job, at minimum wage, requiring unskilled labor. If you want to be the “chosen one” remember why you want a summer job!


            You have to work hard and learn at lot to get that first paycheck. When you finally land a job, give it your best. Work every minute you are being paid for. Prove to yourself and others that you are worth it.


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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She has published two childrens’ books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hat, Good Hair, New Friends.”for grades 3 -5. Oh yes, she has also has raised six children!

Children’s Books with Time-Travel Theme

I “met” Don Canaan online and he writes awesome books about time travel. He has a children’s book called Conceived in Liberty: A time-traveling romp through the history of the Union of Royal American States (Timeless Romps Through History Book 1). It’s free on Amazon if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member; otherwise, it’s only $2.99!

children's book called Conceived in Liberty
Free on Kindle Unlimited!

Join 2063’s most famous time traveler, Tamar Weaver, as she takes part in a hilarious, sometimes romantic, romp through history as she tries to save the Union of Royal American States.

He was gracious enough to share about my newest release, Gloria and the Unicorn, on his blog. Time travel is inevitable when you mix the natural world with the magical. Find out more on his website at