I hope so much that when a girl or her mom or her grandmom or her teacher finishes reading The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) what will happen next is an open dialogue. That’s why I put in the back of the book questions that naturally lead to deep conversation. Some people think The Truth is an easy read. It may be, but it is a deep read. Just as an Emily Dickenson poem can be very deep in only four lines, so can the thoughts and feelings of this nameless girl who touches our hearts. She is unique, but also one of us. Any girl or woman will identify somewhere in the pages with her. For some it is her energy. For others her ability to solve problems. For others it is her realization that she knows so deeply so many truths. And once we identify then it becomes easy to want to chat and share. I hope you will do so after you read the book. The genuine connection that you will feel with your daughter, yourself and the girl in the book will warm your heart. Please let me know what questions you enjoyed most in the back. You can write to me at email@example.com.
Several years ago I received an e-mail from a young girl in Vietnam who had read The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything), in Vietnamese. She loved the book and decided to write to me. It is a long story, but Linh and I have been penpals for almost two years now. And not only have we written about our lives and our families, we have talked about many subjects, including how important charity is and how important it is to try your best to make the world a better place. Linh shared with my the problems on an orphanage in Vietnam that she is very concerned about. They don’t have enough money and certainly inadequate equipment to try to rehabilitate children with physical and mental disabilities. The women who work at the orphanage try their best, but still the children are not getting the chance they deserve.
I felt for these children and sent money to Linh, mom, Le Thi Hoai Thanh, who took the money for me to the orphanage. Of course Linh went with her. They have actually gone twice and I have been awarded two certificates! Here are a few of the pictures.
Linh and I are determined to raise money for these children and hopefully find some ways to get them the resources to develop their minds and bodies that they need. I never thought I would be working on a cause with a girl I have yet to meet in person, who lives 8000 miles away from me. But Linh has an unbelievable heart and the ability to convince a grown-up like me that we must try to save a small part of the world! These are babies and children and they need our help and resources. Here are some reactions to Linh’s second visit to Hoa Phuong Village:
“Well, Hoa Phuong Village is here again, I thought.
I was standing with my mother in the boundless garden of the village. Truthfully, I wanted to visit families there very much ; but first of all, we had to meet the village Vice-director. She was still friendly ; I felt so because she gave me a lot of guavas. They were very sweet and tasty….My mother took a number of photos. After that, a woman took us to a family in which babies and homeless children were brought up. The family had many lovely kids. They were so cute that I just wanted to kiss them, especially an innocent baby. Unfortunately, I don’t know his name. We talked to the two mothers in that family. They were both middle-aged women and they told us a lot about the children. Finally, we said goodbye to the mothers and the kids, and we left with packets of guavas.
I had nice memories after going to Hoa Phuong Village. Therefore, I think all of us-everyone all over the world-should help poor people and children with all our best. To be more exactly, please don’t make them feel lonely and disappointed….” Linh Hoai
Often, when I speak to groups or on talk on the radio, people want to know why I wrote a certain book. I believe that my introduction to The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything), designed to be read by the girl, her mom or grandma, or teacher, or guidance counselor, explains best why I wrote the book. Here is what I say:
“When I was ten, and eleven, I knew so many things. I knew a lot of important stuff that my parents and other grown-ups had forgotten. I promised myself that I would find a way to hold on to my knowledge.
Then I grew up and became a teacher and a psychologist. I got married and had children. At work, as a psychologist, I listen to a lot of people’s problems, children and grown-ups. I always try to help them. One of the things I do is to point out to them what is right with them, rather than what is wrong. Another thing I do is to teach them how to have more fun. I also help them to remember their own wisdom and the truths that they already know in their hearts.
One day I decided to find a way to combine what I already knew as a girl with the knowledge I have as a psychologist. I had to find a fun way to do this that would really help girls and mothers recognize that what we know growing up is just as important as what we learn later.
One day, the ‘girl’ just appeared. She knew what to say and how to say it. She did a much better job of sharing THE TRUTH than I ever could have imagined. So I just let her go for it.
Here is her account of THE TRUTH. I hope you enjoy it. Remember your promises to yourself when you grow up and don’t forget to listen to your kids someday.
I better get out of the way and let the girl begin……”
I would just add, that since the book has been published, most girls relate to THE TRUTH at a deep level of connection. Most have had a crush, or a problem in school, or been afraid of moving to a new town, or upset if parents did not get along. However, some kids have a whole other ‘TRUTH’ that is uniquely theirs. And that is great. Even those few kids that don’t relate to the girl at all, if they take from the book to be true to themselves, and have the courage to grow up strong and resourceful, then my mission as a women, who was a girl,and a psychologist has been successful!
I thought a lot of you might enjoy seeing some of the diary entries that are only being read in China at this point in time. Some of course, may appear in the second book in The Truth Series in the United States. Here is one of them. Let me know what you think.
“My cousin Eddie isn’t in college anymore. My parents were all upset yesterday because they got a call from my Aunt Lil saying that Eddie was thrown out of college. She was crying so hard on the phone that my dad had to keep telling her that it would be alright and just take a deep breath and get a drink of water.
I was eating breakfast and listening at the same time. I heard my father also tell my Aunt that probably he could go back to school but after he was clean. That didn’t make any sense to me.
So I made my mother tell me everything after my father left for work.
She said that Eddie was caught taking drugs. He was swallowing stuff in his room that could have made him very sick and he was giving it to other kids in the dormitory. The Dean of his college made him leave. My aunt is trying to find him help so he won’t do bad stuff anymore. That’s what my dad meant by getting ‘clean’.
I know what drugs are. But I never knew anyone who took any.
I play cards with Eddie when we go to visit once a year. He is five years older than I am, but I still liked playing with him and he never teased me. He was nice to me.
It is sad and scary what happened to him. And that’s the truth.”
Barbara Becker Holstein At the Girl Scout meeting in Ocean Township a couple of weeks ago, the girls and their mom’s really enjoyed dividing up into groups and discussing different topics generated by The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything). I think they most enjoyed issues around moving and also family relationships. Here is what one girl said would most concern her about moving: 1. making new friends, 2. what I would have to leave behind, and 3. getting used to new things.
Why is The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) important reading for Girls and Their Moms?
The Truth helps girls see that they are not alone, by being able to so easily identify with the ‘girl’ who is sharing her most personal feelings and thoughts with them directly, via diary form. If Mom also reads The Truth and shares more of her thoughts and feelings while also listening to her daughter’s ‘real’ voice, than a family correction will be made and indeed, the girl will be less alone
“What a delightful book! The girl made me smile. I could relate to her on many levels- from her first crush to being picked last for sports. She”s not only funny, she”s insightful. Girls at any age could learn from her.”
The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) is now in all major bookstores in China in an English/Chinese version. Here is the beautiful cover. The title in China is: How an American girl grows up.
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein discusses The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) with several Girl Scout troops from Ocean Township.
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein discusses The Truth (I”m a girl, I”m smart and I know everything) with several Girl Scout troops from Ocean Township. It was a lively discussion. We chatted about lots of topics brought up by the girl in the book. Some included moving, parents fighting, growing up, sibling annoyances, friendships. All the girls were very interested in the second book in The Truth Series for Girls, which Dr. Holstein has just finished.
Summer is here, but I am still basking in the memories of the fun time I had at the Brielle School Girls Night Out. Here is a picture of me with a bunch of the girls who had read The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything). And here is part of the note I received from The G.I.R.L. Club: “We loved when you talked about your book with the club! We also enjoyed when you talked about your inspiration and it gave us an eye opening experience to get us to do whatever we want to do in life…”