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…”
As a positive psychologist, a school psychologist and a former teacher, I began to think, how could I write a book that will spark just everyone? If you are a kid, a tween or a teen, you will feel understood and connected to this fictional girl. After all, she is like you. She thinks about many of the things you think about and she makes promises about what she will be like when she grows up, just like you do.
If you are a woman, it will make you want to dance with yourself and with your inner 10 year old and make her energies a part of yourself again.
If you are a mom, you will see your child in a much more profound light. You will want to help her hold on to her wisdom, wit, sense of competency and self-esteem
If you are a grandparent you will want your child and her child to read the book so that they will both have a chance to develop to their fullest and to stay communicating through all the tough years ahead.
If you are a teacher you will want girls to read the book so they will feel strong and resilient and see that they can hold on to the best of themselves!
So the character came alive. I felt a fictional diary was the way to go. The girl, as many fictional characters do, helped me write the book. She shared her frustrations and her competencies, and she even managed to solve a little around how she could hold on to the best of herself as she grew up. How she solved the mystery is so endearing, but I can’t give it away because I want you to read the book.
Lots of time people ask me why I started to write fiction as a positive psychologist. It is a good question. I started writing fiction because I wish to communicate information about how to grow up safe and strong to kids and their parents in a way that they can HEAR me. Lots of time we have great information to share, but nobody takes it in. Why? Sometimes it is too dry, sometimes the timing is off, sometimes it is the speaker”s manner. So to avoid all of those potential set-backs I have chosen fiction. The information is not dry! It is exciting and yet familiar to all of us. All of us were 10, 11 and 12 once. I don”t use my voice, but the voice of a girl who we fall in love with from the first page when she talks about her crush. And I know the timing is right, as every year their are millions of kids getting a year older who have universal concerns about their feelings, their friendships, crushes, bullying, home life, etc.
Let”s take a look at The Truth (I”m a girl, I”m smart and I know everything):
Feeling safe to communicate feelings and thoughts, no matter how personal and/or negative, rather than acting them out, is very important in child and adolescent development.
vThe Truth helps move girls, tweens, teens and their families closer to honest communicating. Every page brings to light feelings and thoughts so universal in nature that almost any page can be used to stimulate family members moving toward a more honest and open place with each other.
v The Truth gives a platform for kids to work through negative feelings about conflict and gives parents a new way of seeing conflict from the vantage point of how it affects their kids.
vThe Truth helps to prevent “mean girls” from developing by showing tweens how to express feelings using words, rather than anger or violence.
v 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
vThe Truth also helps kids come to terms with growing up in a less than perfect world. The “girl” is able to do this using many skills that the reader can emulate, such as finding ways to hold on to the best of herself, even as she comes to terms with a world and a set of parents that are less than perfect.
I had such a marvelous time with both groups of girls. These are great Book Clubs that meet at lunchtime. The guidance counselor opens each meeting with the following: The Truth is….and then she and the girls go around and fill in what is the truth for them over the last few weeks. This time Ms. Sanders was talking about the truth being how great she felt being away on vacation. The girls also had many truths about vacation, some good, some a bit disappointing. But that is the nature of vacations. Not all of them live up to our hopes and dreams. And that is the truth!
Then we went on to talk about The Truth (I”m a girl, I”m smart and I know everything). In each group a page was read aloud and discussed. In one group we discussed the Book Club that the girl and her friends start in the book.
What was really fun for me as a psychologist and an educator was what the girls would like to see in the next book-the sequel to The Truth and what they would like changed. Come back tomorrow for that information.
“The highlight of our book club meeting was a visit by the author of our book selection, The Truth, by Dr. Barbara Holstein. The girls were able to share and discuss areas of the book that inspired them most. They told her how and why certain parts of the book impacted them. The author invited the girls to ask her questions about her writing experience and whether or not the book was autobiographical. She then asked the girls for suggestions for her next book. They recommended many issues that they felt needed to be addressed for their age group.
What a great experience for our girls! I am sure we have several future writers among them!”
Millie Sollecito Ed.D.
Student Assistance Counselor
Manasquan Elementary School
I’m so excited. I just sent a batch of The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) down south to a group of girls in a self-esteem group run by Amy Stachler. The girls go to various schools but the club is Club G2G and all the girls are participating in Relay for Life (cancer walk). I think that is wonderful! Amy already wrote to me that the girls were really excited with the book. I wonder how they will react as they read the book. Will they identify with the girl and her feelings? Do they ever feel that a teacher or a parent is not really listening to them? Do they promise themselves about how they will be when they grow up? Do they have crushes? How do they feel the girl handled her crush with Paul? I can’t wait to hear from them. This is so exciting.
When seven Manasquan mothers and their sixth-grade daughters discuss a book they”ve all been reading, the conversation is about far more than the story. They share their feelings and thoughts about the issues in the book and about life.
Encouraging such communication was a goal when founding the Manasquan Mother Daughter Book Club in 2006, says Maribeth Pelly, 42, whose daughter Zoe, 12, is a member. The club has achieved that and helped the girls become more confident when expressing themselves, she says.
Last year I wrote my secret entry about Paul on Valentine’s Day. Do you remember? I sent him a Valentine and I was so desperate to see if he sent me one. I had to open Valentines from everyone in the class until I found his. Do you remember what it said? It said, “Be my Valentine.” I was so happy. I could hardly sleep that night.
This year I will of course be sending Paul a Valentine. Even though I don’t feel quite the same about him. I’m not sure why, but I know one reason is that he looks away a lot when I look at him. I think he might think I’m staring at him.
Anyway, I decided to do something else this year. I read about the idea in one of my mother’s magazines. It was in an article called BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND. There was a long list of things you could do to be nice to yourself.
Some were stuff like skip the laundry this week , buy yourself a new nightgown and get a new hairstyle. Some of the list sounded stupid. Anyway it was for women, not girls. But the one thing I liked was Send a Valentine to Yourself. So I’m doing that this year. I have almost finished it. I made it out of construction paper and lace and it is very beautiful. And you know what I’m saying?
“I love you very much and I’ll never forget you!” I am very excited. I’m even going to glue little candy hearts on it.
Don’t tell anyone. They would think I was silly. Remember, it’s a secret.
I found this excerpt from a review that Vanessa Van Patten did on anThe Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) yesterday. “At the end of the book (I am not going to tell you what happens with Paul), there are a series of questions parents can ask kid readers to talk to their kids about the issues in the book. I LOVE this, the fact that I can read it as a 22 year-old, my mom could read it, my little sister can read it and we could all take away a great message and have something to talk about.”
Vanessa Van Patten