One of the most powerful ways to teach children new concepts like growth mindset, respecting others, listening and gratitude is to read them books about these subjects. Today’s interview is with Author Julia Cook who has written over 70 books to help children with things they may not yet understand, including My Mouth Is a Volcano, Bubble Gum Brain, and Thanks For The feedback… I Think. Julia is also a parenting expert and international speaker.
Hi Julia, welcome to No Mum Is An Island. I am a great believer that no mum (or dad) should have to do everything herself, we can’t possibly know it all, and we need all the support we can get, there is a wealth of information out there to help us upgrade our parenting experience, to make our lives easier and this website is a hub for just that! You have upgraded the lives of many parents globally by writing a host of incredible books that tackle real-life issues for kids.
Your mission is to help children through story, can you share with us how you started writing children’s books?
I never in a million years planned on being an author. About 15 years ago, I was an elementary school counselor who was struggling to teach my kids not to tattle on each other. Tattling was a school-wide problem and the teachers were about ready to pull out their hair!!! As a graduate student, I had an amazing teacher who taught me that in order to teach children, you must enter their view of the world, and a great way to do that is through books. If you read a book to a child that has problem-solving tools embedded in it, the tools will stick with them long after the story is over. The children can then use those tools to solve their problems from the inside out, as opposed to us helping them solve them from the outside in. I looked for a book about tattling to read to my kids, and when I couldn’t find one that worked, I decided to write a story about a little kid who tattled so much he grew a tongue.
A teacher encouraged me to contact a publisher after recognizing the story’s impact on her kids. They accepted the manuscript and asked for more and that was how it all began!
Teaching children Growth Mindset is one of the most important lessons there is, can you explain to us how your book “Bubble Gum Brain” does that and why it is important parents share this lesson?
Having a growth mindset is key to working toward your potential. Bubble gum brain is based on the amazing work of Carol Dweck. It teaches kids the power of the word “YET.” Brick Brain has a fixed mindset- “Things are the way they are, and that’s just how it is!” Bubble Gum Brain has a growth mindset- “I love to bend and stretch my brain. I make a lot of great mistakes that help me learn.” Parents who can encourage their kids to develop a growth mindset will see greater learning potential over all.
What do you think it the biggest challenge that parents will come up against when teaching a growth mindset to their kids?
Screen time allows kids to feel successful with very little effort. Real life success is five times more difficult to achieve. This causes kids to feel like quitting. They try just as hard as they do with a screen, and they don’t succeed. The biggest challenge that a parent has in helping their child develop a growth mindset is to demonstrate having one yourself. Great people make great mistakes every single day. Making mistakes and then fixing them is how we learn. It’s very difficult for parents to make a mistake in front of their kids, admit it and then fix it. We want to be perfect for our children.
You have feedback from parents all over the world telling you how your books have taught them invaluable lessons which book do you get the most feedback on why do you think that is?
I love hearing comments from parents. The book that has received the most feedback is It’s Hard to Be a VERB! This is a story about ADHD and how to bring more focus to your life. Many kids struggle with this issue, and it’s a tough one for parents to handle. My hope for this story is to help kids, parents and teachers is to celebrate “verbiness,” and gain better understand what kids CAN do as opposed to what they CANNOT.
Are there any other of the subjects you touch on that seems to be a particular challenge for parents to share with their children?
It’s very difficult for parents to talk about scary stuff that they hope will never happen to their children (shooter threats, developing an eating disorder, dealing with disasters, sexual abuse and grooming, getting kidnaped etc.) My books serve as a safe vehicle for teaching children what they need to know about the hard to talk about stuff without scaring them.
Modeling behavior is a powerful tool do you think that by reading your books to their children the parents also take on these invaluable life lessons?
All of my books are all based on research. They tell parents what to say and how to say it in a safe, proactive and non- threatening way. In a way, these books serve as a recipe that models good parenting strategies.
Which is your personal favourite of your books and why?
My favorite book is The Judgmental Flower. It is a book that teaches kids about relationships and how to accept and celebrate differences in others. All human relationships revolve around two things: Trust and Communication. If we can teach our children the power of developing positive, workable relationships with others, this world will become a much better place.
Thank you again for inviting me to become a part of No Mum is an Island. For more information about my books, a complete list of titles and topics, and to order personalized copies, visit www.juliacookonline.com
You can also browse Julia’s books below: