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Archive for the ‘Humility’ Category

New Young Adult Novel Puts Motivation and Mealworms on the Menu

There’s a reason Americans don’t often hear the phrase, “please pass the crickets” during families meals and other fine dining occasions. Entomophagy—including insects in your diet—is, for want of a better clinical term, totally gross. Which, of course, makes it the perfect topic for Doris Wild Helmering’s charming and amusingly educational young adult novel The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World.
          Meet Alex Crow, a seventh-grader at 
Roosevelt Ridge Middle School, working with yet another school counselor to see why the smart 12-year-old is such a slacker when it comes to school work. The last counselor didn’t get too far. But this guy—“Call me Mr. D.”—this guy is different. All he cares about is putting Alex in touch with his passion.  Turns out, Alex’s passion is bugs. And that’s where the fun begins, as Helmering, a nationally-known author and syndicated news columnist, treats us to an all-you-can-eat buffet of grasshoppers, earthworms, and other slithery non-vertebrates with the potential to solve world hunger. Did you know that cockroaches run the equivalent of 141 mph? Or that if you were a grasshopper you could jump the length of a basketball court in less than a second? There’s a lot of fun as well as eeeew-inducing content in Helmering’s clear, beautiful prose. But Helmering has a more important fish, if not caterpillars, to fry.

A study in motivation

Helmering, a clinical social worker whose impressive portfolio of published books includes popular self-help titles such as Husbands, Wives & Sex and Happily Ever After, tackles, head-on, what it takes to succeed in life. “Helmering creates a delightful and imaginative experience for middle-grade readers that will inspire and motivate them to think outside the box as they consider their own life aspirations,” says M. Catherine Downer, a nationally certified counselor.
         “Ms. Helmering begins with the rock bottom belief that all children are naturally motivated to learn and it’s an adult’s job to discover and use their natural curiosity to help them develop the resilience and work habits to succeed in school and life,” adds Barbara Kohm, author of The Power of Conversation: Transforming Principals into Great Leaders. “[This is] a multi-layered book [that] addresses core issues middle students face with warmth, depth and humor.”

Motivation for parents, teachers, and grandparents, too

The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World comes with a powerful Parent Teacher Discussion Guide to help facilitate conversation about the book’s weighty themes: motivation, bullying, self-esteem, teamwork, grief, diversity, and environmentalism.  Helmering, whose “fresh, witty, wise, down-to-earth style” has been distilled from many years of experience as a psychotherapist, author, and television and radio personality, certainly knows how to get the conversation going. And if that conversation happens to involve such mouthwatering fare as wormburgers and the etiquette of removing bug legs from your teeth, well, nobody ever said saving the world would be pretty.
Bon Apetite!

The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World & The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide by
Doris Wild Helmering (Author), John Dyess (Illustrator)

Check out her additional books on Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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When Jack was a young man, he was a bad stutterer.

“I had a job, but I felt that if I couldn’t communicate verbally, it would hold me back,” said Jack. So 30 years ago Jack searched for the best speech therapy school in the United States.

“I wrote letters, made phone calls, talked to local speech therapists,” Jack explained. The good news was, I located the school, The Institute of Logopedics in Wichita, Kansas. The bad news — the minimum treatment course was three months.

“I had been married about a year and a half and I had just taken a different job. My wife was pregnant with our oldest daughter. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t feel I had any other option.”

“I went, but I went with a real bad attitude. None of my friends stuttered. None of them had to go to Wichita. Why me, God?”

When Jack got to the institute, things got worse. “They treated every imaginable defect,” he said. “Lots of accident victims, stroke victims, children with cerebral palsy. Their ages ranged from 6 to about mid-seventies. It was the first time in my life I had been around a lot of handicapped people. It was real uncomfortable for me to be around those folks, and it added to my sense of feeling sorry for myself.”

At the start of his last week, Jack was waiting outside his therapist’s office when a 7-year-old boy with cerebral palsy came out of the office with his football helmet on. “The CP kids had to wear football helmets from the time they got up in the morning to the time they went to bed so they wouldn’t hurt themselves,” he explained.

On Jack’s next-to-last day his therapist asked if he’d come to his next session a little early. “I got there early,” said Jack. “I was standing in the hall waiting, when this 7-year-old kid walked out with the therapist. The therapist gently pushed the boy toward Jack and motioned for Jack to listen to the boy. “The kid looked at me and said, ‘Hello, Jack.'”

Although the words were somewhat garbled, Jack understood and replied, “Hey, that’s my name. I didn’t know you knew how to talk.” “The kid puffed up like a toad, beamed, and struggled off down the hall,” Jack said.

When Jack went into the therapist’s office, the therapist asked, “What do you think is the longest block you’ve ever had before you could talk, Jack?”

Jack replied, “About 30 seconds.”

The therapist came back sharply: “Well, the longest hesitation I’ve observed is only about five seconds.”

Jack said, “I knew what he was saying. It was like he had punched me in the stomach — it was a revelation. That was some therapy session, and it didn’t have anything to do with fluency. I realized I had been feeling sorry for myself.”

The therapist then explained, “That kid, Robert, he’s been working here for two hours a day, for the last six days, to be able to say, ‘Hello, Jack.'”

“It turns out that kids with cerebral palsy often don’t live as long as others do,” said Jack. “And Robert was no exception. When I found out that he died, the saddest thing for me was that he never knew what he had done. This kid who was in my life for a day changed my life forever.”

“Robert didn’t have much of a vocabulary. And ‘feel sorry for myself’ were words that definitely weren’t in his.”

For most of us it’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves when life isn’t fair, or someone disappoints us, or something doesn’t go as planned. When you start to feel sorry for yourself, think of Robert and  his struggle to say, “Hello, Jack.”

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