By: Donna Tetreault
Illustrated by: Elisena Bonadio
Publication Date: March 2021
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: March 12, 2021
A young boy, who is happy "most of the time," but struggles with some of his more confusing emotions at other times...sound familiar? Children often have trouble understanding all the emotions that come flooding toward them, and parents frequently don't know how to help. Now, debut author Donna Tetreault has addressed this common but difficult issue in her new children's book, Dear Me: Letters to Myself, For All of My Emotions.
To anyone looking in from the outside, the protagonist of our story (we never learn his name), is a very happy, well-adjusted little boy. He smiles, he loves his mom, and seems to enjoy classes at his school. But then he admits that he can feel many things, from excited and peaceful to scared and frustrated. His mother explains that what he's feeling are emotions and that it's okay to feel all sorts of different things at different times. To help her son really understand his emotions, she comes up with a great idea - she suggests he write down all his feelings, when he's feeling them, and what's happening at that particular time. By writing everything down, he'll learn how to control and even change how he feels.
The next day the star of our story heads to the park to play with some friends. And then he writes down how he feels:
I love feeling the sun's warm glow on my face. If I could, I'd climb up and down the trees all day long.
Unfortunately, not all experiences are as fun as playing at the park. There's the first day at a new school, visiting grandma at the hospital, and waving goodbye to dad as he heads off on a business trip. Each of these events, as well as many others, are filled with emotions but thanks to mom, our protagonist writes everything down and it helps him understand just what is going on. As he continues to record his feelings, he gradually comes to understand, and more importantly, control, his emotions.
Learning to understand and control one's emotions is an important part of growing up and something that many children struggle to understand. Parents, too, frequently don't know how to help their youngsters deal with all the confusing feelings that inundate them every day. Dear Me: Letters to Myself, For All of My Emotions uses the practice of journaling to help children understand their emotions. While journaling is common for adults who need to deal with various things - marriage, family interactions, etc. - having children use it certainly isn't as common. The author keeps things simple - starting each "entry" with "Dear, Me" and ending with "Love, Me" - with just a few sentences of text to explain the child's experiences. This simplicity is perfect for keeping the explanations at a level children can easily understand. Every "Dear Me" letter the child writes to himself is written in a font that looks handwritten and on what appears to be lined paper, much like that given to students at school. It's a nice touch that will appeal to children. The author uses lots of examples, all of which are likely to be experienced by most, if not all, children, and the entries our protagonist writes down are understandable and useful. "It's okay to be scared...It just takes some time and practice to feel comfortable," "It's natural to be sad..." and "One kid laughs [at me], but it's okay. Another helps pick me up..." are things most young readers will relate to and understand. Dear Me: Letters to Myself, For All of My Emotions does a great job of helping children come to terms with so many everyday emotions. This is the perfect book for classroom reading and discussion, as well as a bedtime story where your child can ask questions and you can discuss each and every confusing emotion with him/her.
Quill says: Dear Me: Letters to Myself, For All of My Emotions is a perfect book to help youngsters deal with all of their confusing emotions in a fun and constructive way.
For more information on Dear Me: Letters to Myself, For All of My Emotions, please visit the author's website at: www.donnatetreault.com
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