Global Launch of Not Perfect Hat Club Announced!

Pine Valley Elementary School Site for Global Launch of New Book on 9/23 Students Skype™ and blog about their experiences with the new book (Students in Mrs. Ladd’s class blog about their experiences as they read Jena Ball’s new book “The Not Perfect Hat Club.”) ​ Wilmington children’s book author and illustrator Jena Ball, the creator of the CritterKin series of books and programs designed to teach empathy, compassion and kindness, will debut her latest book, The Not Perfect Hat Club, on September 23, 2015 at Pine Valley Elementary School during assemblies held at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.   The Not Perfect Hat Club is the fourth in the CritterKin series and will be used as the basis for a global blogging challenge (NPHCBlogIt.com) starting November 2nd. The challenge, which will bring students in classrooms around the world together to read, discuss and write about the book, was co-created by Ball and Beverly Ladd, a second grade teacher at Pine Valley Elementary. Ladd, who is known for the innovative ways she uses technology to expose her students to new people, places and ideas approached Ball with the concept. “I loved the message Jena was sharing,” says Ladd, “and thought it would be a great book for kids to blog about.”   “If you have ever seen the look on a child’s face when she gets a comment from another student on the other side of the world,” Ladd adds, “then you’ll know why we’re doing NPHCBlogIt. That look is priceless.  Our goal is to make that moment happen for as many kids as possible.”   The book, which...

Faige Meller: A Tweet, A Book, A Review

    This is for the shy ones, The introverts, ready to observe. This for the gregarious ones, The extroverts, eager to be heard. This is for quiet ones, The ones waiting for their turn. This is for the noisy ones, Too squirmy to be still. This is for all of these who seek perfection, When none is to be had. And here is the door wide open, Welcome one and all! By pure happenstance I came across a conversation on Twitter about The Not Perfect Hat Club and sat mesmerized, reading the tweets. But, being me, I quickly joined in with questions and comments. I loved the idea of silly hats and posted pictures of me and my get-ups. Then I read blog posts from the #NOTPERFECTHATCLUB that @JenaiaMorane and @martysnowpaw founders of @CrittenKin . Adults shared heartfelt stories about feelings of being bullied, rejected, misunderstood and looking for perfection. My heart went out to them and to the stories that were shared about their students. Unfortunately, this was all too familiar to me from my own personal childhood stories,  as a well as those of  a parent and teacher. I was so excited to hear that a book was in the offing addressing these concerns, not for adults per se, but written for children! A book that children could identify with, in the characters of dogs and children facing their struggles. Then I felt I had to do more than just tweet and post pictures. I decided to support Jena and Marty in any way I could. I dedicated one of my Posts to them and joined their “club.” I...

Kendra Grant – A Wonderful Tail

“A wonderful “tail” of how the Not Perfect Hat Club began. Told from the point of view of Newton, the not perfect show dog, this gentle story of friendship and acceptance, and pride in being not perfect is a terrific story that will appeal to both boys and girls. Definitely a series in the making! As a teacher, I can just imagine reading The Not Perfect Hat Club (with my Not Perfect hat on) to a group of eager students, who at the end of each chapter loudly plead, “Please Mrs. Grant, don’t stop there! We HAVE to know what happens next!” As the characters, both dog and human interact, and have adventures…and misadventures, there are plenty of opportunities to talk about how words and actions affect those around us and affect how we see ourselves. Seen through the eyes of a dog whose nose is too big and his coat the wrong color, there are many opportunities for easy discussion and follow-up activities. Children are bound to see themselves, or someone they know, in one of the characters, whether it’s Cooper the bully or Kylee the perfectionist or Newton the not perfect dog. The story is capped off by Ms. Ball’s beautifully detailed drawings. These images bring the characters to life, especially the dogs with their toothy grins and high flying fur. In the final chapters, as the Not Perfect Hat Club is born; its song and pledge shared, be prepared for the children in your care to ask “What about us?” “Can’t we join too?” And once they do, they’ll want to know when Newton’s next adventure begins.”      ...

Jena Ball – Taking Down the Walls

I believe one of THE most important things we can do for our kids is to give them an opportunity to experience their own power. By power I mean the chance to articulate and share something that has meaning for them and get a response from the world. It is by finding their voice  (their own unique ways to express their thoughts and opinions) that they discover they have a role to play and their participation in our collective process is vital to its success. These are the kind of adults we want and need to be raising – caring, compassionate, engaged and above all capable of using their unique abilities to have a positive impact. Engagement with the “real world” in the form of project based learning is built into the CritterKin stories and every project we run at every school, camp and after school program. We not only read stories, but ask kids to research and tell their own stories so that they are heard and have the chance to see that what they create has an impact on others. This summer, CritterKin is working with 150 students in the Valley View School District in Illinois who are currently reading about and formulating their own ideas on how best to educate a local community about pit bulls. After reading the book, Lead With Your Heart with me, they are forming and articulating their own opinions by writing, drawing, making videos, taking photographs and creating collaborative “Kindness Quilts.” The quits will be on display at the end of our six weeks along with the students’ stories of how the...

Jena Ball – Jailbreak!

    Jailbreak! We all have them – those rigid ways of thinking, seeing and being in the world that stand between us and new ideas like bars in a jail cell. They are the byproduct of many things – our upbringing, experiences in school and the workplace, even the books we’ve read. The good news  is that human beings are hardwired for change – to look beyond the limits of our current beliefs and wonder, “Is there a way to make things better? How can I contribute by challenging and growing myself?” One of the best barometers of the need for change is our emotional well-being.  We know, for example, that children who feel safe, understood and supported learn more effectively. Likewise, teachers who are trusted and encouraged to expand their horizons pass their passion for learning on to their students. So why is it that our schools are plagued by violence and bullying? More importantly, what are we going to do about it? My own approach to this challenge is the “Not Perfect Hat Club,” a book and program designed to give every kid a place to hang a hat while teaching them to value and embrace what makes them unique. In Australia, the response to the Not Perfect Hat Club has been gratifyingly positive. Unlike U.S. schools, where teachers are often discouraged from teaching “soft skills,” Australian educators have the flexibility to incorporate social-emotional learning into their classrooms. They are also open and eager to find and utilize programs and tools that increase their students’ well-being. Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to see...

Jena Ball – Catapulted

    Catapulted – Education Goes Global Until about two years ago, I told anyone who asked me that I was a writer. Since I’ve spent the better part of my life penning everything from marketing material and textbooks to speeches for SONY’s founder Akio Morita, this made perfect sense, except for one thing. The brightly colored thread stitching everything together has been education. Whether it was creating custom ESL manuals for Japanese businessmen traveling to the States or developing an online writing course for “underachieving” teens in Nevada, education has been central to my writing life. Then in 2013 I came up with the idea for a series of children’s books called CritterKin. I loved the idea of giving kids a chance to experience the world through the eyes of a pack of mixed breed dogs. Animals (critters) have always felt like family (kin) to me, and have been some of my most loyal friends and teachers.  However, I had no idea that CritterKin would catapult me out of my comfy writer’s niche into the arena of global education. Within weeks after publishing the first CritterKin book, Poco a Poco, I was reading to kids at local summer camps and elementary schools. Within six months I was not only reading, but developing projects designed to translate the messages in the books into empowering, real-world experiences. When I began connecting with educators from all parts of the world via Twitter, and accepting invitations to visit classrooms around the world via Skype and GHO, I abandoned all pretense of being “just a writer.” It was clear that my words and...