Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review: Changing Kids' Lives One Quote at a Time by Steve Reifman

Changing Kids' Lives One Quote at a Time by Steve Reifman
Paperback or eBook

My Review:
I was contacted by the author to review this book and another book by him that is a fiction book and you will see that review at the beginning of March.  Changing Kids' Lives One Quote at a Time is a quick, easy read, but it's a very powerful read.  I read it as a parent, not a teacher, but Steve has notes for parents and for teachers at the beginning of the book and I can obviously see how useful the book is for parents since I am one.  But I can also see where the book can be of great use in the classroom, in fact I plan on mentioning it at the charter school my kids go to because this is the kind of thing they really latch on to.  It's good stuff, powerful stuff.

As I read through the quotes, I found ones that I thought would really apply to my kids at the moment and ones I would use in the future.  And that is the beauty of the book, it's meant to be used over time.  A quote or two a week.  I plan on putting one on the refridgerator and a copy on the boys' bathroom mirror.  My youngest just started reading this year so it will be fun for him to read them I'm sure.  I'll probably stick a copy in the van as well because it seems we have all our important discussions in there because no one can go anywhere and we have 10 minutes between home and school that we can talk.  The nice thing is Steve offers some great ideas for getting the conversation going.  For teachers he also offers some journaling ideas at the beginning and further ideas for talking through the quotes.  For parents it's a little easier because it's more one-on-one.

I think the book is very well put together.  I enjoyed reading through the quotes, which are from  philosophers, writers, songs, proverbs, books and other sources.  The author uses such a variety of sources that you marvel at how he put them all together.  It also makes the book fun to have the band Live and Chumbawumba quoted next to Sophocles and Shakespeare.  Of course I have Tubthumping stuck in my head now too.  But that's not a bad thing.

I wanted to share one thing from the book and that was my favorite quote:
“One who makes no mistakes never makes anything.” -Anonymous 

Steve uses this quote to talk about Courage and I want to use this one with both of my boys.  One of  my boys is pretty fearless but I think that has to do with his age, the other kind of wants to stay with the status quo and not go out on that limb.  His Dad and I want to push him more and have him go out on that limb and this is a great quote to share with him and his brother as he grows older.  See I already have learned from this wonderful book.

I think Changing Kids' Lives One Quote at a Time is a wonderful book for parents, grandparents, teachers, and anyone working with kids.  Using the quotes in this book for discussion is a great way to help build up our next generation and get them ready to lead our country into the future.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

About the Book:
Created for parents and teachers by a National Board Certified elementary school teacher, Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time contains 121 inspirational sayings designed to bring out the best in children and develop lasting habits.  For educators, discussing these quotes also helps establish an enthusiastic, productive, team-oriented classroom culture.

Specifically, the quotes target 13 “Habits of Character,” a list that includes Cooperation, Courage, Fairness, Honesty, Kindness, Patience, Perseverance, Positive Attitude, Pride, Respect, Responsibility, Self-discipline, and Service.  In addition, the sayings touch on other important ideas, such as quality, success, and health & wellness.  From beginning to end, the quotes spiral through these topics to empower children with multiple opportunities to think about and discuss each one. Accompanying each quote is a set of “talking points” Steve provides as a reference that parents and teachers can use to draw full meaning from each saying.

In Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time Steve describes a simple, effective way for parents and teachers to conduct meaningful discussions with children. Though the conversations take only a few minutes, the exercise is a valuable one because it encourages kids to think deeply, because there is a high tone to the dialogue that appeals to the best in people, and because it allows your family or classroom to start the day on a positive note.  Further payoffs to consistent use of this activity include better student behavior, stronger work habits and social skills, improved attitudes towards school, greater enthusiasm for and increased dedication to learning, more connections made between school and students’ present and future lives, and enhanced vocabulary development.

Finally, Steve provides a series of prompts for teachers who are interested in using the quotes for journal writing purposes. Furthermore, Steve shows how talking and writing about these quotes addresses a variety of important language arts standards.

About the Author (from 
I am a National Board Certified elementary school teacher, writer, and speaker in Santa Monica, CA. I am the author of several resource books for educators, including Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8. I am also the creator of the Chase Manning Mystery Series for kids 8-12. Each book in the series features a single-day, real-time thriller that occurs on an elementary school campus.


FTC Information: I received this book from the author for an honest review.  

Guest Blog: Discuss Quotes to Promote Literacy Development by Steve Reifman

Today I am featuring teacher, author and speaker, Steve Reifman and I start that feature with a wonderful guest blog titled Discuss Quotes to Promote Literacy Development. Later today I will post my review of Steve's book, Changing Kids' Lives One Quote at a Time, which is a wonderful book for parents and teachers.  You can visit Steve's webpage here.

Discuss Quotes to Promote Literacy Development

by Steve Reifman

For the past fifteen years of my teaching career, I have incorporated the use of quotes into my classroom’s morning routine to inspire my students, start the day on a positive note, and build lasting habits of character. Discussing well-known sayings brings out the best in children and helps them focus on important ideas. It is my enthusiasm for this exercise and my firm belief in its effectiveness that led me to write my new book, Changing Kids‘ Lives One Quote at a Time: 121 Inspirational Sayings to Build Character in Children.

In addition to its character-building mission, our “Quote of the Day” conversations also offer a powerful way to promote literacy. When I speak of literacy, I am referring to the specific skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking.

In its pure form the discussion begins when a student volunteer reads the “Quote of the Day” on the board. It is critical at this time to provide approximately thirty seconds of “wait time” so each child can then think about the quote, make sense of it, and perhaps even come up with an example of how the quote’s meaning applies to everyday life or connects to a habit of character.

To maximize student participation, the kids follow this “quiet think time” with a brief pair-share, in which each child has an opportunity both to express ideas and listen carefully to the partner’s thoughts. Next, a few volunteers share their interpretations of the quote’s meaning with the entire class. Finally, I close the activity by sharing some thoughts of my own. Whenever possible, I like to share a personal story that brings out the quote’s meaning in a deeper way. Storytelling is a powerful teaching strategy, and kids are likely to remember the stories and the lessons they contain for a long time to come.

Parents can follow the basic outline of this procedure when discussing quotes at home with their children. In addition, there are several ways that parents can modify this conversational structure to strengthen literary development.

Put one quote per day or week in your child’s lunch and discuss the quote’s meaning after school. Reading a quote at lunchtime is a novel experience for children, and the timing provides kids with several hours to think about the quote to prepare for the evening discussion, which can take place on the ride home, at the dinner table, or at bedtime. For example, with R. Herzog’s quote, “It is better to light a candle than complain about the darkness,” it may take children a while to figure out that the saying is telling them to adopt a problem solving attitude when life’s inevitable frustrations arise, not complain about them.

Analyze quotes for excellent word choice or interesting word play. With Rudy Benton’s quote, “7 days without exercise makes one weak,” discuss with your child how the word “weak” is spelled. The quote isn’t referring to a week on the calendar, but to the fact that if we don’t exercise, we will become physically weaker.

Consider writing a quote or a set of quotes on your child’s placemat and discuss these sayings during a healthy breakfast. Over cereal and fruit, you and your child can discuss Bonnie Hopper’s quote, “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little EXTRA!” Together, you can talk about how consistently giving that extra effort in school, in sports, and other endeavors can make a huge difference in the long run.

If you’re trying to sharpen your child’s writing skills, consider using quotes for journal writing. Simply choose a quote and ask your child to respond to it using one of the prompts listed below. (More prompts are provided in Changing Kids‘ Lives One Quote at a Time.)

• Describe a time when you or someone you know demonstrated the main idea of this quote.
• What do you think this quote means? Give examples.
• Why do you think the speaker said this quote in the first place?
• Describe how you can use the meaning of this quote to help others.
• Describe how this quote can help you get along more effectively with other people.

For example, with Vince Lombardi’s quote, “If you'll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives,” children may address the first prompt by describing a time when they finished a writing assignment at school and then continued to revise it to improve the story’s word choice and sentence structure, rather than put it away because they simply wanted to be done.

• Choose a quote and ask your child to say whether (s)he agrees or disagrees with its meaning and then explain why. This type of exercise builds the critical thinking skill of evaluation (the highest level on the well-known Bloom’s taxonomy) and develops persuasive speaking skills. For example, when considering John Hancock’s quote, “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others,” a child may choose to disagree and argue that knowing how to do one’s job with knowledge and skill is more important than getting along with other people. This would likely lead to a very interesting conversation.

Discussing quotes with children is a powerful, engaging way to build character in children and develop valuable literacy skills. I hope you decide to give it a try.