Knowing is Growing: Grown-Up Values for Children, by Herschel Kahn

Age Range: 5-8

Paperback: 52 pages

Publisher: Mountain Arbor Press (2018)

What to Expect: Parent-child interaction, family and personal values.

For children, grownups seem to have all the fun and make all the rules. To be “grown-up” is what every child wants. Knowing is Growing – a book by Herschel Kahn – acknowledges this childish preconception charmingly. It offers a volume fostering “grownup” thinking and knowledge, meanwhile reminds children gently that with knowledge and power come responsibility.

Knowing is Growing focuses on not only the values that children need to learn to successfully grow up but also the responsibilities which come with such knowledge. The book covers topics such as kindness, love, creativity, and more practical advice such as staying safe, saving money, and looking ahead. Although this overt didacticism may seem off-putting at first, the delivery in this book manages to be refreshing by involving the child reader in dialogues with adults about their roles in the social contract without hiding its practical motivations. This way empowers both the child and the adult, acknowledges the power imbalance that integral to childhood, and also helps the children try to gain knowledge, independence, and “grownup” values. The dialogues in the book are emphasized by spaces at the end for the child and adult readers to make free-style discussion, then to sign and date. This feature is particularly endearing, giving the book another function as a memoir of a child’s progress through his life. In addition, the illustrations of the book help to further highlight the idea that growing up is a process like life. The drawings may be not perfect or very professional, but colorful, engaging, and enthusiastic.

In general, Knowing is Growing has fantastic potential as an educational aid for child and adult readers to enjoy together.

About the Author

Herschel Kahn is a proud member of the octogenarian generation. He and his wife, Jody, have traveled around the world, visiting more than 80 countries. They live in Marietta, Georgia.

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, by Glenda Millard

Title: A Small Free Kiss in the Dark

Author: Glenda Millard

For ages: 12 years +

Type: Young Adult Fiction

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Publication Date: February 2009

Noticing a headline about ‘urban tribes’ on a newspaper, Glenda Millard began thinking about the main character for this story and wondered how life would be for a young homeless boy, who lived with people thrown together in circumstances that they couldn’t control. While the backdrop for this story is war, she intended to capture the indomitable nature of hope. And in fact, the story has become a powerful tale of loss and the struggle to survive.

This is a story of Skip, a young teen boy who tries to find a home and a family to belong to and care for. His life has left him feeling separated and out of sync with the others around him. Ignored by his parents and the foster care system, he decides to live on the streets. Then he teams up with Billy, an old homeless man. When war happens, Skip and Billy meet a six-year-old boy, Max, and a beautiful teenage dancer, Tia, with her baby, Sixpence. They form a fragile family together, set up home and hide out in the ruins of an amusement park when the conflict rages around them.

Scavenging for food, baby formula, and diapers, they have to stay out of sight of the gangs and lawless soldiers. Firstly, they rely on Billy, the only adult. But when life deteriorates, Billy falls apart. Skip, just a 12-year-old boy, must take over and lead the family to search for sanctuary. How long can Skip and his fragile family hold out while the war grips the city?

Glenda Millard has a great ability to track all the characters’ internal conflict right to their own potential breaking point. Although there are some shocking and disturbing moments, none of them is gratuitous. And the story is always kept compelling and moving.

For all of these things, A Small Free Kiss in the Dark is among the most un-put-downable favorites of pre-teens and younger teens, both girls and boys, to read and enjoy.