With so much uncertainty in the world, it’s easy to overlook the social and emotional toll that COVID-19 is having on our children, who, like many adults, are struggling to come to terms with feelings of fear, loneliness, depression and anger.
According to a study of 320 children and adolescents in China, “children in the younger age group (3-6 years) were more likely than older children to manifest symptoms, such as clinginess and fear that family members could contract the infection…Clinging, inattention and irritability were the most severe psychological conditions demonstrated by the children in all age groups.”
Nancy J. Ganz, a parenting and executive coach, Harvard-trained mediator and author of a new children’s book collection designed to help young children navigate through complex emotions, has developed proprietary training tools to help parents interpret and understand their children’s feelings, even when children lack the vocabulary to express what’s going on.
Though COVID-19 has magnified these issues, Ganz is on a mission to help young children manage the everyday angst of growing up in a healthier way. She created her new 12-book collection, Nancy’s Feel Good Fables, for children ages three to seven, to help children process self-esteem issues like bullying and grief, learn about environmental sustainability and other essential life lessons through friendly and fun characters coupled with rich storytelling.
“These are stories designed to empower children and heal very real pain that children experience,” said Ganz, who notes that even adults reading these stories to their children can glean lessons, as the principles are universal.
The first story in her collection—Tina Searches for Her Dream—to be released Feb. 17, 2021, features a young girl who feels frustrated that she hasn’t inherited her ballet-dancer mother’s natural abilities and struggles to keep up with the other students in her ballet class. Throughout the short, beautifully illustrated picture book, Tina realizes that ballet isn’t what brings her joy, and sets out on a journey to find her special talent, trying soccer, baseball, basketball and crew before ultimately discovering her love of horseback riding. The book ends with Tina, mounted on a horse, leaping over gates and then winning a blue ribbon while being cheered on by friends and family.
Ganz based Tina Searches for Her Dream on her daughter, Sara, who herself tried every sport under the sun and broke many bones in the process. Despite those setbacks, Sara made it to ESPN, but not as an athlete, rather, she sang the national anthem on the network during a WNHL game.
“My philosophy as a parent and a coach is to nurture each child’s unique abilities and talents,” Ganz said.
A natural born educator, Ganz has always been a child whisperer of sorts, able to help parents identify and correct for learning gaps that prevent children from achieving success interpersonally or academically.
Through Feel Good Fables, she can share the lessons she developed as a parent and parenting coach with many more children. Ganz is particularly interested in getting books into the hands of children from low-income families. With millions of Americans struggling, Ganz wants to make sure that no child goes without high-quality books—given how important they are for a child’s development.
With Tina and 11 other books rolling out over the next three years, Ganz is on a mission to donate 1 million Feel Good Fables to low-income families through Title 1 Schools, shelters and afterschool programs. She’s working with businesses and individuals to fund the effort and will provide a match for the first 1,000 books donated. For $15, a donor can provide a book to one child; a $350 donation will provide books for an entire classroom, and larger donations make it possible to seed the book throughout communities.
For Ganz, sharing a message rooted in confidence, self-love and empathy is only one part of the equation. She believes it’s equally important for children to see themselves represented in the books they read and is committed to depicting diversity in all forms. When purchasing a copy of Tina Searches for Her Dream, buyers can choose the skin tone of their lead character from a lightest, medium or deepest option. Beyond the heroine, the book features a diverse cast of characters, which includes children of different races, religions and genders.
“Only a small fraction of children’s books feature diverse characters and few make it to where they need it most,” Ganz said. “Tina helps children to envision what is possible – learning that it is never too late to pursue your dreams. With your help, we can bring this story of purpose and possibility to children who need it the most.”
To donate books to children in underserved communities, visit: https://www.feelgoodfables.com/donate