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In the popular children’s book, Don’t Pick Your Nose, a young boy has a rude awakening when his finger gets stuck in his nose.  Although his parents had previously explained that pursuing such an action was a bad idea, the boy had continued to place his finger up his nose and now has to suffer the consequences, at least for part of a day.  What ensues is a humorous story that encourages children to listen to their parents about why it’s important to maintain good habits.

Despite the fact that this story is meant for children, it appears that picking one’s nose isn’t just for kids anymore.  In the course of selling Don’t Pick Your Nose, I find it interesting, if not surprising, that some adults buy this book not just for their children but for their older friends and family members as well.  Others who see the book find it amusing and ask, “Why not [pick your nose]?”

These unexpected behaviors leave an intriguing question: what’s up with bad habits these days?  While civility was once the common standard, it appears that discourteous behavior isn’t random anymore.  Many more adults seem to find it acceptable to sneeze in their hands or cough on others.  Less-than-acceptable practices have become more mainstream.  Regrettably, a few parents pass these behaviors onto their children, so poor conduct becomes a vicious circle.

This lack of decorum may also be hazardous to one’s health.  How many have been in public places–airports, theatres, food establishments, and stores–when someone has coughed or sneezed into the air, as if germs would somehow magically dissipate?  Additionally, how many have witnessed employees touch their nose as they prepare food in grocery delis or in restaurants?  It’s as if all the warnings that were taught about germs in health classes have been discarded. It’s no wonder that so many people get sick during flu season.

Since bad habits can be transformed with proper training, it’s well worth the effort to provide lessons that do just that.  As a high school English instructor, I teach much more than reading and writing standards.  I integrate simple precepts about life.  As flu season approaches, I show students a short video that illustrates how far microorganisms can travel in the air when people cough and sneeze.  The film also advises students on the best way to cover their nose and mouth when they’re under the weather.  It’s a wake-up call.  As these teens absorb the message, they become more conscious of health consequences and become more careful with their personal hygiene.  The impact is profound.

My job, as well as that of a parent, is to educate.  One of the best lessons to impart on children is how to try to stay healthy.  Maintaining good habits is just one way to strive to attain this goal.  If young people absorb these principles and use them, then good habits will prevail, even into adulthood.

Sometimes it’s a bit tricky to talk to kids about bad habits.  Don’t Pick Your Nose, a humorous children’s book that will entertain young readers, drives home an important point about good habits. A must-read for all children, this story will reinforce why it’s so important to keep your fingers out of your nose.  This book is destined to be a classic.

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"Life is like a box of chocolates..."

When I teach, I use relevant examples to illustrate important points.  That way, students are better able to connect to any lesson.

When I discuss vocabulary, I put each word into a relatable context so that students will understand.  For example, when I teach theme, I pinpoint books or movies that children may have seen, and we talk about the moral or lesson of that film or story.  In Forrest Gump, we examine how “Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get.”  In Beauty and the Beast, we analyze the moral that, “Beauty is only skin deep.”  In The Boy Who Cried Wolf, students consider the reasons why, “Those who lie will not be trusted.”

But there are real-life occurrences that happen as well.  If students have overdue library books, we take the time to discuss the values of responsibility and money.  This short lesson encourages them to be dependable and to not waste money on fines.  My students also understand the need to keep the classroom clean and their notebooks in order, as these actions promote good organization, which, in turn, makes life less complicated.

Linking educational concepts to real-life experiences enhances learning and buy-in from students.

~Debbie Ladd

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Last night, I taught a class on how to write and publish children’s books.  I heard myself tell those who attended that I’ve had a blast with this avocation.  It’s true.

I started to write children’s books over 20 years ago, and I enjoy every minute of it.  I pick topics with which kids can identify, ones that will keep them entertained.  So far, it’s worked.  While my books are very eclectic and focus on a variety of genres and writing styles, children always seem to enjoy the plots and themes as they revel in the colorful artwork.  My two bestsellers continue to be Don’t Pick Your Nose and What If? However, Ethan the Ending Eater, a story that encourages reading, has pulled into a strong third place and is especially appealing to boys.  (Incidentally, the illustrations were drawn by former students of mine, once they entered college.)  My other two books, Puddles and Nurse Robin’s Hats, have lively rhyme schemes and are adored by many who have an interest in the subject matter.

Although it takes a lot of work to write and publish books, what fun it has been for me.  Work can be very gratifying and satisfying.  That was the point I emphasized last night.

~Debbie Ladd

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