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It's OK to Be Me! / It's Hard Being a Kid! Review by Carrie Wilbur

Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
250 Wireless Boulevard
Hauppage, NY 11788

These books are two of the titles available in Barron's Live and Learn series. It's OK to Be Me!follows a young boy, Adrian, as he tells about his wheelchair. Adrian decides to learn to use his wheelchair like a pro, gaining acceptance with schoolmates in the process.

It's Hard Being a Kid! first commiserates with Tatiana, a young girl, as she wishes she could hurry and grow up. But the story then asks children to consider the challenges grown-ups really have. The text concludes that, indeed, it's best to just enjoy being a kid while it lasts.

I liked the Note to Parents and Activities at the end of the books. At no time is the text condescending to either parent or child. In my experience this is a feat in this type of book, as it seems such books often assume that the reason parents needs such a resource is that they don't have their wits about them. Not so here. Both of these books are well done--good text, nice illustrations, and a writing style that leads the child and parent through some active processing of the issues discussed. These books seem meant to be simply part of a larger picture--answering part of the question "How do we reach Z from A?" Or "How do we help our kids handle a particular issue on their way to becoming good, kind, functional adults?"

Both of these books address my brood particularly well at the moment. My youngest will eventually have a wheelchair. His older siblings play protector to him quite fiercely but are sometimes a little overwhelmed by his volume of equipment and obviously different needs. Alongside those issues, they sometimes chafe a little at the perceived benefits of adulthood. For me, right now, these books have helped my kids and me to have conversations about topics close to home, to keep the tone light, and even to play games. The Role Reversal suggested at the end of It's Hard Being a Kid! was hilarious.

After reading these books to my kids, I'm curious about other titles in the Live and Learn series. If you feel out of your depth with a subject your kids have encountered-and who doesn't, from time to time-these books provide real tools for families while perhaps helping broaden a child's understanding of the world in which he lives. Sometimes that's all we need: ideas to lift us up, help us refocus on the journey, and then move on.

Product review by Carrie Wilbur, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2007