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Men’s Mental Health: Good Dads podcast, blog, and FREE eBook!

My brother, Dr. Clement Ogunyemi, and I are excited to announce our most recent partnership with the Good Dads nonprofit organization in Springfield, MO! Good Dads has dedicated the entire year to men’s mental health, so we are elated to be a part of these efforts at such a pivotal time.

The Men’s Mental Health interview.

Clement and I were both extremely transparent during this conversation-style interview. In less than 25 minutes, we discussed depression, counseling, family, self-esteem, and more! Our hope is that we can encourage and inspire other men to free themselves from societal norms, and seek the help they need to focus on their mental health and become stronger. Why? Because you have to focus on personal development before you can pour into anyone else. That was the focal point of the entire interview–self care.

The full interview was originally posted at: https://gooddads.libsyn.com/e469-the-ogunyemi-brothers

The Men’s Mental Health blog.

You will hear us reference a book throughout the interview. Well, that book is none other than the “Three Day Mental Health Guide: Major Payne Edition. A leader’s journey to building mentally strong children.” We created this journal-style eBook to help parents, teachers, and mentors lead their children on a positive mental health journey. This guide is completely free to download and has been shared all over the world! You can download your own copy below.

Good Dads was gracious enough to share “Day 1” of our guide. Day 1 helps leaders introduce the “mental health” topic. Mental health should no longer be a taboo topic–especially with men. We must continue to be open about our mental health journey and prioritize mental resiliency the way we prioritize physical resiliency.

Discussing mental health should be revered, not feared.

Here is the full blog: https://www.gooddads.com/mental-health/a-leaders-journey-to-building-mentally-strong-children-day-1-a-tough-topic

WHAT IS GOOD DADS?

I would be remiss if I didn’t provide more information about the organization behind these noteworthy initiatives. Here is a short blurb about what Good Dads is. Find out more about this great nonprofit organization–to include how to donate– by visiting https://www.gooddads.com/about-us!

Good Dads is the only organization in Southern Missouri focused on helping all dads be more engaged with their children. It began when business leaders in Springfield, Missouri recognized the impact of father absence on child well-being and came together for the purpose of supporting father engagement.

Good Dads is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that aims to encourage fathers by providing inspiration, resources and events to help dads be the best they can be.

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How to inspire your child for life.: Inspirational quotes from my parents. (Part 2)

Ten quotes came to mind when I decided to share inspirational quotes from my parents that inspired me in Part 1 of this series. My siblings responded by sending me some of their favorite quotes from our parents, and some of you were shocked that I was able to draw inspiration or anything profound from a couple of the “meaningless” quotes. With that in mind, I will begin with something I wrote at the very end of Part 1. No matter if you’re leading children in a classroom, troops on the battlefield, a small project team, or any other person or group of people, you never know how what you say or do will impact those you lead.

You never know how what you say or do will impact those you lead.

Use that to your advantage! I challenge you to be intentional in your daily interactions. Also, remember that when you mess up, your response, intentions, and commitment to leading with love will make the difference in how those you lead perceive your mistakes.

With that, let’s dive into Part 2 of “How to inspire your child for life.: Inspirational quotes from my parents.”

Inspirational Quote #6:

Olaolu, I know you are a marine, but don’t drive your family, because you might drive them away. Lead your family.

Dad

This is obviously one of the more recent quotes in this list. I was a brand new officer in the Marine Corps who had learned a new type of leadership from the sergeant instructors at Officer Candidates School. Yeah of course I loved my family, but I wanted to train them to be timely, organized, and prepared for the real world. I was determined to be empathetic and understanding, but firm, consistent, and I’d hold them accountable.

My dad patiently listened to me as I explained all the great things I had learned as a new marine officer and how I’d use those lessons to lead my family. He interjected every once in a while as I laid out examples of how I would implement my new leadership philosophy. Of course I had a response for each interjection, because I had it all figured out. When I finally finished, he responded with the above quote.

Lesson learned.

This was another quote that I did not immediately receive, but it began to make more sense as time progressed. My dad explained that though I had great intentions, my militant tone, disposition, and philosophy was bordering autocracy. He intentionally used the word “drive” to emphasize his point. “Drive” has several definitions, but the first three are to “operate and control the direction [of],”propel or carry along by force,” and “urge or force (animals or people) to move in a specified direction.” He taught me one of the most valuable lessons about leadership that afternoon.: If you attempt to control those you lead by force (coercion, manipulation, etc.), you will force (push) them in the opposite direction.

Instead, he encouraged me to lead them. That means I must empathetically understand and meet each of their unique needs to make them better contributors to the team’s (or in this case, family’s) overall goals. Each person becomes better because of my example, words, and actions. That is the ultimate goal!

Inspirational Quote #7:

Do it right the first time.

Mom

I, like most people, always just wanted to quickly finish whatever task list I had so I can do my own thing. Whether it was cleaning my room, folding and ironing my clothes, washing dishes, or anything else, I would rush through so I could do whatever recreational activity I had planned that day. I would inform my mom when I finished, and she would inspect. Without fail, she would find that my clothes were in a ball and stuffed in the drawer. She would find my khakis were somehow triple or quadruple creased. My mom would even find entire pieces of food still stuck to the dishes I “washed.”

Somehow, I was always shocked that she’d make me do it again. Didn’t she know she was stopping me from getting to my recreation time?! To make matters worse, it would usually be a school night, so my recreational time was already limited! Regardless, she would always leave me with the above quote.

Lesson learned.

My mom was teaching me to create and maintain priorities. I initially thought she just wanted to keep me from having fun. Contrarily, she was teaching me to allocate the appropriate amount of time, resources, and effort to each priority so I can have time to do the things I want! This lesson has not only helped me in my professional life, but it has helped me to ensure I make time to build and maintain my personal spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental strength.

Inspirational Quote #8:

“Your mouth is moving faster than your brain! Think before you speak!”

Dad

Have you ever heard someone just ramble? You know, the person who just says a lot of meaningless words, spews empty rhetoric, and makes hollow promises. It’s even worse when those people are in a leadership position. That’s when this character flaw is costly. Well, my dad recognized how costly this would be and sought to teach us the “think first” philosophy at an early age. I’ve heard people in the Marine Corps say, “‘PTT stands for ‘push to talk,’ not ‘push to think!'” (It’s radio jargon.)

Lesson learned.

My dad was teaching us one of life’s most valuable lessons that quite honestly many leaders and politicians need to learn. I learned a few things from this.:

  • Be a man of your word. Don’t promise something you cannot or will not deliver.
  • Don’t be reactionary. Sometimes, saying the first thing that comes to your mind can be costly, because you cannot take it back. Think… then respond.
  • Never pass up a good opportunity to shut up and listen. You learn more about people and understand their needs when you listen to understand instead of listening to respond. This ties in well with the other lesson about empathetic listening.

Inspirational Quote #9:

You should never look back on a day and see that you accomplished nothing.

Mom

I remember my mom would come home from a long weekend day of running errands to find us just lounging around. None of our chores were complete. Our teeth may or may not have been brushed. We hadn’t showered or changed clothes. And when she asked what we had been doing, the frustrating but accurate answer she would receive is, “I don’t know.” We couldn’t even say that we rested, because we were still tired! The obvious truth was that we hadn’t accomplished anything that day. That’s when my mom would say the above quote.

Lesson learned.

Feeding upon the previous lessons on establishing and maintaining priorities, my mom was teaching us how to establish and achieve daily goals. These daily achievements are cumulative and they create what Dave Ramsey calls the “snowball” effect in finance and what Jim Collins refers to as the “flywheel” effect in businesses that went from “good to great.” Those small personal and professional daily achievements build upon each other over time and create momentum. That momentum builds you into a successful leader, team, family, or organization.

As such, my mom was teaching us how to establish winning habits to build successful personal and professional lives and healthy families of our own. Check out my post “Establishing Winning Habits” if you want to learn more about habit creation. Check out “Chasing Purpose is Better than Chasing Success” if you want to learn more about living a purposeful life.

Inspirational Quote #10:

He’s your brother! He’s all you got. You should always have each other’s back.

Mom

My siblings and I have a great relationship; we literally talk and enjoy each other’s company every day. If one of us is unaccounted for, you can expect to receive an individual text or call! We weren’t always like that though. Because we were ultra-competitive, there were times people would call our parents thinking we were going to kill each other. Soon after, our parents would find us laughing and playing as if nothing ever happened. Even so, that childlike short-term memory began to wane over time. My parents could tell that there were some issues that would linger from day to day, and if they didn’t intervene, envy, animosity, and hatred would soon reveal itself.

Lesson learned.

Joining the Marine Corps was a very natural move for me, because the lessons that my parents taught us transitioned perfectly. They taught us that no matter what happens in life, you will always have each other. There is always someone you can turn to even if you feel like the world was against you. Therefore, I must love and cherish my family. I should treat them with honor, dignity, and respect while ensuring I prioritize their needs above my own. I should be their biggest fan, supporter, and reliable accountability partner, and I should give my time and efforts freely without expecting anything in return. And when the time comes, I should be prepared to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them to physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fight!

If I somehow managed to forget every other lesson I have ever learned, this is the lesson I will not forget. So I will end with this encouragement for you. Fight WITH (not against) and for your love ones! Never give up on fighting for healthy relationships and fighting to keep everyone engaged on your team. You have everything you need within you to inspire the next generation, so keep fighting and lead well!

Honorable mention Inspirational Quotes

As I said before, my siblings bombarded me with quotes from my parents. However, I had to narrow them down to keep this series from extending through the new year. So here are just four more “honorable mention” inspirational quotes not in any particular order.

Honorable Mention Inspirational Quote #1.

There’s a right time for everything.

Dad

This is pretty self-explanatory; read the room and know when it’s time for certain actions and words.

Honorable Mention Inspirational Quote #2

If everyone else was jumping off of a cliff, would you?

Mom

A lot of parents used to say this one, but the message isn’t missed.: Educate yourself and have a purpose for everything you do. Never just blindly follow the masses.

Honorable Mention Quote #3

Sell your shares!

Dad

I didn’t even know what this meant when my dad would walk around turning off all the lights and stopping us from running water while brushing our teeth. Lol. He was jokingly telling us to “sell our shares” of the electric and water companies we were allegedly making rich. In reality, he was teaching us to be mindful of how we use our limited resources.

Honorable Mention Quote #4

Learn something new every day.

Mom

My parents taught us to be continual learners, and to never be content with your current knowledge. Whether it be reading, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, attending formal education/training in our professional careers, or obtaining advance degrees, they always wanted us to maintain a sharp mind. Come to think of it, I don’t think there has been a period of time where one of the six of us has not been attending some form of formal educational program beyond high school since 1994. These lessons work!

That’s all I have for today. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

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How to inspire your child for life.: Inspirational quotes from my parents. (Part 1)

On the go? Listen to the audio version of “How to inspire your child for life.: Inspirational quotes from my parents. (Part 1)!”

My parents have had a huge impact on my life! It’s easy to Monday morning armchair quarterback my parents’ mistakes. However, after considering how my siblings and I have achieved success in education and in our professions across the industries, I am determined to analyze how our upbringing influenced our successes. There are numerous contributing factors that I have outlined in several “Parenting Tips” articles like “Talk is Cheap: 8 ways healthy couples set the example for their children.You can peruse https://parent-child-connect.com/blog or checkout my “Parent Tips” Pinterest board for more information on these articles. Today, I want to reminisce on and share how just a few of my parents’ inspirational quotes inspired me for life!

Some of theses inspirational quotes are more profound. Others seemed meaningless at the time. Either way, they have inspired me and influenced my behavior. Let’s get started!:

Inspirational Quote #1:

If you let people know what buttons to push to make you mad, they will push them every time.

Mom

“Mommy, Clement and Joshua are messing with me again!” I probably cried and yelled this over one hundred times when I was younger, and Mommy would come to the rescue! That’s right! I would call in reinforcements any time my brothers did something I didn’t like…Until one day, it didn’t work. Instead, my mom left me with the above quote.

Lesson learned.

Of course I didn’t immediately receive this advice. I just wanted “the enforcer” to come lay down the law! However, I’ve embraced this advice over the years. My mom was telling me two things. Firstly, never allow someone to control your emotions. You have the power to choose your response regardless of what they say or do. Secondly, whether good or bad, people will always have an opinion. You cannot allow others’ opinions to discourage you from pursuing your dreams.

Inspirational Quote #2:

Don’t try to stop it son!

Dad

This story is actually a bit comical. One day, my dad, my brother (Josh), and I took a routine trip to the dumpsters down the street from our house. There’s no trash pickup in the country. You have to transport your own trash to the nearest dumpster. While at the dumpster, my dad parked and we proceeded to unload the trash. There was only one problem; somehow, the stick in our standard truck was knocked out of park into neutral. The truck started rolling! My first instinct was to jump behind the truck to stop it from rolling. (Maybe I watched too many superhero movies growing up.) Of course my dad was not thrilled with that idea, and he quickly commanded me to stop.

Lesson learned.

Quite honestly, I thought he overreacted that day, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that stepping behind a 2,800 pound pickup truck as it gains momentum down a gentle slope is a terrible idea! Moreover, I learned a couple of things that day. First, immediately springing into action is only good if the action that you spring into produces the desired results. As time permits, observe the situation, and make your decisions based upon logic and fact… Not emotions.

I also learned that some things are out of your control. In the “rolling truck” scenario, I was about to turn a quickly-rectifiable situation into a disaster, because I wanted to control a situation that was not mine to control. Recognize when and where you’re needed before taking action.

Inspirational Quote #3:

Don’t just step over that trash like you didn’t see it. Pick it up!

Mom

I would be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time my mom said some variation of this quote! It was almost like we just didn’t get the simple concept of picking up after ourselves and cleaning up when we were younger. Ironically, none of us like a junky or disorganized house now. In fact, I remember my high school basketball coach calling me out for having pride in the school because I didn’t pass by a piece of trash without picking it up. Likewise, my 8 year old son recently received a “Positive Referral” to the office for doing the same at his school. It’s amazing to see how these lessons transcend generations.

Lesson learned.

Of course taking pride in my surroundings was the biggest lesson I learned. It helped me to understand that “making the world a better place” begins with positively impacting (or in this case, cleaning up) what is immediately around you. Accordingly, we should take pride in doing the “little” positive things, because those little things add up to make a gigantic impact.

I also learned that organization is one of the key factors to being an effective leader. When you physically organize your personal and work belongings, you are training your mind to recognize that everything has a proper place. This allows your mind to more easily establish and maintain priorities, create an accurate schedule by allocating the appropriate time to things that matter, budget, and more! Ultimately, being organized increases your personal and professional productivity, and it all begins with picking that little piece of trash.

Inspirational Quote #4:

What do you want to be when you grow up? Do they look like that?

Dad

I actually told this story in a previous post as I encouraged leaders to remain persistent and consistent. Although I couldn’t see it at the time, I had an ugly mohawk in high school. I laugh every time I think about it. I even had the audacity to spike it to make matters worse. Meanwhile, my dad and the assistant principal (Coach Johnson) absolutely hated it! I’m pretty sure it was out of my school’s uniform regulations, but I had probably found some ridiculous loophole. Either way, my dad and Coach Johnson tried to convince me to get rid of it numerous times to no avail; until one day, my dad asked me the above questions.

Lesson learned.

I admit that at the time, I think I cut my hair because I felt he finally beat me. I usually had some witty response to his lectures that sounded something like, “so are you saying I have to cut it?” He won that time with those two rhetorical questions! More importantly, he inspired me to think about my future and to examine what and who I wanted to be. That’s when I began to internalize the fact that regardless of my current circumstance, I should look, behave, and speak like the person I aspire to be. He wasn’t persuading me to change who I am, he was encouraging me to hone in on and develop the internal and external characteristics of the person I want to be in the future. That lesson made me a life-long learner and a man who is constantly seeking self-improvement.

Inspirational Quote #5

You’re bored? There’s always something to be done!

Mom

Man, I committed what my siblings and I nicknamed “a cardinal sin” in my childhood home. I walked up to my mom and said, “Mommy, I’m bored!” At first, my mom seemed surprised by my statement. Then a more sadistic look entered her eyes–almost like a real life Major Payne. Uh oh… I messed up! She proceeded to show me all the chores that I somehow looked over to audaciously tell her that she needs to find something to entertain me. Let’s just say, I spent the rest of that day catching up on chores I neglected for the week.

Lesson learned.

I learned not to tell my mom I’m bored anymore… At least not when I have a pile of work to do. 😂 According to “Oxford Languages,” being “bored” is “feeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.” My mom was teaching me that you should not be “unoccupied” when there is work to do. We should always work to be part of the solution. If we don’t, our inaction makes us an inevitable contributor to the problem.

She was also teaching me that we shouldn’t just nonchalantly slop through our responsibilities. Instead, we should have a vested interest in our team’s success. That means we should be self-motivated to do our part for the betterment of the team as a whole.

I will end Part 1 on that note. Many of us claim we want to make a change, but remember: change begins with one small action. So I encourage you to take a small step today to inspire those you lead. As you can see by the above quotes (and you will continue to see in Part 2), you never know how what you say or do will impact those you lead. Continue to learn and lead well!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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Getting to school safely: A FREE Downloadable Resource

Hey folks! Parent-child-connect.com is all about providing much needed resources for parents, teachers, and mentors to create memorable and teachable moments with their children. That’s why I’m excited to share a great resource provided by Stein Law! The school year is well underway; however, our children still face an inherent danger while traveling to and from school. “Getting to school safely” is a guide with several tips to help mitigate the risks associated with that travel. Take some time to share this with your children!

Getting to School safely

Here’s what you should expect to read and review with your children.:

  • Walking to school.
    • Identifying safe routes to school.
    • Walking Distance.
    • Your child’s readiness.
    • Safety checkpoints.
    • Instill safe habits.
    • Crosswalks.
    • Strength in numbers.
    • Stranger Danger.
      • What is a stranger?
  • Biking to school.
    • How to ride your bike safely.
  • School Bus Safety.
    • What makes school buses safer than cars?
    • Bus stop safety.
    • Behavior on the bus.
  • Riding in the car to school.
    • Car seats.
    • Ages four to seven.
    • Ages eight to twelve.
    • Tips for Adult Drivers.

This is an all-encompasing safety guide.

As you can see by the above topics, Stein Law did an excellent job of providing some in-depth tips on getting to school safely! Guess what? Halloween is in just a few days! These safety tips definitely apply. So download and share today. Let’s make the world a little safer for our children!

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How to use books to create teachable and memorable moments.

On the go? Listen to the audio version of “How to use books to create teachable and memorable moments!”

My mom really sparked a love for story time within me. In fact, whenever I read books with my own children, I imagine her inflections, facial expressions, smiles, widening eyes, and excitement. She is exactly who I got my animated personality from while engaging with children.

So when I created my parent-child-connect (P2C) book series, my goal was to develop resources for parents, teachers, and mentors to similarly create teachable and memorable moments of their own! I never imagined that I would have opportunities to share my stories in front of thousands of children around the world. The support has been amazing!

Several educators, librarians, and administrators have given me the opportunity to read and engage with their students. Of course I collected a few notes during these engagements that help me better serve the schools. Ultimately, each engagement has turned into a teachable and memorable moment using some basic fundamentals that I’ll share with you today.

Me reading Horace the Horsefly during a virtual read-aloud session with a 1st Grade class!

How to use books to create teachable and memorable moments.

1. Voice tone and inflections.

Ever wonder why YouTube channels like “Blippi – Educational Videos for Kids” have been so successful? It’s because the creators have learned to entertain and engage children with their tone and inflection! Your tone and inflection draw the children in and brings the story to life for them. Through contextualization, they are learning to comprehend the words you are reading. If there are pictures, the children’s imagination are transforming the pictures from 2-dimensional to 3-dimensional. I call this the Pee-wee Herman vs Clear Eyes guy dynamic. You can reel the children in with an excited voice, or you can bore them with a monotone voice. Your choice!

2. Body language and expressions.

Body language and expressions go hand-in-hand with tone and inflections. With the younger groups (toddler through about 8 years old), I always try to keep my eyes wide, smile broad, chest out, and my arms and hands open. This is a welcoming posture–almost like I’m inviting them to join you in an exciting world! For the older groups (9+), I usually begin by mirroring their body language and expressions then gradually transitioning to a brighter and excitable demeanor. You have to read the room. Why?

Because the younger group is usually more open to new things and excited to engage with you just because you seem “fun.” The older group usually isn’t as eager to join you. They want to get to know you a little more before they warm up to you. They no longer identify as a “child” anymore; they prefer the title “preteen.” With that comes a perceived transition into adulthood and a disinterest in “kiddie things.” That’s ok; we’ll bring the childlike excitement out of them! This body and expression mirroring technique may seem miniscule, but it has worked for me in every setting–from the classroom to the library to the church. Numerous parents and teachers have asked, “How did you get them to open up like that?” My answer was simple: I met them where they were!

3. Awareness of current trends.

Recently, I was sitting in a presentation that one of my peers gave to a group of marines. The presenter made numerous references and used several memes to drive his point home. If used correctly, this can be an invaluable technique for a presenter! The keywords there are, “if used correctly.”

During this presentation, the presenter referenced movies like The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), Red Dawn (1984), and A Christmas Story (1983). These are all great movies and references! The only issue was the majority of the people in the room were between the ages of 18-22 (born between 2000 and 2004)… So they had never seen those movies! He found himself standing in a room full of blank stares. He couldn’t flip through those slides quick enough!

*Side note: I had a similar circumstance when I found out my marines didn’t believe The Lion King (1994) was the greatest Disney movie of all time. Some had never even seen it! Really?! I digress.*

Integrating relevant topics and themes is a great tool, but it’s important to understand your audience and their current interests. This, once again, allows you to meet the children where they are and connect with them on their level.

4. Passion and energy.

This one is simple. If you don’t believe in what you’re saying, the children you’re engaging with won’t believe in what you’re saying. If you are dry, dull, and boring, the children will [accurately] believe you are dry, dull, and boring. They will become disengaged, and the entire session will be pointless. Your passion and energy is the driving force behind my first three suggestions, and it is how you connect your audience with the book you’re reading to create a teachable and memorable moment.

5. Be yourself.

It’s easy to read my first few suggestions and assume I’m encouraging you to be someone you’re not. Well, I’m not. In fact, children will quickly realize any fake characteristics. As such, creating teachable and memorable moments is both a science and an art. In other words, simply systematically studying your target audience and attempting to apply your observations isn’t enough. You have to add in creativity and imagination. Then, just like with fine art, the children will appreciate and connect with your intangible characteristics more than they appreciate your technique.

6. Engage with whomever engages you, but don’t forget to engage the quiet one.

It is super easy to connect with the talkative children. Some people would consider it a success if even five out of eighteen students are engaged. It makes the reader feel accomplished! Quite honestly, I absolutely love an engaged audience. The only issue is when in a group setting (even a small class), it’s easy to overlook the quiet one. That is the one I look for. There are a litany of reasons a child would be quiet and/or withdrawn, but I love giving them the opportunity to speak and feel heard. It builds their confidence and gives you an opportunity to receive immediate feedback from a person who may have otherwise been disengaged. Reel them in; they’ll never forget it!

7. Slow down.

I wanted to be a rapper when I was younger! (I know that’s a weird way to start this section, but let’s just roll with it.) I’m not talking about just any rapper; I wanted to rap like Twista or Busta Rhymes! You know, the kind of rap where the artist says about 280 words per minute. So, it’s no wonder I read and talk fast after practicing that for a few years.

Here’s my advice for you: slow down! You’re not a rapper, so you’re not going to entertain children by reading the book fast. Of course I say that jokingly, because like me, you’re talking fast because of nervousness not because you think it’s entertaining. The way to avoid reading too fast is to schedule natural pauses during your practice runs. Obviously, the implied advice is that you practice and do dry runs before reading with children (even at home). Some of you are thinking like Allen Iverson in the early 2000s, “Practice?! We talkin’ bout practice!” Yes, I’m suggesting you practice before “game time” so you’re ready to engage the children with energy and passion with the right speed, tone, and inflection. You see how this is all coming together? Let’s keep going.

8. The fight for attention.

Let’s park here for a couple of minutes, because this one is critical to creating teachable and memorable moments. I’ve done engagements with parents, clients, teens, toddlers, teachers… basically all age ranges. One thing that each group has in common is a limited attention span. Many scholars, like Barbara Gross Davis in Tools for Teaching and Phillip C. Wankat in The Effective, Efficient Professor: Teaching, Scholarship, and Service, assert that attention begins to wane after about 10 to 15 minutes. There is even an often cited Microsoft report that says our attention span is only 8 seconds… apparently, that’s less than a goldfish! Uh oh. That can be a bit problematic when you’re booked for 30 to 60 minutes. So how do you deal with this conundrum? Is it hopeless to try to engage for longer than 10 to 15 minutes?!

Lucky for us, there are a couple of articles that counter this “limited attention span” assertion. “Attention span during lectures: 8 seconds, 10 minutes, or more?” Was written by Neil A. Bradbury. “The Role of Attention in Learning in the Digital Age” was co-authored by Jason M. Lodge and William J. Harrison. Unfortunately, they took longer than 10 to 15 minutes to read, so I didn’t read them. Just kidding! 😂 I read them, and here three quick points I gathered.:

  1. Limit distractions as much as possible. Kevin Hart’s team’s latest stand-up is about two hours long. During this time, spectators secure their phones in individual Yondr pouches. This is obviously to keep people from recording or broadcasting the show; however, the unintended affect is this initiative forces spectators to pay attention to the show without the consistent distraction. Typically, an individual’s attention span is broken when they attempt to multitask or split their focus. So if possible, pick a quiet room or location without immediate access to mobile devices, toys, TVs, etc. Although we cannot accurately predict the infinite number of ways the brain can become distracted, we can temporarily restrict access to common distractions to increase focus and attention.
  2. The focus cycle. As stated above, there are an infinite number of ways the mind can become distracted. For example, have you ever noticed the little lint and dust floating freely through the air while you’re in a meeting? That’s just one of many fairly insignificant things that can steal our children’s focus. With that in mind, we have to constantly work through the focus cycle. This is where the human brain focuses then (sometimes involuntarily) loses focus. An easily-recognizable outward sign of waning focus is drifting eyes. Your job is to identify these cues and use inflection, expressions, tone, body language, and visual aides to refocus your audience on the book you’re reading.
  3. Humans have limited capacity for visual information. Use your visual aides sparingly…even with picture books. Now this sounds pretty weird. I just told you to use visual aides, and now I’m telling you to limit your visual aides even with a picture book. Let me explain before you call me crazy. Although picture books are full of illustrations, the illustrations should complement the theme. So really, you are directing your child’s attention to how two or three pictures relate to the theme. I’ll use my book, Crow From the Shadow, as an example.
The front cover of my book, Crow From the Shadow

I usually begin by pointing out the two contrasting images of Crow on the front cover. “A” is Crow after he learned how to defeat the Shadow. “B” is Crow before he learned how to defeat the Shadow. I use these contrasting images to highlight the book’s theme. Then, I constantly highlight how Crow is slowly transitioning throughout the story. Thereby, the children can enjoy the story while comprehending the topic without having to memorize each picture.

By the way, here’s a really good read-aloud of “Crow From the Shadow” if you haven’t read it already. 😊

Crow From the Shadow read-aloud on “Story Time W/ Kayla!”

9. Respect the teacher and/or librarian and offer to be a resource.

This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised. The teacher and librarian will be the authoritative figure before and after you leave. They are the people who will begin and sustain what you are trying to do. In other words, you are collaborating with the teacher and/or librarian to create teachable and memorable moments for the children. Both teachers and librarians have been extremely helpful in helping maintain order, reinforcing themes, asking questions that can help the children later, and organizing continuing conversations. So give the teacher and librarian a shout out! Not only does that show that you appreciate them, but it gives them a bit of “street cred” with the children. Trust me, it means a lot to them!

10. What about teenagers?

Some of you are thinking, “yea this is cute for younger children, but it would never work for my teenager.” The beauty of this advice is it will work for teens…with some modifications.

You probably won’t be reading picture books with your teen, but nothing stops you from reading one of the books they are interested in, then discussing it in a relaxed setting. If they chose the book, they are interested in the topic. So by reading their books, not only are you gaining a better understanding of their perspective, you are establishing a common ground between the two of you.

What if you don’t have time to read their books?

No problem. Just ask them about it. Start the conversation by saying something like, “I saw you were reading _____. That seems interesting! Tell me about it!” Don’t try to squeeze in a lecture or dominate these conversations. Allow the conversation to naturally progress. Believe it or not, these discussions will create some of the most heartfelt teachable and memorable moments!

11. Have fun!

I couldn’t end this blog without telling you to have fun! Reading is very exciting and you are doing what it takes to increase literacy as you mentor, lead, and guide children. I am proud of you and the work you’re doing! Let’s continue to build teachable and memorable moments together!

Thank you, and have a great week!

Having fun while reading Horace the Horsefly with my 3 year old.
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Talk is Cheap: 8 ways healthy couples set the example for their children

On the go? Listen to the audio version of “Talk is Cheap: 8 ways healthy couples set the example for their children!”

“Talk is Cheap: 8 ways healthy couples set the example for their children” audio

I remember my dad used to tell us, “Talk is cheap, but it costs money to buy land.” I’m sure I was too young to initially comprehend what my dad meant, but as I got older, I responded, “well duh. That’s obvious.” Of course that response was under my breath… ten minutes after he walked away, but it was my response nonetheless.

So why did he feel the need to regurgitate such an obvious analogy? It’s simple. Regardless of how pure our intentions were, our actions did not align with what we said we were going to do. Furthermore, our actions did not align with what we knew we should do. Yep, we talked a good game, but we did not set the example with our actions.

What’s even more interesting is though our parents repetitively reminded us to set the example through our actions, I still often find myself selling some of that “cheap talk” without applying any action. If you’re honest, you probably do it too. If that’s you, just keep reading and we’ll dive into some practical advice I have to help you set the example for your children.

Here’s what triggered my thoughts.

I posted this on Twitter a few days ago:

"😘 'I love you.': what my wife feels/hears daily before I leave. Sometimes, a little infiltrator peeks in and yells at me if she doesn't feel/hear the same. 🥴 Reminder: our children are learning from our actions and inaction. Take heed and use that to your advantage."
Originally posted on my Twitter account on August 12, 2022

I was so proud of myself! “You’re setting a great example brotha,” I told myself. That’s when my own reminder smacked me. I asked myself, “do you truly ‘take heed’ and set the example daily?” Well, the obvious answer was, “no.” There I was selling that cheap talk again. Only this time, I decided to make a list of ways I could set the example. Here’s that list of eight ways healthy couples can set the example daily for their children:

Eight ways healthy couples can set the example.

1. Affection.

“I don’t want my children–especially my daughters–trying to copy us with their friends!” That was my fear when it came to being affectionate in front of my children. Seems rational right? Maybe not. Either way, that was my excuse. I know I’m not the only one.

Trust me, I understand. However, this is one of the best examples we can set for our children. Showing affection to your significant other is demonstrating that you care. You are creating a physical and emotional safe place for him or her. Affection is the outward expression of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual connection, and it gives the receiver a feeling of adoration. To deprive your children of this example is to allow them to inaccurately develop their own understanding of how love is outwardly expressed based upon societal norms. This is the first and arguably the most important example of all.

2. Respect.

What you want, baby, I got it
What you need, do you know I got it?
All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you get home

Man, Aretha Franklin rocked that song! Of course this song came out loooong before I was born, but it has always been one of my favorites. I mean, really… who doesn’t like a little respect?!

Respect is easy to define but hard to demonstrate because it often has a negative connotation. Somehow, we have managed to create the illusion that to respect someone is to become inferior to them. Instead, to respect someone is to value their words, opinions, and contributions regardless of the circumstance. It is to admire them for who they are and how much they mean to you.

So lay it on thick! Look your significant other in the eyes and tell them, “I want to know what you think before I make this decision.” Tell them, “Thank you so much for what you do for our home.” Speak very highly of your significant other… especially in front of others. Public praise goes a long way! Give genuine compliments without expecting anything in return. Say things we learned in elementary like, “please” and “thank you.” Last but not least, find out how your significant other wants to be respected and do that!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me

3. Organization skills.

I am a huge advocate for being organized. My wife and I try to do simple things like keep our room clean and orderly to teach the children how to take pride in and ownership of their belongings. However, my favorite thing we do is keep a joint scheduler. We try to put everything on the schedule from birthdays to bill dates to girls’ night out. Why? Because it allows us to plan ahead. It is a simple way to demonstrate a life lesson that our children can use throughout their personal and professional endeavors.

Some will argue that this kind of organization will hamper their relationship because their relationship thrives on spontaneousness. On one hand, I agree that if your schedule is so rigid that it doesn’t allow fun or spontaneous activities or chance encounters, your relationship will likely become stale and mundane. On the other hand, I submit that you should use your scheduler to plan for these opportunities. Many times, we aren’t as spontaneous as we think anyway because our disorganization causes us to lack the focus we need to make the best out of the moment.

I recommend you read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. You’ll be surprised how much distractions caused by disorganization keep us from accomplishing individual and couple goals.

4. Patience.

This one gets me every time. I believe that patience is like any other muscle; if you don’t intentionally build it, it will fail when it’s tested. Like most parents, my children taught me a lesson about patience with the old “are we there yet” question. They challenged me to ask myself, “why are you getting mad over something so simple?” I admit that my ego didn’t allow me to answer the question maturely the first few times. “Because it’s a stupid question to ask every five minutes!” I would say to myself.

But I eventually stopped acting like a pouty child and decided to answer the question honestly, “I have no reason to be mad.” So if I can handle such a frustrating question without becoming frustrated, there is no reason I should become impatient with my wife. At least that’s my theory and nobody can tell me otherwise! Ok, I’m kidding (kinda). The point is that we have to intentionally build our patience to ensure we set the example for our children.

5. Forgiveness.

Forgiveness and patience go hand-in-hand. In fact, I believe that forgiveness enables patience. True forgiveness requires us to release all traces of bitterness, negative emotions, and desire to get revenge. Sounds pretty easy right? Not even close. Just like patience, we have to practice forgiveness if we want to set a consistent example. This requires us to do a few things:

  1. Acknowledge your emotions. You won’t be able to move on if you pretend everything is ok.
  2. Take some time to gather your thoughts. Don’t sulk and dwell on the negative. Just take some time to journal about how you feel and why you feel this way. Try not to even mention your significant other.
  3. Avoid saying things like, “he (or she) should’ve known better!” Though it may be true, this is inflammatory and will only cause your emotions to spiral.
  4. Understand your emotions and refrain from blaming yourself or your significant other for your emotions. I know, that’s easier said than done!
  5. Confront to restore and strengthen your relationship, not to point out deficiencies or “hold accountable.” I know; you caught him or her red-handed, and this is your proverbial slam dunk! You’ll call them out, they’ll feel convicted, and you will feel a lot better!… Except that rarely happens. Shift your perspective from appeasing your own feelings and emotions to restorating and further developing a healthy relationship.
  6. Now for the hard part–time to have the conversation (you knew you couldn’t avoid it forever). Prepare for every response. In a perfect world, your significant other will just say, “I am so sorry, and I will do anything to make it up.” We don’t live in a perfect world though! Be patient and continue to focus on resolution and forgiveness.
  7. Regardless of how your significant other responded, let it go. It’ll be hard and may take a little time, but it is important for your relationship. Continue to be kind and work together towards a solution. Forgiveness may take time, but you both can do it and continue to grow together!

6. Confidence and Trust.

“Pull over and ask for directions.” “Nah, I got it.” I think this is one of the most common conversations couples have had over the years. I know we have the GPS now, but that doesn’t matter to me because I can figure it out for myself! It’s so bad that I even find myself looking for ways to prove the GLOBAL Positioning System (GPS) wrong. I put “global” in all caps because I wanted to point out that this handheld computer has a perspective that spans far beyond my own; yet, I am only using it as a reference instead of a guide.

We often do the same thing to our significant other, and in turn, our children do the same to us and others. Be confident in your significant other’s perspective and trust in their integrity and abilities.

7. Kindness.

When we demonstrate kindness in front of our children, we are teaching them an extremely valuable lesson. Kindness is all about being generous, friendly, and considerate. Ironically, the longer we are in a relationship, the more we tend to lose sight of this category. It’s easy to become comfortable in a relationship and assume our kindness is implied. Guess what? It’s not!

Put down the phone and offer to cook for the evening. Place the book on your night stand and rub your partner’s back. Add a little money in the budget to send your significant other to the barber shop. Whatever you do, make a daily practice out of putting your significant other’s needs and desires above your own. Strive to make them smile and feel good. Kindness is a key component to a healthy relationship.

8. Harmony and complementary strength.

As a musician, there is nothing more pleasing than a harmonious sound. That means every musical instrument or voice is fulfilling its role by hitting the perfect tone and note to create a melodious chord. In relationships, this kind of euphony can only be replicated when both parties intentionally work towards complementing the other. This is why it is important to connect with someone who complements your strengths and improves your weaknesses.

We tend to naturally attract to those who have those characteristics we lack. That’s why we have to be comfortable enough around our significant other to be vulnerable. This is the only way to truly demonstrate our need for and dependency on our significant other.

It’s time to buy the land

Setting an example for your children requires focus and intentionality. In other words, it won’t happen without a little work. So let’s put some action behind our words and set the example!

Thanks for reading!

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How do you discuss race with your children using current events?

On the go? I felt this conversation about race was so important, I created an audio version just for you! Check it out:

“How do you discuss race with your children using current events?” (Audio version)

“The Marines are set to have the first Black 4-star general in their 246-year history!” That was the title of an article posted on July 20, 2022 by NPR that I saw on LinkedIn. People typically have varying responses to articles like this: pride, celebration, skepticism, disgust, hope, anticipation, confusion, and inspiration are just a few. Nonetheless, it is a historical moment–one of which our children are witnessing and learning how to digest. The reoccurring question that we have to face as a society is, “does his race matter?” Well, today I am going to discuss this in a way that anyone can comprehend. This discussion will examine how we can use current events (like the article I mentioned above) to spark a conversation about race with our children.

My household rules about race discussions

Before discussing race in my house, I always lay some ground rules for my children:

  1. Discussing and learning to appreciate who you are while embracing your heritage and culture does not make you superior to anyone else. We are all created equal.
  2. Since we are all created equal, everybody deserves dignity and respect. I usually break it down for them. “Every” means “without exemption,” and it does not matter how the body is wrapped. That human being standing before you, whether physically or virtually, deserves dignity and respect.

Let’s dive in!

Color blindness is a myth

I know what some of you are thinking, “but I was medically diagnosed with color blindness!” Trust me, I am not being insensitive to your disability. In fact, my father is color blind, but in the context of discussions about race, color blindness is usually an argument that one only sees a person for what they have on the inside. At first glance, that sounds awesome! We should all have racial colorblindness, right? Well…it’s not that easy. I will use my own household as an example.

If you would’ve asked me a few years ago, I would have proudly proclaimed that we were raising my daughter to have racial colorblindness! “I don’t want her to say, ‘white folks this’ and ‘black folks that,’ I just want her to say ‘folks!'” It worked!… Until my oldest daughter made it to Transitional Kindergarten (about 4 years old). When she came home from school, she was excited to talk about all of her new friends. “There is one girl that is brown like me, but everyone else is yellow,” she said proudly.

I was shocked but didn’t say anything.

I simply let her continue to tell me about her new friends. She continued to come home and discuss how excited she was to have new “yellow” friends–one had the same name! That’s when it hit me: this young child got it right. She recognized a difference but still searched for a common ground. She naturally gravitated towards children with similar backgrounds but made a point to play with others who brought different interests to the classroom. For example, she absolutely hated water getting on her face, but she slowly began to explore swimming when she saw me and some of her “yellow” friends having fun in the pool.

In other words, my daughter recognized a difference but didn’t care! She didn’t need to pretend to be color blind to show genuine interest in others. She learned–and quite honestly taught me–how to embrace the things that made her different from her “yellow” friends. Now that she is in junior high, she obviously knows the difference between the many races, but her friend group remains diverse. She didn’t need color blindness; she needed her parents to avoid teaching her polarizing lessons about race.

It’s ok to celebrate

When discussing historical events (like the one I mentioned above) with our children, one of the most polarizing lessons we can teach is, “the general’s race doesn’t matter.” Some argue that highlighting the general’s race suggests that he was promoted because of his race. Some even argue that highlighting his race is ironically racism or “reverse racism.” In reality, the article described the general’s many accolades and credentials. It then discussed how senior military leaders have continued to focus on decades-old efforts to increase diversity and equality by eliminating systemic barriers. The barriers are eliminated so that the most qualified person and “best fit” gets the job/promotion.

Highlighting the general’s race is not to discriminate or claim ones race is more superior than the other. It is a celebration of progress! is progress that our parents and grandparents did not see when they were my age. It brings hope and encouragement that no matter how recently we were segregated, we are healing and making headway.

Need more to celebrate?

If that’s not enough to celebrate, then how about we celebrate how inspiring the general’s story is. He came from Shreveport, Louisiana. That means there are young people in Shreveport (and surrounding areas) who can/will see someone succeed who looks just like them. It inspires them to pursue their own dreams because those young people relate to the general’s experience. “If he can do it, so can I!” I have seen and heard this numerous times. We cannot discount the effect headlines and historical events like this have on our future generation. Each of us can influence a unique group of people, and General Langley is no exception to this rule.

Systemic racism still exists

This is the final topic and probably the most taboo when discussing race. Some of you may be ready to jump ship, but don’t worry; I’ll keep the ship steady, so stay with me. I have discussed my thoughts on systemic racism with a couple of people, but now it is time to share it with the world. Sometimes, we solely identify written rules, policies, and regulations as the “system,” but we fail to discuss the most integral part of any system–the human being.

For example, I talked to a Human Resources (HR) specialist who said her company has several non-discriminatory hiring policies in place; however, if she sees a “Shequita” (or any unique name for that matter) on the application, she will place the document on the bottom of the stack. That means Shequita never even had a fair chance at the job! Why? Because the HR specialist assumed Shequita was black, she used her authority to deny Shequita’s application. Is it unethical? Yes. Does the company have policies in place that condemn this type of behavior? Yes. Does the company have monitoring and accountability measures to prevent this from happening? Let’s just say the HR specialist had been doing this for at least two years when she told me this story. This is just one of many examples of how a human being can commit discriminatory acts on behalf of a company and inevitably create/maintain systemic barriers.

Let’s move forward!

So when we discuss this topic with our children, it is important that they understand that we celebrate progress while pushing for more. We celebrate the removal of barriers–both people and policy alike! This is an all-hands effort that requires us to embrace our differences, isolate detractors, and celebrate the many steps forward! The ongoing race war will only end in victory if all races fight together for unity and equality.

The ongoing race war will only end in victory if all races fight together for unity and equality.

Olaolu Ogunyemi

Thanks for joining me today! Have a great weekend!

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Quick Parent Tip: Father’s Day Edition (Reblog)

Happy Father’s Day to all my Dads out there! We celebrate your accomplishments, sacrifices, and love today!

Let’s dive straight into today’s encouraging Quick Parent Tip for this Father’s Day weekend:

Fight for your family.

You are your family’s physical, mental, and spiritual protector. Embrace it. Fight for peace in your home and for your family’s unity and mental stability. Never stop fighting! You got this because you are not alone. I believe in you!

Accept responsibility.

You are responsible for everything that happens and fails to happen in your home. Let me be the first to tell you that this is both an honor and a burden. Regardless, keep pressing! Accept your responsibility willingly and take pride in being the leader of your home. Keep making decisions with your family’s best interest in mind.

Teach your family.

You are a great teacher and mentor for your family. You have the wisdom, knowledge, and experience to do it; just believe in yourself! Remember, more is caught than taught, so continue to set the example with your words and actions.

Hearing vs listening.

We all do it. We look up, see someone’s lips moving, and realize they have been talking to us the entire time. It’s ok. Next time, engage in active communication. Hearing is passive (i.e. your ears recognize a sound); however, listening is active. So be actively engaged in conversations today. Ask questions, nod along, mirror body language, and share the moment!

Elevate your perception of your contributions.

I know you are working your butt off, and oftentimes, it feels like it goes unnoticed. I want to encourage you to keep doing it. Your hard work, decisions, love, protection, and care are definitely making a difference. Even if no one else celebrates you this weekend, I am celebrating you right now! Great job brother! You are doing exactly what you need to be doing!

Relax and recover.

Take some time to focus on the positives–the great things you have done for your family! You have done (and continue to do) what many have turned away from. Rest well knowing that your impact is felt by more than those in your household. Society is indebted to you.

Thank you for your hard work, commitment, and sacrifices! Happy Father’s Day!

For those reading this who are not fathers, please take some time to thank a father this weekend. I promise you it means a lot!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Mentor | Best-selling Author
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Olaolu Ogunyemi’s debut books receive a warm literary welcome.

Olaolu Ogunyemi pictured with his published works.

For immediate release:

Readers’ Favorite announces the review of the Children – Concept book “Crow From the Shadow” by Olaolu Ogunyemi, currently available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0921V785J and Children – Animals book “Horace the Horsefly” by Olaolu Ogunyemi, currently available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1737492733. Both are also available at http://www.parent-child-connect.com/store

Readers’ Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

“Reviewed By Asher Syed for Readers’ Favorite Crow From the Shadow, written by Olaolu Ogunyemi and illustrated by Joshua Ogunyemi, is the first book in the Parent-Child-Connect (P2C) picture book series. The book begins by introducing the reader to Crow, a young narrator who says he’s from The Shadow, following this by stating that The Shadow could be anything. It controls every aspect of Crow’s life and sets restrictive parameters of what he can and cannot do. Crow tells us what his own preference is with what he wears, how he performs at school, and the places he likes to visit. Each is pushed aside by The Shadow’s instruction that Crow feels obliged to follow. As the story progresses, Crow describes isolation and the destruction of motivation, dreams, and all other positives in his life. It is only when Crow comes out from under The Shadow that we see what life is like in the sunlight.

Woah! Crow From the Shadow is nothing at all like the other children’s books I’ve been reading for a while, and completely realigned my barometer on what a fantastic piece of kid-lit truly is. And what is it? It’s this and whatever else Olaolu Ogunyemi creates like this. The first thing that leaps out from the start is that this book is cool. Really cool. Not a word that can be associated with most children’s picture books but decidedly appropriate here. The way Crow talks and the way he describes what is going down in his world is profoundly honest, and Crow looks like the kind of bird you want to be friends with. He’s in a hoodie. He speaks like he’s straight out of an indie film and sort of resembles Spy from the 80s comic strip, if Spy was cool. Joshua Ogunyemi is the artist who breathes life into Olaolu’s words, sticking to a dark palette initially but slowly moving toward color as Crow starts making decisions for himself. I love this book and would give it a whole bucket of stars if I could.”

“Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite

Horace is a horsefly and he’s not feeling very well. But he still wants to greet his friends: the horse, the cow, the bird, the duck, and so many others. He likes to listen to the sounds each animal makes, like the ‘moo’ of the cow and the ‘neigh’ of the horse. Feeling weak, Horace asks the young reader to take him to visit with his friends. And, when he returns, Horace finds Mama Bug making something to help him feel better, as all mothers love to do.

Olaolu Ogunyemi’s picture book story, Horace the Horsefly, is a sweet story with an unusual protagonist: a horsefly named Horace. Horseflies are not usually everyone’s favorite living creature, but Horace definitely puts the charm on as he leads us around the farm to greet all his friends. Told in lyrical rhyming verse and accompanied by bright, colorful illustrations, this story teaches young readers about animals and the sounds they make. Using simple language, the author is also encouraging youngsters to recognize more words, especially the many uses of onomatopoeia, like ‘moo’ and ‘neigh.’ By repeating many of the words, the young reader will start to recognize the repeated words easily. This builds a reading vocabulary and confidence in reading on their own. As well as teaching them about animals and their sounds, the author is teaching young readers the importance of friendship and love, especially the love shared between a parent and a child. And what’s best? Even though Horace isn’t feeling well, he still has a warm smile for all his friends.”

You can learn more about Olaolu Ogunyemi and “Crow From the Shadow” at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/crow-from-the-shadow and “Horace the Horsefly” at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/horace-the-horsefly where you can read reviews and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages.

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