Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What's Under Your Cape? Book Study

If you haven't had the opportunity to read Barbara Gruener's book,  "What's Under Your Cape, Superheroes of the Character Kind" it's a MUST read!   

I first heard about Barbara's book in a teacher group that I am a member.  She had been understandably, very excited to share information about her book being finished.  The more I read about the book, the more I wanted to get my hands on a copy to read it!  I purchased it from Barbara's site which was cool because she wrote me a little note in the book just for me! {You can purchase her book from Amazon too, but it isn't as much fun because the Amazon people don't write sweet notes!}

As I began to read the book, many of the examples she provided rang true to me.  Having worked extensively with children with behavioral challenges (many of which were severe), often times they didn't have role models or any positives in their lives.

In this book,  S-U-P-E-R-H-E-R-O-E-S stands for....
Unconditional Love

 "It's all about giving someone approval, support, confidence, and hope."  Barbara Gruener

Encouragement is an area that a lot of students don't have a lot of outside of the classroom.  Many students come from a diverse home setting (foster care, single parent homes, etc) where the only consistency and possibly the only encouragement they receive is at school.  I am sure you've all experienced students in your classroom that had less than desirable behaviors.  Sometimes the smallest gesture of a word or phone call home can make all the difference in the world in the child's life.  

How do you encourage your students?

Barbara shares examples of encouraging students from making a phone call home to share with parents about a student's positive behavior, to "when a child gets out of the car with a greeting, a compliment, or a smile." One of the examples that I gravitate towards is that of the written word.  I'd like to share with you a little story about how the written word can change a life of a kindergartner.

This little girl had gone through a lot in her young life.  Along with their father, the young girl and her brother fled the state they had lived in after their Mother had been involved in a crime and was later incarcerated.  They had left a pretty awful situation, and came to a part of the country where they didn't know anyone.  When I met these 2 children, they were guarded, and demonstrated a lot of negative behaviors.  You could tell by some of their conversations and actions that they were acting out due to seeing and hearing way too much for their young age.  Even though the father tried hard, they often went to school in dirty or torn clothing, hair a mess. They also didn't always have balanced meals to eat at home. Their main meals were ate at school.  This also contributed to their behavior issues. They were always hungry and tired.  

Slowly,  the young girl began to let her guard down and enjoyed school. Each day, we would interact with these children, you could see subtle improvements in the behavior.  Every day that we interacted with the 2 kids,  we were consistent in how we encouraged them when they did something positive, and downplayed the not so positive behaviors.

Midway through the school year,  the little girl began smiling more. This is something that was a HUGE thing for us because she was always so sullen and her eyes looked sad. She began taking more of an interest in what she was wearing, that she was clean and neat, and her hair combed.  The key to unlocking this little girl was encouragement.  

By the end of the school year, she was excelling in her school work.  So much so that she was awarded "Most Improved Student" and was given this award in front of the whole school at the end of the year assembly.  She brought home her certificate.  By the end of the day it was a little wrinkled and, but she carried that piece of paper around showing it to anyone who would look at it.

I gave her a special binder (with a cover with her name on it) that I hand drew, and sheet protectors to put her awards in so that she could save them.  That small gesture was that little girl's whole world.  The SMILE on her face when I presented it to her, was priceless.  I don't think I have ever seen her eyes light up like that.  She giggled and hugged me and told me that I spelled her name right. :)   She has carried her binder around with her ALL SUMMER LONG.... she sleeps with it under her pillow.

Yesterday,  she sat down beside me with wiggles and grins like FIRST GRADERS do.. and told me how she can't wait to go to school.   I asked her what the best part of school is...   she smiled and she said.. "I LOVE MATH!     I want to count things." ;) 

From a little girl that didn't have much of an interest in anything to a SUPERHERO.... all because she was given encouragement!   That little positive nudge in the right direction has changed her life, and set her on the right path to LEARN!   

Traditionally in a book study,  a common question that is asked what did you like the best about the book? I can't say enough, everything about this book is the best part.  It is a book that any teacher can pick up and find something that they can do to implement.  "What's Under Your Cape,  Superheroes of the Character Kind"  is a book that you will refer back to often.  My copy already has post it notes, and book marks in it to refer back to.  

I have created this SUPERHERO freebie for you to download and write little messages
of encouragement when seeing them demonstrate positive behavior.  They are provided in blackline instead of color to save on ink!  *Note* The superhero graphics featured in this freebie were custom made for me by Mel from Graphics from the Pond!

Click either image to download file.  There are 2 sheets of 4 cards each as seen below.

Would you like to WIN a signed copy of 
 "What's Under Your Cape?   Superheroes of the Character Kind"?
Barbara Gruener has graciously agreed to give one of my wonderful fans a signed copy of her book. How cool is that?  Fill out the Rafflecopter below. A winner will be chosen on Sat., 8/9/14 at 12:00 am

The next stop in this book study journey.....

Runde's Room will be hosting the chapter on Self Discipline on August 7th.  Be sure to pop by and show her some Bloggy love. :)


  1. Oh, Danielle, where do I start? Thank you for your kind words of affirmation. What a wonderful connection you made with that story of your little superhero and such a generous gift of kindness, compassion, patience and love you gave to her ... {and her family} ... and ultimately those people whose lives she'll touch as she soars like the superhero she's meant to be.

    Lovin' the graphic and the freebie download ... thank you, thank you!

    Be blessed as you bless,


  2. Great review! I think I need to get this book!! :)


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