February 11, 2020
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
DIAMOND BAR, CA—"Raise your hand if you think we have too many stinking rules,” bestselling author Julia Cook asked of Evergreen Elementary students on Monday.
“Well, I have a book for you!” she replied as several hands shot up in response.
With that, the energetic writer launched into a story about a quirky character named Noodle from her book, “That Rule Doesn’t Apply to Me”, designed to help teach children important values and benefits of having rules.
“Rules aren’t here to hurt you, they’re here to protect you!” she said.
“If you didn’t have rules in your life you couldn’t accomplish your goals…I want you to stop and think, if everyone could do what they wanted, your life would really stink!”
Cook delivered entertaining and heartfelt messages about being kind to each other, planning and setting priorities, becoming an author, problems caused by video games, being judgmental, communication, safety, and more.
“I’ll read you a story with good stuff in it, and it will spill in your head so you can use it the rest of your life!” she promised.
The former teacher and school counselor has written over 100 books that let children laugh while learning to solve their own problems, use better behavior, and develop healthy relationships.
During 45-minute assemblies held February 10, Cook breezed through several titles by memory, including the “Judgmental Flower” and “My Mouth is Like a Volcano”, bounding from area to area while cozily sitting and kneeling among the children gathered in the multipurpose room.
She enlisted audience volunteers to help illustrate her points, including how words compare to a tube of toothpaste.
“Once they come out, it’s impossible to put them back in your mouth!”
She demonstrated how saying something unkind can deeply hurt someone by tearing away pieces of a red paper heart.
The author also spoke about the dangers of instant gratification from digital devices.
“Achieving in the video game world is five times easier than achieving in real life,” she explained.
Cook told the children they get automatic rewards after pushing video game buttons that release the chemical dopamine that makes them feel good.
“So, put the same amount of effort into achievement in real life!”
“Cook’s stories about Social Emotional Learning are truly relevant and essential for our students,” she said.
“Educators love to read her books to students because they capture their attention, offer tangible strategies, and help the adults find the words to explain difficult topics” added school counselor Shenen Flores.
Cook concluded the performance by surprising students with her two-pound therapy dog, Kirby, who was tucked inside his carrier on stage.
She uses her adorable “roadie” pooch to help students learn about being wary of strangers.
The safety message focused on “scoopers” who use cute dogs to lure children.
“When you hang out outside, make sure you’re with other people because it makes you a lot safer,” she urged.
Cook also hosted a parent education night and author’s day assemblies at Quail Summit Elementary in Diamond Bar.
Walnut Well! Children’s author Julia Cook delivers life lessons at Evergreen Elementary on Feb. 10.