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Gratitude during the Pandemic

I hope this post finds you and those close to you well. Whatever you are facing, may you also find what gives you peace and joy during these strange times.

Being the author of My Amazing Day keeps gratitude top of mind for me, and I’ve noticed that it is helping me and my family stay in good spirits during the pandemic. We are benefiting from the gratitude traditions we’ve put in place. And we are experiencing firsthand the gratitude science I studied when prepping to write the book.

I made a brief video to share about how all that works in hopes it might benefit others. I hope you will enjoy it and learn something that inspires you.

Be well!



A Season of Gratitude

Happy Winter Holidays 2018!

One of the lovely things about this time of year is that reminders abound to express gratitude. I (Karin) recently came across an article on Aha! which brings together many of my favorite gratitude tradition ideas and has a few that are new to even this gratitude tradition collector! If you are looking for a gratitude activity or practice, the Aha! Parenting article has a nice collection. I also describe gratitude traditions on this website.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area over the Thanksgiving Weekend, come visit with Lori and I at a book signing at The Multicultural Children’s Bookstore at The Shops at Hilltop in Richmond on Sunday, November 25, from 2:00 pm-5:00 pm. We are very much looking forward to talking with people about My Amazing Day. And we’ll have few activities related to its themes. The Multicultural Children’s Bookstore is a new treasure in our community with a bountiful collection of diverse books. More details on the book signing can be found on the Events page.

May the gratitude experiences of this season spread into your whole year!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017

Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Today’s event, in its fourth year, is a time to discover and celebrate books by and about a diversity of people. The following website and other host sites have this linky collection of hundreds of book reviews. What a great resource!

You can participate in the discussions by searching for the hashtag #ReadYourWorld on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


My Amazing Day and I (Karin) are participating in multiple ways this year.

I contributed review copies of My Amazing Day to Multicultural Children’s Book Day reviewers, which, fittingly, have received some diverse reviews:

  • The Spain-based website bambolango shared a review in both Spanish and English. The review includes some nice activity ideas.
  • This Facebook review is from an Australian reviewer who sells charming keepsake cards for babies’ first words via her Facebook page, WordsOfBub. I love what she said about how adults and toddlers might view My Amazing Day.
  • Over at Books, Babies, and Bows, the blogger shares a review of My Amazing Day, which includes her 4-year-old daughter’s drawing in response to being asked what happened during her amazing day. All us reading fans will love her response.
  • And at @Victors_Books on Instagram. Not only is there a review, but this awesome montage of photos from Victor’s own amazing day.

I also volunteered to be a reviewer and was treated to a review copy of a beautifully written and illustrated book from longtime multicultural children’s book leader, Lee & Low Books. My review of Mama and Papa Have a Store can be found on my author/editor website here:


Here is more information from the Multicultural Children’s Book Day team:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:

MCBD site:

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.


Indie Author Day at the Berkeley Public Library

I will be participating in Indie Author Day at the Berkeley Public Library this coming Saturday, October 8. Details are here: I’ll be one of the “speed readers.” (Much easier when your book is only 101 words long! I plan to get through the whole thing and have time to say a little about its creation.) I also look forward to visiting with readers and signing books.

Indie Author Day is a new event for readers and creators of independently published books. It will take place at libraries across North America. Here is general information about Indie Author Day:

My lifetime of loving reading and children’s books began in the Berkeley Public Libraries. When I think of them, images of being in awe at the number of books…and possibilities, of looking through low shelves at eye level, of having a librarian figure out just the book I’d love to read come to mind. I am so pleased to get to participate there as an author.

Happy First Anniversary

Today is the first anniversary of My Amazing Day‘s release date. As so often happens when time passes, it both seemed to come quickly, and I marvel at how much has happened. When I think of My Amazing Day‘s first year I have a slew of images come to mind–of people telling me their child or grandchild asks for the book again and again, of stories of families starting gratitude traditions inspired by the book, of charming photos and videos people have sent depicting little children enjoying the book, of reading to a group of preschoolers and them being totally engaged, of hearing from a shop owner that people come in to a buy a copy and then come back to buy more for gifts, and from another shop owner about the look of delight on people’s faces when they first look through the book. All that (and more) is truly a dream come true.

I am grateful to my collaborators Lori and Elizabeth for having the idea of a book that would start children of a lifetime of gratitude and then asking me to be its author, and also for using their creativity and talents to make My Amazing Day visually impeccable. I am grateful to our model Lily for being her beautiful, expressive self and for going with the flow of three grown-ups’ ideas with a camera clicking nearby. I am grateful to our Kickstarter backers–who made it possible for My Amazing Day to be printed as a board book–for their generosity and trust. I am grateful to family and friends, particularly my husband, Elizabeth’s husband, my son, my parents, my parents-in-law, Sarah, Justine, and Sheila for all their many kinds of support. I am grateful to the members of my writers groups (Marik Berghs, Rachael Posnak, Wowlvenn Seward-Katzmiller, Judy Gamble, Kay Frydenborg, Sheri Doyle, Stephen Aitken, and Carol Shank)–this book and all my writing is certainly better because of their feedback. I am grateful to Innosanto Nagara, author/illustrator of A is for Activist; Judi Riley, publisher of Absolutely Awesome Island Animals; Marik Berghs, author of Grace Notes; and Luan Stauss, owner of Laurel Book Store for sharing their wisdom on the publishing and business parts of bringing a book into the world.  I am grateful to all the other people who gave feedback on the book or other insights, helped package Kickstarter rewards, and more, particularly Lisa and Ilani. I am grateful to the shop owners (Amazing Stores), librarians, and reviewers (What people are saying…) who were open to My Amazing Day, took it on, and became its advocates. In the pattern of the book, I’ll end with me–I am grateful to myself for my commitment to the vision of a book about wonder and gratitude for a very young audience, for stepping into the unknown again and again, and for trusting what I know.

Signed books ready to be packaged for Kickstarter backers, late October 2013

Signed books ready to be packaged for Kickstarter backers, late October 2013

Stay Calm, Leave Room for Gratitude

I’ve been noticing lately that “stay calm” is a great lesson of parenting. Things just work better when I stay calm. With parenting there are so many opportunities to practice: Stay calm when your precious child is bleeding and sobbing. Stay calm when your innocent child says something completely inappropriate for a situation. Stay calm when your adorable child makes a mess that you never thought possible. Stay calm when your sweet child whines with a marathon runner’s tenacity. Stay calm when you realize you forgot to stay calm.

I was contemplating this just last night. That turned out to be fortunate timing because this morning, when my 9-year-old son and I were putting away clean dishes and I was facing away from him, I heard a very loud crash with metallic tinkling overtones. Without turning around I said aloud, “I think I just heard the sound of the silverware drawer falling on the floor…now I’m going to turn around and see what that looks like.” In that brief moment I’d taken, I’d already reminded myself to stay calm, which was a good thing because not only did I see the silverware all over the floor, but I saw sharp knives next to my son’s sock-clad feet.

I asked him to notice the knives and walk carefully away. In an alternative not-so-calm universe I would have had dramatic and loud things to say, that would have included keeping him out of the room entirely, while I fixed everything myself, perhaps alternating with demanding he do some particular task in a stressed-out voice.

Instead, I asked him to get a dish towel from the drawer in the dining area so that we could put the clean silverware from the dishwasher on the towel to make room in the dishwasher for the silverware on the floor. While he was out of the room, I picked up the knives. Then we started cleaning up together.

I didn’t point out that it’s not a good idea to pull out the drawer vigorously. I think he already got that message. In fact, I think being calm left space for it to sink in.

Being calm, also left space for gratitude—gratitude the knives hadn’t landed on his feet, gratitude I’d remembered to stay calm, gratitude that he could help in this situation, gratitude for the opportunity to remind him and myself that when we make mistakes we can just simply fix them, gratitude for his good company.

What could have been an unpleasant interlude turned into a sweet time together.


photo by Warburg

Amazing May 28: The Night Sky

Today marks the new moon. Tonight will be one of the nights when we can see the stars best. Have a look!

I find it comforting and awesome to know that people in the same hemisphere, no matter what language, tradition, or situation can look up and see the same stars (albeit with a lot more detail in places with less human-generated light). And people everywhere see the moon in the same phase.

Recently I was on the phone with a dear friend 330 miles south of me, she at the beach, me looking out my window. I loved that we were both looking at the moon.

Humans have seen the moon and stars and followed the positions of the planets for thousands of years. There are stories, information, and beauty in the night sky that transcend time and place.

photo by Todd Vance

photo by Todd Vance

Thank you moon, stars, planets, and space.

Amazing May 22: Telecommunication

I am a longtime fan of the telephone. Over decades it has allowed me to stay current with relationships that would not be the same without it. I have had a wealth of laughter, tears, comfort, sharing, and epiphanies with good company by phone.

Though I rarely get to cook with others, which I think is a natural way for humans to work, I often wear a headset and use that time to catch up with dear friends who I dearly wish lived closer, but don’t.

When I visited my grandfather across the country at age ninety-eight-years old, he delighted at my singing for him. I realized that I could continue to do that by phone, and I did.

As with several other topics this month, this is one that I can take for granted. Then I pause, and realize how amazing it is that we can hear not only words but tone and a unique, familiar voice from sometimes thousands of miles away, and usually instantaneously.

Today we have many other ways to communicate as well. Video phones are a particular blessing for families that are separated, especially when there are children to watch grow.

I sometimes think my friends in social media are the villagers I’d keep up with if modern life didn’t spread us all so far apart.

picture by Pbroks13

picture by Pbroks13

Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell and other inventors of telecommunication devices. Thank you, telephone.

Amazing May 12: Music

photo by 久留米市民 (Kurume-Shimin)

photo by 久留米市民 (Kurume-Shimin)

Last Saturday night my family enjoyed an exciting 10-inning Oakland A’s baseball game followed by a spectacular fireworks show set to the music of the local San Francisco Bay Area band, Journey. Despite having had an awesome time, I admit to getting grumbly when it was late, and we found ourselves behind a solid mass of people before even getting onto the long ramp from the Oakland Coliseum to the BART (train) station. Plus, I had an exhausted boy hanging onto me.

We were slowly starting to walk when suddenly the familiar sounds of Journey’s music were in the air again. Not far in front of us a man was holding a small amp connected to a phone, strutting to the beat. Directly in front of us another man started singing and dancing with infectious joy. A woman beside him began belting out the words, and soon we were part of a large chorus of people slowly bopping our way across the ramp singing as we went. My nine-year old son had a grin on his face as he held my hands and danced backwards.

When we’d made our harmonious way across the ramp and reached the ticket machines, the music stopped. My son looked up at me and said, “Those people really made the world a better place.”

Music is amazing in its ability to shift a mood, to touch our hearts and spirits, and in its sheer sometimes quiet and sometimes powerful beauty.

Thank you, musicians. Thank you composers. Thank you, bringers of music.