Reviewing children’s literature is such a gift….I love finding and sharing new stories with my children, and watching them react to characters, plot lines, and new concepts and ideas. I am even more thrilled when my children are able to step away from a story having learned something. Carl Sommer, gifted children’s book author, has built his collection of written works around the idea of “Fun Times with Timeless Virtues.” Virtues…What parent wouldn’t take a little help instilling virtues into their child? Though his materials are largely marketed towards teachers, I have always believed that the parent is the first teacher, and the most important teacher a child will ever have. Whether you are a homeschooling parent, or simply a parent who wants to guide their child towards the development of solid character traits and values, the “Another Sommertime Story” series can impact your parenting and help you train your child.

I was graciously given the book, “Can You Help me Find My Smile?” to review. In this story, children are introduced to a young bear named Teddy, who is very grumpy. No matter what he does, Teddy cannot seem to find his smile. Teddy turns to new toys and new experiences, hoping they will help him find his smile. With no luck, he finds himself growing even more grumpy. Then, on a trip to his grandparent’s house, Teddy and his Grandpa have a talk. Grandpa suggests that by helping others, Teddy will once again find his smile. Teddy, though skeptical, finds a way to help his mother and his father, and finds himself to be smiling as he is helping! Teddy changed his attitude and heart, and learned to be a bear that found joy by helping others.

What I was immediately drawn to, was this book’s old-fashioned and wholesome feel. It wasn’t flashy…wasn’t trying to be “cool”…this was simply what Carl Sommer set out to write…a classic story with a timeless lesson to be learned. Children will be able to relate to the struggles of Teddy Bear, and will identify with his thoughts and feelings. The lesson is something they will quickly be able to grasp, and easily translate into their own life. After reading this story before bed earlier this week, my daughter ran down the hall and said, “Mom! I just helped others!!” She had helped her younger brother get ready for bed, and was so thrilled to have helped him. A simple story with a clear PURPOSE, had sparked an idea in her. It is clear to me that Carl Sommer is a very intentional writer…carefully choosing his words, and tailoring his stories to teach values that today’s children so desperately need.The story reinforced the value of not only helping others, but also the idea that happiness cannot be found in things or experiences. I loved that this book was helping to teach my children about contentedness, caring, and community.

There are a wide variety of resources to help you use the books with your children or your classroom. Carl Sommer has graciously posted free resources on his website to aid you in character education. Click HERE to find all of the resources available to you. There are resources that correlate with each of the books in the “Another Sommertime Story” Series. Also available to accompany each story is an English/Spanish version, a DVD, and a cd of inspirational children’s music. (I will be reviewing some of these other items soon!) I highly recommend you check out the website, and see how his work can help you as you seek to raise up your children to be loving and caring people.

To purchase “Can You Help Me Find My Smile?” please click here: Buy It! Stay tuned for more reviews of the great material by Carl Sommer and the folks at Advance Publishing!