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It’s been a year full of ’em, and they’re not always easy to identify, manage, or work through. As a mom, I’ve seen kids battle emotions just as adults do. Educator and author Savannah Keenan Kroff has written a perfect, instructive children’s book to help both adults and children learn how to talk about and manage big emotions. I’m such a big fan of this book, and of Savannah. It’s a great resource fore very family.
Savannah kindly agreed to answer some Qs about herself and the book, and is even giving a SIGNED copy of the book away!
Everyone, meet Savannah and It’s Okay to Be Mad!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an Idaho-born, Texas-raised, half-Canadian mother of one and professor of Family Studies if that sums up anything! I’m also an author of children’s literature, an amateur yogi, a coffee lover and a wannabe baker. I graduated with a Master’s in Marriage, Family & Human Development from Brigham Young University in 2018, shortly after having my son. I’ve published lots of different academic articles and presented the findings across the world, but I’m most proud of the work I published in my debut book, It’s Okay to Be Mad.
What inspired you to write It’s Okay to Be Mad?
I grew up in a home where emotions could be explosive at times and, as a result, have some trauma surrounding strong emotions. After my husband and I got married we moved in with my family for a summer internship and I was thrown back into emotions I hadn’t felt or experienced in several years. I felt so negatively toward anger and began to feel that it had no place; that it didn’t belong and only ever lead to horrible things. Having studied psychology and child development for many years, I knew this wasn’t true but it took me some deep, deep reflection to figure out how to dissect those feelings.
Eventually I came to this conclusion: anger isn’t bad but our reaction to anger can be.
Anger can be absolutely destructive. I have seen anger seep deeply into people I love and turn them into stone. And I have seen anger push me to do things I will always regret. But anger has also led to some of the most important things in my life. It has helped me turn away from things and people who hurt me; it has encouraged me to stand up when I think something is wrong or unjust. Anger has lead me to serious self-reflection, to have deep and important conversations, and to set vital boundaries.
After understanding this, I felt relieved, honestly, and very whole, like I could accept all of my emotions and not be afraid of them. I knew from my studies in human development that emotion regulation was so important for kids and thought, “What if kids understood this from an early age?” Like, what if I could have learned all of this when I was six, rather than TWENTY-six! So, I put pencil to paper (read: thumbs to phone) and wrote the first draft of It’s Okay to Be Mad!
What was the book writing/creation/publication process like for you?
The writing was easy, surprisingly. I don’t consider myself a poet or a writer, but the words to the book came easily. The creation took a long time, which was also surprising! But it has been such a fun process. I found Kelly, my illustrator, through an Instagram friend and reached out to her on a total whim! I wasn’t even sure she’d respond. She did, obviously, and had been dreaming of working on a children’s book! So that relationship came together really smoothly. But both of us having other careers pulling at our time, the process of getting the book illustrated and finalized has taken about a year and a half. Maybe that’s totally normal, but I was surprised! Kelly has been amazing to work with and is incredibly talented. I am in love with the illustrations.
Publication has been….frustrating. There is a relatively steep learning curve for all of this, especially as an indie publisher, so I’ve made lots of mistakes and learned a bunch along the way. I decided to self-publish because I’m a masochist. Just kidding, but it is a form of torture 😉 I decided to self-publish mainly because I wanted to have a say in the illustrations. At least from what I’ve read, if you go with a publishing house, you often don’t get a lot of say in the final product. And, ultimately, I just wanted to make something I could look at and be so proud of even if I never sold a single copy. And I am! I am so proud of what Kelly and I have created! And to top it off, we’ve already sold almost 100 copies and the book hasn’t even officially launched yet! I mean, it’s pretty much all friends and family so far (thank you grandma!) but that’s more than I ever hoped!
What’s the best advice you can give to parents looking to help their children understand and manage their emotions?
This is gonna sound like marketing 101, but honestly, I’d recommend buying the book! I really, truly, believe that if kids can internalize the simple message that all emotions are good and it’s what they do with those emotions that’s so important, they will be so much better off.
* GIVEAWAY! *
I made a colorful pencil set to accompany It’s Okay to Be Mad, and Savannah and I are giving both away to one of you! This book debuts December 2nd, and the giveaway winner will be on the first to have it! To enter, visit our post on Instagram!
Giveaway ends 12/2/2020, 9 p.m. CST. U.S. only. Winner notified via IG DM.