Sue Stephenston releases new book: Kidding Around, bringing laughter, trust and fun into the living room, classroom and bored room

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As a child, Sue Stephenson loved everything about going to school — the learning, the teachers, the whole environment. And so when she grew up, she became a teacher specializing in Family Studies and then an educational consultant and then, to cap off her school career, an elementary school principal passionate about the well-being of her students.

Stephenson is now very much in demand as a keynote speaker and workshop leader, addressing community, educational and corporate audiences. She is also a well-regarded author, having just released her fourth book, entitled Kidding Around: Connecting Kids to Happiness, Laughter and Humour.

That’s where Stephenson’s broad concern lies. She believes that our modern world sometimes doesn’t leave much room for joy and fun for kids, who are bombarded by social media and may face tensions in the home and/or bullying in the schools. It can be a nasty world out there for our kids; it’s no wonder that so many of them retreat to their iPods, cellphones and video games. In Kidding Around, Stephenson aims to help adults connect more fully with the children in their care or under their supervision. She seeks to encourage all of us - children and adults alike - to lighten up and look on the bright side of life. Laughter, she says, is excellent medicine that helps all of us enjoy a happier, more enriched life.

There is a connection — a very real, demonstrated connection — between laughter and learning, and humour and creativity. Problems get solved much more readily when people feel as though they are part of a team, and very often, successful team building emerges only when we can feel connected to one another through story telling and fun. That’s as true in the living room as it is in the classroom or the bored room.

Stephenson’s classroom experience and years as a grandmother are very apparent in Kidding Around. She has learned that kids who are positive and optimistic are also more resilient; that youngsters need to feel safe and secure in order to express their deeply felt emotions; and that laughter has some marvelous benefits — physical, emotional, mental and social.

In short, Kidding Around is a truly welcome guide for parents, grandparents, community workers and teachers. It’s written in a bright, breezy style that permits a very serious subject matter to be dealt with in a light, non-threatening manner. Kidding Around is rich in detail, rich in example and rich in its suggested solutions. It is very clear that author Stephenson has our youngsters’ best interests at heart; it is also very clear that she wants our children to develop into mature, happy, successful adults. That’s what makes Kidding Around: Connecting Kids to Happiness, Laughter and Humour such essential reading.

Sue Stephenson, an Ontario-based writer, is also the author of Leading With Trust: How to Build Strong School Teams; Laughing Matters!: Strategies for Building a Joyful Learning Community (co-authored with Paul Thibault); and School-Based Planning: Talking and Growing Together.

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