Tampa Bay Area Author Launches Board Book to Help Raise Research Dollars in Memory of Young Sarasota, Florida Resident, Teeja Johnson

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Monsters Are Afraid Of Music, now in its third printing as a board book version, is a proven tool to help very young children soothe themselves during times of fear or distress. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Monsters Are Afraid Of Music will be sent to Bloomingdale, Illinois-based Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation (CNCF) in memory of one of Wilkin’s young students, Teeja Johnson.

“It was a real game changer for us. Not only does this book encourage reading, it gives children a strategy for dealing with their fears that really works. It empowers them to know they can do it on their own; any time, and anywhere.” Maria McBride.

It was a concept that had been inside Author Allison Wilkins’ head for decades. But it took the passing of a young Sarasota girl to inspire Wilkins to bring it to life.

It was through her Together classes at her Sarasota studio, one of eight in the Bay Area, that Wilkins first met Teeja Johnson in November of 2010. Teeja was a vibrant, active 16-month old with an appreciation of music that far exceeded her years and a student of Allisongs for Tots up until the time of her diagnosis of neuroblastoma in May of 2012. Neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer that commonly affects children under the age of five is the third most common childhood cancer after leukemia. Wilkins would often visit Teeja in her hospital room to help provide some joy and reduce anxiety due to her treatments before she ultimate lost the battle on New Year’s Day, 2015.

“I hope Monsters Are Afraid Of Music not only helps children fighting horrific battles and those who have endured trauma, but also those children who face no fear at all at this point in their life. Once fear is encountered, they will be better equipped to handle it through music,” said Wilkins.

Monsters Are Afraid Of Music, now in its third printing as a board book version, is a proven tool to help very young children soothe themselves during times of fear or distress. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Monsters Are Afraid Of Music will be sent to Bloomingdale, Illinois-based Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation (CNCF) in memory of one of Wilkin’s young students, Teeja Johnson.

Meredith Grau, a licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Child Life Specialist, and assistant Clinic director for Bay Area Behavioral Services, expressed how much Monsters Are Afraid Of Music means to both her young son and her practice. Grau, who specializes in counseling children who have undergone trauma, has never seen a book that can reach the youngest among her patients. Grau discovered the book while attending an Allisongs for Tots class with her twenty-month-old son.

“Monsters Are Afraid Of Music quickly became one of his favorite books,” explains Grau. “We sing the song together—in fact, he’ll hand me the phone so I can play it while we read the book. It’s such an empowering story, and the musical component helps very young children respond to it in a positive, memorable way.”

The book relies upon the basic principals of music therapy—that music helps children overcome fear, pain and confusion through not only the distraction of focusing on something else, but also on a very deep visceral level. According to Neuroscientist Valorie Salimpoor, a researcher at McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute, music stimulates the same pleasure centers in children as does eating, nursing, or being held.

For Marie McBride, the book couldn’t have been published at a better time. The mother of two sets of twins, twin girls ages three and twin boy and girl ages 16 months, McBride had been trying to find a solution to help her three-year-olds with fear of monsters at night. When they first brought the book home, they listened, read, sang along dozens of times, and learned the song by heart. Now, one sister quietly sings the song to the other, and the listening sister thanks her each night for singing the monsters away. McBride, a former social worker, said it was the only solution-focused approach she had found to help her daughters overcome their fear.

“It was a real game changer for us. Not only does this book encourage reading, it gives children a strategy for dealing with their fears that really works. It empowers them to know they can do it on their own; any time, and anywhere,” said McBride.

The book is also now being utilized in playgroups at the Baby Bungalow on West Azeele Street in Tampa. Baby Bungalow is an early childhood resource center for parents and caregivers that focuses on children’s needs from birth to age five—the ages targeted by Monsters Are Afraid Of Music. Baby Bungalow started in 1999 as part of the Any Baby, Any Family Enrichment Program of Champions for Children in collaboration with the Health Start Coalition of Hillsborough County and Children’s Board Hillsborough County. April Beck, lead child development specialist for Baby Bungalow, feels the book addresses the subject of fear and monsters in a non-threatening, age-appropriate way.

“Families don’t come to us because their children are dealing with trauma,” said Beck. “But just overhearing the news is frightening for young children. This book is developmentally oriented for children who are just learning what it is to feel afraid and how to cope with that emotion even before they can adequately communicate it.”

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About The Author: Singer/songwriter Allison Wilkins, lovingly known by her students as “Ms. Alli” has spent a lifetime of singing with children of all ages. She is the owner of Allisongs For Tots, LLC, which teaches music to children ages zero to five through a research-based curriculum developed by Music Together in eight locations in the Tampa Bay area. Monsters Are Afraid Of Music was published in 2015, and is now in its third as a board book. Four more titles are now in development by this author. To learn more or order a copy, please visit: http://allisongsfortots.com/category/3588/Ms._Alli's_Story_Books

To listen to the song that accompanies Monsters Are Afraid Of Music, please visit http://www.allisongsfortots.com/monsters-mp3.html

VIDEO & PHOTO Opportunities: A live performance of Monsters Are Afraid Of Music can be arranged at one of Allison Wilkins’ Allisongs for Tots studios upon request.

If you would like to contact the author directly, please call 941-350-5439 or email her at allisongs(at)hotmail(dot)com.

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Jennifer Frazier
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Jennifer Frazier