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Be prepared to respond to a wide range of potentially tough questions posed by young children.

Big Conversations with Little Children

Addressing Questions, Worries, and Fears


To work with young children is to constantly expect the unexpected. Tough questions are part of early childhood educators’ regular interactions with children and families. Based on children’s actual questions, Big Conversations with Little Children is readily accessible with guidelines for having difficult conversations with children, individually or as a classroom or group, and with families. The book provides guidance on how to approach specific topics related to:
  • family, such as unemployment, divorce, and incarceration
  • illness and death, such as loss of an unborn child, major illness in a child, and death of a pet
  • social issues, such as racism, family structures, and gender fluidity
  • upheaval and violence, such as natural disaster, terror events, and school shootings
Fully based in developmentally appropriate practice, Big Conversations with Little Children helps educators support young children in a way that preserves their dignity and innocence when they encounter world and social events in addition to honoring the family’s preferred approach. An expert in the field of early childhood education, author Dr. Lauren Starnes empowers educators and families to answer sensitive or tough questions children pose, respond to their worries and concerns, and be prepared for an ongoing dialogue. Digital content includes family take-home information sheets for each topic.
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Paperback $34.99 86321 Paperback 86321 $34.99
ISBN: 978-1-63198-632-1
Audience: Early childhood and elementary school educators of children ages 2–8
Trim Size: 8.5" x 11"
Page Count: 228
Digital Content: Includes family take-home information sheets for each topic
Praise for Big Conversations with Little Children

“As I read Big Conversations with Little Children, I kept thinking: ‘Have I been waiting for this book for years—all my professional career?’ There isn’t one topic left uncovered no matter how uncomfortable or challenging. What a courageous author. Lauren Starnes understands that children need us as they try to make sense of our complex world. She thoroughly guides us through each challenging topic with practical suggestions, including reflecting on our own emotional discomfort as we find ways to talk about everything and anything with young children and their families. An important book. It makes me wish I had written it!”—Tamar Jacobson, Ph.D., early childhood development and education consultant for early childhood programs, organizations, and families, and author of Everyone Needs Attention: Helping Young Children Thrive
“Human relationships must have two components to survive: trust and communication. When our kids ask questions, it is imperative to be honest in our answers to preserve and build trust. But how do we communicate our answers both appropriately and effectively? Big Conversations with Little Children by Lauren Starnes is instrumental in providing both early educators and parents directions on how to navigate through this process. It’s a game changer when it comes to building relationships! A must-have for everyone who interacts with young children.”—Julia Cook, international best-selling children’s author
Big Conversations with Little Children is one of the most important books for everyone who works with young children to read during these turbulent and uncertain times. Young children are trying to understand the world around them and rely upon the adults in their lives to answer their questions in ways that will help them feel safe and cared for. Lauren’s thoughtful and thorough approach emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining relationships with the child as well as the families you work with.”—Barbara Kaiser, co-author, Challenging Behavior in Young Children and Addressing Challenging Behavior: The Leader's Role
“In Big Conversations with Little Children, Lauren Starnes offers developmentally appropriate strategies to early childhood educators on how to address fears and worries surrounding children in their ecological systems, from the microsystem (e.g., incarceration) to the chronosystem (e.g., social upheaval). A timely book that invites educators not only to affirm children’s feelings but also to empower them to understand issues they care/worry about in an age-appropriate way. Dr. Starnes prepares educators to build knowledge and skills to handle the unexpected, inspires educators to scaffold children’s emotionality and agency development, and invites educators to strengthen the connection among children’s ecological systems.”—Shu-Chen “Jenny” Yen, Ph. D., professor, child and adolescent studies, California State University, Fullerton 
“Lauren Starnes has written a beautiful and much-needed resource for our field inside her new book. Early childhood educators, leaders, and parents can all utilize Lauren’s wonderfully crafted communication tools for having elegant conversations with young children in challenging times. The world needs this book. Well done!”—Kris Murray, founder of The Child Care Success Academy
“Research tells us in no uncertain terms that caring, responsive adults stand to play a hugely important role in helping young children learn to work through their feelings. What becomes far less certain when confronted with complex family and social issues ranging from drug abuse and deployment to death or divorce, however, is just where to begin, much less how to engage in such daunting conversations. That’s where Big Conversations comes in. Rather than steering clear, Dr. Starnes offers clear and concise language and real-world examples to help fellow early educators confidently rise to the challenge. Complete with detailed and developmentally appropriate strategies and plenty of printable pages designed specifically to be shared with families, this book offers anyone who cares about young children’s well-being a framework for respectfully supporting them and their families through tough times.”—Laura Jana, MD, FAAP, pediatrician, educator, health communicator, and author of The Toddler Brain
“We are already having big conversations with little children in the early childhood setting, but we might not be READY for them. Dr. Starnes’s book prepares the practitioner for meaningful connection with kids on a great variety of big conversations with nearly an encyclopedia of examples. Her specific guidance for supporting social and emotional experiences in young children is spot-on and she provides clear verbiage for early educators to use with example conversations alongside supporting research and evidence-based practice. While it may not be possible to have all the answers all the time, Big Conversations with Little Children will light the path for thoughtful, responsive, and connected conversations when we don't know where to begin.”—Molly Breen, M.A., E.C.E., preschool director, St. Paul, MN
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Mindful Classrooms
Intentional Teaching in Early Childhood

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