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Published:January 11th, 2011 09:57 EST
Loving Healing Work for Children: Interview with Victor Volkman

Loving Healing Work for Children: Interview with Victor Volkman

By Ernest Dempsey

The Loving Healing Press of Michigan, USA, has been publishing books that aim at making a positive difference in the lives of their readers. Combining self-help topics with an inspirational writing style, Loving Healing titles are getting more popular with time and the press has already opened a number of imprints for its various kinds of books. Here, my interview with publisher of the press Victor Volkman is focused on helpful books for children, something the Loving Healing Press has been doing consistently and with an impressive spirit of commitment.   

Ernest: Victor, what types of books does Loving Healing Press publish?

Victor: We publish books about self-help, personal growth, trauma recovery, and overcoming disabilities in our main line of products which we`ve been working on since 2005. In the last two years, we`ve rolled out the "Growing With Love" series which addresses many of these issues as they apply to the world of
the developing child and adolescent as well as behavioral issues. 

Ernest: So these are self-help books for children?

Victor: Not exactly, they are designed for use by parents with their children and often under the guidance of a counselor or professional who might be a play therapist, social worker, psychologist, and so on. We cover the hard problems of growing up which we feel a lot of the mainstream presses don`t address well or at all. Many counselors have studied the therapeutic power of storytelling, so we try to incorporate that at all times.

Ernest: Tell us specifically what types of problems do these address?

Victor: We address a wide range of issues from the purely medical, such as our wildly popular book for parents entitled The O MY in Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy: how to prepare your child for surgery, a parent`s manual by Dr. Laurie Zelinger, to the emotional such as separation and loss in Billy Had to Move, a story about a boy`s journey into foster care after his grandmother who had been his primary caregiver passes away. We also have a number of books about childhood sexual abuse and take on the subject from a number of different angles.

Ernest:  What kinds of abuse recovery books have you been publishing for children?

Victor: We have a variety of authors contributing several different points of view. There are usually a few key goals of the literature. First of all, to make sure the child knows that it was never their fault, they are not to blame in what happened to them. Secondly, to let them know that they are not the only person in the world that this has happened to; they are not somehow uniquely bad or different.  Thirdly, to focus on prevention of further incidents, for example by educating about boundaries and what to do if they are not respected. Last, there is an emphasis on discovering feelings, recognizing them, and building on self-image through affirmations and recognizing the positive.

Some books build on specific incidents or scenarios: Annabelle`s Secret deals with abuse from an older neighborhood boy. Reena`s Bollywood Dream has an uncle who grooms a girl for making movies of her.  REPAIR for Kids aged 6 to 12 and the brand new REPAIR for Toddlers are a pair of books by Marjorie McKinnon, a leader whose abuse recovery network has more than 50 chapters worldwide. Her books are largely educational in terms of prevention; what to do in an emergency, games and activities to restore self-esteem and optimism, all within a prescribed seven-stage program.

Ernest: And are there books dealing with behavioral issues

Victor: Yes, we have a new title on AD/HD called AD/HD SUCCESS! Solutions for Boosting Self-Esteem: The Diary Method, which is a problem that many books before have tried to tackle. Kerin Bellak-Adams` work is unique in that it takes a child-centered approach based on acknowledging them for what they did do right, building systems to help them manage their time and energy, and a series of communication forms so that parents and educators can evaluate progress for continuous improvement. 

Another innovative title is Got An Angry Kid? Parenting Spike: A Seriously Difficult Child by Dr. Andrew D. Gibson, a family therapist who works with kids that seem to have intractable problems, with all kinds of scary psychiatric labels, such as oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and so on. His radical approach, which is validated by two decades of success stories, is to simply work on the parents. He has a set of 25 behavioral guidelines, which, if the parents stick with them, will produce outstanding results.  The first rule is No Yelling ". Why eliminate yelling?  Well, if yelling was effective at all, the situation would not have escalated to where it is now.

Ferdinand uses the Potty: An empowering bedwetting tale is a fun, rhyming story about a frog that has bedwetting issues and is scared of using the potty. Again, there is the aspect of normalizing the behavior so the child doesn`t feel shame and blame for everything, which never leads anywhere constructive of course.

Ernest: Okay Victor, you mentioned disabilities in the beginning. What do you have on that subject?

Victor: This is one of our newest subject areas and so we have a book in progress called What Do You Use to Help Your Body? in which the main character Maggie travels the neighborhood with her mom and they ask people they meet that question? Again this helps normalize the idea that not all bodies are perfect and people can use things to help them without shame or expecting ridicule. That book makes me cry every time I read it. Another book in development is I`m not Weird, I have Sensory Processing Disorder, a children`s book by Chynna Laird whose memoir Not Just Spirited!: A Mom`s Sensational Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder came out last year. SPD is a growing problem and it basically is a condition where kids are hypersensitive to sights, sounds, smells, kinesthetic sensations, and even can`t stand to be touched by their own parents. It brings up all kinds of issues from clothing to food to you name it.

Ernest: That`s inspiring! You also mentioned personal-growth types of books. Do these types of books really apply to children?

Victor: I`ve been working with a few authors who are committed to developing abilities in youngsters along with self-esteem, judgment, and respect for others. Specifically, Robin Marvel has been leading the way with her Awakening Consciousness series of books for boys and girls. These books also use native American stories and legends to help make their points while safely allowing children to explore some New Age concepts like chakras, aura reading, and drumming circles. There are also a lot of arts and crafts activities included in that. We recognize it won`t be everyone`s cup of tea but for those with an open mind or who have children that are already asking questions, it might be the ideal book for them.

Ernest: What about your authors? Where do they come from, especially those writing children`s books?

Victor: In general, we have authors from around the world including Pakistan, Iraq, the UK, Australia, Canada, the US and so on. For the children`s books our authors have been only from the US and Canada so far.

Ernest: How do illustrations work in children`s books? Do authors have to get their books illustrated before getting your interest?

Ernest: Currently, we`re not soliciting for new children`s authors. In general, we`re trying to build new products from our existing base of authors rather than taking on any new authors in 2011. The time required to bring a new author up to speed is exhausting and we get more synergy by keeping our existing authors busy and productive. But to answer the question, we don`t accept story proposals anymore unless they have a storyboard developed with them. The author needs to understand what illustration will go with what text. It`s that simple. Otherwise, you get situations where you have 2 or 3 pages of text with no illustrations and stretches of 2-3 pages of illustrations without hardly any text. Kids love consistency and then consistently complain when a book can`t maintain some kind of rhythm. For example, it might be as simple as text on the left page, picture on the right " or picture above and text below ", but don`t go trying to mix and match styles, because then you get the ransom note " effect and that`s not pretty.

Ernest: That`s interesting! What are your biggest challenges in publishing children`s books?

Victor: Well that`s not hard to answer; getting color books printed economically is our biggest hurdle.  Tradition says that to do a children`s book right, you have to print at least 2,000 copies overseas, which takes a fair amount of time and money. You just can`t get competitive pricing in the USA for color books.  For now, we`ve been using print-on -demand in the USA, UK, and Australian markets, which allows us to have an international reach we otherwise couldn`t get. However, it does mean that our books suffer when compared to cheaper mass-produced books which sell for $10 or less. Our children`s books list at $16 and up, but are usually on discount at Amazon for at least 30% off.

Ernest: Where can our readers find out more about these amazing books?

Victor: Just go to www.LHPress.com and click on the button for Growing with Love " on the left hand column

Ernest: Thank you Victor for taking time and telling us about your work!

Victor: Thanks for having me take your interview!