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Local author pens kids book with a message

By: Laura Albright, Loomis News Correspondent
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A local educator believes that happiness can be taught and has written a children's book to illustrate it. “Your Leaves Are Pretty” by Joanne Jeffers Veeck, of Loomis, is the story of a group of trees living in Capitol Park, in Sacramento. The educational story was written for children as young as seven and combines botany and agricultural facts with a fun and heartwarming story about tree characters that have been transplanted to a new and daunting environment. The story’s underlying message is of kindness, hard work and never giving up. Jeffers Veeck is a lifetime credentialed teacher and has dedicated over 15 years to researching positive psychology. She is a member of the National Speaker’s Association and has not only focused on positive psychology in her motivational talks, but has taken a special interest in reaching children with the message through her books. When asked what gave her the idea to write “Your Leaves are Pretty,” Jeffers Veeck said, “I believe that children should have fun when they read and at the same time the story should integrate messages and facts in an unthreatening way.” She said the main message in “Your Leaves are Pretty” is that “We all need compassion from others around us. When you enter a new environment or school, instead of relying on everyone to make you happy, you should do what you need to do to make yourself happy.” Jeffers Veeck said the single most important discovery she has made during her research is, “happiness can be taught and it should be regarded as a subject in our schools. It should begin in kindergarten and continue instruction and training at each grade level through high school and college.” Jacqueline Workman, a second grade teacher at Aspen Creek School in Broomfield, Colo., uses positive psychology techniques with her students. “I have used ‘Your Leaves are Pretty’ in my classroom many times. As an educator, developing the emotional intelligence of a child is one of the most important aspects of their leaning capabilities. Learning how to improve your emotional literacy and being able to read others’ faces and body language truly can differentiate happy, successful students who leave school with skills that can be applied outside the classroom.” McKenna Kelly, a fifth grader at Skyridge Elementary School in Auburn, related to the story and said, "I think that if I moved to a new place, like the trees, I'd be depressed because I'd miss my friends. But if I was nice to everyone and they were nice to me, it would make it easier." Jeffers Veek is also the author of “The Greatest Gift of All” and co-author of “Stepping Stones to Success.” Signed and personalized books are available for purchase at www.jjhappyhour.com; or from amazon.com.