Friday, April 13, 2012


Co-authors - Cherie Benjoseph LCSW & Sally Berenzweig MEd, MA
Speaking with Cherie:

What inspired you to begin writing?
In my practice as a  school social worker many years ago, I developed a love for the use of books in my counseling with children.  After we founded KidSafe, we were inspired to write Prevention Education books to both use in our program, and most importantly, to share with parents nationwide so they could teach their children personal safety at home. 

Sally, the co-author, was inspired by her Aunt, the late famous author, Laurie Colwin.

What was the inspiration behind your award winning title,
My Body is Special and Belongs to Me?
Parents inspired us!  Without fail at our adult seminars - parents would express their concern about wanting to talk with their children about the important topic of safe and unsafe touch and good and bad secrets, but were afraid they would scare their children instead of empower them.  This need - for parents to have "the conversation" in book form, easy-to-read, fun "real" pictures, and teaching from a place of fun, not fear (the KidSafe philosophy) was the inspiration for our book.  Every child needs to know that they have the right to be safe!  What better way to share that important lesson than through reading with your child.

Who is your favorite author?
Presently I do not have a favorite author - there are too many to choose from.  But I will give a thumbs up to my 12 year old son's favorite author, Rick Riordan.  I hope he continues to write - as my son is reading a book of his a week, and it makes me a very happy mother.

What is your favorite book?
Gavin De Becker's The Gift of Fear - inspired and empowered me to reconnect to my intuition.  We women just "know" - but sometimes we forget to tune in. This book was a great wake up  -  and an inspiration to the message of KidSafe.

Do you have any other published works?
Our first book - Jack Teaches His Friends to be KidSafe!, is heading into its second edition this winter.

Tell us a little about yourself:
I am first and foremost a mom of two amazing children who inspire me to write and teach others about keeping our children safe.  I have always been an avid reader and fell in love with children's literature during my child lit class in college  -  Dr. Glass, my professor, is the only teacher I have kept in touch with after 25 years.  This love for books and connecting with others is the driving force for our books, magazine articles and blogs.

Do you have any new books in the works?
Our goal is to continue our Safe and Smart Series, providing a children's picture book for each of the KidSafe Skills we teach in our curriculum.  We cannot reiterate enough the importance of children learning through the use of books.  We find retention and comprehension of the skills we teach are so apparent in the children who are using the KidSafe books at home.  There is not better way for a parent to spend quality time with their child than reading to them.

What challenges do you face as an author?
Being an author of educational books, and I speak for both Sally and myself, is the challenge of sharing the messages and lessons in an age appropriate, yet exciting-to-read manner and keeping the book fun and child friendly.  We also want the adult readers to gain the information so they can "continue the conversation."  We are always grappling with finding ways to make the materials user friendly for everyone.  And of course, there is always the challenge of finding the time to write!

Do you ever suffer from writer's block?
Of course!  - Sometimes I just write a nonsensical first sentence to get the juices flowing and then go back to edit.  It helps get rid of the blank page syndrome.

Can you offer any tips on how to get published?
We have a lot of experience in the realm of self-publishing which we would be happy to share.  On an aside - We, Sally and I, have embraced the new platform of blogging (we are on ten sites presently and you can find our blog on our website) to get our message out to the adults regarding personal safety and parenting.  This venue is very different from writing a children's book but has led to many new contacts in the publishing world - including having articles published in print magazines.

Any further thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
There is no greater gift we can give our children than to read to them. It does not matter what age they are.  And books are especially helpful to read with your children when introducing sensitive topics.  So cozy up and enjoy My Body is Special and Belongs to Me!

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Reviews & Awards

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