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New book teaches children about disinformation

Book cover and image of author Cornelia Maude Spelman.
Laura Marie, publicist
Writer Cornelia Maude Spelman.

Cornelia Maude Spelman’s new book helps parents show their children that it is not hard to see what is true and what is not.

Formerly a children and family therapist, Cornelia Maude Spelman is an artist and the author of several children’s books and a memoir. Her newest book is called A Foot is Not a Fish!

Written in verse and with playful illustrations, the book points out observable truths by making absurd comparisons.

In a recent What We’re Reading interview Spelman addressed the big question her book asks: What if some of us thought that a foot was a fish?

Spelman explained, “It's simply common sense: up is not down, black is not white, day is not night. It helps children with their critical thinking. But of course, it's really a book for everybody.”

A Foot is Not a Fish! is also very timely. The 2024 elections are just months away and political candidates are featured in the news daily. It’s not uncommon for children to see or hear news stories around false claims and disinformation. Spelman has some advice about how to talk to children about the elections.

“It's confusing for children. It's confusing for adults. ‘Why are people saying things that aren't true?’ Or. ‘my mom says this is true and other people says it's not true.’ We have to help strengthen children's own perceptions of reality."

"They have a pretty strong sense of reality. If something isn't fair or isn't true, they'll say that's not true. They mostly know once they're past toddlerhood that a wish is not the same as something that's true. It's not a new technique-- it's the old technique of connection to trusted adults and conversation.”

Find more information on Cornelia Maude Spelman and A Foot is Not a Fish! on her webpage.

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What We're Reading is made possible in part by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

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Tammy works at Bemidji State University's library, and she hosts "What We're Reading," a show about books and authors.