JDAIM Reads! for Kids

SPARK: A Book About Thought Book CoverSPARK: A Book About Thought

Spark: A Book About Thought is a whimsical book for children (and adults too!) that goes deep behind the scenes of life to discover the source of our feelings.

Kids learn a lot about feelings these days, but rarely hear a consistent message about where feelings come from. Whether a child is dealing with fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, insecurity, or any other intense emotion, a clear understanding of how that is working within them is the foundation of emotional health.

Spark opens the door to important psychological and spiritual discussions with kids of all ages, by introducing the tangibly spiritual nature of all human beings – the fact that we are having a metaphysical experience, and not a direct physical one.

Spark points to a common denominator in all people and invites us to see the possibilities for the wellbeing and resilience of us all.

About the Author

Esty Raskin is a wife, mother, and graphic designer living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn NY. She has been learning and teaching about emotional wellbeing for several years. Esty is creating a grade-school curriculum to accompany Spark and is also in the midst of writing a middle-school curriculum on resilience. She is available for classroom readings as well as workshops for parents and teachers.

I Have a Question about Death

Death is a difficult topic for any parent or educator to explain to a child, perhaps even more so when the child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder or other Special Needs. This book is designed specifically to help children with these additional needs to understand what happens when someone dies.

The first book of its kind, I Have a Question about Death uses straightforward text and images to walk children through what it means when someone dies, as well as ways they might cope with the loss and remember the person. Using clear illustrations throughout and with information for parents and caregivers, this book is essential for families with a child age 5-11 with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other special needs.


About the Authors

Meredith Englander Polsky, MSW, LCSW, MS Special Education, has been working at the intersection of social work and special education for more than 15 years. She has a proven track record of recognizing an unmet need and creating a successful solution. She founded Matan, Inc. (www.matankids.org) in the year 2000, recognizing a significant gap in the Jewish community’s ability to include children with special needs and their families. Ms. Polsky is a 2017 Covenant Award recipient and lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland with her husband and three children, ages 13, 11 and 9.

Arlen Grad Gaines, MSW, LCSW-C, ACHP-SW is a licensed clinical social worker with an advanced certification in hospice and palliative social work.  She received a Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland with a specialization in Aging. She has worked at the Jewish Social Service Agency Hospice in Rockville, MD since 2008, and has developed a specialization in supporting families who have children with special needs around death and dying. Ms. Gaines lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and two children, ages 15 and 11.



Mayim Bialik, Actress:
“Death is hard enough to explain to kids, but imagine explaining it to a child with special needs. This beautiful book written by Arlen Gaines and Meredith Polsky is a wonderful resource for anyone faced with the daunting task of discussing death with a special needs child.”

Benay Josselson, Mother of child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder:
“In the wake of my husband’s unexpected death, I searched for a book to help me talk about grief with my 8-year-old son with Autism. I was surprised not to find anything to meet his needs – the books focused on much older people dying, or used metaphors that were beyond his reach. I Have a Question about Death is a book that every family should have on hand when they are experiencing the death of someone in their lives. It addresses the types of questions I got from both my sons (one with Autism and one ‘neuro-typical’) and answers them in a clear, concrete way. Our family would have benefited immensely from this invaluable resource and I’m thrilled it now exists to help others.”

Amazon reviewer:
This book is really extraordinary and I recommend it for any child. My 7-year-old does not have special needs but he sat down and read it through and it brought up a wonderful conversation. Too often death is portrayed in metaphor, but I think that serves adults more than kids. This book is straightforward and honest and it is really a gem. I am so grateful to have it. Brava to the authors!!

Font Resize