Dr. Diane Rogers is a social psychologist, author, educator, and researcher. Her focuses are to advance children’s social and emotional education and promote mental health awareness using her expertise in psychology and human development. She developed Storycatching®, a method to help K-5 children build the psychological resources they need to overcome challenges and build positive relationships.
Her first children’s book, Stand Tall: Growing the Courage to be Uniquely You was selected as an official resource for compassionate education at the Seeds of Compassion conference featuring HH the 14th Dalai Lama in Seattle, Washington. If you would like to find out more about Dr. Diane Rogers and her books, please visit her at her website – Storycatching.
I am very excited to interview Dr. Diane Rogers to learn about her journey as children’s books author and how her books help children around the world.
J.J. Gow: How did you embark your journey as Children’s book author?
Dr. Diane Rogers: The journey began in a strange and unexpected way. I’ve written stories and poetry all my life, but one day Stand Tall whooshed through me.
My son was being badly bullied at school in Sydney, Australia. As a parent, I was at my wit’s end. I had already talked to every level of teacher and administrator and had done everything in my power to get to the bottom of the issue. My son is a great communicator and emotionally intelligent. He understood the situation even better than I did. He finally told me to stop trying to “fix it.” Despite the circumstances, my son refused to be a victim. He also refused to strike back at those who continuously taunted him.
One day, I sat him down and suggested that maybe it might be okay if he stood up to them. Although I’m not one to condone violence, I thought maybe we should talk about him fighting back. When I started the conversation, he jumped up off the couch and stood faced me with fire in his eyes. “I could be like them, mom,” he said. “But why should I? It’s not who I am.”
That’s when I knew he would be okay. It was clear to me that my son knew who he was and what he stood for.
But I wasn’t okay.
My son didn’t want me to interfere or get involved anymore, yet doing nothing made me feel helpless. I’m not the kind of person who is used to standing back. One day when I was driving by myself, I sent out this kind of a plea or prayer to the universe. “How can I help?” I begged. “What can I do? What can I say?” The words to Stand Tall came to me to me with a force, as though they were being embedded in my brain. Then I heard a “voice” tell me to pull the car over. I grabbed a pen and a scraggly piece of paper from my purse and wrote the words I’d been given exactly as I’d heard them.
Stand Tall is a picture book affirming the power of courage, self-belief, and compassion—qualities I witnessed in my son through an ordeal that lasted several years. No child should be made to feel inferior or unwanted, but instead of perpetuating the cycle of violence, my son chose courage. He stayed true to himself and his values. Years later, he was voted high school president. His ability to Stand Tall served as a model for others and became instrumental in creating a culture of kindness at his school. Today he holds a leadership position in a global organization.
J.J. Gow: Tell us about your other books: When We All Stand Tall, Emerge: A Story of Confidence. What is the most rewarding experience in publishing these two books?
Dr. Diane Rogers: Emerge is the story of Little Seed who feels scared and alone when
darkness comes. The garden creatures whisper encouraging messages to help the adorable main character “dig deep for courage” and remember that good things are happening even when we can’t see them. The words of encouragement help Little Seed make a heroic journey from doubt to self-confidence. The captivating store teaches children that patience, courage, and self-belief can transform fear.
When We All Stand Tall is a heartwarming sequel to Stand Tall. It is the story of what happens after the main character takes the high road when others are putting him down and calling him names. It teaches children that courage and compassion are contagious. The book is a celebration of unity in diversity and demonstrates the virtues of kindness, respect, and acceptance
The most rewarding experience of publishing these two books has been watching children’s faces when they get the message. You can literally see the “light bulb” moment when children get the “ah ha” moment. The books give a them language for discussing uncomfortable emotions, such as fear, uncertainty, hurt, anger, disappointment. They also help children understand the value of dignity, kindness, and perseverance.
J.J. Gow: Tell us more about StorycatchingR and three advices for parents/ teachers to help kids through StorycatchingR?
Dr. Diane Rogers: Just as a dreamcatcher wards off negative dreams, Storycatching® method empowers K-6 children “catch” negative patterns before they turn into poor social and emotional habits. Children learn to understand and moderate their emotions, use pro-social behaviors, make healthy behavior choices, and manage peer relationships in positive ways. They learn how to master stress and take steps to improve their personal happiness and well-being.
My three pieces of advice for parents/teachers and kids is – Stop. Breathe. Connect.
J.J. Gow: What are the valuable lessons you learn during the process of publishing?
Dr. Diane Rogers: I’ve learned to be patient and that books have a life of their own.
J.J. Gow: What are some of your other work in progress? Do you write daily?
Dr. Diane Rogers: My next book is called “Bloom.” It’s about self-esteem and the title pretty much gives the message away. It is currently in the illustration process and due out in 2017.
My writing process is as chaotic as my life. I wish I could say that I had the discipline to write daily, but I don’t. I do, however, think daily. By that I mean, I carry what I’m working on in my head and let it talk to me when I have the space in my day.
When I feel passionate and inspired, I’m a much better writer. When I can catch what flows to me, I’m more productive and feel happier.
J.J. Gow: One thing you would like your readers know about you, what will that be?
Dr. Diane Rogers: Just one? (smile)
J.J. Gow: Do you attend writers’ conferences? Which is your favorite and why?
Dr. Diane Rogers: I haven’t yet, but would like to.
J.J. Gow: Which was your favorite book when you were a child? What memory do you have associating with it?
Dr. Diane Rogers: The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. The book is about the one least expected to do great things. I loved the illustrations and the feeling of journeying with the main character to unexpected heights. I also remember how the book emphasizes the value of team work – the Country Bunny could only reach her goal because others were willing to work together so that she could take up a heroic task.
J.J. Gow: If you can co-write a book with your favorite author, who will that be?
Dr. Diane Rogers: Brene Brown and Anthony Bourdain. As a psychologist and avid foodie, I’m pretty sure the three of us would give birth to a spicy, soulful travel guide.
J.J. Gow: Here are some fun facts questions to share with your readers/ fans. What is your usual choice of beverage when you write?
Dr. Diane Rogers: Green tea. I love coffee, but I think green tea is much more soothing.
J.J. Gow: What is your favorite city that you visited?
Dr. Diane Rogers: Twenty years ago, I went to Sydney for 3 months and ended up living there, so it’s probably my favorite English speaking city. After that, Istanbul runs a close second.
J.J. Gow: What is your favorite breakfast dish?
Dr. Diane Rogers: When I’m in California, I don’t typically eat breakfast. But when I’m in my other home in Sydney, Australia, my favorite thing to do is walk to through the labyrinth of narrow streets and park myself for hours in a sidewalk cafe overlooking the sparkling harbor. I order what my Aussie husband calls, “a proper coffee” along with my favorite Aussie breakfast of soft poached eggs on a bed of spinach with avocado, grilled Roma tomatoes, and sautéed mushrooms. Yum!
J.J. Gow: If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
Dr. Diane Rogers: If you’d have asked me a year ago, I would have said this: My perfect day would be to fly to Paris for hot croissants and coffee followed by lunch in Venice with a Gondola ride and an Aperol Spritz in St. Marks Square culminating in dinner and a Broadway show in New York. But since losing our beloved English Cocker Spaniel last October, my perfect day would include a long walk with her on the beach followed by coffee in Laguna Village with her at my feet. The day would end with a furry cuddle and seeing her beautiful curled up body at the foot of the bed before I turn out the lights.
I’d trade another amazing day of travel for one more ordinary day with Hailey any day of the week.
J.J. Gow: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of writing/publishing?
Dr. Diane Rogers: The craziest thing is to run a community workshop that culminates in a parade of parents and children marching through the center of town holding paper flowers on sticks shouting “Stand Tall”.
J.J. Gow: Thank you, Diane for giving me the pleasure to interview you!