Trini author pens kids book on manners

A report by Alexandra Simon for Caribbean Life.

She’s all about manners.

A Trinidadian-American teacher and author is releasing a new children’s book about general courtesy and manners. Debut author Amarimba Charles, introduces youngsters to the do’s and don’ts of employing common courtesy and politeness in her book, “Please and Thank You are Magic Words! A Story About Manners And Etiquette.” The idea for the book was inspired by two events she encountered — continually finding an abundance of instructional books on etiquette, and often discovering religious based books on the subject. As an educator who also specializes in teaching etiquette classes, Charles says she saw the need for a more kid-friendly book on the topic.

“When I started doing etiquette classes I was looking around for a workbook that I would be able to take lesson plans from and help me plan my classes — but most of the books were all instructio­nal,” she said.

Working with children and having a 7-year-old, Charles said she felt the format was too explanatory to interest young readers and would not appeal to them as much as a creative story would.

“I don’t think those types of books would go over well with them, and I know someone like my daughter prefers a story that she can learn from, as opposed to something saying don’t do this or don’t do that,” she said.

The characters in the 118-page book are based off of herself and children she knows. She said by using herself and her oldest daughter to establish her protagonists, allowed her to create more realistic characters she could personally relate to them, more than she could.

“What I found was that it was easiest for me to put myself in the book and make characters that I learned from,” said Charles.

The book follows the story of 11-year-old Maggie, who learns about ‘magic words’ — the phrases that indicate respect and politeness, from her teacher Ms. Charles. In the title, Maggie and her classmates learn how to interact with each other using terms like “Excuse me” or “yes, please.”

Throughout the book, Charles explores the different instances and themes that would require common politeness, and how it should be used and exercised. She also details the importance of day-to-day courtesy.

“It’s generally about just having manners and the common things that we take for granted by just saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You,’” she said.

Raised to always practice politeness, Charles said moving to the United States from Trinidad caused a bit of confusion when she realized that customs regarding manners were not always the same here. And she sees this a lot with students.

“When I was going to school to what I see now — it’s very different,” said Charles. “Last week, the principal came in class, and the kids kept talking. When I went to school, children would stop what they’re doing and say good morning.”

She believes it is very important to teach children about employing manners in their early development because that lays the foundation as to what kind of adults they become.

“I think children should start learning manners in their formative years — from when they’re four years old, because that’s when school starts,” she said. “I think it’s very important from that age and maybe even before.”

Charles said she was passionate about ensuring that young children have the right ideas about life, and the personal skills they need to get there.

“This is a story about power, gratitude, having respect and being courteous, and using small things that can be beneficial in accomplish­ments,” she said. “Those who know how to exercise good manners stand a better chance to move farther in life, and in this book children get a head start.”

Please and Thank You are Magic Words! A Story About Manners And Etiquette” can be pre-ordered and purchased here: www.mymagicwordsbook.com.

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