When children and families experience the tough travels of life (like rejection, bullying, grief, loss and transition to name a few) emotional health is compromised. Generally children and youth live the moods they are experiencing in their household, unaware that there are probably much healthier ways to express their emotions, ways that help difficult times to have rainbows of hope. Ben Keckler and Dick Davis, author and illustrator of the “Express Yourself” series of children’s books, blend over six decades of experience addressing difficult issues of life with a goal of helping children develop emotionally healthy responses to the challenges they face. Keckler, an educator and counselor who listens to people’s personal stories, devotes his writing career to developing children’s books in verse form. He focuses on themes like loneliness, self-blame, anger, confusion as well as brighter feelings like joy and hope. Davis, recipient of numerous national awards, uses his artistic gifts to compliment the texts with captivating illustrations.

   Ben Keckler listens to the stories of people journeying through difficult life experiences and this is the foundation of his work. Presently the Director of a Hospital Chaplaincy program, his career has been spent in pastoral care of congregations that included two specialized settings: A Children and Youth Pastor and also a chaplain for emotionally disturbed teenagers. His work has primarily focused on children and families who deserve both advocacy and compassionate care. The “Express Yourself” series is another piece of his commitment to strengthening and building emotionally healthy people. Incredibly Lonely, That’s Me recently won a 2008 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Award – Gold Medal, Outstanding Book of the Year, Most Inspirational to Youth.

Selected Reviews of Ben’s Books

From Here To There (Express Yourself Series)
Ben Keckler
Illustrated by Dick Davis
   This well-written and beautifully illustrated book tells about a young man’s incredible journey through grief and illness. Every page encourages the reader to explore the roller coaster of feelings that range from fear, anger and sadness to happiness and peace that come from . . learning about the eternal. This book reminds all who are grieving and transitioning through life’s challenges that the journey has to be undertaken if one wants to find healing. “From Here to There” is a worthy companion through life’s transitions. 2005, Eagle Creek Publications, $16.95. Ages 8 to 12. © 2008 Reprinted with permission from Bereavement Publications, Inc, Living With Loss™ Magazine, Spring 2006, Vol. 20 No. 1, pg 38, (888)604-4673, www.livingwithloww.com

Incredibly Lonely, That’s Me (Express Yourself Series)
Ben Keckler
Illustrated by Dick Davis
   Incredibly Lonely, That’s Me is a children’s picture book featuring a poem about loneliness. Written from the perspective of a young girl who is still coming to terms with the loss of her beloved older sister, Incredibly Lonely, That’s Me touches on issues of painful feelings like grief, and the questions that plague a hurting young person – when will these haunting emotions go away? Is there hope in the world of loneliness? The illustrations by Dick Davis emphasize the protagonist’s feelings by showing her drawn in grey (sometimes with a slight touch of color when she dares to feel a little better) amid a colorful world. Highly recommended, especially as a tool to share with young people to help them work through their feelings. 2007, Eagle Creek Publications, $17.95. Ages 8 to 12. Midwest Book Review, November 2007, Oregon WI

My Friend, Matilda (Express Yourself Series)
Ben Keckler
Illustrated by Dick Davis
   A dog is a man’s best friend, right? Allow us to introduce Matilda. The poetry that unfolds in My Friend, Matilda is a story about “petship,” a word we couldn’t find in the dictionary. If it were to be defined, it might look like this: Pet-ship (pet’ship), n. 1. the state of being between a person and their pet. 2. feelings of understanding between a person and their pet. This is a story of a young man, Chris, and his golden retriever. My Friend, Matilda is the second book in the “Express Yourself” series and is designed to provide some clues about how to extend friendship to someone who is going through a difficult time in his life. Matilda faithfully journeys with Chris though his battle with a life-ending disease. 2006, Eagle Creek Publications, $17.95. Ages 8 to 12. Blurb from Eagle Creek Publications.

Program Details

All of Ben’s programs are designed with sensitivity to the developmental stages of the audience and have an underlying message: “Emotionally healthy people are peaceful people. As a person give imself/herself permission for expressions of their feelings (particularly those we try to hide), he/she can navigate through the tough travels of life.”

Elementary Programs include:

  • Letting Your Emotions Dance
  • How A Children’s Book Is Created

Upper Elementary Programs include:

  • Express Yourself – How Do I Do That?
  • How A Children’s Book Is Created

Junior High/Middle School Programs include:

  • What Does Express Yourself Really Mean?
  • How A Children’s Book Is Created

High School Programs include:

  • Naming and Claiming Tough Time Feelings
  • How Can I Be a Better Writer?

$100 per hour for student presentations
$450 for an entire school day with students, and includes a parent/teacher workshop
$450 for a conference speaking engagement
All travel and lodging to be covered by sponsoring event. Ben is willing to negotiate his program fees.

Additional Information

To learn more about Ben Keckler and his publications please visit www.eaglecreekpubs.com.