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Interview with Julia Cook, Author of Space Camp

I am thrilled to present an interview with Julia Cook, a children’s book author that I admire for her great work. I appreciate her dedication and passion for making children’s literature a tool to help children with varying needs and difficult situations including anxiety, ADHD, behavior issues, depression, social communication disorders and many other important topics.

Julia Cook was born and raised in Salt Lake City Utah. While living in Utah, she became actively involved in teaching children how to ski. That experience led to a love of teaching in general. Julia now lives in Fremont, Nebraska. She has a Master’s degree in Elementary School Counseling. While serving as a school counselor, Julia often used children’s books to enhance her classroom lessons. She is now well-recognized as a national award-winning children’s book author and parenting expert. With over one million books in print, Julia has presented in over 900 schools across the country, regularly delivers keynote addresses at national education and counseling conferences, and has 72 published children’s books. The goal behind all of Julia’s books and efforts is to actively involve young people into her fun and creative stories and teach them to become life-long problem solvers. Inspirations for her books come from working with children and carefully listening to parents and teachers. Julia’s books have been referenced in such publications as Parent’s Magazine, The New Yorker, Green Child Magazine, Parenting Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Yahoo.com, dr.laura.com and babyzone.com. She has also been featured on CNN’s HLN News, The Daily Buzz, and several large metropolitan networks. She is the recipient of numerous book awards including The National Parenting Seal of Approval, Mom’s Choice Award, and Association of Educational Publisher’s – Distinguished Achievement Award. In her spare time, Julia enjoys spending time with her husband and family.

“In order to teach children, you must enter their view of the world.”
– Julia Cook


Do you have a child that doesn’t understand personal space? Many children who are both typical and have special needs struggle with giving others personal space. Many children who have ADHD or any social communication disorder may have difficulty with this concept of personal space and can struggle to learn why others are reacting negatively to him or her during specific situations.

Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook is about boy named Louis who wants to be an astronaut and loves outer space. He loves showing his friend Rusty how comets smash right into satellites by smashing into him. Another time he wants to show his friend Betty Jean how gravity works by doing a lunar landing and falling directing on his friend’s leg. His teacher always uses her “cranky” voice each time Louis invades other people’s personal space but he never understands why.

Louis gets invited to participate in personal space camp with the school principal, Principal Goodkid. Principal Goodkid teaches Louis and other children all about the important of personal space with a few simple demonstrations. She defined personal space and how we all need depending on the specific situation. She uses a hula hoop to describe the amount of space a personal usually needs to be feel comfortable. She then presents a demonstration of blowing bubbles to represent how each persons comfort bubble is different. Louis benefites greatly from these lesson at personal space camp and is then able to avoid getting into his other friends “comfort bubble” in the future.

Invading other people’s personal space can be a significant issue that can cause negative reactions from others. For those children who struggle with social skills and interpreting social cues, Personal Space Camp can be a beneficial book to have in your library. For example in the book, Louis notices how his teacher uses her “cranky voice” when he invades other peoples space which became a cue to monitor where his body is to others. I read this book during mealtime and it was very successful. It’s a book that can be read many times because each time you read it you can discuss various concepts. For example, one time you can focus on social cues. Other times you can discuss and define personal space. Another time you can read the book and then do a demonstration of what Principal Goodkid does. An excellent book for both parents and teachers!

To check out some personal space activities, check out these ideas here. 

To check out a more comprehensive guide to teaching social skills, check out this free resource here which includes a chapter on personal space.

To check out Julia Cook’s website with ideas and other books, click here.

Personal Space Camp


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To check out a full list of Julia Cook’s books, click here.

Check out my questions below that I know you will find helpful when reading to your children at mealtime!

interview julia 1. Can you discuss your background and how you began writing books?
I received a Master’s Degree in Elementary School Counseling. As a counselor, my goal was to teach children how to become effective life-long problem solvers. In grad school, one of my college professors taught me the power of using children’s literature (bibliotherapy) to teach tough life concepts. During my third year as a school counselor, my kids were struggling with tattling. I searched extensively for a book on tattling and when I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I decided to write a story for my students. After reading the story to several classes, and seeing the positive effects, one of my colleagues encouraged me to take my story to the next level and get it published. I submitted my story to a publishing company that specialized in producing counseling books for children, and within a couple of month my first book was out. I now work with two publishing companies and 9 illustrators, which has resulted in publishing over 70 books in the last 9 years.
2. What was your inspiration behind writing Personal Space Camp?
A teacher that I was working with asked me to write a story regarding the issue of personal space. I had a child on my caseload who had an issue with this particular topic.
3. I see that you have an activity book to go with Personal Space Camp. Please tell me more about it and how it can be useful for parents and teachers.
The activity book provides additional activities and discussion questions to help teach children how to recognize and respect the personal space zones of others, and understand the value of respecting other’s feelings by giving them the “room” they need.
4. I love your tips in the book about using the hula hoop and bubbles as an example of explaining personal space and how it differs according to the person you are with. Do you have any other tips for parents in teaching their children personal space?
Have your child create their own invisible bubble. Ask your child about their invisible bubble and how it can be varied in size depending on who they are spending time with (e.g. family and friends versus less familiar people). Have your children practice both staying inside and popping their invisible bubbles!

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