"A refreshing perspective on values education ..."

"A great book for your frustrated kiddos ..."

"A powerful message that is told in a gentle way ..."

"A children's story that brings out an inner struggle facing some children today in school."


But What if I Don’t Understand? by C.P. Siebenhuener
Publisher: Book Publishers Network
Genre: Contemporary, Children’s
Length: Short story (21 pages)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

But what if I don’t understand? Parents and grandparents raising school age children will have certainly or will most certainly be faced with this question by their children at some point in their education journey. As a mother of three, I’ve personally had frank discussions with all of my kids about how to deal with school subjects that they were not strongly versed in.

For my daughter, it was always math and for my sons, it was always reading but my suggestion on how to deal with what they didn’t understand was always the same. Ask questions. That’s what I liked about this simple short story. The mother doesn’t try to take on the role of the teacher, she doesn’t make excuses for the child, she doesn’t make the child feel unintelligent for not doing well on one test. She gives her sound advise that teaches her to take responsibility for her work and to learn good communication skills and she does this by example.

The mom in the story doesn’t get over agitated and stress out the already anxious child. Instead, she calmly sits down and gives her time to explain what she, Danielle, feels went wrong with this particular assignment. I loved that Mom didn’t make the child feel worse about a situation that had already put a sad face on the child’s day. The age of the child in the book isn’t disclosed but she looks to be about ten. That’s a very impressionable age.

While most parents will agree that sometimes children will run into a teacher who doesn’t like to repeat themselves, most (especially elementary age) teachers want to help. They want to know what the children don’t understand so they can address it. The Mom in this story points out that there are other children in the class who may not have grasped the concepts either who would have benefited from the teacher explaining again, maybe in a different way.

This story felt like many of the conversations that I’ve had with my own children and is very good advise for parents who may not be sure how to calm and advise a child who’s having difficulties in school. I highly recommend this short tutorial. Be sure to read the last page. It puts a very nice bit of closure on Danielle’s story.

 Review by Long and Short Reviews

 "I found But What If I Don't Understand? to be a delightfully-written and refreshing story that teaches a very valuable lesson about something people of all ages face at some point in their lives and communicates the importance of having the confidence to overcome every day fears and obstacles."  Lino E. Bracco, High School Principal, Long Island, New York School District

 "As an educator for the past 15 years, But What If I Don't Understand? is a refreshing perspective on values education; something that we as parents and educators are faced with on a daily basis."  J. Kocur, Director of Guidance at Hastings High School, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York


 "A great book for your frustrated kiddos - a great gift for the teacher as well. A little book like this in the hands of a few teachers in the lower grades could really boost the morale of some kids who would otherwise struggle silently. A great tool for communication. I hope it gets used widely!"
Lisa Barker,

 "The illustrations in this book remind me of those I enjoyed when I was a child. It has a powerful message that is told in a gentle way, without preaching. It will help children to overcome a fear that probably most of us had growing up, one that some adults still have."  Danek S. Kaus, Author of "Willoughby the Singing Whale" 

"This book starts with little Danielle, upset and bothered that she had a test today and her mark, though she passed, wasn't very good and she was worried that her mummy would be disappointed in her. Her mother noticing that Danielle is upset, sits down with Danielle and Danielle pours out to her mum the reason behind not doing too well. The age old answer of "Not understanding what the teacher is talking about". This is such an amazing topic to base a book on as it is one of the most common problems in schools - Children are not doing too well on tests or on schoolwork as they are afraid to ask questions, as if they do ask questions, the thoughts flicker across their little minds "Will the kids laugh at me, will the teacher think I’m stupid and even if she does explain it what happens If I still have no clue?. Trust me, this does happen. How do I know? Because I was exactly like Danielle at one stage. I hated asking questions in class, as I was so worried what others and the teacher would think and I ended up getting questions wrong in Math. An amazing quote in this book that really stood out to me and I would like to share it with readers was " Whatever the subject or lesson may be about, there will always be somebody to help you". This is so true and it can be applied anywhere you are, not just in the classroom. So Parents, I pass this tidbit to you: If your child is struggling in school, scared to ask questions. Then read this book to them and I guarantee after you have talked it over with your child, you will soon start to see improvements in not only their schoolwork but attitude too."
Paula Phillips, Children's & Teen Librarian and Book Reviewer (Tauranga, New Zealand)

"As a mother of 5 daughters, when I read this book , I realized that the warm, loving and sensitive story about Danielle, is a perfect tool for any parent or educator to explain to a child how they should be able to overcome the fear to ask questions and in turn find the answers to the challenges that life has to offer." Olga M. Portnoy, Former PTA President, Parkway Elementary School, Plainview, NY

"Your book was helpful between my daughter and myself; it gave her an opportunity to tell me a few stories about her feelings in the classroom.  Sometimes you don't get this out of your children until you read something like this with them and then they open up.  Thank you."  Patricia Kubus, Author of "Amanda Helps Becky Say Farewell"

"How difficult it could be to ask for help and special attention in front of everyone or even having the courage to ask in private. A children's story that brings out an inner struggle facing some children today in school. Everyone learns at different speeds and each subject is different to learn for each individual. I like how this book teaches a child to ask questions and not be afraid to pursue further to learn. I enjoyed reading this with my daughter, very nice."
Posted by Trisk K. on Amazon, Goodreads and Shelfari.

A very simple solution to a problem that students of all ages encounter at one time or another. In "But What if I DON'T Understand" author C.P.Siebenhuener shows the importance of letting children know it's okay to admit you don't understand something and ask for help. As an educator myself, I have seen students both young and old refuse to ask questions for a variety of reasons. This story is a great way to broach the subject with your students or children and let them know that teachers and adults DO understand and are willing to help!
Lisa A. Tortorello, Author of My Hero, My Ding

 "But What If I DON'T Understand?" begins with the child Danielle coming home from school, dragging her feet in an attempt to slow down the inevitable homecoming meeting with her mother. She has taken a test at school and has not done very well. Her fears cover a whole spectrum of concerns; disappointing her mother, being laughed at by her classmates and incurring her teachers wrath. Danielle's mother, however, is very understanding and quietly explains to Danielle why she must not worry and why it is alright to ask the teacher if there is anything at all she does not understand.

This book teaches children the importance of asking questions in order to stay abreast of the rest of the class. Too many children find themselves in Danielle's position, as they have done for generations. To not understand and to not ask is to be left behind. Both parents and children will be able to appreciate, via the straightforward, well-written and delightful dialogue, that this sort of communication problem can be overcome. This book also provides a very useful tool for educators who may well often overlook these reticent children in the classroom. The message is expressed in a sweet and sensible way by a loving parent to her child. It really is quite endearing.
I highly recommend this book to anyone whose own child may be having difficulties at school through not being able to keep up. Or one who teaches a child who is not reaching their full potential. n added bonus here is that when you purchase the Paperback version you have the opportunity to download an audio version free. That's pretty good in my opinion.
Amelia Curzon, Author of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

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