Sparky Tales Begins Today – A Foundation for Healthy Development

When I was 35 years old, I experienced a collision of events: my father passed away, the man I thought I was going to marry – thought otherwise, one of my best friends moved, I lost my job and I thought I was going to lose my home. I sought counseling about the myriad of emotions I was experiencing and the counselor said “so how do you feel about this?” Since I had stuffed my feelings my entire life, I had absolutely no idea how I felt.

I grew up in a time when sharing emotions was not common – particularly the emotion of anger. So rather than acknowledge any type of anger or frustration, I stuffed my feelings. This lack of knowledge regarding my feelings played havoc for me both personally and professionally throughout my life. And to a certain degree, remains problematic. Consequently, I am passionate about helping children learn about their feelings long before the age of 35 and developed Sparky Tales as a result.

Sparky Tales, a bibliotherapy-based curriculum, has been designed to enhance social, behavioral and affective competencies by developing social skills in children. Through my extensive research, I found vital ingredients for developing emotionally, healthy children and the curriculum was designed utilizing these ingredients – Saarni’s Theory of Emotional Competency as its foundation – which includes the following eight skills:

  1. Awareness  of own emotional state
  2. Recognition of other’s emotion
  3. Use of emotion and expression language
  4. Ability to be empathic
  5. Realization that inner state and outer expression in self or others does not/should not always correspond.
  6. Coping adaptively with aversive or distressing emotions by using self-regulatory strategies.
  7. Awareness that relationships are largely defined by emotional communication, emotional immediacy and reciprocity
  8. Emotional efficacy: Feeling in control and accepting one’s own emotional experiences.

Children identify with the story’s two main characters; Kelly, a 12-year old girl who has a miserable rotten life and wears a “chip” on her shoulder as proof and Sparky, a 500-year old star who takes Kelly to the Galaxy All-Star Camp where she learns to become a star in her own right.

Today, the 12-week curriculum of Sparky Tales was started at Edison Elementary in Dayton, Ohio. We will be sharing our experiences with you over the next several months. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (937) 298-6694 or email me at I look forward to hearing from you!

Tina Donovan, M.Ed., LPC

About Tina Donovan

Tina Donovan, M.Ed., PC has dedicated her life both professionally and personally to improving the lives of children. From volunteering as a youth leader to developing a non-profit youth organization, her focus has been on providing opportunities to children enabling them to discover and develop their own unique talents.

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