Puppeteer pens children’s book to help manage hyperactivity

Teachers, parents give rave reviews


With over 28,000 children in New York State diagnosed with autism and over 40,000 diagnosed with ADHD, the need for literature that addresses coping skills for students to maximize their learning in the classroom is one that Central Islip native and Brentwood educator, Robin Holder, has set to meet.

Her debut children’s book, “Mr. Wiggles Learns to Be Still,” came out in March and is part of a social and emotional learning series for children.

“Early in the pandemic, the Lord put it in my heart to create a social and emotional learning program for children during quarantine. So I created ‘Puppets Live’ on my YouTube channel. I took my traveling puppet theater shows and created five episodes.  I know being at home was a challenge for both parents and teachers. The episodes were designed to both encourage and provide children with a way to visually help with self-regulation techniques,” said Holder.

The episodes were met with rave reviews from teachers conducting online instruction, and from there, Holder set out to write a book to aid educators in the classroom.

With Holder's traveling puppet theater already a part of the Brentwood School Districts; Summer Enrichment’s SEL Puppet Education programs, Ann Palmer, Asst. Superintendent of Elementary said “I love this book--what a great way to promote Tier 1 classroom management strategies that empower children to take control of their own feelings, emotions, and behavioral challenges."

Eventually, Holder decided to rewrite the book for a student audience. “‘Mr. Wiggles Learns to be Still’ is to empower children to be able to manage their feelings while developing self-coping skills. This is essential to social and emotional learning strategies.”

In December of 2023, Holder received a cancer diagnosis, one that she has valiantly fought with the help of her deep faith and her devoted family. “I persevered through the pain and rewrote the book.”

The story is straightforward and simple enough for young readers (or listeners) to follow, with students in a typical classroom setting and Mr. Wiggles struggling to be still as he moves his arms, legs, and generates his own self-stimulating behavior.

The gracious teacher introduces quieting techniques for Mr. Wiggles to self-regulate so that he can be an active, attentive, and productive member of the class. In the end, Mr. Wiggles transforms into a boisterous, but involved, young boy.

Holder’s 15-year background in puppetry performances for children was paramount to her acumen in writing a probative, yet fun, children’s book.

“In 2013, there was a string of gang-related shootings in my neighborhood. As a parent of two school-aged children, this was quite alarming. Unfortunately, this had become a reality of the times in which we live. This reality hit close to home, when my husband and I received a call that our son’s school was on lockdown due to an active shooting in the area… During the ride home, I could hear in their little voices how they were processing the days event. My son, Robert, methodically scolded his teacher for forgetting to close the blinds: ‘Mommy, she forgot to close the shades, but we couldn’t do it, we had to stay down… Mommy we needed the Safety Ninjas,’” recounted Holder.

The Safety Ninjas were part of Holder’s Travelling Puppet Theater, who taught children how to play and stay safe in a hip-hop themed performance using blacklight imagery.

From her Jim Henson-inspired characters in puppetry came Mr. Wiggles, an unassuming, and comforting form that allowed children to see themselves without condemning themselves in his similar behavior.

With whimsical and age-appropriate illustrations by Melanie Paggett, Holder’s words and conceptual thinking are brought to life in a world where we can all help each other improve. 


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