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Read, Lead, Succeed!

Posted by rstapholz on
Read, Lead, Succeed!

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“Read, lead, succeed. To be a leader, you must be a reader.” Cynthia Brian


Summer seems to be a time when we all find an opportunity to pick up a book that we’ve been meaning to read. We go to the beach, swing in a hammock, or just sit on a porch in the twilight enjoying a bit of escape. During the pandemic, people sought books as a refuge from reality. Children and teens need to enjoy reading more than ever. Children learn to talk and to read when we read to them. It is the job of parents to model and value literacy through home activities. The success of a child depends on the interaction between parents and children as they engage in literary endeavors. Reading is the building block which facilitates the development of language and writing skills which leads to life success. Research indicates that children with lower literacy skills who don’t catch up by third grade struggle throughout their school years and beyond. 

Our Star Teen Book Review Team makes it easy for you to find excellent books for your child through young adult. Volunteers read and write honest, first-person reviews of thousands of books. Our stellar Book Review Coordinator is Stephanie Cogeos. She spends countless hours going over every review for accuracy and making sure that the reviewer has followed stringent guidelines. She then uploads each review under the correct category so that parents, librarians, guardians, and kids can find a book that matches their interest. Find a favorite book at 

http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html . A big shout out of gratitude to the team and Stephanie for jobs well done.

In addition to book reviews for all ages being on our website at http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html , book reviews for young people are published through our literacy partner, The Reading Tub. https://thereadingtub.org

We are so grateful to the Executive Director, Terry Doherty, for our many years of collaboration. She reads every book and makes sure reviews are accurate and original. Visit The Reading Tub for photos and descriptions of a book that will entice and enlighten your child. https://thereadingtub.org/books/be-the-star-you-are/

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Be the Star You Are!® has an Amazon bookstore with several hundred brand new books offered at the lowest possible prices. Shipping is usually within one day. Visit https://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

Speaking of Amazon, if you are buying more and more things on-line, when you shop at Amazon, please use this link:  https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882. Amazon donates . 5% of your purchase to Be The Star You Are!® and it costs you nothing.

If you are seeking a special gift book with autographs and other goodies, go to our online book store at our StarStyle® Store: http://starstylestore.net Because we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first publication of our Be the Star You Are!® series and Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, you’ll get big discounts. 


Build connections in your child’s brain by sharing books with them. Books are the gifts that keep on giving.


Enjoy a safe and healthy summer. Read, lead, succeed!

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556




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DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


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The cost of illiteracy to American taxpayers and businesses is $225 billion dollars for crime, loss of tax revenue due to unemployment wages, unemployment, welfare, and other government assistance. In addition, low literacy adds $230 billion to the annual cost of delivering healthcare in the United States.  Illiteracy is a growing epidemic causing irreparable damage to our society. Low literacy and communication skills have been identified in studies as major contributors to general conduct disorders, psychiatric disorders, criminal behavior, and adolescent suicide. (Department of Communications and Public Affairs) “…nearly 800 million people across the world lack the basic reading and writing skills needed to accomplish simple tasks such as reading a medicine label or filling out a job application, costing the global economy more than $1.19 trillion a year.” Thirty two million adults in the U.S. can’t read, 45 million are marginally illiterate. That is 14 percent of the adult population. Twenty one percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read; one-fifth of high school graduates can’t read their diplomas.           


Be the Star You Are!® has cases of brand new books to donate to shelters, organizations, or charities in need. The books are free. Shipping is $25 per box. There are 10-12 books per box. Books retail for $15-20 and are free to you. If your group is interested, email info@bethestaryouare.org. We do not provide a list of the titles. We have non-fiction and fiction.  The shipping charge can be paid via PayPal. Details will be emailed to you.

2021 FREE LIVE EVENT-Pear and Wine Festival

Mark your calendars for the 2021 Pear and Wine Festival to be held on September 25th from 11-4pm PT in Moraga. Be the Star You Are!® will have a booth for family fun and children’s activities. FREE and Fun! To volunteer or sponsor, please email info@BetheStarYouAre.org,.

More information at https://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-events

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spotlightTwo talented young women have joined our Express Yourself!™ Radio team, Ruhani Chhabra and Sidney Suh. Make sure to tune in to Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio Sundays at 3pm PT Listen at Voice America Network: https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

Ruhani Chhabra

Ruhani Chhabra is a rising junior from Northern California. She enjoys reading, writing, and listening to music. She plans to major in journalism, which is why BTSYA is a perfect opportunity for her to expand her public speaking and writing skills. Through being a reporter at Express Yourself!, she hopes to become more interactive with people, a skill she’ll use when she teaches one day. Her focus is on teen leadership and her segment is titled, Teenship. Ruhani is also spearheading the Instagram platform for Express Yourself!™ Check it out at https://www.instagram.com/expressyourselfradio/. She’ll also use that strength when she travels around the world and becomes friends with strangers. Her ultimate goal is to live in the Italian countryside with a bunch of puppies.

Ruhani Chhabra headshot

Sidney Suh

Sidney Suh is currently a senior at Cate School. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the HUMANITIES+ Journal, which can be found at www.hplusjournal.com.

It is an international platform for perspectives that transcend the traditional divides between the fields of humanities and STEM (www.hplusjournal.com). Her passions include empowering minority communities and uplifting student voices. In her spare time, she loves to read and play the euphonium. She is a volunteer with Be the Star You are!® and a reporter on Express Yourself! Radio with her segment, Breaking Boundaries.

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by Karen Kitchel

Here’s what a few folks had to say about kindness:

“If someone were to pay you ten cents for every kind word you ever spoke and collect five cents for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor?”   Nonpareil

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.”  Audrey Hepburn

We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”   Whoopi Goldberg

“Always be a little kinder than necessary.”   James M. Barrie

Karen Kitchel who penned two chapters in the book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World, is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She serves meals to the homeless and is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor. www.scatteringkindness.com

LISTEN TO STARSTYLE®-Be the Star You Are!®

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Starstyle® Radio is LIVE every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT broadcast from the world’s largest radio network, Voice America. Listen live at http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are with photos and descriptions at www.StarStyleRadio.com . 

The show is also available wherever you get your podcasts:

Apple itunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/starstyle-be-the-star-you-are/id669630180?mt=2

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen#/ps/Iftzhum24ektnw3ocfq3keduefq

Tunein: https://tunein.com/podcasts/Motivational/StarStyle—Be-the-Star-You-Are-p46014/

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/voice-america/be-the-star-you-are

IHeartRadio: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/256-starstyle-be-the-star-you-31083110/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/4zDdwzlsHH44caWiMQdD25


We have suggestions for you to shop, save, and stay safe. Please use these web sites for all of your shopping essentials.

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882

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2. Discounted books at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

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3. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash at 3500+ popular online stores :https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc

4. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE: http://www.iGive.com/BTSYA

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5. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” black tanks and books at StarStyle® Store: http://www.starstylestore.net/


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6. Are you a gamer, lover of new software, or other digital content? Buy all of your favorites at Humble Bundle. http://ow.ly/cYs130iN6n4


BTSYA Innovate logo -bookendEnjoy the days of summer while staying safe and healthy.


Thanks for supporting Be the Star You Are!®

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556
Email: info@BetheStarYouAre.org
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Cute, Fun, Family-friendly DVD based on the award-winning book and TV series.

Posted by presspass on
Cute, Fun, Family-friendly DVD based on the award-winning book and TV series.

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their friendly hometown and make childhood memories. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Cadence G. comments, “I like the Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD because every episode has a different main idea with an interesting story to tell. The animated characters each have their own thoughts about things and how to approach a situation.” Ruby A., follows with, “Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is a cute, fun, and family-friendly DVD that is based on an award-winning book and TV series. The storyline and adorable personalities of the characters combine to make the viewing experience enjoyable. The characters’ companionship is very sweet, and they care a lot about one another. They always have each other’s back.” Christine R. wraps it with, “Upbeat, positive messages about friendship and family make these great for family viewing.” See their full reviews below.

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I like the Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD because every episode has a different main idea with an interesting story to tell. The animated characters each have their own thoughts about things and how to approach a situation. The only part I didn’t really like is that the characters sometimes talk too slow and you want to make them talk faster, but it probably makes it easier for little kids to understand.

The Llama Llama Family Collection has 15 episodes and is based on the book series written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney. The animated collection is about a llama and his friends who have awesome adventures together. Each episode has a moral to the story. For example, in one of the episodes, Luna (a giraffe, voiced by Vania Gill) is very scared to go on stage to perform a solo in front of an audience. Then Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu get a dance machine and it really helps Luna lose her fear of performing in front of an audience. Another story tells about Llama Llama, Euclid and Gilroy Goat having a sleepover, where they experience new and different things while at a friend’s house. I know when I go to a sleepover, I find myself trying a new food or doing any activity that I wouldn’t necessarily have done at my house.

I didn’t recognize the voices of any of the characters, although after looking at who does the voices, I recognize Jennifer Garner, who voices Mama Llama. I like Luna’s personality, but my favorite character is Euclid (Brendon Sunderland). He’s smart, but in a funny way. I like when the group of friends take swimming lessons with Mama Llama in Eleanor Elephant’s (Kathleen Barr) pool. Even though Llama Llama (Shayle Simons) isn’t a great swimmer, his friends are supportive. And it is cute seeing Llama Llama’s grandpa (David Hoole) learn to swim, too.

The message of the film is to be nice to others. It’s important to help your friends, rather than make fun of them or bring them down. When I see someone making fun of someone, I try to stand up for them. It is nice to watch a film where a group of friends support one another.
I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 9. This DVD is available now, so go look for it!

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Ruby A. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is a cute, fun, and family-friendly DVD that is based on an award-winning book and TV series. The storyline and adorable personalities of the characters combine to make the viewing experience enjoyable. The characters’ companionship is very sweet, and they care a lot about one another. They always have each other’s back.

The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD is collection of episodes about a group of animal companions that go on a lot of adventures, meet new friends and solve problems along the way. In one episode, Llama Llama’s friend, Luna the Giraffe, struggles with bad stage fright. She has a dance recital the next day. Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu have to help her, or she won’t be able to perform without becoming nervous on stage. In another episode, Llama Llama and two of his friends, Gilroy Goat and Euclid Sheep, plan a sleepover together. What they don’t know is that strange things will happen just as they are about to go to sleep. But maybe the friends’ imaginations will wander too far…

Some of the lead characters are Mama Llama (Jennifer Garner) and Llama Llama (Shayle Simons). They are an adorable mother-son duo, and they love each other very much. What really stands out in this collection is the incredibly detailed and expressive animation. The vibrant colors and homey scenery go hand in hand to create a wholesome, fun show for children and their families to watch. It really is a great choice for teaching good lessons to young minds.

The message of the DVD Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is that you should always be willing to help your friends, and that problems can be solved through the effort of a team. It is definitely successful in communicating its message through the close-knit friend group, and how they stick together and help each other face their fears. The message is definitely positive and uplifting, and can teach young children that companionship is an important life skill to have. There really isn’t anything to worry about when children are watching this series. There is no bad language at all, and there isn’t any negative behavior that young children may attempt to imitate.

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 2 to 10. The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD is available now

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection
By Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD features the animated friends from Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama book series in 15 stories, including holiday stories for Halloween, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. The friends learn to use their unique talents with some creativity to overcome day to day problems by following grown up advice and helping each other. In “Stage Fright,” Luna Giraffe’s upcoming dance recital is giving her performance jitters, but Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu are there to offer support, calming breaths and remind her to just have fun. Nelly Gnu is jealous of the attention her baby brother receives in the story “Jealous Nelly.” Her new tree-house takes a backseat to babysitting and party planning for the baby. She misses her parents’ and friends’ attention, but soon realizes that being a big sister is the perfect role for her. The friends accept the challenge to do without their electronic gadgets when Grandma Llama and Mama Llama take them on an overnight campout in “Let’s Go Camping.” They use their five senses to appreciate the sights and sounds of nature. Upbeat, positive messages about friendship and family make these great for family viewing. Children ages 4 to 8 should enjoy these fun, engaging episodes. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer.

Empathy: What it is and why it matters

Posted by Editor on
Empathy: What it is and why it matters


David Howe – author of Empathy: What it is and why it matters – joins Lou Agosta on A Rumor of Empathy for a conversation about empathy. David begins with the idea that empathy humanizes people and their relationships. Empathy is about our shared humanity.
This includes but is bigger than the idea that an experience or feeling is communicated for the one person to the other. Without the other person, one loses one’s humanity. One is left without vitality, aliveness, or energy. In short, needs the other person to be fully alive.
When all is said and done, empathy makes us better and should be promoted in child, adults, and community. It is not that anyone else ever thought that empathy made us worse as persons. That would be silly. Yet Heinz Kohut emphasized the aspect of empathy as a scientific form of data gathering about other persons that is value neutral and precisely ambiguous as to its social relevance. As Kohut famously said, empathy is “vicarious introspection,” in which one has a vicarious experience of the other’s feeling as if one were in the theatre or cinema. Thus, accordingly empathy could be mis-used as exemplified by the “empathic” Nazi who used it the better to control, dominate, and manipulate the would-be victims. Such misfirings and misuses or empathy remain a risk – and a point of debate – and presumably motivate the need for the explicit development of positive empathy in children, adults, and the community. This raises the question of whether empathy can be taught at all. Howe definitely advocates trying. My thought in this regards runs along lines sketched out by Carl Rogers about psychotherapy in general. With a few exceptions, people are naturally empathic and have to be inhibited, limited, and constrained. Much of education teaches compliance, rule following, and conformity, not necessarily cooperation and individualism. Therefore, the “training” in adults consists in removing the inhibitions towards openness and communication, allowing the empathic tendencies to resume their natural unfolding and development. Resistance to empathy may seem counter-intuitive, yet is pervasive and a source of resignation and cynicism. In the cases of children, presumably education should be attentive the ways empathy is inhibited and suppressed in order to produce conformity and compliance where the latter are not really needed. By all means, keep one’s hands to oneself and respect boundaries. But be open to empathy in navigating across the boundaries between self and other in a way consistent with integrity and completeness. Speaking personally as the author of three books on empathy, this is the book that I wish I had written. I hasten to add that my own works are excellent and everyone should read them, too, but Howe provides an accessible read is also rigorous and that will be relevant to a general audience. When all is said and done, when all the diagnostic categories are attached and philosophical arguments completed, in empathy, one is simply in the presence of another human being.


Replay for this episode of “A Rumor of Empathy” is now Available on VoiceAmerica Empowerment Channel.

Spring ReBirth & Book Bash Blow Out!

Posted by Editor on

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Welcome to the rebirth of spring!

Last Month was National Reading Month. One of our BTSYA volunteers,Alex Pawlakos, spent many hours doing research on literacy rates in our nation and unfortunately, found that illiteracy is still a major problem. U.S. Department of Education research shows that more than 60 percent of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and that 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have reading problems. Two-thirds of America’s children living in poverty have no books at home, and the number of families living in poverty is on the rise. Three out of four food stamp recipients perform in the lowest two literacy levels and 90% of welfare recipients are high school dropouts.
Thirty-three percent of 4th grade public school students are at or below the “Basic” level of reading tests. Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average—a gap of 74 points. Families play an important role in their children’s reading success and access to books is a critical investment in the future of our children.


On Saturday, April 25th, Be the Star You Are!® is hosting a Book Bash Blow Out whereby books for all ages will be deeply discounted. We hope you can attend, but if you can’t consider buying a case of books to donate to an organization, school, or library to help get books into the hands of those who need them most. All sales are tax deductible donations to Be the Star You Are!® charity and when you spend $19.99 or more, you’ll be given a FREE book. Thanks to 5 A Rent A Space for collaborating in creating this event and to our sponsor, Brooks Olbrys and Children’s Success Unlimited. Read more about this fun event below. Register for FREE.

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On Saturday, May 9th, visit the Be the Star You Are!® booth at the Moraga Faire where we will be celebrating mothers and sustainable living. After the Moraga Faire, our volunteers will begin a gigantic book distribution to several charities.
To support this effort, donate here.

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Be the Star You Are!® has once again been nominated as a Top Non Profit for 2015. We are grateful for the honor and thankful for our team of dedicated volunteer stars. Read more HERE. Thank you for all of your very kind remarks. Our goal is to empower our volunteers as well as help the people we serve. EVERYONE COUNTS!

Our two radio shows are hopping with incredible guest experts, authors, and celebrities. Make sure to tune in to our teen program, Express Yourself!™ every Tuesday at NOON PT on Voice America Kids hosted by our talented youth and to StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® every Wednesday Live from 4-5pm PT hosted by Heather Brittany and myself for upbeat talk on the Voice America Empowerment Channel.
Enjoy spring and we look forward to seeing you at one of our events. If you’d like to sponsor an upcoming event, shoot me an email. My virtual door is always open.
Cynthia Brian
Founder/Executive Director
Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3
PO Box 376
Moraga, Ca. 94556

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Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.


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