Helping Children Handle Challenges: New Book Builds Resiliency at a Young Age


“Rodney Makes a Friend” instills social intelligence; builds character.

What does “resilience” mean to you? Most children today face immense pressure to perform in school and in daily activities, and often struggle to build strong interpersonal relationships in today’s digital society. A new children’s book, “Rodney Makes a Friend” by George S. Everly, Jr, PhD, Gina Brelesky, MPA, MEd and Andrea N. Everly takes the psychology behind building emotional resilience and makes it approachable and teachable to young children.

“Rodney Makes a Friend” features Rodney the Rabbit, an ordinary but shy rabbit facing the challenge of making friends on the playground. Children are immediately introduced to the concept of resiliency, or “bouncing back” from problems and from feeling sad or scared. At the start of the story, Rodney is afraid of talking to classmates and does not know how to make friends. Thanks to the help of his fellow woodland creatures, Rodney learns the importance of friendship and how friends make someone more resilient. The story concludes with Rodney being armed with the social skills necessary to make more friends – knowledge he’s able to pass on to his peers who experience his same challenges from the beginning of the story.

Other important lessons in Rodney’s journey include “The Golden Rule of Friendship” – being kind and treating others the way THEY want to be treated. Children are encouraged to build social and emotional intelligence by sharing their feelings, listening carefully and considering the needs of others.

Geared toward children ages 4 – 8 years old, the colorfully illustrated page book includes intermittent “pause and think” moments, making it an interactive experience for parents and children and an ideal tool for classrooms. Free, complementary, printable resources are available for teachers to use as writing prompts and reading comprehension tools to help guide their lessons.

"We are doing a school-wide character building/anti-bullying month and we are incorporating ‘Rodney Makes a Friend’ into our activities,” says Christine DeNigris, a second-grade teacher in Orange County, New York.

“The social tide is changing,” explains author Gina Brelesky. “Face to face interaction is key to building resilience and social intelligence…Rodney makes his friends on the playground – not via an online social network. The book helps with character building at a young age and sets a foundation for later success in the workplace and adult relationships.”

“Rodney Makes a Friend” prompts quality conversations between teachers, parents and children, even if a child doesn’t know what the term “resilient” means. Children are encouraged to pause, think and make a decision versus simply reacting. According to Journeys from Childhood to Midlife: Risk, Resilience, and Recovery by Emmy E. Werner and Ruth S. Smith, problem-solving capabilities, emotional support outside of the family and sociability are three of the top indicators of long-term resiliency even in children living in high-risk environments.

The book is available for purchase along with free downloadable resources for teachers and parents at Brelesky is available for media interviews and as a resource on childhood resiliency, learning and development. Press review copies are available by request. Please contact Andrea Lynn at 410-420-2001 or to request a copy of the book or interview.

About the Authors

Gina Brelesky is an author, international trainer, talent coach and corporate educator with more than 25 years of extensive experience in training diverse groups of people in both hard and soft skills. Gina’s purpose is to support individuals, leaders, and teams to develop a growth mindset and achieve success. Through a strong partnership with her clients, Brelesky gains insight into their unique business culture, learns their perspective on success, and guides them through a process for achieving their goals.

Brelesky is passionate about supporting people in building the skills and self-awareness they need to grow towards their full potential. She believes that as individuals progress along this journey of growth and awareness, they provide progressively greater levels of value to their teams and companies.

Brelesky holds a Master’s degrees in Public Administration and Education. She has a Certificate of Advanced Study in Resilient Leadership and is DDI and DiSC certified. Gina is a trained coach through the Neuroleadership Institute in Brain-Based Coaching.

Dr. George Everly, PhD, ABPP, FAPM is an award winning author and researcher. He is Executive Director of Resiliency Science Institutes, International and is a faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Public Health Preparedness Programs. He serves on the faculties of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Loyola University Maryland. He has held honorary professorships at the University of Hong Kong, Universidad de Norbert Weiner (Lima, Peru) and Universidad de Flores (Buenos Aires, Argentina). In addition, he has served on the adjunct faculties of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Center for Disease Control Mental Health Collaborative Committee and the FBI National Academy. He is an advisor to the Hospital Authority of Hong Kong. Dr. Everly is co-founder of, and Representative to the United Nations for, the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, a non-profit United Nations-affiliated public health and safety organization. He was formerly Senior Research Advisor, Social Development Office, Office of His Highness, the Amir of Kuwait, State of Kuwait. Prior to these appointments, Dr. Everly was a Harvard Visiting Scholar, Harvard University; a Visiting Lecturer in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; and Chief Psychologist and Director of Behavioral Medicine for the Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Hospital Center.

Dr. Everly has been awarded the Fellow’s Medal of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine, the Professor’s Medal of the Universidad de Weiner (Peru) and the Leadership Award from the American Red Cross, and was elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He is the author, co-author or editor of more than 15 textbooks and more than 100 professional papers. Among his books are The Resilient Child (Gold Medal Winner, 2009) and Secrets of Resilient Leadership. He has given invited lectures in 22 countries on 6 continents. His works have been translated into Russian, Arabic, Swedish, Polish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Korean and Spanish. His biography appears in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.

Andrea Everly is a writer, actress, and artist. She studies creative writing at Harvard University. 

Recent Deals

Interested in advertising your deals? Contact Edwin Warfield.

Connect with these Baltimore Professionals on LinkedIn

  • Edwin Warfield

    Editor in Chief, Warfield Digital

  • Jean Halle

    Independent Consultant

  • Larry Lichtenauer

    President of Lawrence Howard & Associates

  • Newt Fowler

    Partner at Womble Carlyle, LLP

  • David Crowley

    Owner at Develop DC

  • Carolyn Stinson

    Stinson Marketing Group