Saturday, February 26, 2011

Parents reading books to children that explore difficult subjects.

At a recent workshop in Chicago I was talking about the picture book Unlovable by Dan Yaccarino, which is about Alfred, a pug who is made to feel inferior by a cat, a parrot, and the other neighborhood dogs. When a new dog moves in next door, he helps Alfred realize he is fine just the way he is. The best of books are always about more than one subject and some of the subjects this story explores are: being true to yourself, boasting, bullies, friendship, lying, sense of self, and a “shaky” self-esteem. In the course of the conversation a participant said that she didn’t think a book for children should include topics such as lying and judging people on outward appearances—she didn’t want a book to plant those negative ideas. She wanted books that were sweet and showed the world in a positive light. My response is that I want books that reflect all aspects of life—the good and the not so good. Lying and judging people unfairly are part of childhood and to have those topics in a story which sets up the opportunity to have a conversation to explore those issues is a gift for parents.  Stories that offer a glimpse of both the best and the worst of human nature put events in a larger context, allowing parents and children to have more meaningful conversations.

Parents want their children to feel safe, but traumas, natural disasters, wars, and racism are all part of the world. The urge is not to talk with children about subjects that are difficult, but the reality is that your children will learn about these subjects, and if not from you, then from someone else. And that “someone else” is not going to have the conversations you want to have with your child.

You can only protect your children from reality for so long and even then you don’t protect them from life’s more unpleasant sides. I am a big believer that information is power and I think most parents want to have conversations with their children about what matters.

I am from the school of Reb Nachman who said: “Others might tell stories to put you to sleep, but I tell stories to wake you up.

Friday, February 25, 2011

American Montessori Webinar w/ Diane Frankenstein. Wednesday, March 16, 2011 4-5:30p.m. (PT), 7-8:30 p.m. (ET)

Interest GroupsTeachers, parents, and caregivers of children of all ages and levels of reading competency
Conventional wisdom has become so focused on the importance of reading to children that it has, to a large extent, ignored the critical component of the importance of talking with children about what they read. read more>>

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kudos to authors

George Frankenstein writes: “The whole world wants Diane’s advice on how to raise a child that loves to read!!” He’s referring to his wife, Diane Frankenstein, who authored the award winning book, “Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know To Raise a Child Who Loves to Read . Recently Diane spoke at the European Council of International Schools in Nice, France.

Monday, February 21, 2011

To scribble in margins of books or not?

Truth be told, I do scribble in the margins of the books I read. I also date where and when I first read a book. And when I revisit the book, I take pleasure in the memories those annotations bring forth. Having said that, I also have a philosophical problem with writing in books, so there is the dilemma I found myself thinking about when I read, Bibliophiles Fear a Dim Future For Scribbling in the Margins,
But no matter where you fall in the quandary, I hope you agree with Studs Terkel who told friends that “reading a book should not be a passive exercise, but rather a raucous conversation.” I am quite sure Mr. Terkel would agree with Alice (from Wonderland) who said, “What’s the use of a book without pictures or conversations?” 

Do you cuddle up with your kids at night and read stories? If so, you won’t want to miss children’s literacy expert Diane Frankenstein, author of Reading Together, share her tips of making the most out of reading with your children!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at Flourish Studios, 3020 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Promoting a Culture of Literacy, by Diane W. Frankenstein IS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, The Official Magazine

Read a book. Ask a question, Start a conversation
Diane Frankenstein considers ways of promoting a culture of literacy in a school community through conversational reading. Conventional wisdom has become so focused on the importance of reading to children that it has somewhat ignored the critical component of the importance of talking with children about what they read.  As important as it is to read aloud to children, a child’s desire to read comes from being read to and talking about books.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster should never go out of print!

Valentine’s Day is a very good excuse to become intimate with The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1963by Norton Juster (The Phantom Tollbooth)

Using only black and red, Juster tells the poignant yet humorous tale of a straight line in love with a red dot, and the line’s attempts to woo her away from a slothful squiggle. Much merriment will be had by all before the hero gets his girl. I beg to differ with the suggested reading level for ages 4-8. I believe that a great book for children is a book everyone needs in their repertoire and The Dot and the Line is a great example of that sentiment. I challenge anyone to find a person who would outgrow this delightful romance.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A parent’s night with Diane W. Frankenstein: February 22, 2011 7:30 pm, Chicago

A Conversation, Book Signing and Dessert Reception with Diane W. Frankenstein, author of the award winning book , Reading Together, Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Charles Dickens believed in fancy and romance.

I don’t believe anyone ever outgrows fairytales. Charles Dickens, the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era believed in fancy and romance. Dickens, who would be 199 years old today understood the power and need for fairytales. In “Frauds on the Fairies” he wrote “In an utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that Fairy Tales should be respected…every one who has considered the subject knows full well that a nation without fancy, without some romance, never did, never can, never will, hold a great place under the sun.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kung Hei Fat Choi

It feels appropriate to bring in the year of The Rabbit with this gentle and reflective poem by Lao Tzu, who is attributed with the writing of the “Tao-Te Ching”. According to Chinese tradition, The Rabbit is a lucky sign and ushers in a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.
What means more to you
You or how important you are?

What would you miss more

You or the things you own?

If you’re stingy, it will cost you in the long run.

If you hoard, you will lose in the long run.

But if you’re humble enough to be generous

You can be generous to yourself.
You’ll know how to start over

When the path you are on is blocked,

You’ll know you can start again.
~ Lao Tzu