Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The perfect summer activity

Research shows Mom, as always, was right. “Brief exposure to the outdoors make people more creative, happier and better able to focus.” Summer is fast approaching and to prevent the well-documented summer slide in academics, most notably in reading, why not build into your summer schedule weekly outings with a snack and book in a fun outdoor setting. 

Pleasure is the goal.  A few suggestions.
Slow down: Get off the literary stair master. I would rather your children read fewer books and love what they read. Allow your children choice in what they read.
Suggest books you think they will like. Children want autonomy and they need guidance when it comes to reading. Make your local librarian and local independent bookstore seller your new best friends. Relax and let go of how challenging the book is—Do not tell them the book is too easy and they have read it before – don’t mess with a love affair. A terrific resource for age appropriate reading recommendations is Jen Robinson’s Book page Growing Bookworms Newsletter
I admire her blog and find her book recommendations spot on. Her work, promoting the love of books, is a labor of love. Growing Bookworms has my admiration and my enthusiasm. Check it out,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Teach kids empathy before its too late.

 “When is a Problem Child Truly Dangerous?”, a recent article in the NYT Magazine draws attention to the challenge to teach kids empathy before its too late.

Stories give readers the ability to identify with and understand another person’s feelings or difficulties. Stories encourage a person to step inside the shoes of another person. Once inside those shoes, questions arise: How does it feel? What would you do? Do you know what is the right thing to do? Does knowing what is the right thing to do, make it easier to then do it? Through the lived-through experience of the literary experience, readers make the essential connection between individuals and the moral choices they confront in their own lives.  Literature stirs our emotions and makes us feel—in attempting to understand anyone, empathy counts for much. Reading and talking about stories with children encourage us to experience and think about what empathy really means.

Talking about empathy inside a story yields a richer conversation than having a universal conversation about empathy. Universal conversations only go so far, because they are about someone or someplace else and not personal.  Here are some suggested conversation starters you can use when you are taking about empathy that gets away from the universal and closer to the personal.

 ~ Is thinking about a person’s well being the same thing as doing something about it?
~ Does empathy require action?
~ Do you have to like a person to have empathy for them?
~ Can you think of a situation when you put yourself in someone else’s
shoes? How did it change your perspective?
~ What would the world look like if nobody was able to have empathy for others?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

“Don’t touch that button yet” versus “And then what happened in the story?”: A parent’s choice.

Studies that aim to answer the question of whether a child gets a different experience from a book than an e-book are just getting under way.
Studies of  how such a device affects the development of young children typically take three to five years. When a parent reads a physical book to a child, the child tends to take away more of the actual content, because the conversation between parent and child is most likely about what’s happening in the story. A recent study found that children using electronic console books that have buttons, tended to learn navigation, such as what different buttons do. Instead of talking about the content parents said things like “don’t touch that yet.” 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bookshelves as home decoration.

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”
A. Quindlen

I made the deal with my sons: I supply the books, and they supply the bookshelves.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Diane comments in “Baby & Toddler” Spring+Summer 2012 “RAISE A READER”

Here are some suggestions made by Diane W. Frankenstein, author of the award-winning book. Reading Together: Everything You Need To Know To Raise A Child Who Loves to Read (Penguin)

~ Make reading to your child a daily routine
~ Choose age appropriate books for your child in terms of their readiness to understand the story.
~ Build a child’s vocabulary. The skills children need to enter school, ready to be successful learners, is directly tied to their vocabulary. Reading and talking to your child is the best way to ensure children enter school with a rich vocabulary which is the key to literacy.
~ Many of the benefits of reading aloud are lost without the verbal interaction between a child and an adult during reading time. Children learn language though face-to-face interaction.
~ How many books you read your child is less important that how many conversations you have about the books you read.
~ In addition to the many benefits of reading aloud, the most important outcome might be the closeness you establish with your child and the habit you establish of reading a book and talking about the story. In our fast paced, media saturated world, thoughtful conversations are more important than ever before.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Make room for conversation & create opportunities to talk face-to face with your children.

I am an enthusiast for conversation and I firmly believe we need to make room for it by creating opportunities to talk face-to face with our children. Good conversations are where children acquire the vocabulary they need to become good readers. Talking with children is how we best prepare them to enter school, ready to be successful learners. I suggest that hanging a colorful map of the world where you eat your meals can give your family countless enjoyable and interesting conversations.
A good conversation during family meals just doesn’t happen. A little ingenuity and effort can change that and the benefits are great and rewarding. At our home there is never any shortage of what to talk about at family meals because a colorful map of the world hangs in our kitchen.  Before the map, our dinner table conversations became trapped in the sand pit of  “What happened in school today?”  with the usual forthcoming response: “Not much, nothing.”  The map is like a gigantic game board—and it’s fun and a challenge to discover and find the exact locations of world and national events. Conversations are where children learn the language they need to shape their thinking—it teaches them how to think. As E.M. Forster said; “How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?” Face-to-face conversation teaches patience. In a recent article, “ The Flight from Conversation” it was noted: “When we communicate on our digital devices, we learn different habits. As we ramp up the volume and velocity of online connections, we start to expect faster answers. To get these, we ask one another simpler questions; we dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters.”
In our fast paced, media saturated world, thoughtful conversations are more important than ever before.