Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chicken soup comes in all different guises

I am thankful to all the authors who have enriched my life with their wisdom, humor and compassion. So much I who I am and what I do comes from the books I have met in my life.   

Thanksgiving celebrates our capacity to be thankful usually with a culinary feast but I believe that chicken soup is not the only ‘comfort food’ we can offer people. And let me draw attention to children for a moment.
I believe that if we give children the love and attention they need and we put in their memory banks, the wisdom and sentiments from the best of books for children, they will have what they need to go out into the world, thrive and be their best selves.

Every parent wants the best for their child and engaging with children through conversation about what matters—provides parents a vehicle to offer children our attention, our hearts and our minds. I do believe that attention is the greatest gift we can offer children.

When I want to ponder the idea of being thankful, I often think of Emily in Wilder’s Our Town who said: “I didn’t realize all that was going on and never noticed. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.” 

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lincoln and Winnie the Pooh knew that Winston Churchill was right: Short words are best, and the old words, when short are best of all.

Referring to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as a sound bite might sound blasphemous but in fact it has the hall marks of a well written sound bite: short, sweet, to the point and delivered in just over two minutes.   In just over 2 minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality. Lincoln's carefully crafted address, secondary to other presentations that day, came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history and lest it be understated, this is the only speech from that day that we are still reading.

Nov 19 gives you an opportunity to expose your children to exemplary writing and to have a conversation with your children that ponders the question: “Which sound bites from today will be read 150 years from now?” A sound bite can be deep and reflective, although that is not always the case. Too many sound bites of today say little and offer even less to think about. 

I think Lincoln must have known what Winnie the Pooh came to know: “It is more fun to talk to someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short easy words like ‘What about lunch?’ ” Lincoln and Winnie knew that Winston Churchill was right: Short words are best, and the old words, when short are best of all. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Play is the work of childhood.

A mind at play is the source of our most creative thoughts and overuse of technology can make it difficult for the mind to play. Children need time and space to be—to play, to daydream, to imagine, and to create. Too much data coming in with technology compromises the very activities that allow us to be creative.  Are we encouraging children to be proficient search engines and information gatherers at the expense of fostering their growth and development?

No doubt, technology does enhance children’s education—the internet’s value as a research tool— but the concern becomes the over use of technology and how compatible child-friendly digital technologies are with the nature of childhood and the flowering of their self.

Here are some recent findings that shed light on every parent’s quandary of how much and how soon children should be introduced to technology.

~ The  American Academy of Pediatrics  recommends no “screen time” – that’s time with any sort of media device, from TV sets to smartphones – for children under age 2 and less than one or two hours a day for older kids.

~ Playing with real life toys, puzzles, and books is better than then the educational shows and applications on media devices says Dr. Julie O’Brien, a pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

~  A child’s world is supposed to center around people. “”Parents need to make sure their children are getting a minimum time of interaction. We may be losing sight of the basics – talk to your kid, play with your kid, ” says Dr.  Mark Cohen, a pediatrician at Kaiser Santa Clara.

Diane returns to New Haven, CT to work with Librarians

Diane Frankenstein, author of Reading Together, Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read and a champion for strategic literacy, will spend Thursday, November 14 with almost 100 family and children’s librarians from across the State of Connecticut.  The conference, designed to provide both inspiration and practical knowledge on the value of conversational reading and parent engagement, will take place at Gateway Community College in New Haven.  Stefan Pryor, Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education, will welcome the group in the morning in recognition of the important connection between conversational reading, early learning and school success.