Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Diane returns to Hong Kong January 2015

The South Morning Post talks about Diane Frankenstein’s upcoming Literacy Workshops.

“Through her bestselling book, Reading Together, Frankenstein shows that when children start reading independently, parents need to become more, not less, involved” read more>> 

Bring Me A Book will host Diane Frankenstein’s Book Camp workshops from January 23-17.

For more information and registration,  Go To

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Reading aloud is a skill but Reading Together is an art.

Give your children the gift of your time and attention and read to them during this Holiday Season of giving.

It is the perfect way to spend special time that becomes more memorable as they grow up. Children do not necessarily remember the details of the stories you read, but they never forget the closeness and love they received inside the experience of you reading to them.

Conversational Reading is a simple yet elegant and wise approach that gets to the heart of a story and engages readers in meaningful conversation. Conversational Reading, reading and talking about a story makes reading an enjoyable and satisfying experience. Showing children how to get the most from the books they read is integral to a successful and satisfying reading experience.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A wonderful meal deserves conversation to match.

Thanksgiving finds me pondering, what am I really grateful for? In addition to good health and meaningful work and relationships, I find that I am more and more aware of how important it is to recognize, with appreciation, the challenges that come my way.

In my work with children I am fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with them about what matters— their hurts, successes, disappointments, challenges, sadness, happiness, and more. We hear so much today about how innovation is by necessity, inextricably linked with failure. Innovation is terrifying and we must teach children how to bounce back from failure. That is a challenge for every parent.

We give children the tailwinds they need to grow and develop to their full capacity when we help children take on challenges and help them learn how to bounce back from failure. Tailwinds are the ideas and ideals we impart to children and this is the lens they will look out from into the world. Headwinds will come for sure, but what is important is how they will respond.

Their response will be learned from role models, first and foremost their parents and then through the stories they meet, with characters meeting challenges in ways we can learn from. We could give children a laundry list of how to deal with challenge, but a story, with characters a child cares about, will enter through the doorway of their heart and give them new awareness.

Stories that offer characters struggling to overcome a challenge, where their response marks them as special, are my favorite kinds of stories. Children become involved in the stories they read by caring about a character and caring what happens to them. Their empathy is the most important ingredient in finding their “home run” books.

Children love holidays and a family celebration is the perfect moment to imbue a holiday with significance and meaning. Speaking of the blessings of challenges and our responses will certainly yield much to think and talk about. A wonderful meal deserves conversation to match.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address The most important three-minute speech ever delivered.

President Lincoln delivered the 272 word Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

It might sound irreverent to refer to the Gettysburg Address as a blurb or a clip but they all have something in common; they use a minimum of words to express an idea.  Expose your children to this extraordinary piece of writing, which captures important ideas in the fewest and clearest words possible.  Ask them, "Which sound bites, blurbs or clips from today will be read 150 years from now?”  "Will any of them even be remembered?"

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 less to think about.

Lincoln dismissed his speech as something “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” What Lincoln said was noted and remembered. Some say, the battle itself was less important than the speech.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

E-Reading- Story Time or Simply Screen Time?

Is E-reading story time or simply screen time is an important question for parents because the ramifications are important. A recent article in the NYT suggested there is ample evidence that suggests that parents who E-Read to their child undercuts the dynamic that drives language development.

Parents emotionally engage differently with their children when they read conventional books and engagement is the operative word. Studies show that the essence of acquiring language is reading and talking about what is read. And lets not overlook the importance of the love and affection that is communicated when parents engage, when they read and talk with children.

Bonding with our children gives them the stability and assurance they need to go out into the world and thrive. This is how parents develop the strong relationships their children need that will anchor them for the rest of their lives. So yes, language acquisition is all important, but so is the love that is communicated when parents engage with children by reading and talking about what matters. The bonding that springs from that activity is priceless.

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” Thích Nhất Hạnh

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lets here it for the Dads!

All too often I hear the lament that Dad’s don’t read to their children and this is my opportunity to applaud the Dad in this poem. If children are to become life long readers, they need both moms and dads and everyone else to read to them when they are young.
A love of story and the closeness that is communicated when a child is read to is very likely the single most important reason why children become adults who love to read and know how to find pleasure in reading. Readers are born on the laps of their parents.

“The Story of Ferdinand the Bull" by Matt Mason

Dad would come home after too long at work

and I'd sit on his lap to hear

the story of Ferdinand the Bull; every night,

me handing him the red book until I knew

every word, couldn't read,

just recite along with drawings

of a gentle bull, frustrated matadors,

the all-important bee, and flowers—

flowers in meadows and flowers

thrown by the Spanish ladies.

Its lesson, really,

about not being what you're born into

but what you're born to be,

even if that means

not caring about the capes they wave in your face

or the spears they cut into your shoulders.

And Dad, wonderful Dad, came home

after too long at work
and read to me

the same story every night

until I knew every word, couldn't read,

just recite.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A challenge to parents: How much technology is good for their children?

The start of the school year brings many challenges to parents. A key concern is how much technology is effective and appropriate for young children, pre-school  through the early years of school?  There can be no conversation about how children learn the skills they need to become ready to learn to read without addressing the implications of the early use of technology.

No doubt, technology does enhance children’s education. The internet’s value as a research tool is unquestionably valuable 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 intellect.

Parents want their children to achieve academic success and they often think technology is the way to success, when much of it is mindless entertainment. When technology is over used, unmanaged and unregulated, the results are serious.  Parents and children plugged into devices does NOT foster the type of interaction and stimulation children need in their early years to foster their communication skills. Children need plentiful opportunities to use and respond to the words they learn through play, informal talk, reading and responding to what is read.

Let me share a valuable piece of information that comes from the VP of the Kaiser Family Foundation “My impression is that parents really believe these videos and other gadgets are good for their children, or at the very least, not really bad for them,” “To me, the most important thing is reminding parents that getting down on the floor to play with children is the most educational thing they can do.”

Monday, August 25, 2014

What children need to be successful in school

Talented teachers + engaged students +challenging curriculum = Success for all.

To make this equation into a reality, children need devoted and caring adults to be successful in and out of school.

As a new school year approaches, the conversation about what makes for good schools and good teachers begins. What do children actually need to be successful in school?  The questions are numerous —class size, teacher/student ratio, how well equipped is the school in terms of technology, how many resources are allocated for professional development and parent education? The questions don’t change and I believe they distract from seeing that children need first and foremost supportive parents and teachers.

Children need a champion, someone who believes in them. Someone who has his or her best interests in mind. Children need a close bond with their teachers. Teachers actually have to like their students to be good teachers. In general, school communities need social trust between parents, teachers and students. There is an intimacy involved in teaching and learning. How many times have we heard how a caring teacher showed a child that he could move beyond himself, into what they did not yet know. In 1977,California spent more money per student than any other state and now ranks 47th. Let’s not slide into faulty thinking that the crisis in education is only about money.

Teaching is a profession, a labor or love, and teachers need some basics to be able to do their job well. Teachers need coaching, they need professional development, and they need to have some autonomy in the classroom. In addition they need time to collaborate and learn from other teachers.

Teachers interact with students many hours of the day but during the school year, parents have less time for that interaction.  I suggest that reading to your children is one of the best ways to give children the attention they need. Talking with children about what you read helps parents be attuned to their thoughts and feelings, which shows children they are understood. In that attention, parents communicate love, respect and children then feel cared for in a gentle and tender way. I know of very few activities that accomplish this as well as reading does

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ongoing Dilemma: Which comes first: reading the book or seeing the movie?

I love the book The Giver but I feel ambivalent about it’s movie release on August 15. Since stories enter through the back door of our imaginations, they speak to our hearts and minds in very personal ways. I worry that if a person sees the movie before they read the book, they will know this story through the lens of another and that saddens me.

The story centers on a community that has eradicated worries and cares, where sadness doesn’t exist and one person holds the memories for all. The story unfolds and shows us what it would be like to live in such a world.

I highly suggest you read the story first and then see the movie. All too often I hear the disappointment people feel who see a movie first and then come to the book.

Every medium has advantages and disadvantages. But I can only seem to think of the advantages that come from reading a book. With a book, you can take your time. You can read it as fast or as slow as you want. You are in control. When it is all said and done, I want to be the one to bring a story to life. And only then I will be eager to see how another brought that story to life.

I don't want any movie to rob me of my first impressions or interfere with my fist encounter of reading the story. I am eager to see the movie but the book came first and in that order is how it should be.