Sunday, March 16, 2014

Reading nourishes your child’s imagination.

I recently read a story of how a tourist walked off an Australian pier while checking her Facebook. I felt badly that she plummeted into chilly waters, but I was most troubled how oblivious she was to the beauty she was surrounded by.  What came to mind was a quote by Albert Einstein (3.14.1879), “ I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”  

I worry that children attached to their devices are being robbed of their childhood. I also worry about how parents, also attached to their devices, are missing out on connecting with children in meaningful ways that build a strong parent child bond. 

Think about this: “ If the computer has become the new playground for children, then we must ask what are they playing, who are they meeting there and what are they learning?”

Parents hear all the time how important it is to read to their children. What I hope they know is that while reading to a child is of the utmost importance, it is not the endgame. The real benefits of the reading experience happen as soon as the book comes to an end and the conversation about the book begins.

Reading stories nourishes a child’s creativity and imagination. Those 26 black marks, the meaning of the words, the implications of those meanings, these are all the products of the readers' imagination. Reading challenges the imagination to go beyond the immediate and familiar, to create something new. Books give kids something that is provided by nothing else. That something, simply put, is the unknown. The imagination flows toward that which is not known, the familiar does not inspire it, but it surges spontaneously at the slightest opportunity for mystery and adventure. The imagination is a hunter who loves the challenge and the chase.

Einstein, 135 years old today, is well known for his genius and I think much of his brilliance came from his imagination. He did say, the imagination was “more important than knowledge.”    

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Shalom Aleichem and Dr. Seuss share the same birthday—what a delicious coincidence!

Separated by 45 years , Shalom Aleichem (b) 1859 and Dr. Seuss (b) 1904) were masters at portraying both the splendid and the not so splendid moments of our humanity.

Shalom Aleichem was a leading Yiddish author and playwright whose stories about Tevye the dairyman was the basis for the musical Fiddler on the Roof.

In addition to writing classic books that continue to appeal to children and adults, Dr. Seuss forever changed the way children learned to read when he created The Cat In the Hat, his first I Can Read book.  Comprised of 1629 words in length, with a vocabulary of only 223 words, the book was written to teach children how to read.

I believe that if Shalom Aleichem and Dr. Seuss would meet today, they would be friends and soul mates. Each was able to tap into what makes us human and delivered their truths with wisdom and wit. I love when authors are asked whom they would most like to have dinner with. If I could choose to have dinner with anyone, hands down I would choose Shalom Aleichem and Dr. Seuss. I would even be willing to be a fly on the wall!

It is difficult to choose a favorite quote from their many sayings, but here are my choices for the moment.

~ “ You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss

~ "No one knows whom the shoe pinches-no one." Shalom Aleichem

And I can’t resist adding one more of my all time favorites,

~ If somebody tells you, you have ears like a donkey, pay no attention. But if two people tell you, buy yourself a saddle." Shalom Aleichem