Thursday, December 31, 2015

Traditional Toys are better for language development than gadgets.

A new Study builds on a growing
body of research suggesting that electronic toys and e-books can make parents less likely to have the most meaningful kinds of verbal exchanges with their children.

The findings raise questions about whether electronic playthings make it less likely that babies will engage in the verbal give-and-take with their parents that is so crucial to cognitive development. When electronic toys were being used, parents said about 40 words per minute, on average, compared with 56 words per minute for traditional toys and 67 words per minute with books.
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University
 “A toy should be 10 percent toy and 90 percent child, and with a lot of these electronic toys, the toy takes over 90 percent and the child just fills in the blank.”

Friday, December 18, 2015

Reading aloud and talking to children makes for a stronger brain.

Early childhood experiences have long lasting consequences for children’s long-term social, emotional and cognitive development. Early childhood experiences cast a lifelong shadow.
 Education does not begin at school. It certainly does not begin at kindergarten.It actually begins at birth.  Brains develop biologically. Major brain stimulation occurs in the first months and first years of life for each child. Brains that are exercised in those key time frames end up as stronger brains.

Direct adult interactions with children in those key months and years create the needed connections that build brains. Studies have shown that reading aloud gives children bigger vocabularies and better reading comprehension in school. Seventy-one percent of parents with a college degree say they do it every day, compared with 33 percent of those with a high school diploma or less, Pew found.

Reading aloud and focusing your attention on the child by talking to them about the story is an ideal activity for their brain development. In addition, reading favorite books on a regular basis builds vocabularies, creates a sense of emotional security—it is one of the many ways we show children they are loved.

It is no surprise, long after the story line of the books are forgotten, the love that is communicated and experienced inside a “reading relationship,” between a child and their parent, is never forgotten.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving every day of the year

I can’t help thinking of William Steig at Thanksgiving. In addition to the fact that he was born in the month of November, I thank him year round for igniting my passion for children’s literature. His books showed me how extraordinary a book for children could be—with language that soars, pictures that captivate, and stories I want to go on forever and ever.

Yet as much as I adore the books he wrote, what captured my heart and mind were the questions his stories ignited. Moral dilemmas not easily solved, showing us the wonderfully complex humanity of his characters, along with his humor that always delivered a brand of wisdom, with no lesson to teach. Robust conversations are a hallmark of Steig’s books. 
To have the continued opportunity to introduce children every day to Steig’s books, truly calls for a profound Thank You, with deep gratitude.

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Stories help us hang on to our humanity

The recent attack by terrorists on the people of Paris was an act of brutality. The attack was an act of inhumanity; The following story is one man’s response to the atrocity— his music was his effort to help restore humanity, those qualities that make us human, mortality, compassion, and kindness.

In an extraordinary gesture, a Parisian man rode his bike to the Bataclan Concert Hall, one of the attack sites, with his mobile piano in tow. He then proceeded to play John Lenon's Imagine on the piano for all those gathered. After the performance, he broke down and left without uttering a word.

Telling stories are what make us human, it is how we make sense of the world, sharping our beliefs and our ethics.  No story can take away the pain we feel, but it can offer a catharsis, something we are all in great need of in this troubling time

Stories are one of the ways we get to know people who are just like as and
at the same time, very different. They are windows on the world and by inviting us into the lives of others; they promote tolerance and build bridges of understanding. The recent tragedy in Paris tests our tolerance and challenges us to hang on to our humanity. Fear and rage are powerful emotions and they make it difficult to think clearly.

Along with the French people, the world feels deeply sad about the terrorist attack. In times such as these, it is important to tightly cling to what makes us human.