Monday, July 27, 2015

Parents fave a challenge to overcome the ubiquitous presence of screen technonlogy.

A recent article in the WSJ The Great Gifts of Reading Aloud 
was a nice wake-up call about the importance of reading aloud to children. It made me think what a daunting challenge parents face today to overcome the ubiquitous presence of screen technology.
A dad recently shared with me his personal experience of reading with his four year old son. “I never thought to read and talk to my child about the story. I now realize, the good stuff happens when the story comes to a close and the talk begins.
“Taking to my son about the story opened up a new way for us to be together, sharing our thoughts and feelings. I think I become a better parent in those moments, when I am most open and emotionally available. I realize how relating to ideas in a story are my son ‘s building blocks of imagination, empathy, critical thinking, and creativity—all crucial qualities I want to him to cultivate.”
In our fast moving, media-saturated world, reading with our children and talking with them about what matters is more important than ever before.
The recent discovery of a new Dr. Seuss book, What Pet Should I Get? is a nice reminder how no one ever outgrows a picture book.In Seuss’s own words—
You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.
And a child never outgrows the love they feel when they are being read to.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Talk to your baby.

A recent article, Brain exercises for your baby, highlights how talking to babies helps them learn and develops their brain. Studies show that the vocabulary a child learns in the first three years of their life directly affects their future IQ. Babies best learn vocabulary inside face-to-face conversations, not from screen technology.

But, just as importantly, talk nurtures the bond between parent and child, making possible a secure attachment that is essential for their emotional growth and development.

Bernard Waber’s Ask Me celebrates the talk that happens between a parent and a child, showcasing a child’s relentless inquisitiveness and energy. Children naturally have a good amount of curiosity and this book celebrates intense curiosity. I think of curiosity as a muscle that encourages a child to learn, to venture out, and to take risks in their thinking--its a hallmark of a vital life.

At one point in the story, the father asks his daughter, “Why do you ask me questions you know the answer to?” Her response: “Because I like to hear you tell it.”

Waber wrote more than 30 books for children, including the classic Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile series. He died at 91 in 2013 and posthumously published Ask Me which has the hallmarks of his subtle humor and tremendous empathy.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What you have in common with Tolstoy.

Looking for the right word, the words that will best express what you want to say or write? You are not alone. The great writer Tolstoy often found himself in a similar predicament. His solution might prove helpful

Nabokov, a Scholar of Russian Literature in addition to being a great novelist, said this about Tolstoy’s writing. “Tolstoy is intent on achieving a meditation, to follow the contours of a thought, emotion, until he reaches a perfect rendering. His creative repetitions, each more expressive, each closer to the true meaning. He gropes, he unwraps, he peels the apple of the phrase, he tries to say it one way, than a better way, he gropes he stalls, he toys, he Tolstoys with words.”

If I had the powers of a Fairy Godmother, I would ask the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary to include Tolystoying, a verb that means to actively seek words that best express and communicate ideas and emotions. The OED is updated four times a year, March, June, September, and December. Maybe there is hope—To Tolstoy or Tolstoying, a verb.