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We had Toddler Time today and several outstanding moments happened!

First, I had two dads with their little ones join us today. I love it when dads come–and before dads leave, they find out why it’s so wonderful when they can come.

Children need to see men reading and they need to have men read to them. This communicates to children, especially boys, that reading is a “guy thing.” Modeling and especially gender modeling is critical in from age 4ish-6ish.ย  That’s when boys and girls are trying to sort out what a woman is, what a man is, how do I tell them apart, and how do I look and act like the one I am.

This starts out as not much more than the same process they went through to learn the differences between dogs and cats. They set up in their minds, “Dogs have four legs, are furry, and bark.” Then one day they see a cat, call it a cat, and then hear it meow! Their dog category now has to change; they have to develop a cat category as well.

This is why you’ll hear kids claim that “all women are mommies and all men are daddies” or “all girls wear dresses, tractors can only be driven by men,–and only mommies and teachers read books.”

The solution? Actions speak louder than words. We have to show them. They need to find what works for them at this age for “being a girl” or “being a boy.” For some girls, that means wearing only pink, for some boys only wearing overalls. That’s what they need to be who they are at this age.

But at the same time, they need chances to see the big wide, wonderful world–and all the marvelous ways men and women live in it, quite comfortably. Like daddies playing at Toddler Time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Second, afterwards I looked up from a desk to see a 20 month old girl, reading! She had climbed up into a big person chair near the front desk, reached to the top of a small display shelf, and taken down a paperback of Sisters Grimm (older juvi novel). There she sat, pacifier in mouth, tiny pigtails on top of her head, turning page after page, quite contentedly.

That girl’s parents ROCK! She knows what books are about!

This stuff works, guys! Read on!

Babette

It’s easier to beat than you think–if you start early.

The March issue of Pediatrics reports simple lifestyle changes that reduce the chances of childhood obesity by as much as 40% in preschoolers.

These include:

  • spending less than 2 hours a day on “screen time,”
  • getting 10 or more hours a sleep a night, and
  • eating with the family at least 5 nights a week.

Now, add a good book at bedtime and your children are well set to grow into their best!

Bonus? These are habits that will stand your child in good stead for life!

Babette

I have spent the last couple years looking for not too wordy versions of basic fairy tales to read aloud. And I could just kiss Lucy Cousins for putting together Yummy.

You’d think that fairy tales would be the most natural thing in the world to find in children’s books. But somehow most authors turn them into very wordy stories with terribly complicated illustrations. It’s like they don’t trust the stories to be enough on their own.

But Yummy is different. The illustrations are in Cousins’ signature style–bright, colorful, and simple. And the tellings give just the essentials and nothing more. Yummy includes eight tales from Little Red Riding Hood to the often overlooked Henny Penny. This will be a favorite with your kids for years to come.

Bonus points? Words and sentences that develop print awareness! ๐Ÿ™‚

Enjoy!

Babette

Ever wonder how to find a good book, especially for your kiddo? If they are under the age of 6-ish, you’re likely flipping through picture books and can just read it quickly to see if it’s “good.”

But once kids get into novels, it’s tougher. What elements can you look for if you’ve only got time to read the jacket blurb or read the beginning and ending or perhaps a few chapters here and there?

Kelly at YAnnabe has a terrific list of 7 elements that make a good story; click here to read her take on it. (And you’ll notice that she developed her list from lots of reading, still the best method by far!)

Read on!

Babette

Reuters reported (Feb. 8, 2010) on an upcoming journal article in Pediatrics (March 2010) that shows a correlation between limited vocabulary at age five and low literacy levels at age thirty-four.

Two-thirds of the children with poor vocabulary, though, did go on to become competent readers. One of the factors that made it possible for them? Parents reading to them on a regular basis. ๐Ÿ™‚

So read to your children–and encourage others who are struggling in life to do the same! It makes a difference!

Babette

I’m so excited! I’d like to personally hold each of your hands and guide you to click the mouse here.

Why? Because this made my day and I’d love for it to make yours. It’s well written, well delivered, thoughtful, insightful–and inspiring especially if you are into stories, writing, books, libraries, and people getting along together in the world.

Need I say more? Enjoy!

Babette

President’s Day this week reminded me of this gem I’ve never posted. Click here. (Yes, I know Ben Franklin was never a President but he was pretty much everything else. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And he did run with that crowd.)

But there’s more here than Franklin. I dare you to read all the way through and not smile, feel proud, or be inspired.

After relishing those feelings, read it aloud to your kids. Let themย  share in the good vibes. And if something strikes their fancies, go find a book about it at your library!

Read on!

Babette

Yet another study, this one from Britian, shows the effects of poverty on our youngest children: Five year olds who live in poverty test well behind in vocabulary–11 months behind middle class kids, 16 months behind upper class kids. Click here to read more.

Think how simple a thing vocabulary is. Do you know the names for the things and happenings in your life? For one of these five year olds, though, every thought, every interaction, every moment of playing pretend is hampered and constricted by not having the words to match with their life.

During these preschool years, experiences of the world, meeting and greeting it, and then handling it, messing around with it, playing with it are what life and learning are about. Between the ages of 3 and 5, though, children in their heads and then through their conversations must start putting words to their experiences. It’s how they learn to think; it’s how they create meaning; it’s how they understand. Otherwise, everything they experience just remains bits and pieces of “stuff.”

These children are not just behind in vocabulary when they start school. It’s as if their brains have been locked away and starved for five years.

This study, and many more before it, point to some positive correlations that we need as a society to marshal full force.ย  Teaching parents to take the time to talk with their children reverses this effect as does reading aloud. Teaching other adults who spend time with these children to stand in the gap and do the same can make a difference. Turning the tv’s and computers offย  helps; language learning is interactive and screens are not. Giving families their own books makes a difference. Allowing children time to move around and play provides opportunities for them to use the language they do know; the drive is so deep to play that no toys are needed, just a chance to get out of a car carrier or playpen and move around safely.

Poverty will not be ameliorated any time soon. But in the midst of poverty, we need to make these little things possible for children. As small as they are, they make a huge and permanent difference.

Read on,

Babette

Oh mercy, it’s amazing how much worry comes with being a parent–even before the baby is born! Is my child developing “on time” is one of the biggest. On the one hand, we see other babies who are doing things “sooner” than our child. On the other hand, ours is doing things “sooner” than someone else’s. There’s such a range for normal development; it’s not easy to sort out when there is or isn’t a problem.

When there is a problem, noticing it and diagnosing it early is always better. While early intervention is no “miracle cure,” it, combined with the incredible flexibility of the human brain in the early years, can make an incredible difference.

So what about speech delays? Dr. Perri Klass gives helpful perspective and guidelines here on when to be concerned and seek help.

I’d like to highlight two points that he raises as well.

First, is the importance of speech in the home and with the child. Language is a social event. It cannot be learned without “live people” to speak with. For babies and toddlers, that “speaking with” includes all the times that we as adults respond to their coo’s, babbles, and one word utterances. When those interactions do not take place, language cannot develop. And just to be clear about this, TV and computers cannot do this job. A child may hear them but machines do not interact. A child cannot learn language from a TV or computer;ย  in fact research shows that TV and computers delay speech development in young children. Talking with your child is essential throughout the birth to age six years.

Second, the importance of talking and reading in other than English speaking and/or bilingual homes is mentioned–but one important point is missing. As Klass eludes to, the language interactions can be in any language as long as the interactions are plentiful. And children can easily learn more than one language at a time (for instance, Spanish at home and English at day care). These children will initially have what appears to be a language delay. It isn’t–not in the sense of a delay that’s a problem. Children learning two languages at once will develop their expressive (spoken) language a bit later than peers learning only one language. When they start speaking, though, they will have both languages “down.” This is normal development and not a problem.

Keep talking!

Babette

In case you’ve missed it, the Winter Olympics open tomorrow, Friday the 12th. While I enjoy the Summer Olympics, the Winter Games always leave me with my mouth hanging open. Whether it’s the ski jumps, the snowboarding, or the figure skating, “How do they do that?” blurts from my mouth every few minutes. While the athleticism is as great, I just don’t have the same reaction with track and field in the summer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

To this day, though, I still can’t explain how ice skates work. And this NBC site for learning about the science behind the events shows me that there’s more to learn about than just ice skates. SLJ has a write-up here that gives an overview of all the NBC site has to offer. Video-based, it should be fun for families to visit during breaks in the coverage.

Here’s to the wonder!

Babette

Here’s a comic from One Big Happy that will especially make librarians smile!

Click here.

Babette

Do you know someone who cares for children regularly in his or her home? Do they live in or near Alamosa, CO? They could be a licensed home childcare provider or they might be what I affectionately refer to as a “Granny or Auntie,” a family member who cares for an extended family’s children.

If you are one of those special people or know someone who is, please get in touch with me (scroll down the left hand column for phone and email info). Why?

Because Storybox Special is expanding! Storybox Special is Southern Peaks Library’s early literacy program for home childcare providers. Each month I’ll pick up your previous month’s box of books and deliver a new box to your home for you and your kids to enjoy (and in the process develop early literacy skills).ย  The only requirement is taking an initial (free) class about early literacy; the entire program is free.

How did we become so blessed with an expansion? Last night the Friends of the Library received a $3000 grant from the El Pomar Foundation to grow the program further here in the San Luis Valley!

I am so tickled and so thankful–and I can’t wait to connect with more families in the months to come, thanks to El Pomar!

So give me a call or email!

Babette

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Contact Info for Babette

email babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail(dot)com
snail mail
73 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

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