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You know it’s going to happen. Sometime over the holidays, when you just can’t do, play, or eat anymore, someone’s going to sit down with their laptop and start playing videos.

I know it happens at our house. And we do have a good time with it. And believe it or not, it can be good family time between generations and even good literacy building time.

How, when there is no reading going on? Family building and literacy building can both happen if the viewings spur conversation.

So here are a few that are fun, intergenerational, and sure to get everyone talking.

Laurel and Hardy Meet Santana: Oh my, how this made me laugh! What a generational mash-up!

Around the Corner: Motorcycle acrobatists and differential gears? What? Just watch it; honest, it’s worth the minutes.

Why the Other Line Moves Faster: If you’ve found yourself stuck in impossible lines this season, this will throw a whole ‘nother light on it. (I make no promises that it will make the experience better though.)

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: On oldie but a goodie.

Twelve Days of Christmas/Africa: My favorite holiday or anytime group and one of my favorites of their songs. This is the original 1998 version.

Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, may your holidays be blessed! See you in the new year!



Yes, of course.Ā  End of blog post. How about a nice cup of tea now?

Guess that won’t do, now will it? šŸ˜‰

Questions from non-librarian folks do me good. They bring me back to the real world and out of my tunnel vision land of assumptions.

She was ordering books online as gifts for two children. One of the books was listed as a board book. “What is a board book?” she asked.

Gooood question! šŸ™‚

Here’s the nutshell on board books:

  • They are primarily for children ages birth through 3-ish.
  • They are small (usually), the better for little hands to handle them.
  • They are made of heavy, thickĀ materials so that they can endure the hazards that happen at these earliest ages when one is learning about books. These include mouthing, early attempts at page turning, and juice cup spills among others.
  • They usually have a few clear pictures or drawings and few words.
  • Many have no actual story. Why? Because children ages babies to 3-ish aren’t really ready for stories yet. Their eyes are still learning to focus and they are still learning to recognize the “things” of their world. They love and prefer pictures of babies and activities of their daily life (eating, taking a walk, playing with blocks, seeing a puppy, hearing a fire engine, etc.). Of course, as they get closer to age 3, shorter stories become interesting as well.
  • They are also idealĀ as specialĀ books that begged to be played with–for instance, books with cutaways and holes for peeking through or poking into.

Board books give young children the best chances for success as they begin learning about books. Asking children to do something they are not yet ready to do (like keeping things out of their mouths or turning pages gently) sets them up for frustration–and can lead adults to fussing at them. Negative experiences and emotions get associated with the book and the reading, leading to a decrease in interest in books and reading years later.

Finally, learning takes time and lots and lots of repetition. Playing with, exploring (poking, prodding, chewing, dropping etc.), pretending to read, and yes, even being read to can happen over and over and over again with board books for many years.

Board books are real books. They are real books for real kids of a certain age with certain needs and certain interests.Ā Simply because they are age appropriate doesn’t make them less a book. You would never give a one year old a Neil Gaiman novel to read nor What is on My Head? to a sixty-five year old, yet both are equally a “real” book.

So feel confident this holiday season as you shop for babies through three year olds, that board books are a great choice for them!

Happy Holidays,


Anyone remember that old John Prine song? “Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, move to the country…”? Ah no? Guess I’m showing my age. šŸ™‚

For over 4o years, we’ve been debating the benefits or detriments of TV to our society–and to our children. Early on, it was mostly debate. Television, and especially television geared for children, just hadn’t been around long enough to draw firm conclusions.

That’s changed in the last 10 years. Not only has research become more focused on our youngest children and their brain development, but there has also been enough time now for research to be repeated.

A new report was publicized this past week again confirming that TV viewing delays cognitive and language developmentĀ  in babies and toddlers. You can read US News’ report here (and it includes links to the study).

While the article is short, I was struck with two points from it:

  • “…when kids and parents are watching TV, they are missing out on talking, playing, and interactions that are essential to learning and development.”
  • Native language and income levels did not affect results.

The Child Study Center of the University of Virginia has posted this video report concerning educational videos. The conclusion? Children did not learn vocabulary from watching educational television *and* they learn vocabulary best from the adults in their lives (even when there’s little more going on than talking, ie, no special equipment needed, folks!).

And finally, in the old news department, if you need any further ammo especially against Baby Mozart, read here.

So turn the TV off and spend time with your kiddo, one on one. (And if you’ve got to cook dinner, pull open a cabinet door and let your little one explore!)




One of the six essential skills for learning to read is vocabulary. And if you read this blog much, you know how much I encourage (ie, push!) talking with kids as the best means of building vocabulary. It’s simple and it’s important.

Well, here’s another study to back that up.

I love this quote:

“…the program was purposely ‘not a very complicated intervention,’ and it helps teachers engage in the same complex conversations that the Kansas study showed professional parents have with their children, ‘introducing 50 cent words as opposed to 25 cent words,’ as Ms. Finney put it.”

This is not just a matter of adults not knowing “50 cent words” and therefore not being able to share them with children. Somewhere along the way, we lost our confidence in the power of language to convey meaning when it is shared actively between two people, face to face, in a particular context.

We do not have to and should not use only words kids immediately understand. When they began learning language, they didn’t understand any of the words–and look, they figured it out.

That’s the beauty of our brains’ pre-wiring for language. It works. We just have to “feed” that development with lots and lots of conversation, with lots and lots of words.

We can do this, folks. Professional parents are not sitting around and giving vocabulary lessons to their children. That’s not how their kids are developing 1,100 word vocabularies. These parents are simply talking with their children.Ā  As teachers, childcare providers, and librarians, we, too, can talk with children conversationally. (If you think all adults do this with kids, just walk around Walmart one day and look and listen.) And we can model this with parents and encourage them with the news that this is something they can do–and that it makes a tremendous difference over the four to five years before their children start school.

So, talk on!


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