You’re invited to a Book Look–anyone, everyone, the more the merrier! I will be highlighting books that are great for grandparents to give for birthdays, holidays, or any day you want to make a kid feel special. Forgo the toys that will break or get forgotten. Get a book for a gift that lasts a lifetime.

So join us this Thursday, June 28, at 5:30 p.m. at my house. Don’t know where that is? Email me at babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail.com for address and directions. No RSVP needed and come as you are. This is informal, fun, and I’ll do all the work for you. There are few things I love better than helping find the right book for a kid!

(And if you really, really, really can’t come, you can order online. Email if you have any questions.)

See you then,

Babette

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I don’t usually post on the weekends but this is how I started my Saturday, listening to this wonderful song. I didn’t want anyone to miss it.

After you start the song, scroll down so you can read the lyrics.ย 

Sing on,

Babette

Librarians promote summer reading programs with research and statistics that show that summer reading prevents “summer slide, ” the loss that children experience in reading and other academics if they “do nothing” during the summer.

If you want visuals to demonstrate the effects of “summer slide” year after year, this video is tremendous.

Two points to remember:

  • We’re not just talking about losses in reading. This happens in all subject and learning areas.
  • And this is not a promotional for summer schools. Every kid needs downtime and free play and a break from very “schooly” activities and routines. But they also need exposure to new things, and constructive, developmentally appropriate activities, and fun enrichments– things that are not very often present for children in lower income or poverty families. The video shows how these things make a difference over the years.

So support summer programs for all kids but especially those who do without so much.

Share the video!

Babette

The Millennium Cohort Study in England, following 19,000 young children, has issued a report on the connections between poverty and cognitive development. It’s one of the first studies of its kind and confirms what most of us would “guess”–but even more so. Here are several interesting findings.

  • First, while any poverty will affect children negatively, persistent poverty and poverty at birth are even worse.
  • The differences between children in poverty and those who are not are as large as what you would find in children from homes with college educated moms and moms with minimal education.
  • Persistent poverty has a greater impact than whether parents read to their children, take them to the library, or help them with schoolwork.
  • While previous studies have shown that parenting affects children’s cognitive development, this one shows that poverty affects not just the child’s cognitive development (no matter what the parent does) but also the parent’s ability to parent.
  • Finally, being born into poverty has worse effects than intermittent or episodic poverty.

Focusing on test scores and even on early childhood education are less than drops in a bucket when poverty and its effects are ignored. Anyone who’s committed to improving education for children has also got to be committed to eradicating poverty–for the children’s sake. Else we are just throwing money at the problem and spinning our wheels.

Think about it,

Babette

Leave it to the BBC to post a treasure trove of resources for early learning! Rhymes, audio, video, lyrics & pictures! What more could you ask for! It’s called School Radio, and it’s all free. The website is a little tricky to navigate (I’ll walk you through, though), some items are posted only for a limited time, and of course, some materials might not be as applicable for you depending on cultural differences (like accents).

The good parts, though, are very, very good.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s a brief tour of what I found, liked, and will use myself.

Opening the link, you’ll find a menu list on the left. Clicking on Early Learning, you’ll see five choices.ย  The best are Nursery Rhymes and Stimulus Sounds. I’ve actually linked you (above) to the Nursery Rhymes page so it’s already open forย  you. Rhymes are mid-screen and grouped alphabetically. Click on “Baa, baa black sheep” for starters, and take a listen. Pretty snazzy, huh? (I’ll be using this one at the SLV Fiber Fest in July!). Scroll down and you can click on a link to print out the photo and the lyrics.

If you are in the U.S. like me, some of the rhymes will be unfamiliar–but that can be a nice way to freshen up your storytimes. Most of the songs and rhymes are repeated twice, always a nice feature. I found that the British accents were not overwhelming in the nursery rhymes but were probably too much in the “Listen and Play” and “Playtime” story links for early learners here in the U.S.

Finally, if you select the “Stimulus Sounds” link, you’ll find audio files for sounds that children can listen to and then identify. Hearing individual sounds is absolutely key to being able to read later. It is one of the two skills (the other is vocabulary) that is almost always missing in elementary aged children who are struggling to read. (Want to know more? Click on the “phonological awareness” tag in the left column on my site.) So this is a great resource especially on days when you can’t get outdoors to listen for “real” sounds. And kids think this is really fun! Be patient though. It is a skill that has to be learned and it takes time so give lots of encouragement and keep it fun.

Have fun exploring!

Babette

This wasn’t too hard. YA has really not been around that long, and subsequently there’s not that much really good stuff out there.

Now don’t get me wrong. I *love* reading YA novels. I actually prefer browsing YA shelves first when I’m looking for a new, good read. I consistently have better luck than with adult books.

But all in all, it didn’t take me long to come up with my list. And as I looked over other people’s lists, I was struck with how many of theirs were really new books.

Have me do this in about twenty years, and I’ll likely run screaming into the night. But for 2012, here my list:

  • Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Hungry City series by Philip Reeve
  • Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
  • Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Yeah, I recognize that most of my books are not on others’ lists. I don’t think I’ve ever recommended one of these books, though, to a teen (or adult) and not had them love it. And while they are not Nobel prize winning literature, none of them are fluffy beach read either.

In other words, I HIGHLY recommend these five.

And they should win.

So there!

Keep reading,

Babette

PS–So what are your favorite YA books? No, seriously I want to know. I’ll even read them. ๐Ÿ™‚

All kinds of lists for father’s day books are cropping up (what a wonder, since tomorrow’s the day!). Someone else’s list always makes you think of what your list would be. Most of my favorites are not about the big day but they are about dads, typical and atypical, and their relationships with their children. And there’s no sap here.

Here are my nominees, in no particular order:

  • Pink Me Up by Charise Harper: I have two boys, both almost grown, so I can be a bit “challenged” when it comes to “girl books.” I also want to do right by girls and not feed them any more stereotypes and junky expectations than can be helped. So Pink Me Up delights me. It’s about a little girl (bunny) and how her dad steps in to make her “pink day” possible. I like that she likes pink “just because.” I like that dad wears pink “just because” and to make her happy. And I like that’s it’s funny without making fun. Some books I like because of the way they portray the parents. This is one of those.
  • Just Like Daddy by Frank Asch: A little bear compares himself with his dad and the things he can do “just like daddy.” It’s got a cute twist ending, though, that even the youngest ones can get. Asch always does a great job with simple but telling pictures and just enough words to tell a good story. His books hold the interest of the youngest, beginning to handle full stories set, as well as their older siblings. His simplicity is deceptive.
  • Tractor Day by Candice Ransom: Short rhyming verse for each double page spreads shows a young daughter and dad taking the tractor out for the first time in the spring.
  • Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino: Boy and his dad have their special routine “every Friday.” Illustrations are retro with a bright but subdued set of colors. It’s a story of the kind of moments that form lasting relationships and memories and make a kid feel loved and special.
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen: The night, the snow, and the owls take center stage in this quiet, mesmerizing story told from a young child’s perspective. But none of it would be possible without dad.
  • So Much by Trish Cooke: So much fun! Everyone comes in the big, big family and everyone’s made a fuss over in the nicest ways including the baby and his dad.
  • My Father is Taller than a Tree by Joseph Bruchac: Quiet, pastel drawings reflect what dad’s are like to their children.
  • Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson: Dad may be in prison but he’s still someone’s dad. Straight forward depiction of a prison visitation day–and the excitement felt by someone coming to visit.
  • My Dad and Me by Alyssa Capucilli: Board book showing children and fathers spending time together.
  • Molly and Her Dad by Jan Ormerod: Exuberant illustrations by Ormerod match an exuberant father-daughter relationship.
  • A Place to Grow by Soyung Pak: An immigrant father shares the importance of freedom with his daughter while they garden. Truly lovely.
  • Pretend by Jennifer Plecas: Ah, dad’s a little imagination challenged but not for long!
  • A Father Like That by Charlotte Zolotow: Classic Zolotow tackles a difficult issue with her usual quiet care. What’s a father to a child who’s never had one present in his or her life? I imagine this book being a balm to kids who feel left out on Father’s Day.

And finally, for my two favorite novel fathers: Read A Wrinkle in Time and A Day No Pigs Would Die.

What are your favorite kid books about fathers?

Happy Father’s Day,

Babette

No, it’s NOT what you think. In many ways I am not the terribly sentimental sort. But this is so cool, such an outstandingly neat idea that it makes me wish I had a little starting kindergarten in the fall so I could do this for him or her! (Well, it sorta makes me want one. Do it for yours instead. ;-))

Take a look and KEEP READING below the picture. It’s NOT what you think!

Now, don’t you want a kindergartner too?

Keep on smiling,

Babette

 

That seems an oxymoron, putting Mr. Rogers (as in children’s television) and re-mix (as in recombination of music tracks to create something new) together. Mr. Rogers wasn’t a singer, a rapper, or even part of a band. Granted, my kids’ favorite bedtime music was a tape of some of the songs from his show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. He was simply many, many a child’s (and adult’s) favorite television neighbor.

I love re-mixes. I love the creativity that is so stunningly demonstrated when one is well done. And this one by PBS Digital is now way at the top of my list. It’s only 3 minutes long and it will make you smile *all* day long. So take a listen to Gardens of the Mind, the Mr. Rogers Re-Mix, and remember all the good Fred Rogers stood for and all he’s left us to carry on with for the sake of children.

Smile!

Babette

That may sound like an exaggeration. Certainly the intention is to improve education for a generation but when mandates don’t match with reality, the opposite occurs.

As busy as you are, if there are young children in your life, you need to read this summary in the Washington Post of Defending the Early Years’ coalition report.

If you think it’s not this bad, read Dr. David Elkind’s book Miseducation. Written in the late 80’s, it was prescient. It remains one of the best and most accessible explanations of why we cannot go against the biology and psychology of learning and what happens when we do.

And if you think these things don’t happen, I’ll tell you about my personal experience over ten years ago with preschool testing. My youngest, who is now sixteen, was in a “lottery funded” preschool program. Good program, good teachers. Until they started testing. A lot. I asked the teachers to not test my child. They squirmed big time–and eventually “sorta” told me that they couldn’t cause it would get them in trouble.

I spoke with the director who was very understanding–but still wanted him tested. We finally agreed that I would put my request in writing and that they wouldn’t test. I thought that was the end of the story.

Then in the car pick-up line a few weeks later, the teacher very quickly (and surreptitiously) stuck her head in the car window and apologized to me and said she “was sorry but she had to.” “Had to what?” I asked. “Test him today” was her guilty reply.

It was my son’s last day at that preschool, free or not.

If you are involved in early childhood education, please check out the link in the WP article to DEY’s survey and make your voice and experience heard. Speak up to principals, school boards, and others who make education decisions. Insist that their decisions follow what we’ve known for decades about how children learn.

Together we can see that children receive the education that’s best for them,

Babette

I’m back! ๐Ÿ™‚ And over the next few weeks, I’ll fill you in on some of the changes in my life and work. To kick things off, though, I want to share a most memorable story for this Memorial Day–and kick off a new series of articles. Developmental Milestones will share stories and examples from the “real world” of how children grow. It will put some concrete flesh on the theoretical bones of developmentalists like Piaget, Erikson, Elkind, and others.

Let’s start off with a photo. It’s not mine to embed so click here to take a look. Yes, that’s a five year old boy, patting the President of the United States head. Yes, he asked to pat it, to touch the President’s hair. Why? To see if it was like his own.

What’s going on here developmentally? During ages 1-3, children begin to develop a sense of being separate from the people around them. During ages 3-6, they begin to develop an identity. They aren’t just a separate entity, a different “thing” from you or me; they are a separate being with a unique identity. Of course, a 3 year old doesn’t verbalize or even think about this but all the things that make us human are driving him or her to explore identity.

What makes me “me” and not you? (And yes, if this sounds familiar, you are right. This exploration gets re-visited in adolescence; some actually call the teenage years “the second adolescence.” :-)) At this age the exploration is on very basic levels–Am I a boy or a girl? How do I know that? Am I strong, smart, shorter, taller, brown like you or white like her? Can I be a knight, a princess, a fire fighter, a doctor, a chef, a mother, a father?

Do you see where this is leading? Can I be President?

“Who am I?” Jacob is asking. Am I like him? His skin color is like mine; is his hair like mine?ย  Can I have fuzzy hair and be President? Can I be black with fuzzy hair and be President?

What do children see? Who do we allow them to see?

Don’t misunderstand. There’s nothing didactic here. We don’t have to “teach” or knock them over the head with a two by four about prejudice or gender issues. But we do have to be aware of how much they are learning. It is important that all children see that a black person can be President or that a woman can be a doctor or that a dad can change diapers. It is important that they see their faces in books (including on the covers) and movies and computer games.

No matter what strides we make as a society in overcoming prejudice and racism, we will always have to remember that children ages 3-5 will be exploring identity. We need to give them opportunities to explore all the possibilities.

Questions? Comments? Just click below the headline. Want to read more? Click here for “Obama and the Snowy Day.”

Have fun!

Babette

And hopefully, we go with the flow.

I’ve definitely been a-flowing the past months. Stay subscribed and I promise you’ll be the first to hear where the flow is a-taking me!

If you are at the Colorado Libraries Consortium (CLiC) conference on Thursday in Pueblo, please be sure to say hello! I’ll be presenting that afternoon on early literacy books that actually “work” in storytimes.

See you there,

Babette

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Contact Info for Babette

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

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