literacy – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family Wed, 28 Oct 2020 18:26:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.6 https://www.kindredmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/cropped-Kindred-Black-Logo-square-32x32.png literacy – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org 32 32 Once Upon A Terrible, Terrible Time… https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/07/it-was-a-terrible-terrible-time/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/07/it-was-a-terrible-terrible-time/#respond Mon, 06 Jul 2020 21:12:17 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=25736 “…stories taught me many things: that I didn’t have to be ashamed when I was afraid, that I could learn to be brave, that there were times for sorrow and times for joy, that things were always going to change, and that some things – like love and courage, hope and faith – were unchanging.” […]]]>

“…stories taught me many things: that I didn’t have to be ashamed when I was afraid, that I could learn to be brave, that there were times for sorrow and times for joy, that things were always going to change, and that some things – like love and courage, hope and faith – were unchanging.”

– Joseph Bruchac, author, Tell Me A Tale

Click on this link to discover more about the Book Fairy Pantry Project and how you can help at-risk families in your community connect with books.

It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times. When the world as we knew it suddenly shut down on March 13th, the job description of parenting expanded to include simultaneously figuring out and coordinating distance learning from home for each child on Zoom, and figuring out working from home with children at home. Teachers and parents alike scrambled to figure out how to do life in a way they’d never done it, with no time to prepare. 

It is now July, and it’s hard to tell what life will look like in the coming months. Though some businesses and some childcare centers are opening up again, many families who were planning on summer camp for child care are now facing the continuation of the juggling-working-at-home-with-children- at-home situation for the summer and trying to figure out how to create some sort of summer camp substitute at home, also with no time to prepare. 

It is well known that in every crisis there is also opportunity. Three of the most important things we have the opportunity to do this summer are: 


1) To read aloud with our children every day, no matter what their age. It will strengthen our connections and they will return to school stronger readers. Strong readers can do better in every subject. 


2) To create as many opportunities as possible for them to have the outdoor time and experience in nature that will strengthen their eyes and their bodies for the tasks of reading and writing. 


3) To teach our children the difference between charity and social justice, the need for both and how we can work for both. Donating some of their books to other children is charity. Building and stocking a Little Free Library in a less-income neighborhood is working for social justice. 

In the past, my July/August articles have featured my newest tips on preventing the dreaded “summer slide” in reading. This summer the concern about reading is not that children won’t be willing to read, but the fact that many children won’t have books TO read. With the schools and libraries closed, many parents, with few or no children’s books in their homes, turned to the schools, who turned to Book Fairy Pantry Project to help them provide free books for their students. I’m proud to say that we have been collaborating to provide as many free books to as many children as possible. 

This dire need for books for all children, that has always been there, has suddenly become magnified by this pandemic crisis. Along with the many other inequalities that have risen to the forefront is the disparity in access to books between the less-income families and the more-income families. This is not a good time for very many things, but it is a perfect time to address illiteracy as the social justice issue that it is . 

During this pandemic summer, how children will have books to read will depend entirely on whether they live in less-income or more-income families. The libraries, which have always been the great literacy equalizer, cannot fill that role right now. The more- income parents can just order new books for their children online. The middle-income parents will once again be able to buy gently-used children’s books at the reopening Goodwill resale stores. And now, more than ever, less-income parents, who are struggling just to feed their children, will be relying on the charity of their community to provide books for their children. 

What we must pay attention to this summer, more than a summer slide in reading, is the slide in our humanity. If we are ever to win the war against illiteracy, we need “boots on the ground” to get “books in their homes.” One Book Fairy is not enough in the best of times. In these unprecedented conditions we need a fleet of Book Fairies if all children are to have books in their homes. The likelihood that children will successfully learn to read is greatly diminished when there are few or no books in their homes. In our culture, children who cannot read cannot thrive. Their future standard of living and quality of life will hinge directly on their ability to read. 

Recently, when I heard Rabbi Steve Leder on the Today Show, telling us, “Don’t come out of hell empty handed” his words stopped me in my tracks. I thought, “He is so right! We must make this tragedy count for something.” If we spend the time we have with our children this summer focusing on creating connections with them and teaching them to have empathy and compassion for others, the lessons our children learn can change their lives and the world, for the better, forever.


For more information about starting a Book Fairy Pantry Project in your community, visit the website www.BookFairyPantryProject. The program materials and guides are free!

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The Forever Gift https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/11/the-forever-gift/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/11/the-forever-gift/#respond Sun, 10 Nov 2019 19:24:59 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=22924 Whether or not children learn to read impacts their lives forever. Even though non-reading adults can and do learn to read, learning to read as an adult can never give back a childhood shaped by the joys of reading. I learned to read as a child even though I wasn’t read to until I was […]]]>

Whether or not children learn to read impacts their lives forever. Even though non-reading adults can and do learn to read, learning to read as an adult can never give back a childhood shaped by the joys of reading. I learned to read as a child even though I wasn’t read to until I was in third grade. Every day I lived for that story chapter book our teacher would read to us (if we were good). The first children’s books I owned were the ones I bought for my own children. It will take the rest of my life to read a fraction of the children’s books I missed, but I’m making steady progress, thanks to the Book Fairy.

The books children hear and the books children read become part of their childhood for the rest of their lives. Having books in their homes from the beginning shapes their lives in ways that nothing else does. When a friend asked the topic of my next article, she instantly recalled, “Our cousins gave us their Nancy Drew books and even though those books were above my reading level, I was determined to read them because I just had to solve those mysteries.

No matter which holidays we celebrate, if gift giving is part of the celebration, I can think of no more meaningful gifts to give to the children in our lives than ones that support and promote reading. I think the reason that books are often overlooked as special gifts for children is because the “wow” factor doesn’t usually show itself until the book is read, unless it is the highly anticipated new book in a favorite series.

Eighteen years ago, when my granddaughter was five, I gave her a Walkman cassette player for Christmas. The batteries were installed and an audiobook was already in place. She immediately put on her headphones, pushed play and she was gone! She was so captivated by the story (only she was hearing) that she was reluctant to stop it long enough to open the rest of her gifts. To this day it remains a family favorite. My gift to you is that I’m going to share the title of that magical book, just in case you would love to delight a child you love with it. The book is Wolf Story, by William McCleary. It was first published in 1947, but was out of print for many years. Thankfully, it was reissued in 2012.

Since Wolf Story is only eighty-eight pages, it is a chapter book you will likely finish in one reading because your children will keep begging you for one more chapter and you will be loving it so much that you will keep saying yes! Now that is my idea of a wow factor!

 

Reading aloud to the children we love is about more than literacy. Reading aloud together is one of the most powerful ways there is to connect with children of all ages. If we stop reading to children once they can read on their own, we will miss an amazing opportunity to learn together, to share laughter and tears and to stay connected through the years through the books we share. There is no shortage of great read alouds for middle graders. My absolute favorite books for 10 to 14 year old girls or boys, are written by Michael Morpurgo. He’s written over 100, so that should keep you in books to read together until high school.

Check out the Book Fairy Pantry Project, founded by Pam Leo!

 

When we give books to children the message they hear is, books are important, reading is important and you are important. Whether we give them special books or audiobooks, a magazine subscription or a gift certificate to a bookstore, we give them the forever gift of reading.

“Books change children’s lives… for good.”- Pam Leo

It is my honor to announce that Book Fairy Pantry Project will soon be receiving a fabulous donation from Amanda Panda Music. For every two of her new, I Am Peaceful Coloring Songbooks purchased, she will donate one copy to BFPP to gift to children in foster care in Maine. Learn how you can support our effort to help ALL children to help themselves to feel more peaceful at amandapandamusic.com.

 

Photo by Shutterstock/Evgeny Atamanenko

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Falling In Love With Books https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/06/falling-in-love-with-books/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/06/falling-in-love-with-books/#respond Tue, 11 Jun 2019 01:39:21 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=22563 Falling in love with books creates an upward life spiral. Young children who are read to abundantly will naturally fall in love with books. Children who love books usually have an easier time learning to read. Children who learn to read more easily and joyfully usually love reading. Children who love reading usually read a […]]]>

Falling in love with books creates an upward life spiral. Young children who are read to abundantly will naturally fall in love with books. Children who love books usually have an easier time learning to read. Children who learn to read more easily and joyfully usually love reading. Children who love reading usually read a lot. Children who read a lot become better and better at reading. The better children are at reading, the more successful they become in school and in life.

In contrast, not having the opportunity to fall in love with books creates a downward life spiral. Young children who are not read to don’t naturally fall in love with books. Children who haven’t been read to usually struggle with learning to read. When learning to read is a struggle, children understandably dislike reading. Children who don’t like reading usually don’t read much. The less children read the more they will continue to struggle with reading. Children who don’t “learn” to read can’t “read” to learn. Research shows that students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are 4 times as likely to drop out of school or leave without a diploma.

Every parent I have ever known has wanted life to be better for their children than it was for them. When it comes to how much or how little parents read to their children, I have met three categories of parents. Some parents read to their children abundantly because they fell in love with books and reading and want to share that love with their children. Some parents read to their children dutifully (even if they still struggle with reading as adults) because they want their children to have the educational and life advantages that only learning to read proficiently can give them. There are also many parents who rarely read to their children because they didn’t get to fall in love with books. They also lack the information that reading to young children is vitally important for their brain growth and development and building the foundation necessary for learning to read.

No matter which parent group we identify with, we share a common challenge. We are all competing with screens as we try to raise readers. How can we compete with the ever increasing wonders of technology? Well, fortunately, we have an ace in the hole if we play our cards right. There is one thing I know of that young children want even more than screen time. What young children crave most is one-on-one connection time with their parents. In my 2005 book, Connection Parenting, I share that children’s greatest emotional need is to be securely attached to at least one adult. I teach about maintaining the vital parent-child bond by spending a minimum of 10 minutes a day of special one-on-one connection time, and spending at least one hour a week doing a one-on-one date to strengthen that bond.

I know of no better way to provide that connection time daily than by reading aloud together, and weekly by spending that one hour of bonding time on a reading date. For instance, you could go “out for books” to the library or a book store or go to a cafe for a read-aloud date. When we are reading to them we are strengthening the parent-child bond while building the strong foundation for literacy they will need. For the same amount of parenting time we are giving our children the two things they most need for a good life. It’s the best parenting bargain in town!

The sooner we begin reading to children, the sooner they begin to associate books with feeling loved. Reading from birth brings children into a world where books are part of the furniture in their home. Reading bedtime stories at night gives children a reconnection comfort ritual that they can depend on each night. Reading lift-the-flaps and touch-the-bunny’s-fur interactive books to toddlers delights them. Listening to audiobooks in the car turns even commuting time into connection time because we are listening together. We have the opportunity to make books and reading one of the most exciting parts of childhood before they even learn to read. When we provide children with books about the things they love, the message they hear is, I get you, I support you and I love you.

Giving and reading books to children are wonderful ways for grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors to support parents in raising readers. Inspired by the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Project, I have created a new literacy project called 100 Stories Before First Grade that I hope Maine will embrace. Because it takes a village to raise a reader, Book Fairy Pantry Project will be promoting this by having “Story Drives.” We will be asking libraries, preschools, child care programs and schools to help us distribute our 100 Stories story logs to children who wish to participate. The logs will have spaces to record 100 books or stories so children can go to their parents, siblings, relatives, friends, neighbors, caregivers, librarians and teachers and ask them to help them reach 100 Stories by reading or telling them a story and signing their story log.

In the five little minutes it takes to read one picture book every day we give children the big message that books matter, reading matters and they matter. Being in love with books is the most powerful pre-literacy skill children can acquire. When we give young children the opportunity to fall in love with books by reading to them, we prepare them to achieve their birthright of learning to read and strengthen the parent-child bond all children so desperately need.

 

This article first appeared in Parent & Family.

Featured photo Shutterstock/Evgeny Atamanenko

 

 

 

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Sing Me a Book And Read Me a Song: March Is “Read Aloud From Birth” Month! https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/03/sing-book-read-song-march-read-aloud-birth-month/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/03/sing-book-read-song-march-read-aloud-birth-month/#respond Wed, 01 Mar 2017 17:19:12 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=19944 “It isn’t just baby’s body that is growing this first year, baby’s brain is developing even more rapidly. Build Baby’s Brain With Books.” says Dr. John Hutton, Read Aloud 15 Minutes “SpokesDoctor.” In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its former recommendation that parents, grandparents, and caregivers start reading to babies beginning at six […]]]>

Visit Read Aloud for materials, downloads and inspiration for Reading Aloud 15 Minutes a day!

“It isn’t just baby’s body that is growing this first year, baby’s brain is developing even more rapidly. Build Baby’s Brain With Books.” says Dr. John Hutton, Read Aloud 15 Minutes “SpokesDoctor.”

In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its former recommendation that parents, grandparents, and caregivers start reading to babies beginning at six months, and recommended we start beginning at birth. Sadly, three years later, according to a national survey of parents, only 15% of parents say they read to their babies in the first year of life.

March is National Reading Awareness month. In response to those low numbers reported in the parent survey, the theme of Read Aloud’s 2017 campaign is “From Birth.” They are focusing on getting the word out to parents nationwide about the vital importance of reading to babies “from birth.” As the founder of the Book Fairy Pantry Project, which provides books to new babies enrolled in the WIC program in Portland, as well as to families at food pantries, and as a Read Aloud Community Partner, I am excited to support Read Aloud’s efforts with this article. I will share with our Parent & Family families, the 10 benefits of reading aloud to babies and my own discovery of the exciting triple benefits of “singing books and reading songs” to babies birth to two years old.

The 10 Benefits of Reading Aloud to Babies

  1. Promotes Listening Skills
  2. Increases the Number of Vocabulary Words Babies Hear
  3. Develops Attention Span and Memory
  4. Helps Babies Learn Uncommon Words
  5. Helps Babies Learn To Understand the Meaning of Words
  6. Helps Babies Learn Concepts About Print
  7. Helps Babies Get Information From Illustrations
  8. Promotes Bonding and Calmness for Both Baby and Parent
  9. Stimulates the Imagination and the Senses
  10. Instills the Love of Books and LearningMany parents ask, “Do babies really get anything out of us reading to them?” Caroline Jackson Blakemore and Barbara Weston Ramirez, coauthors of Every Word Counts, share their answers to that question on their website, www.readtoyourbaby.com.

That exciting list makes me just want to run out and find a baby to read to, so I can bestow those benefits to a baby. I don’t know how many more reasons parents, grandparents, and caregivers would need to hear to be convinced that reading aloud to babies is one of the most loving and brain building ways we can spend time with the babies in our life.

In addition to reading to babies, we can also transform our caregiving activities, like diapering, dressing, bathing, feeding, and transitioning babies, into loving connection times that also foster early literacy skills, by singing little songs to them before we begin a caregiving task and then again while we are doing the task. I call this “Sing Me a Book and Read Me a Song.” When we read books to babies, we are looking at the book and they focus on our voice, but, when we “sing” the book to baby, we are looking in their eyes and they can feel us being totally present with them. Singing turns caregiving times into special loving connection times, and brain building times.

The Book Fairy Pantry Project E-Newsletter is out! Did you receive your copy?
March is Read Aloud From Birth Month – find articles, podcasts, tools for sharing and inspiration in this month’s issue!
READ: http://bit.ly/2mPXnk7
SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/2m0BbED

Babies are like rechargeable batteries and we are their charger. They need to re-connect with us throughout the day. We are going to do those caregiving tasks repeatedly throughout the day, day after day, anyway. We, and our babies, can get triple the benefits from the time spent when we add a little baby melody for each task. Babies then get not only a dry diaper or a bath, they get the re-charge of love they need. The singing gives them the rhythm, rhyme, and repetition they need to build their foundation for literacy, and they get the predictability that eases transitions for babies (and grownups).

There are many children’s books that are actually songs combined with illustrations to make them into books. The famous children’s singer, Raffi, has done this with many of his most beloved songs. If we start singing the “song” books to our babies “from birth,” by the time they can sit up in our lap and look at the illustrations as we turn the pages and read them those same songs, they will be excited for their “song” books. The song/book I most often recommend singing at diapering time is, Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. We sing it before, during, and sometimes after the diaper changing. The board book, Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes is also one of the books selected by Raising Readers to be given to families at well child visits. Singing this song/book to your baby, at every diaper change, can change the experience of diaper changing.

Please join this campaign to raise our nation’s awareness of the vital importance of starting your read aloud for 15 minutes, every day, connection time “from birth.” By sending the link to this article on the Parent & Family website to every parent you know and asking them to do the same, you will be participating in my “each one reach one” campaign.

Let’s do this for our babies; they are all our babies.

Photo Shutterstock/Alex Tihonov

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The 45 Million Word Difference https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/02/45-million-word-difference/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2017/02/45-million-word-difference/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:38:20 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=19881 “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear; Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear! So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows, As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows. The measure done, I’ll watch […]]]>

“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,
As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” – Romeo at first sight of Juliet, Act 1, Scene 5; Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

Every Picture Replaces The Need For 1,000 Descriptive Words

Words are symbols. Developmentally, spoken language precedes reading and writing by five to six years. In neuroscience terms, this is galaxies apart. Spoken language is auditory. Classically storytelling, without pictures, is how this capacity for language is developed. Every word is a story. Connect word-stories together and you have a stream of changing meaning that grows more complex and more abstract. Language and therefore cognitive development begins as concrete representations and moves to more and more abstract forms, from ‘hat’ or ‘dog’ to E=MC2. Here is how it works.

Various sounds (phonemes) enter through the ancient auditory-sensory brain as patterns of vibration, purely concrete physical sensations. These vibrating patterns are registered by the newer brain, the neocortex, where the physical patterns are converted and abstracted into cognitive meaning, as a new form of mental image. The various sounds that make up the word ‘chair,’ for example, have no meaning to the sensory brain, no more than a cricket chirping or a dog barking. It is the conversation and then abstraction of the concrete sensory sounds that make up the word ‘chair’ by the newer brain centers that creates a new mental image, a resonate representation of the physical chair. Suddenly the sounds that form the spoken word ‘chair’ explode with meaning. This meaning is a new mental image created by the neocortex as it processes the sensory vibrations coming in from the older brain centers. The presence of the word-as-sound activates the newer brain to respond by creating mental images not present to the senses, what we call imagination. All symbolic and metaphoric capacities and processes involve this conversion-abstraction of raw sensory input into a completely new form of mental imagery, and upon this conversion and abstraction process all, so called, higher learning rests. A symbol not converted by the neocortex into an abstract mental image has no meaning other than its direct perception by the senses.

What most fail to appreciate is that visually based delivery systems; picture books, television, video and computers, present information to children in the form of pictures and each image replaces the need for 1,000 descriptive words. The visual system, being primary, dominates. Originating as a concrete image, the meaning of the experience is processed nearly exclusively by the visual brain centers. The more articulated and graphic the image the less processing and conversion is demanded by the newer, more evolved brain centers. The more graphic the stimulus, especially during the critical optimum periods of language development, ages one to approximately five, the less activation and therefore development of the newer and more evolved brain. And it is upon the foundation created during this sensitive early period that future processing, conversion and abstraction rests.

Adults tend to look at content. How well does a child understand abstract ideas and concepts when the issue is really capacity. Think in terms of a professional athlete or dancer. Early development is building capacity that later Olympic performance will rests. Focusing on content, did they make the shot or win, is narrow and specific. Developing capacity is open-ended and dynamic. In terms of child development, we are always building, expanding and deepening capacity. When applied to symbolic and metaphoric processing this focuses like a laser on the ability to convert and abstract raw sensory stimulation into mental images. If we bypass this conversion and abstraction in the early years by eliminating 1,000 descriptive words, flooding the developing brain with highly articulated finished images, we stunt and retard that brain’s capacity to move into, create and literally play with increasingly abstract mental images.

Reading Activities for Children, by Pam Leo

Sesame Street is a perfect example. Compare the visual stimulation of any Sesame Street episode with spontaneous, in the lap, storytelling. Ninety-eight percent of the Sesame Street experience is visual, extremely fast paced, bright colors, big faces, driving music, a new cut every second. A young child sitting in a parent’s lap on the other hand, there is no book, no pictures, only listening and feelings; “Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess walking by a pond next to tall magic castle with bright colored flags blowing in the wind. Being careful not to spoil her yellow dress, the princess sat by the cool water and there she found a small green frog wearing a tiny golden crown. The frog was very sad. Tiny tears were dripping from his big brown eyes. The frog look up. He saw the beautiful princess, sat up as straight as he could and said…”

One-hundred percent of this experience activates the conversion-abstraction image making capacity of the neocortex in response to the flow of concrete auditory vibrations coming in from the senses. Represent the same scene in a video and one-hundred percent of this activation, conversion and abstraction as new mental images is negated, bypassed, and unnecessary. The entire process is handled by the oldest brain centers, leaving the newer and innately more evolved new brain centers dormant and undeveloped.

The insight is evaluating the source of early childhood experiences based on capacity rather than content. Look at the source of an experience in terms of the senses engaged and mental processes being developed, not the content being expressed. With video, television and computers it is the box and how it functions that is being learned, not the content we think is being presented. In terms of the development of the newer, more evolved brain centers Sesame Street and all other equally highly stimulating visual experiences are sensory deprivation. This is, of course, counter intuitive. Two observations by Joseph Chilton Pearce will help.

Once the brain creates its map, its structure of knowledge of a particular experience, it habituates and uses what has been learned with each subsequent encounter. In terms of television, video and computers the 5,000 plus hours the typical five year old spends with visual technologies might as well be the same program. Though the content is constantly changing, from a capacity point of view the relationship with device, which is the dominate learning experience for the child, never changes.

Presenting the child image based content bypasses the higher more evolved brain centers altogether. Visual content is a counterfeit of the higher brain’s function and capacity. The presence of the counterfeit deactivates and disengages the higher brain center from the experienced.
Joe noted that children who spent the most time watching Sesame Street, sold as an early literacy program, had the lowest literacy proficiency. In one study involving four to six year old children, researchers mixed the audio. The audio no longer matched the visual. Keep in mind that in most cases it is the audio that gives programs its cognitive meaning. The groups of children being observed did not notice the discrepancy. The visual dominated the child’s experience bypassing the higher brain centers where abstract ideas and concepts flow. The audio was heard but had no or very little meaning. I suggest this is the case with the majority of hours consumed by commercial media. Take the child way from the device, sit them in your lap and tell them stories.

“Children learn to be readers on the laps of their parents, seeing their parents read, seeing adults excited about sharing something. Often when my parents come arrive at school I will wave a book and say, ‘Oh, you’ve got to read this.’ Paying attention to that kind of love, not teaching children how to read, but the love of story, the emotional part of reading with your child in your lap, that is what learning how to read is really about.” – Bev Bos, early childhood educator

The flow of descriptive words challenge and demand the higher brain centers respond by creating mental images. This increasingly rich and complex challenge is the only stimulus, the essential catalyst for the development of imagination and imagination is the capacity upon which all abstract, intellectual and creative brain functions depend. Since the advent of television in the late 1940’s and increasing with each new technology every picture has replaced the need for 1,000 descriptive worlds, the very nutrient the new brain needs to develop the capacity it was evolved to create.

The second side to this coin are socioeconomic differences between professional, working class and families living in poverty. What is known as the 45 million-word difference, in 1995 Drs. Betty Hart and Todd Risley projected the number of words children in each group were exposed to over four years. By age four children living in poverty heard 13 million words. Children of working class families heard 26 million words. Children of professional parents heard 45 million words. It is not the number of toys in the house that make a difference. It is the number of descriptive words dancing in their heads.

Expanding Human Potential by Supporting Those Who Care For Children

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“He Raised Us All Up” – A Tribute To Joseph Chilton Pearce https://www.kindredmedia.org/2016/09/raised-us-tribute-joseph-chilton-pearce/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2016/09/raised-us-tribute-joseph-chilton-pearce/#respond Thu, 29 Sep 2016 23:26:28 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=19260 (Pictured above is Joe and Pam at a Maine lecture in 2001) It is with great admiration, appreciation, and affection that I pay tribute to our most esteemed Joseph Chilton Pearce . If humanity has had a champion these last ninety years, it has been Joe. “We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We […]]]>

(Pictured above is Joe and Pam at a Maine lecture in 2001)

It is with great admiration, appreciation, and affection that I pay tribute to our most esteemed Joseph Chilton Pearce .

If humanity has had a champion these last ninety years, it has been Joe.
“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.” – John of Salisbury
 
Joe raised us all up.
 
meme-pamleo-1“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men [and women] the conviction and the will to carry on.”  – Walter Lippmann
 
Joe has long been our leader in the field of human development, and he leaves behind many, many men and women with the conviction and will to carry on. He passed the final test.
 
Joe,
You have always been my most beloved and treasured teacher. Your work, your play, and your heart will remain in my work, my play, and in my heart and brain for all my days.
Fairies never say, “Hello” or “Good- bye”‘ they say, “Fly with you.”
Fly with you Joe,
Love,
Pam Leo
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Please read about Pam Leo’s Book Fairy Pantry Project that has been dedicated  to the memory of Joseph Chilton Pearce here.
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Literacy And Bonding: Pam Leo On The New Book Fairy Pantry Project https://www.kindredmedia.org/2016/09/literacy-bonding-pam-leo-new-book-fairy-pantry-project/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2016/09/literacy-bonding-pam-leo-new-book-fairy-pantry-project/#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 02:52:02 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=19138 Literacy And Bonding: Pam Leo On the New Book Fairy Pantry Project LISA REAGAN: Welcome to Kindred Media and Community. This is Lisa Reagan and today I am talking with Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting and the founder of the new non-profit initiative, the Book Fairy Pantry Project. It is a grassroots local literacy […]]]>

Literacy And Bonding: Pam Leo On the New Book Fairy Pantry Project

LISA REAGAN: Welcome to Kindred Media and Community. This is Lisa Reagan and today I am talking with Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting and the founder of the new non-profit initiative, the Book Fairy Pantry Project. It is a grassroots local literacy movement with goals of increasing bonding between parents and children as well as literacy. So, welcome Pam.

PAM LEO: Hi.

LISA REAGAN: Tell us about the connection between Connection Parenting, which is a classic book, very well-loved by the conscious parenting movement, and what you’re doing now, what you’re bringing forward now.

Connection Parenting Audio Book CoverPAM LEO: Well, since Connection Parenting is so much about connection and bonding, I realized recently how critical the literacy issue is in our country and the more that I learned about it, the more I could see a connection between parents bonding with their children through reading to their children and how important that is to their eventual literacy; so that just seemed like a natural path for me. I just got headed in that direction and the more I read, the more fascinated I became to head in that direction. And in fact, when I wrote Connection Parenting, I also recorded it as an audio book for two reasons: one because parents have so little time to read that I thought they can listen to it on their way to work or whatever. But the second and probably the most important of the two reasons is so that it would be accessible of all parents regardless of their level of literacy. I taught Connection Parenting in the prisons, in drug rehabilitation program with teen parents, with low income parent programs, and I knew that it was critical that it be available to them on audio regardless of their level of literacy that they would be able to access that information. So literacy has really kind of been a passion of mine for a pretty long time. It is not totally new for me.

LISA REAGAN: One of the things I love about the Book Fairy Pantry Project is how it works as a local grassroots movement here. But when you came out with Connection Parenting, I remember – I think it was 15 years ago you came to Virginia and we did a workshop together – but I remember people loved it because you do have that capacity to meet people where they are when they want to bond with their children and they want to connect with their children. Just for contextual sake, we want to always point out that advocating for conscious parenting in America is a tricky proposition because you come off sounding elitist, because we don’t have paid parental leave here and we don’t have in place social structures and community structures anymore that would foster parents bonding with their babies and families bonding in the way that other industrial countries, all of them, except for the US, get to do. Canada gets six months off and lots of European countries families get a year off paid and their jobs are not taken away from them just because they are having children. So this angle that you’re presenting here and the perspective that you bring is just crucial and I am so grateful for it.

Can you throw out just some of the statistics around literacy in America right now?

PAM LEO: Well, I honestly have to tell you that when I started researching family literacy, I was really dumbfounded at the statistics that one in four children will not learn to read. That was just unbelievable to me and that 2/3 of the 15.5 million children living in poverty do not have even one book in their home. I just thought this in unacceptable and we have to do something about this. I know there are a lot of family literacy organizations that are working very hard on this, but one more piece will help and that is the piece that I am bringing.

LISA REAGAN: I just can’t believe… those statistics are just stunning. They really are.

PAM LEO: They are. They really are.

LISA REAGAN: There is the functional literacy piece. What is that one again? A third?

PAM LEO: You know, I think one of the hardest things of developing this program for me has been trying to pin down literacy statistics because they all seem different. There does not see any agreement on it, but what I most commonly read is that 20% of the population is illiterate, meaning that they cannot read and write and that another 30% is functionally illiterate, meaning that they are reading below a 4th grade level if I remember that correctly, which comes up to about 50% of our country not being able to read and write on a level that helps them through the daily functions that the people who can read do everyday. That keeps them from having a better job, from having income. It just really, I cannot believe that in our country that the numbers were that high.

LISA REAGAN: Yeah, that is amazing, amazingly shocking. So tell me a little bit about reading to babies and what is happening there. I know there is a lot of neuroscience going on and why is it so important? How is it that this is lasting a lifetime?

PAM LEO: Well, it really is kind of a new idea to a lot of people. That, oh, a lot of parents think about reading to children, oh, when they’re walking and talking and they don’t really think about it when they’re that young. I mean, when you bring home a new baby, I mean, some parents do actually read to their baby in the womb and there is research about that too and how they will recognize those stories when they’re born, but just beginning to read to them. What I tell parents, you know for the first few months, you can read your own books to them, it isn’t the content that matters to them, it is being held, it is hearing your voice, and reading language is so different than spoken language. They kind of imprint on the written language by reading aloud to them.

So you could read them children’s books, but like I said, for the first few months until you’re really showing them the pictures and that sort of thing, you could just catch up on your own reading and read the newspaper or a magazine or your book just while holding them and what they begin to associate with reading is the comfort and the warmth and the connection that they feel while that’s happening. So it’s pretty important both to bonding and to increasing their ability to learn to learn to read. So it really is twofold, that time we spend doing that.

LISA REAGAN: So tell me what is unique about the Book Fairy Pantry Project? Because literacy is hot and it is a big recognized public issue out there, but your idea for how to address at risk populations is so beautiful and I love the book fairy, by the way. Everyone needs to go to www.bookfairypantryproject.com and just gaze upon the book fairy, she is beautiful. The website is beautiful.

PAM LEO: Thank you, I love her. Well, I think the thing that really sets it apart is every program that I know of, the focus is getting books into the hands of children, which is so critical and so important because we know that when children get to pick out their own books they read more. But as a companion to that, one of the things I felt a message that I got again and again over the many years that I worked with parents that are struggling is that while they so appreciate everything that anyone else does for their children, they desperately want to do for their own children. Not that they don’t want other people to give their children books, they do, but they would love to give their children books.

So, by being able to go to the food pantry that they’re going to go to get food anyway, they get to pick them out. If they don’t have an income that they can go to bookstores and have the luxury of buying brand new books for their children, they are probably not very often getting the opportunity to be the one who picks that book for their child and I know that in the same way that children read more when they get to pick out their own books, parents are more invested in reading the books that they pick out for their children than ones that just come home with their children from school or from the library or whatever, that they really had nothing to do with. So the mission really of the pantry project is for all parents to have books to read to their children so that all children will get to learn to read and that there will not be any child in this country or in the world I hope that does not own a book. There is no reason for it to happen. There is no shortage of gently used or new donated books that can be made available to children and when parents get to be the ones that provide that, I think it is going to be yet another piece of the puzzle of getting books into the home.

What I say to parents when I talk to them about it, I say, imagine these two children, or one child started to being read to from birth and was read to daily from birth until they went to school and now imagine another child who has hardly been read to, maybe they got read to at daycare or nursery school or whatever, Headstart, so they arrive at school with maybe 25 hours of having been read to compared to this other child who has thousands of hours of turning pages in books and all of that experience, that is not a level playing field. The child who hasn’t had the opportunity to learn to read is never going to catch up and there is so much information that I read about how they just don’t catch up and so we have this opportunity from the moment a child is born to provide a literacy environment and to make it so that they have the things that they need that when they get to school that they have the things that they will be ready to learn to read.

So, I really like the idea of learning to learn to read. That’s about how do books work and turning pages and is it upside down and all of those things are in place when there are books in the home. If we can just get the books in the home, the books will do the job. Once the books are there, children start looking at them and I am also very excited. I only recently learned and I think it has actually been around for a long time, but it was new to me about dialogic reading, which can sound like kind of a clinical name for something that a lot of parents already do. It is based really on the word dialog of having a dialog with the child about a book. So there are many parents, who, for a number of reasons, I know of a parent who has a traumatic brain injury and she was unable to read to her granddaughter. There might be a parent who is illiterate. There might be a parent who does not read English and so they do not have any books in their native language. So there are a number of reasons why adults might not be able to read to a child. So what excited me so much about this concept of having a dialog about a picture book is that is does level the playing field and all adults can read to all children with this method of sharing stories. So I kind of refer to dialogic reading as just sharing stories. It is a little less intimidating term.

It is very exciting to me that no matter what the situation is for that adult, they can sit down with a picture book with a young child and have the child turn the pages and talk with the child about those pictures on the pages and that child is going to be getting all of the benefits that they would be getting even if they were traditionally reading it word by word all the way through. So doing that with children can either be in addition to traditionally reading and that just enriches it or that can be instead of traditionally reading to them. So that’s another part of the project that I really want to promote to parents that this is an option that can really increase the connection and the bonding because the more dialog the parent and child has about that book and the pictures on the page, it is going to strengthen their connection, but it is also going to strengthen their learning how to learn to read. So I think that is so exciting, which I wouldn’t have discovered if I wasn’t doing this project.

blessed-unrest-coverLISA REAGAN: Well, just your approach is very holistic, because you’re looking at literacy now on so many different levels and I know you had shared with me that you are inspired by Paul Hawken, who wrote Blessed Unrest.

PAM LEO: I am so inspired by him.

LISA REAGAN: Yeah, so tell me about “Solving for Pattern.”

PAM LEO: That was a totally new concept for me. I listen to audio books a lot. I am a major fan of audio books and his, just, I saw it, I was looking for books and I saw it and it just spoke to me and I bought it. I have been listening to it really the whole time I have been developing this project, just listening to it over and over.

Solving for Pattern, Wendell Berry actually coined that phrase. It is about finding a solution that just doesn’t fix one problem that it addresses many aspects of that situation. So if you look at illiteracy as the problem and that it is caused by the lack of books in children’s homes. So you would think, okay, so we solve the problem by putting donated books into the food pantries where parents can get them and now there will be books in the home. But that is only a small part of it. So far, I have identified ten areas. It is a solution to ten other things besides just getting books into the home. Do you want to hear about that?

LISA REAGAN: Yes!

PAM LEO: Okay. The first one is the obvious is that is solves the lack of children’s books in low income homes by using an existing infrastructure. The food pantries are already there. They exist in every city in town. We are not creating something new here. We are connecting to something that already exists.

Because it already exists, the second benefit is that parents will be able to get these books for their children not by going someplace new or separate or different. They can get them at a place that they are already familiar and comfortable with going, so that is definitely a second benefit.

Third, it also recycles unneeded books. The plan for the Book Fairy Pantry Project is that donated books largely will come from having donation boxes set up in the schools, churches, library, anywhere in the community that is willing to have a donation box in their premises, nut largely from the schools, so children are actually going to be able to help other children by donating the books they’ve already read or have outgrown and so that concept of children helping children really appeals to me and it gives them a strong message about how important reading is if we’re doing all of this to get books to children who wouldn’t otherwise have any.

The fourth one is parents being the ones who get to pick out the books. I just see that as just an important aspect of the project that they will be so much more invested in reading the books because they picked them out. I just have this vision of a parent being there getting their food and then they get to see the books and saying okay, I’m going to get a board book for the baby and Johnny loves dinosaurs, so I am going to get him this dinosaur picture book and Sally is really into fairies so I am going to get her this chapter book. So just going home excited to be the one who brings these things to their children. So I just really get excited when I think about that. The fact that books and food are going to be together in the same facility really elevates books to the importance of food and shelter. So I think there is a really big message in that.

I think the idea of getting the dialogic reading or story sharing information out there, like I want to have handouts that go home with the books so that, you know, maybe grandma lives with them or grandpa, or aunt or uncle, who is in that position, where they normally aren’t the ones who are reading to the children suddenly find out that they can share stories with these children and there is yet another adult who is going to bond with them and connect with them through these books that are coming into the home. So I just see that as one of the really important benefits. So by getting the books into the home, one of the things I read repeatedly on all of the literacy websites is that children need a print rich environment, which essentially translates into lots of books into the home. Actually, not even just books. One of the things that I think is happening today because we do so much on screen, a lot of people do not even have paper calendars around anymore. They do not necessarily even have the newspaper or magazines, so there really is a lack of print material, not even just children’s books, but print material in the home, so we can consciously try to expand on that and make sure there is a print rich environment with children’s books and parent’s books so that children see their parents reading as well, so there is a lot that will accomplish by getting those books into the home.

bfpp-graphic-1Also, one of the things that I love about this project is the people who will benefit from this project, the parents and the children, can get to be part of delivering the project. They can volunteer to deliver books. They can be part of this so it ends up being a hand up instead of a hand out. I think that’s really important to everyone’s dignity. The ninth point that I really love too is that it creates opportunities for volunteers to have really meaningful work literally from children to elders that children can make posters in their schools to donate books and decorate the donation boxes and elders can go into the food pantry and clean the books with baby wipes and help sort them out, so there are so many ways that people can do really meaningful volunteer things on this project.

Then the tenth one, which is one of my very favorite ones, is that when food pantries also become book pantries even the poorest among us can leave our children a legacy of literacy. This will really address the issue. Illiteracy is a disease of poverty and the way out of poverty is literacy. The currency of literacy is children’s books. It really comes back around to that. I just get excited at the idea that children can make a huge impact on solving the illiteracy problem by donating their books to other children. I just think that’s a major win all the way around. That’s my ten points so far. I know there is going to be more.

LISA REAGAN: Again, the whole idea of Solving for Pattern, so you are going at this for this multi-level thinking is just rich and wonderful. I just love it. So tell us a little bit about what you can find on the website to get you going.

PAM LEO: You can find all of the steps that it can take. There is a getting started page on the website and it literally walks you through what would be the process. I mean, just to give you a brief jist, when someone hears about it, they can go to their local food pantry, there is a sheet that they can download and print out and take with them so they can have something in hand to present to them that really lays it all out to them and essentially say to them I would really like our food pantry to also be a book pantry and if I line up all of the volunteers to make this happen, are you willing to have the books here and are you willing to have your staff interface with the book fairy volunteers to make this happen? We will clean them. We will shelve them. We will table them, or whatever means they have to display them and then you go to your local schools, your library, your churches, and it is really one of those situations where one really ambitious volunteer in a very small town can probably do the whole project or in a bigger situation, she or he could enroll a volunteer for every job. Someone who picks up the books, someone who cleans the books, you know, people who talk with the schools.

There can be lots of volunteers or very few. One of the things that I really emphasize is that it will be every food pantries own project. On the website, I am putting book fairy standards, which they can go by or not. It really will be their project. We are asking that food pantries who do participate to register with us because at some point as more and more people register, we want to have a registry, so if you live in this town, you can go on the website and say, oh, is there one of these on my town, in my state, wherever I live and so if they are registered, then it will be there. There is a $5 registration fee, 100% of which will go to the feed the children program, which I really loved because it sort of makes it full circle that food pantries help the book pantries by housing the books and making them available and then the book pantries gets to turn around help feed the children, so we are really hand in hand all the way around on it. So I think that this is a project in process.

This is a very important thing I want people to know. We really want to hear from people. What is working well for you, what is challenging you. Share your tips with us. I am just sort of putting the idea out there and it is going to be a team effort to bring it to fruition and to make this really go and really happen and that five years from now, maybe that we can find out that babies that were born this year had such a more print rich environment because their parents were able to get books either at the WIC program, which we will also be donating books to, or their parents got books at the food pantry, and they did grow up with books in their home, as opposed to if those books weren’t available there that they might grow up without books available in their home. So I think that we really will see a difference in as little as 5 years.

LISA REAGAN: Well, the reception in Maine has been tremendous. People are very excited about it.

PAM LEO: They are. It is so exciting to me. I have just never felt so welcome. They love the idea. They can’t wait to have the books start coming in and be able to give them out, so that’s really been encouraging to me. There’s a saying, I don’t know if it is just in Maine, or if it is known nationally, as Maine goes, so goes the nation. So I am hoping, I want it to be in every food pantry in Maine and then go across the country and then around the world, because we have what we need to solve this illiteracy problem. We really do. We have all of the pieces. We just need to do it and act on it and we can do it.

bfpp-graphic-2LISA REAGAN: So I am so thrilled with not just the work but what you have brought and people can go to Kindredmedia.org and read your poetry there. They can also read your articles about parenting, but the book fairy has really inspired you to come up with some beautiful poetry. I am wondering if you would read a “Book Fairy Tale” to us that you wrote to give us some inspiration for our call?

PAM LEO: I can totally do that. It’s funny because I do have “Please Read To Me” memorized, but I haven’t memorized the “Book Fairy Tale”. What I’ll do here is pull out my iPad here and read it right off the site here that is under construction and let me get it right here. Thank you, I love the opportunity to share this because it is just sweet. So, the “Book Fairy Tale” is: Wee fairies each have jobs to do. The Book Fairy’s job is to get books to you, and to all the world’s children, not just a few. Books are very heavy, even ones that are quite small. A wee fairy cannot carry them, ’cause she is only five inches tall! The Book Fairy needs “helpers”, grown ups short and tall, to get books to children who love them. And to children who have none at all. The Book Fairy really needs you. The children need you too. If there are to be books for every child, we have a big job to do. Don’t disappoint the fairies, that would never do. If all the children are to learn to read, it’s up to me and you.

LISA REAGAN: I do love that. I do love “Please Read Me” also. This is from the fairies point of view. The please read to me, poem, which is longer, is from the child’s point of view from the parent. I should tell everyone what I’m looking at on the website is your amazingly adorable picture of you as a one-year-old child. This is just how sweet. I just love this photo of you. How beautiful.

PAM LEO: I think it is one of my only baby pictures. I mean, I am 66 and back then we didn’t do a lot with photography so it is kind of one of my treasures and I thought, no one wants to see a picture of an older lady, let’s just see a sweet little girl, so there we are. The poem underneath it is so sweet. It is anonymous or unknown. I found it when I was looking at quotes and quotes are my passion and I just thought that was such a sweet little thing that someone write and how sweet to have every child end their day that way. So thanks, yeah.

LISA REAGAN: This is the one that says read me a story, tuck me in tight, tell me you love me and kiss me goodnight.

PAM LEO: That’s the one.

LISA REAGAN: Well, Pam, I am just so thrilled to be able to talk to you and work with you again and I am so very excited about all of the support that is coming forward for the book fairy pantry project and I hope everyone will go to www.bookfairypantryproject.com. There is a newsletter sign up so that you can stay in touch with what is happening. This does not cost. It is not a membership program or anything. You can email Pam and ask her questions through the site as well. So there is anything else you would like to say?

PAM LEO: I want to say to you, Lisa. Yes, I would like to say that I am thrilled to be in an initiative of Families for Conscious Living because it so validates the fact that you took my project on as an initiative so validates the half of literacy that is about bonding. That is so thrilling for me.

LISA REAGAN: This is a creative way to facilitate bonding in a country that does not support parents in doing that.

PAM LEO: Right.

LISA REAGAN: It just moves my heart to be able to offer this to parents and families. It is a hard culture to bring children into. We don’t realize what we are missing. I have so many people who tell me this all of the time. Kathy Kendall-Tackett, she’s a breastfeeding expert. She is a very very popular speaker. We have a video of her on Kindred of her talking about how parents are pressured to do this in our country, but we don’t realize we don’t have what we really need.

reading-with-babies-coverPAM LEO: We don’t support them to do it.

LISA REAGAN: We don’t support them to do it. So it is a cultural problem.

PAM LEO: We say this is the best thing to do, but good luck trying to do it.

LISA REAGAN: Good luck trying to do it and keep your job and keep food in your house and ….

PAM LEO: But reading, we can do that part of bonding, we really can do that part.

LISA REAGAN: We can do that part.

PAM LEO: Books everywhere. In the car. That’s what I love about “Please Read to Me”. That’s one of the things that I hope parents will really take to heart that parents will really take to heart is just everywhere, everywhere, books, books, books, everywhere. I know one little girl who takes one of her favorite books to bed to her instead of a stuffy. That’s how precious her books are to her. It’s so sweet.

LISA REAGAN: Oh I feel with that little girl. I still am I’m sure. I still have piles of books around my bed.

PAM LEO: I do too. I never thought about it that way. It’s really true. That’s the way a lot of mine are.

LISA REAGAN: Well, thank you so much again, Pam, and I am looking forward to following the Book Fairy and what is that she says to everyone?

PAM LEO: Fly with you?

LISA REAGAN: Come fly with me! Isn’t that it?

PAM LEO: No, fly with you. They don’t say… fairies never say hello or goodbye, they always say fly with you. The other person that I really want to acknowledge too who was a huge inspiration to me this summer as I was developing this program is Gail Carson Levine. I, all summer, in addition to listening to Paul Hawken, was listening to her quest books, which almost everything I learned about fairies I learned from Gail Carson Levine and her audiobooks and her quest for neverland, the quest for the egg, the quest for the wand, those were the three audiobooks that were my entertainment all summer, so she is really the fairy person that I learned from.

LISA REAGAN: Okay, so she formed the fairy in your head that came through as the Book Fairy.

PAM LEO: Yeah, I was really influenced by her. Yes, one of the things in the Book Fairy is that all fairies have jobs, is like Tinkerbell. She is a tinker. She fixes pots and pans and I just got this idea, you know, well, there is the toothfairy and she has her job, well, the Book Fairy has a job, and that’s to get books to children, you know, they’re five inches tall according to Gail Carson Levine, how can they possibly deliver books, they need grown up helpers, and in the areas where the Book Fairy has lots of grown up helpers, children have lots of books. In the areas where the Book Fairy does not have lots of grown up helpers, children do not have lots of books, so we need a lot of Book Fairy helpers to help the Book Fairy make sure that all children have books. That’s her job but we can only do it if we help her.

LISA REAGAN: If it goes as Maine is going right now, you are going to have a lot of helpers showing up.

PAM LEO: Great. I’ll be watching for them.

LISA REAGAN: Thank you everyone for joining us. You can read Pam at Kindredmedia.org. You can also see Families for Conscious Living’s other initiative’s at familiesforconsciousliving.com and of course, please visit bookfairypantryproject.com. Fly with me!

PAM LEO: Fly with you!

LISA REAGAN: Fly with you!

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Recipes For Reading: Activities To Bring Children’s Books Alive! https://www.kindredmedia.org/2016/09/recipes-reading-activities-bring-childrens-books-alive/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2016/09/recipes-reading-activities-bring-childrens-books-alive/#respond Sun, 18 Sep 2016 22:08:10 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=19092 Welcome to my first Recipes for Reading. It is exciting to be back at Kindred, wearing my new hat of Family Literacy Activist and Founder of the Book Fairy Pantry Project. Sometimes we choose to read a certain book  because it relates to an experience we have had with our children, like reading Blueberries for […]]]>

bfpp-logoWelcome to my first Recipes for Reading. It is exciting to be back at Kindred, wearing my new hat of Family Literacy Activist and Founder of the Book Fairy Pantry Project.

reading-with-babies-coverSometimes we choose to read a certain book  because it relates to an experience we have had with our children, like reading Blueberries for Sal after we have picked blueberries. Recipes For Reading is about creating experiences that relate to the book we just read. For this baby-focused issue I have chosen a baby board book,Peek-A Who, by Nina Lader.

Is it really important to read to little babies?

Susan Straub & KJ Dell’antonia, authors of Reading with Babies,Toddlers & Twos, answer a resounding, “Yes!” “…raising a child who reads doesn’t start with teaching a child to read – in fact it doesn’t start with a child at all. It starts with a baby.” Just as you cannot add salt to a cake after it is baked, a child, who has missed five years of being read to regularly, cannot enter school with the same readiness to learn as a child who has been read to daily since birth.

When you “rock ‘n read” to your babies, they come to associate books with warmth and comfort before they ever hold a book or turn a page. It is also a simple way for Dad or baby’s other parent to “feed” baby new words and strengthen their connection.

Of all the many peekaboo themed, baby board books I discovered, I chose Peek-A Who for two reasons. One, because it has been a favorite of my youngest granddaughter, Greta, since she was a baby. Three years later, it still lives in her book basket next to the potty. Any book with that kind of shelf life gets 5 stars in my book! And two, because Peek-A Who is short enough, and suspenseful enough, that you can read it many times a day, and if you read it deliciously s-l-o-w-l-y enough, it is exciting, every time, to turn the cut out page and see who is on the next page.

Peekaboo teaches babies that people and things are still there, even when they cannot see them, which is an important developmental milestone known as object permanence.The dependable pattern of disappear-return, disappear-return, also teaches babies to predict what will happen next.

peek-a-who-coverPeekaboo activities:

  • Turn the “good morning” greeting into a peekaboo game of, hold up a blanket, “Where’s Mommy?”(Daddy? other parent? Gramma?) drop the blanket, “Here I am!”
  • Make mealtime a playful opportunity for him to learn his name with the peekaboo bib game. Bib up: “Where’s David?” bib back down: “Here’s David!”
  • Drying off at bath time can be another playful opportunity to recognize her name. Towel up: “Where’s Vera?” towel down: “Here’s Vera!”
  • A scarf peekaboo game can teach babies the meaning of “Hello” and “Good-bye”. Scarf up: “Good-bye,” scarf down: “Hello!”

No matter how much we love our babies, caring for babies is a lot of work. Since we are going to do that work, over and over, everyday, it is healthier and happier for the babies and the parents/caregivers if we make care giving times connecting times All day, every day, we have the opportunity to turn feeding time, bathing time, and diapering time into love-filled times, by talking, singing, playing games with and yes, reading to babies. It is a priceless investment in their happier ever afters.

 

Feature photo Shutterstock/Nolte Lourens

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Please Read To Me – A New Poem By Pam Leo https://www.kindredmedia.org/2016/07/please-read-new-poem-pam-leo/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2016/07/please-read-new-poem-pam-leo/#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2016 00:11:33 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=18714 Please Read To Me A child’s plea for love and literacy By Pam Leo Read to me, please read to me Right from the very start. Just as good food grows my body, Good stories grow my brain and heart. Read stories to me in my bed, And in the rocking chair, In the garden, […]]]>

Please Read To Me

Connection Parenting Cover

A child’s plea for love and literacy

By Pam Leo

Read to me, please read to me
Right from the very start.
Just as good food grows my body,
Good stories grow my brain and heart.

Read stories to me in my bed,
And in the rocking chair,
In the garden, in the bathroom,
Please read to me everywhere.

Please read me a wake up story,
A breakfast story, a story with my snack,
Another story with my lunch, 
And two before my nap.

Please give me picture books to look at
When we’re driving in the car,
And audio-books to listen to
As we travel near and far.

Connection Parenting Audio Book CoverPlease take me to the library.
They have books to read for free.
We can take home lots of them,
Some for you and some for me.

Read me stories in the kitchen,
And stories in the bath.
Please read me this same one again,
It always makes us laugh.

A story is a special treat,
Always a delight.
Reading keeps us connected,
Morning, noon, and night.

Every time you read to me
Our bond grows a little stronger.
Your reading feels like love to me,
And I always want it longer.

Read to me? Please?

Copyright Pam Leo July 2016
All Rights Reserved.  You must contact Kindred Media to ask for permission from the author to re-post this poem.
Featured photo Shutterstock/FamVeld

 

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