Books for Boys

Somewhere between 7 and 9 years old, I became a Reader.  And by Reader I mean someone who loves to read.  I’d been “reading” (deciphering the alphabet to produce words whose meaning I understood) since I was about 3, and by first grade I was the best reader in my class (just a small elementary school in a tiny rural community, but still – no brag, just fact).

But somewhere during or after second grade and before fifth grade, I really got into reading.  Why was that important?  Because when one loves to read, then one reads more.  When one reads more, one better develops vital language skills.  The more enjoyable reading is, the more one develops the information access skills that are critical to success in the twenty-first century.

And, perhaps alarmingly, boys are NOT turning into readers in the same numbers as girls.  This trend has been going on for at least a decade, and the causes are many:  popular tween and YA books focus more on the female audience by about 3 to 1; [YA titles are in a Golden Age, btw – perhaps more on that in another blog later…?]; boys are more likely to spend free time in video games than reading; and, finally, many educators don’t always know what’s “out there” for boys. Probably all true to some extent. While I can’t do much about most of those causes, I can share some titles that might help your young male to enjoy reading.  They made a difference for me anyway.

One of the books I came across in that important phase where I was developing as a reader was “Tarzan of the Apes.” Written about a century ago, it still has the excitement and adventure that is capable of hooking a reader.  Better yet, the author Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a lot of sequels.  One of the things that happened to me reading Tarzan what that the author had a YUGE vocabulary.  I was constantly going to my Mom to ask her what a word meant. (Tarzan’s mighty thews, for example:  A well-developed sinew or muscle: “sinews of steel, thews of iron” American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)

Mom got tired of answering me, and directed me to take a dictionary with me whenever I sat down to read the book.  Whenever I did not know a word, I had to look it up in the dictionary.  This had two great side effects: 1) My vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds (albeit with many somewhat archaic usages, like “mighty thews”); 2) I learned to use a dictionary really well.  While today’s young reader might be more inclined to look an unknown word up on the internet than to use a print dictionary, the benefits would still accrue.

Another book or set of books that really worked for me was the “juvenile” series by Robert A. Heinlein.  I’ve written in an earlier blog about how a kindly librarian directed me towards this author, but his books are great if the tween/teen reader has any interest in space or science fiction.

So really, there are some great books available, and the Library has them.  Here is a list of books I remember liking immensely as a young growing male reader – they have different reading levels and certainly the rule about having to look any word up if you don’t know what it means will apply, but overall I believe they have some real value.

Tarzan series – Edgar Rice Burroughs – jungle adventure

Heinlein “juveniles” – Robert A. Heinlein – science fiction [list here]

The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Orczy – adventure during the French Revolution; features a hero with a secret identity

The Three Musketeers –  Alexander Dumas – adventure during the French monarchy – swords and swashbuckling

The Call of the Wild – Jack London – animal (dog) adventure during the Alaska gold rush

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain

The Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck – historical rags to riches story in pre-industrial China

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood – Howard Pyle

Beat to Quarters (Capt. Horatio Hornblower) – C.S. Forester – adventure on the high seas during the Napoleonic era

Lost Horizon – James Hilton – Hidden realm (Shangri-La) in the Himalayas

Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

Jungle Books – Rudyard Kipling – like Tarzan, boy raised by animals (Mowgli)

The Great Impersonation – E. Phillips Oppenheim – adventure/mystery set in the WWI era

King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard – hidden kingdom in Africa

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne – Captain Nemo and his fantastic submarine the Nautilus

Rabbit Hill – Robert Lawson – animal adventure (rabbits)

Watership Down – Richard Adams – animal adventure (rabbits, but like no rabbits ever known)

Lad: A Dog – Albert Payson Terhune – animal adventure

The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien (and the prelude, The Hobbit)

If the boy is younger, you might want to read these aloud to him.  Most are suitable for 10 year olds and up.  Besides growing a reader and increasing vocabulary, there is a lot of history, folklore, and imagination to be gained.  Please let me know if any of these fit on your list of beloved books, and feel free to suggest some others!

[All titles are held by the NC Cardinal Library system which Fontana Regional Library belongs to – the links might be to just the first book if it is part of a series]

20+ from 2016

A lot of people think that as a librarian I get to sit around and read all day.  Nothing could be farther from the actual day to day of my job.  But, I can say that reading is a definite perk!  And for this post I got to read some pretty amazing books for children.

As we say farewell to 2016 and welcome 2017 with open arms, I wanted to take a moment to share some great children’s titles that Fontana Regional Library added to its collection.  I originally planned to call this piece “16 from 2016” but found so many great titles we have added that I could not narrow it down to 16.  I have included the link to our catalog if you click on the title and if you click on the book cover it will take you to another reputable review of the book.

A quick note:  I included the ages I felt the selection was suitable for.  Preschool or young children means children under the age of 5, lower elementary is kindergarten-first grade, middle elementary is second-third grade, and upper elementary is fourth-fifth grade.

51qoecng5gl-_sx258_bo1204203200_I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste it Too!)

Rachel Isadora

  • What a great picture book to help teach the 5 senses!  Simple text.  Lots of examples for each sense.  Very inclusive in the illustrations with children’s faces depicting diversity.  You have to wait until the end for the pickle.  Safety is addressed in pointing out things you do not touch.  Trying something new (like spinach) is depicted in a positive way.  Suitable for younger children.

Denise Fleming

A little boy, Michael, tries to get dressed with the help of his dog Maggie.  Maggie ends up getting dressed instead of Michael.  Bright colorful illustrations.  Color words are emphasized using ink the color the word represents.  Simple text which is a trademark of Denise Fleming.  Suitable for younger children.

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

This book follows a pattern of action verbs to highlight animals, some familiar like an elephant and some unfamiliar like a hoatzin, that use that particular action for their movement.  Illustrations are a good representation of the animal in real life. The name of the animal is in bold print.  There is a glossary of sorts at the end that gives a little more information about each animal in the book.  Suitable for middle to upper elementary children.

David A. Adler

This selection starts off pretty basic and I could see the first 3 pages being used in lower elementary grades to introduce basic things like circle, sphere, cone, cylinder, ovals, and spirals.  Then the text gets more involved with vocabulary like diameter, radius, major and minor sectors and so on.  It shows students how to trace and cut out a circle and then use that circle to illustrate the concepts related to a circle.  At the end there is a Glossary with definitions of the bold faced terms in the book.  There is an answer key to go with the questions posed in the book at different points.   Suitable for upper elementary and middle school.  Math teachers would love this book!

Mo Willems

Definitely not your Elephant and Piggie story but it packs a powerful punch all the same.  I see lots of potential for vocabulary development with words like baguette and regret.  There are good stopping points for predictions when the author asks, “Can Nanette stop tasting the baguette?” and when the author asks, “What will she do?”  The images are interesting.  It says, “The images in this story are comprised of photographed handcrafted cardboard-and-paper constructions digitally integrated with photographed illustrations and additions.”  This selection would make a great book to teach character traits like responsibility and honesty.  Suitable for younger children and lower elementary children.

Sergio Ruzzier

The illustrations begin with a white background as a duck finds a book with no pictures.  At first he is upset that it has no pictures.  A bug comes along and asks if he can read it.  As he begins to read the book there is color in the illustrations.  This is a great book to illustrate how we all make our own mind movies for books we read.  Suitable for children in elementary school, especially those transitioning from picture books to chapter books.

Steve Goetz & Eda Kaban

We all know the story about Old MacDonald having a farm.  This book takes that and gives it a twist so Old MacDonald has big earth movers and diggers like an excavator, front loader, dump truck, etc.  There are lots of great sound effect opportunities in this one!  Suitable for preschool and young elementary aged children.

61ycre4x3gl-_sx258_bo1204203200_La Madre Goose Nursery Rhymes for Los Ninos

Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal

In this book nursery rhymes like Mary Had a Little Lamb and Little Boy Blue are beautifully illustrated and key words are replaced with Spanish words.  For example, lamb is replaced with oveja and blue is replaced with azul.  There is a Glossary at the beginning with pronunciations and definitions for the Spanish words in the text.  What a great way to incorporate diversity through familiarizing children with the Spanish language as well as giving children who are bilingual a way to hear both English and Spanish.  Suitable for all ages.

9780805092516Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep

April Pulley Sayre & Steve Jenkins

This selection highlights the different types of squirrels:  gray, fox, red, flying.  It uses simple rhyming text.  At the end of the book is more information about “Squirrels and Their Trees”.   Suitable for younger children as well as lower/middle elementary with the extra information at the end of the book.

61yhuahfw7l-_sx258_bo1204203200_Woodpecker Wham!

April Pulley Sayre & Steve Jenkins

This book includes all kinds of woodpeckers.  It shows how they live.  The illustrations are colorful and accurate to nature.  Uses simple rhyming text/simple sentences.  At the end there is more information about entitled “Woodpecker World”.  Suitable for younger children as well as lower/middle elementary with the extra information at the end of the book.

9780374300494Dragon Was Terrible

Kelly DiPucchio and Greg Pizzoli

The king puts out the word that there is a reward for whoever can tame the terrible dragon.  This dragon is pretty terrible.  He spits on cupcakes, burps in church, and pops birthday balloons.  The dragon gets worse as more and more people attempt to tame him.  But, along comes someone with a new approach.  Kindness.  What is the reward for this kindness?  A new friend!  This would be a great book to use for teaching the character trait of kindness.  Suitable for children of all ages.

velasquez-eric-looking-for-bongoLooking for Bongo

Eric Velasquez

A little boy is looking for Bongo.  At first I thought he meant his bongo drums.  It turns out to be his stuffed dog.  He asks everyone in the family.  No one seems to know where Bongo is.  This story incorporates Spanish words for key words/phrases like “No se.” for “I don’t know” and “Buscalo” for “Look for it.”  The English translation is included within the text to assist comprehension of the Spanish.   Suitable for preschool and younger elementary children.

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Dan Santat

What a great story!  I needed to highlight this one in my last blog post.  It is about a family traveling to Grandma’s house and the inevitable tiresomeness that comes from a car trip.  The illustrations are super cool and cause you to look at the book from different perspectives as in you have to actually turn the book sideways, upside down, and practically read upside down.  Dan Santat has incorporated QR codes to add a techy interactivity to the illustrations/storyline.  I love the message that you should just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Suitable for middle and upper elementary children.  The illustrations may be hard to follow for younger children.

Suzanne Lang & Max Lang

This book celebrates diversity in a unique way.  It looks at the differences in kids in regards to things they like to do, what they wear, how they eat, or their hobbies.  It uses cartoonish looking animals in the illustrations along with photographs of different settings like the playground, a classroom, or the ocean.  Its message is that no matter what it is you like or do all kids are great.  It uses short sentences with rhyming text to help the book flow with its message.  Suitable for preschool and young elementary children.

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Robie H. Harris & Nadine Bernard Westcott

This book is part of a series “Let’s Talk About You and Me”.  It talks about the things that make us similar and the things that make us different.  The text is longer narrative.  The overall message is that even though we are not all the same (how boring would that be?) there is more about us that is the same than is different.  I really like the use of new vocabulary like “melanin”.   Suitable for elementary aged children due to the longer narrative length.  I could see it being used with preschool aged children but not in one sitting.  I would use it in multiple sittings.

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Eric Litwin & Tom Lichtenheld

If you love the original Pete the Cat then you are going to love Groovy Joe!  This book has a great message of sharing.  There is a website link for music you can use with the story.  I think my newest favorite song is “The Groovy Dance”.  This selection uses repetitive, rhyming text.  I am super excited to use it in an upcoming storytime!  Suitable for preschool and younger elementary children.

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Mariam Gates & Sarah Jane Hinder

Yoga is a wonderful way to re-center ourselves and relieve stress.  This book is super kid friendly and helps children with yoga they can handle.  The illustrations show children doing the yoga poses in different settings which relays the message that yoga can be done anywhere at any time.  There are gentle directions in the text to guide each pose.  Personally, I am a little intimidated by yoga due to my body’s inflexibility but this book gave me some simple and easily understood directions of some yoga poses I can do on my own.  Suitable for all ages.

Jonathan London & Frank Remkiewicz

Froggy’s energy practically jumps off the page in this wonderful story about Froggy going to the library with his mother and little sister.  I love the way Froggy thinks storytime is for babies and then cannot resist joining in with what they are doing.  Froggy definitely adds his own flavor of fun to storytime.  Suitable for preschool and younger elementary aged children.

Daisy Hirst

A wonderful story about two monster looking siblings, Natalie and Alphonse.  Alphonse can be a bit trying and then ends up eating Natalie’s book.  When Alphonse tries to fix the book he creates even more chaos.  I love the way this book gives insight to sibling relationships.  Suitable for preschool and younger elementary aged children.

Ame Dyckman & Zachariah OHora

I love the message in this story that you get more from being kind to others than from being mad.  The little girl in this story blames Bear for something that he didn’t mean to do.  Actually, she was kind of trespassing.  I really like how the little girl’s anger is illustrated.  It would be a great discussion starter for kids and how they react in situations that do not go their way.  The goat eating the kite string on the last page could also spark some good problem solving discussions.  I like the use of vocabulary like indignant – the bear says this after the little girl calls him horrible many times.  Suitable for preschool and younger elementary aged children.

Holly Sterling

This is a story about a little girl named Ruby and her attempts to help her dog, Oscar, get rid of his hiccups.  The text offers plenty of opportunities to incorporate action and have kids repeat fun words like “slurpity-slurp” and “fizzy-wizzy, sparkly stuff”.   Suitable for preschool aged children.

 

Jonathan London & Meilo So

This is a great non-fiction title about otters.  It starts with otter babies and goes through all the seasons and how they grow and develop.  There is additional text that could be used with older children to expand on the information presented in the narrative.  The book includes an index and additional information at the end of the book about otters.  Illustrations are beautifully done and are true to nature.  Suitable for elementary aged children and perhaps preschool children on an abbreviated basis.

Kathryn Cole & Qin Leng

A sensitive story about a little girl named Claire and a secret her soccer coach tells her to keep.  This is a very important and delicate topic.  I am glad there is a resource out there to help bridge the fear that is cultivated from this type of situation.  It definitely sends the message that telling is the best course of action and that it is not the child’s fault.  Suitable for elementary aged children.

 

Stacey Roderick & Kwanchai Moriya

This book is set up with a page asking which ocean animal has a head, eye, fin, etc. like this and it shows a part of the animal in the illustration.  On the next page it shows a full illustration of the ocean animal along with a description of that animal’s characteristics.  I like that it gives a definition in parenthesis for predator and prey.  There is also a pronunciation in parenthesis for “anemone” which is always a hard one to say.  The last two pages have additional ocean animals with an interesting fact about each one.  Suitable for preschool and early to middle elementary aged children.

My hope is that some of these titles will suit your needs as we embark on this journey we call 2017!  Check them out at your nearest Fontana Regional Library branch!

Listen & Learn

Many years ago on a road trip with my two kids I discovered something pretty amazing.  I discovered the power of listening to a story.  I know how hard it is for parents to keep the kiddos occupied on car trips – been there – still doing that.  You know, those long hours in confined spaces with nothing much to do except ask, “Are we there yet?” or “How much farther?”

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“Are we there yet?  How much farther?”

So, on this particular trip I decided to try getting a couple of Donald Davis storytelling CD’s from the local public library.  I love Donald Davis so I figured at least I could be content on the trip.  What I learned is that both kids and I were mesmerized by the telling of the stories.  After that, anytime I knew we would be held captive in the car I sought out not just Donald Davis but other things like books on CD to keep our minds occupied to the point we did not much care if we were there yet or how much further we had to go.

There have been other times through the years that listening to stories has come to the rescue.  I remember the push of making that reading goal with both my children, especially in middle school.  I discovered that many titles that they were “allowed” to read were available on CD at the public library.  That saved us many a drama when it came time to tally up points or the dreaded word count.

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Listening to a great story!

It did take a little research and planning ahead but I can say there have been many titles over the years that we have enjoyed listening to and it was a great way to spark some pretty in depth discussions with the kids.

As you can see I support listening to audio books and stories.  I did a search on NC Live and came up with some other people who feel the same as me.  For example, according to Technology & Learning, February 2016,  it can support students who do not like to read perhaps because they feel overwhelmed by reading for whatever reason as well as “support critical thinking skills” or “re-ignite a passion for reading”.  Then there is the idea that “children who are listeners become readers” and that “children can handle a harder book without struggling” which will support their vocabulary and comprehension development, (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2002).

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A great story is just a listen away!

The public library has many great offerings to support listening to books and stories.  Of course, there are the tried and true books on CD.  Some favorite titles for me include The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Ginger Pye.  Fontana Regional Library branches have recently purchased some pretty cool audio books.  They are called VOX Books.  These books are neat because the audio is built into the book.  It even has a port to plug in earphones.  It makes it a very portable option for kids.  Some of the titles we have include Don’t Push the Button! and My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I am Not).

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There is another option I learned about recently that has really streamlined the way I get access to my audiobooks.  This has proved to be a wonderful option as I am on the road commuting a lot throughout the region.  If you have not checked out the eAudio options Fontana Regional Library offers, you should!

First, I downloaded the OverDrive app, which is free.  For my eAudio options I chose to download the app to my phone but it can also be downloaded to other devices.  Then I entered the information to make my account.  They basically just want your library card number and an email address.  Then I started browsing.  Once I found a title I downloaded it to my phone (while I had access to Wi-Fi, of course) and when I am in the car I open the OverDrive app and click on the title I want to listen to and voila instant access to my stories without fumbling with changing CD’s while driving and there is nothing to physically return.  The OverDrive app also gives you access to eBooks and as I mentioned before you can download the app on more than one device.  Literally all I ever need is at my fingertips!

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In this season of travel please consider using audio books and stories as a way to make those miles go by faster whether you are traveling far away or are traveling on your daily commute.  The benefits are worth it!

Dialogic Reading

We all know that reading aloud to young children is very important.  Children literally soak up the words like sponges when they are read aloud to on a regular basis.  Usually that involves the adult doing the reading and most of the talking.  So, how do we adults take a step back and let the children supply the words?  One way is to use “Dialogic Reading”.  This is a strategy that can be used to give children an opportunity to be more of a part of the early reading process.  Think about the word “dialogic”.  It comes from the word “dialogue”.  Dialogue means to talk.  Therefore, dialogic reading involves children talking about books.  The adult becomes the facilitator for interacting with the book.

According to The Word Gap: The Early Years Make the Difference (Colker, 2014), “by three years of age, there is a 30 million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families”.  Further, “Vocabulary development in the preschool years impacts children’s later reading skills and school success.”  Children’s vocabularies develop not only from listening to stories but also from interacting with others and books.  Dialogic reading can help support closing this word gap and increase chances of children’s reading success.

In the book Supercharged Storytimes: An Early Literacy Planning and Assessment Guide, the authors state that, “Dialogic reading is an interactive reading technique that uses the practice of asking children questions about a book.  These questions encourage talk about the story and the pictures.”  (Campana, Mills, & Ghoting, 2016).  The framework for dialogic reading comes from D.S. Arnold and Grover J. Whitehurst.  One strategy that can be used involves the acronym PEER (see below)

Prompt the children to tell you something about the book by asking a question.

Evaluate the children’s responses by saying something like, “That’s right!”

Expand the children’s responses by repeating what they said and adding information to it.

Repeat the beginning question for the children and give them a chance to answer with the expanded detail.

Along with the PEER strategy, there is also the CROWD strategy.  Grover J. Whitehurst wrote an article “Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers” published by Reading Rockets at http://www.readingrockets.org/article/dialogic-reading-effective-way-read-preschoolers.  He outlines the 5 types of prompts that work well for use with dialogic reading.  They include:

Completion prompts:  provide a sentence and let the children fill in the last word (this technique works well for rhymes).

Recall prompts:  ask the children questions about what has happened previously in the story.

Open-ended prompts:  ask the children to describe what is happening in a story.

Wh-prompts:  asking the children questions that start with who, what, when, where, and why.

Distancing prompts:  ask the children to relate a piece of the story to things they have experienced.

Learn more about the PEER and CROWD strategies at:  https://raisingareaderma.org/program/dialogic-reading/

Make sure to give children plenty of wait time when they are responding.  Our adult brains can process so much faster than a child’s brain, that we sometimes forget and rush through when if we just gave a few more seconds, the child would have come up with a great response on their own.  So, take a quiet, deep breath and count to ten at the very least.  Counting to 20 may be even better.

What kind of book works for dialogic reading?  Any children’s picture book will work for dialogic reading including wordless or nearly wordless picture books.  Better yet, books the children have heard before are excellent choices.  Repetitive reads are very popular with young children.  One book I recently used with a group of children was Rain! by Linda Ashman.  Here is an example from the beginning of this wonderful book.

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As you can see, the first 2 pages show an illustration of the setting with no text.  I began with asking the children:

  • What do you see happening?
  • Where could this story be taking place?
  • What do you do on rainy days?

 

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Here is an interaction between the two main characters near the end of the book.  I prompted the children with:

  • What is the boy doing?
  • Who is he pretending to be?
  • Why did he do that?
  • What do you think will happen next?

A great video that shows a dialogic reading interaction can be found at:  http://community.fpg.unc.edu/connect-modules/resources/videos/video-6-8

Consider giving dialogic reading a try the next time you are reading to a child. You might also see it modeled at a Fontana Regional Library Storytime the next time you visit one.

Celebrating Parents

With Mother’s Day this past Sunday and Father’s Day right around the corner (June 21 for those keeping track!), I thought I’d write a bit about celebrating parents.

 mcpl-mother-day  mcpl-fathers-day

It seems like plain, common sense that parents are important in a child’s life. Parents birth you, feed you, change your diapers, protect you… basically keep you alive until you’re able to do so yourself. Research shows, however, that parenting well is about so much more than that. While not biologically imperative, the warmth a mommy or daddy shows a child when treating a boo-boo has been shown to be crucial to a child’s social and emotional development.  The relationships parents forge with their children have a lifelong impact on not just one’s future interpersonal relationships, but also on quality of life in general. Research indicates that levels of parental involvement are indicators for school performance and graduation rates, self-esteem & mental health, and substance abuse & violence.

“Parenting is probably the most important public health issue facing our society. It is the single largest variable implicated in childhood illnesses and accidents; teenage pregnancy and substance misuse; truancy, school disruption, and underachievement; child abuse; unemployability; juvenile crime; and mental illness.” – The Importance of parenting in child health; National Center for Biotechnology Information

Parents aren’t perfect- they’re just human, after all! But I think failing and making mistakes as a parent is not only unavoidable, it’s essential. Watching their role models make mistakes shows children that mistakes and failures happen- and it’s not the end of the world! Children are far more forgiving, understanding, and resilient than we give them credit for.

In any case, whether you’re a parent or just have one, celebrate parenthood! If you missed mother’s day, call your mom (they’re more forgiving than you think!) and don’t forget dad- it’s always a great time to appreciate parents.

As a note: My daughter and I love Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama books! What are some of your favorite books about parents? -children, YA, or adult.

Nelly Gnu and Daddy too
Nelly Gnu and Daddy too – Anna Dewdney
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Llama Llama Mad at Mama – Anna Dewdney
Always Daddy's Princess - Karen Kingsbury
Always Daddy’s Princess – Karen Kingsbury
Mama Says: a book of love for mothers and sons - Rob D. Walker
Mama Says: a book of love for mothers and sons – Rob D. Walker
Mama, do you love me? - Barbara M. Joosse
Mama, do you love me? – Barbara M. Joosse
Because your Daddy loves you - Andrew Clements
Because your Daddy loves you – Andrew Clements
Someday - Alison McGhee
Someday – Alison McGhee

ADHD Awareness Month

October is Attention –deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) awareness month.  As of 2011, approximately 8.8% of children have been diagnosed with ADHD in the United States. Though it’s estimated that the rate of occurrence for ADHD is similar in adults, only 4.4% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD – a significant portion of the adult ADHD population goes undiagnosed and untreated.

216776_tomsan_adhd-bunnyThere are a lot of myths and misconceptions about ADHD and ADD (ADD has been somewhat recently re-categorized as a sub-type of ADHD- ADHD, Primarily Inattentive).

It’s not uncommon to hear people dismiss ADHD as a behavioral issue: “If only he’d try harder!,” “If her parents just made her…,” “She just doesn’t want to pay attention!” However, brain scans show that there is a significant difference in the brain activity of people diagnosed with ADHD versus neurotypical or “normal” participants. Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the United States recognizes ADHD as a real, brain-based medical disorder- which can benefit from treatment.

imagesAnother misconception about ADHD is that only rambunctious little boys are affected- which can be detrimental to girls and adults affected with ADHD. It’s common for teachers and parents to advocate for assessment and treatment for hyperactive boys, while girls (and boys with the inattentive subtype of ADHD) struggle through school with the disorder undiagnosed and untreated.

Similarly, there’s an expectation that children who are diagnosed with ADHD will outgrow it, and while some will “grow out of it” (generally by learning ways to cope with and overcome their symptoms), many others will continue to struggle into adulthood.  Some untreated students may perform well in school, but find it difficult to cope with new challenges when they reach university or adulthood. In addition to the toll untreated ADHD takes on school and work performance, ADHD can negatively impact relationships for children as well as adults– including marriages.  The risks for those undiagnosed into adulthood can be devastating.

ADHD: The good

Adult-ADHD-vidya-sury-3ADHD isn’t all negative- and it’s important to note that ADHD isn’t an indicator of the lack of intelligence, moral fiber, etc. It just means the brain works a bit differently than normal, which can lend itself to a lot of good traits: creativity, problem-solving, spontaneity, sensitivity and compassion, intuition, flexibility, enthusiasm, and so much more!

Athleticism can be another benefit of ADHD. Michael Phelps began swimming as a way to release the excess energy from his ADHD. He went on to become the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Leadership is another; many leaders throughout history have displayed traits of ADHD including Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and Bill Gates.

If you or a family member have ADHD or suspect you may, the absolute best thing you can do for yourself and family is to research and read about it. There are tons of online forums where people with ADHD post about their own experiences living with ADHD. Knowing that you’re not alone in the struggle to cope with ADHD is often a great relief and can help get you on the road to treatment, whether that’s medication, ADHD coaching, or implementing ideas from others that can help you keep on top of your life!

Online Resources

ADHD/ADD Expert Webinar and Podcasts – from ADDitudemag.com

Facts About ADHD – From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ADHD Homepage)

What is ADHD or ADD? – from National Resource Center on ADHD

Best Blog Posts on ADHD – from ADHD Awareness Month

Related Reading

Driven to distraction : recognizing and coping with attention deficit disorder from childhood through adulthood   -Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey.

ADD and ADHD  -George Capaccio.

ADHD and me : what I learned from lighting fires at the dinner table  -Blake E.S. Taylor.

Succeeding with adult ADHD : daily strategies to help you achieve your goals and manage your life  -Abigail Levrini and Frances Prevatt.

ADHD in HD : brains gone wild  -Jonathan Chesner.

Putting on the brakes : understanding and taking control of your ADD or ADHD  -Patricia O. Quinn and Judith M. Stern

¡No puedo estar quieto! : mi vida con ADHD   -Pam Pollack y Meg Belviso

fREADom- Celebrate the Right to Read

banned-booksThis week (Sept. 21-27) is Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Every year, the American Library Association collects reports of attempts to ban or challenge books in classrooms, schools, and public libraries in order to study censorship and raise awareness. Check out the Top Ten Challenged Books lists of the 21st Century, which also includes reasons the book were challenged.

The reasons for the challenging of these “banned books” elicit pause: violence, sexually explicit, racism, drugs… all things that might keep you up at night, especially if you have children. Other reasons may be seen as more subjective or dependent upon personal values: political viewpoint, Occult/Satanism, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint. The majority of challenges came from parents.

Parenting is hard. There’s a constant questioning that comes along with parenthood- you never really know if you’re doing the best thing for your child. Decision making is made even more difficult when you’re dealing with difficult subjects: racism, violence, sex. Part of being a parent is the drive to protect your child, wanting to shield them from all the terrible things in the world- things that you hope they will never have to experience personally.

I certainly can understand the desire to shield children from some subjects. They’re kids: blank, unmarred slates upon which, as parents/educators/caretakers, we draft a filter through which the child will experience the world. I say draft, because at some point they’ll grow up.  They’ll explore the world for themselves, holding fast to some of what they’ve been taught and replacing others with new truths- the world as they define it. I hold no delusions that my daughter will see the world as I see it, and that’s the best thing I could hope for! The world is constantly changing.

110924_censorship_banned-booksI’ve talked a bit before about my take on parenting in the digital age and it’s a stance I take on books as well. These “hard truths” (some admittedly harder than others) are, in my opinion, best dealt with head-on.  I believe unfettered access to information is best for my child. My husband and I try to keep an open dialogue with our daughter, where (we hope) she feels comfortable asking us questions about anything. Banning children from accessing information just makes them more curious to do it anyway, with the added disadvantage of having no authority figure to consult if things get confusing.

So with that in mind, I’ll encourage my daughter to read anything she takes an interest in. I did find some studies about children’s exposure to inappropriate material (though they all dealt with media in general, none specifically about books), but nearly all agreed that banning your child from all inappropriate media is an impossible feat and evidence suggests talking openly with children ameliorates any negative effects that such media may otherwise have. On the other other hand, there are numerous studies about the positive impact of reading on children, even beyond early literacy.

If you’re interested in checking out a banned book, visit your local library for their “Banned Books Week” display or check out some of these:

Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

“The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.” – Good Reads

Challenged for “religious viewpoints” and for being “unsuited for age group.”

 

Adventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

“Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Intended at first as a simple story of a boy’s adventures in the Mississippi Valley – a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – the book grew and matured under Twain’s hand into a work of immeasurable richness and complexity.” – Good Reads

Challenged as “racially insensitive,” “oppressive,” and “perpetuates racism.”

 

Harry PotterHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (& series) – J.K. Rowling

“Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick, never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys… But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives… with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him…” – Good Reads

Challenged for promoting “occult/Satanism.”

 

BoneBone  (& series) – Jeff Smith

In this graphic novel, “three modern cartoon cousins get lost in a pre-technological valley, spending a year there making new friends and out-running dangerous enemies. Their many adventures include crossing the local people in The Great Cow Race, and meeting a giant mountain lion called RockJaw: Master of the Eastern Border. They learn about sacrifice and hardship in The Ghost Circles and finally discover their own true natures in the climatic journey to The Crown of Horns.” – Good Reads

Challenged for “political viewpoints,” “racism,” and “violence.”

 

BelovedBeloved – Toni Morrison

“Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby…. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.” – Good Reads

Challenged for “sexual content,” “violence,” and “discussion of beastiality.”

 

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

“Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.” – Good Reads

Challenged for “homosexuality,” “offensive language,” and for being “sexually explicit.”

 

Adventures of Captain UnderpantsThe Adventures of Captain Underpants – Dav Pilkey

“Two fourth-grade boys who write comic books and love to pull pranks find themselves in big trouble. Mean Mr. Krupp, their principal, videotapes George and Harold setting up their stunts and threatens to expose them. The boys’ luck changes when they send for a 3-D Hypno-Ring and hypnotize Krupp, turning him into Captain Underpants, their own superhero creation.” – Good Reads

Challenged for “offensive language,” “violence,” and being “unsuited for age group.”

 

Gone with the WindGone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

“Gone with the Wind is a novel written by Margaret Mitchell, 1st published in 1936. The story is set in Clayton County, GA, & Atlanta during the American Civil War & Reconstruction era. It depicts the experiences of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to come out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman’s March to the Sea.” – Good Reads

Challenged as “racially insensitive,” “oppressive,” and “perpetuates racism.”

 

by Amy

Tell a Fairy Tale

By Amy

Do you believe in magic? My daughter does (she’s 5)! She loves stories about fairies and mermaids. She still asks me sometimes, “Mom, when will I get my fairy wings so I can fly?”

My daughter's magical princess
My daughter’s magical princess

Her grandmother bought her a “magic wand” for Christmas. She waved it in the air and said some magic words. “I think it’s broken…” she said when she was unable to achieve the desired results. It didn’t really seem to phase her though, and she still bounds around the house waving her wand. It’s her preferred method of cleaning.

Part of me struggles with the impulse to get all scientific with her, “realistic” if you will. But magic is such a special thing for children. Her wonder and amazement with fairy tales amaze me. It inspires me to be more creative every day.

“Tell a Fairy Tale Day” is today!

It is celebrated every February 26th.

For children, fairy tales help to spark imagination and creativity, relay morals and, historically, act as cautionary tales.  From an excerpt from Neil Gaiman’s lecture “Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming,” he states :

“If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn’t you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.”

Walther Firle - The Fairy Tale
Walther Firle – The Fairy Tale

Fairy tales are so important because they capture children’s imaginations at such a crucial time in their development. Not only do fairy tales stimulate imagination and creativity, they also get children to enjoy reading! Research from the Institute of Education at the University of London suggests that “children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers.” The research also suggests that reading for pleasure is more important for a child’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education. Reading for pleasure positively impacts achievement in mathematics as well as vocabulary, spelling, and reading comprehension.

Imagination is also important for children’s development. Studies suggest that imagination develops problem solving skills, increases the capacity to understand events that aren’t directly experienced (such as learning about history, other cultures, and developing empathy), develops abstract thinking skills (thinking symbolically), and builds self-confidence.

Albert Einstein was once asked how we could make our children intelligent. He reportedly replied,

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

So to celebrate today, stop by your library and pick up a fairy tale, pull one off the shelf at home, load one up on your eReader– and don’t wait til next February to read another!

Culture Club

By Amy

Despite how badly I want to make all the jokes, you won’t find any Boy George here! And I’m not just saying that to make you cry!

Italy Display

The Culture Club is a new program at Macon County Public Library. Parents of the some of the littlest library patrons mentioned that it would be great to have a group where kids could learn about the world and all the people in it. Culture Club was started at Macon County Public Library because YOU requested it!

Culture Club’s first destination was Italy: land of pizza and leaning
towers right? Eh… maybe just a little, but there’s so much more! Culture Club discussed not only Italy’s rich culinary history, but also delved into Italian art (children were able to see italian pottery and Murano glass in person!), architecture, language, history, and even economics.

Reading about Italy
Can’t catch a plane to Italy? Travel via book!

The group took a virtual tour of Pisa, Venice, Rome, and Pompeii.
Participants were treated to gelato, spaghetti, italian cookies, and more! Along with the presentation and good food, there were also several book recommendations for children wanting to do more exploring on their own and a crafts project where children constructed their own Leaning Tower of Pisa!

The Culture Club’s next meeting will be December 11 at 1pm. Next stop? France! Every month, the children will nominate a new place they’d like to visit and vote on their next destination.

Italian Cookie
Yummy Italian treats!
Crafting Italy
Children had great fun creating their own version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa)

Culture Club will meet every 2nd Wednesday of the month at 1pm in the children’s program room at Macon County Public Library. Everyone is encouraged to share things they have relating to the country of the month, so bring your favorite snacks, souvenirs, pictures, etc. You can call MCPL Youth Services at 828-524-3600 for more information. À bientôt, j’espère!

We’re not in Kansas anymore

The most interesting man in the world- Jedi Mind Tricks

My daughter has a Facebook account. She’s 4 years old. (If you are Facebook, *Jedi Mind trick* this is not the ToS violation you’re looking for…)

You might wonder, “But, why?! Why does a 4 year old need a Facebook account?” She doesn’t. No one needs Facebook, though seemingly more and more our lives revolve around updating and uploading every minutiae of our lives. Could you imagine what people would think if we didn’t tweet our lunch menu?

The fact is, however, that Facebook is here. Facebook, Twitter, or something like it will always be part of… well, life. So will the internet for that matter. A 2011 Pew Internet and American Life study found that 95% of teens 12-17 are internet users. When I was 17, that number was about 70%. I couldn’t find any numbers for teen use for the internet when I was 12 (about 1995), but adult usage of the internet was only 14% of the population and the world wide web as we know it didn’t even exist when I was 4.

It’s also not just computers that kids are using; about 75% of teens 12-17 own a cell phone. That’s still not accounting for the number of other devices that connect kids with the internet: gaming consoles (Playstation, Xbox),  handheld game consoles, mp3 players, tablets, e-readers, televisions. Our “online lives” are no longer limited to the hour or two (or three   or four) spent in front of our desktop computers at home; now you carry your “online world” with you everywhere you go, 24/7.

gizmo
1. Never expose it to bright light 2. Never get it wet (which will make it multiply) 3. Most importantly: never, ever feed it after midnight!
Hmm, wrong manual…

I’d like to imagine that had I gotten a manual with my child when she was born,  it would come with automatic updates to keep me apprised of all the new-fangled things kids have to deal with. As I get older, it’s more and more difficult to tell what’s cool (do they even say “cool” anymore?). It seems clear to me, though, that being online will be an integral part of my daughter’s life, whether I like it or not. So, she has a Facebook account. I help her type messages to her “Pawpaw,” who lives a few hours away. She shares pictures with her grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Most importantly, we talk. We talk about people she adds as friends. We discuss how pictures she uploads, even though she only shares them with her family, can be shared by others and could possibly be seen by anyone. She may not grasp the full implications of these discussions, but I like to think that I’m planting a seed. Hopefully years down the road, she will remember these little talks about the ramifications of the things she shares in her online world.

Counter to my point-of-view are those who would prefer to block children’s online access (Perils of Online Parenting in the Digital Age). As a parent I can definitely understand the need to protect your child, this sort of ache that spurs you into action when you think of a child in danger. Ultimately, I think that maintaining an open dialogue with children about their internet use, teaching them about the internet and how it works, is much more safe for them in the long run. There is absolutely nothing stopping my daughter from making her own Facebook account when she’s under 13 and posting personal information, pictures, or adding strangers as friends. By becoming involved in her online life, I can at least teach her. She will at least have some inkling of what safe computing is.   And when the time comes, hopefully I’ve given her enough knowledge to make an informed decisions; she will make her own choices. But for now she’ll let me hold her hand (in so many ways), and I’ll try to prepare her for whatever I can.

Here are some tips on helping your child learn about the internet:

  • Learn everything you can about the internet. Being familiar with the internet will not only help you understand the risks; it will also help you talk to your kids.

  • Set standards for what your kids can and cannot do online. It’s important to make rules for your kids so they know what’s expected of them. Don’t wait until something bad happens to start creating guidelines.

  • Teach your kids to keep personal information private. It’s usually a bad idea to post personal information online such as phone numbers, addresses, or credit cards. If a criminal gains access to this information, they can use it to harm you or your family.

  • Teach your kids to use social networking sites safely. Sites like Facebook allow kids (and adults) to share photos and videos of themselves, have conversations with friends and strangers, and more. If your kids share something with their friends, it’s still possible for it to get into the wrong hands. Generally, they should only post something online if they’re comfortable with everyone in the world seeing it.

  • Encourage your kids to come to you if they encounter a problem. If your child gets into trouble online, you’ll want them to come to you instead of hiding it. Keep in mind that your kids could accidentally encounter a bad site, even if they’re doing everything right.

  • Talk to your kids about internet use. Talk to your kids regularly about how they use the internet. If they’re in the habit of talking to you about the internet, they’ll be more willing to come to you if there is a problem.

For more information:

Netsmartz.org and Netsmartzkids.org – a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Webonauts Internet Academy – a PBS kids web game that helps teach kids basic web concepts (recommended for 8-10 year olds)

Basic Internet Safety for Kids– a free online course for parents

And an informative video about teaching children and how to handle a bad situation if one arises:

By Amy