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Children's books

A wide divide

Have you ever thought of how the digital world influences us — and by extension, our children?

A number of recent articles made me rethink access, about the use and popularity of digital books by young readers (and their parents), and about what and how is presented in them in both mediums.

The power of books and text sets

We've all read books whose plot or main character stay with us for a long time. With kids, books can be a great and subtle way to illustrate personality traits we may want to engender. Collections of books with similar themes (sometimes called "text sets") give teachers and parents a way to focus on a theme but do so in such a way that you're not beating your kid over the head with the same message over and over again.

A boy, a birthday, and a fresh take on a bunny book

Books always make terrific gifts, but it's possible that kids don't always like the books adults think are charming.

A recent book brings that point home with laugh out loud humor. Plus a book that makes even experienced readers check twice to make sure that it has been untouched by an aspiring child-artist.

I have read, reread, guffawed, and shared with lots of friends — experienced and inexperienced readers — one such book.

Board books: Three a day keeps the reading specialist away

That's essentially what I write in every card as I hand over a stack of board books to expectant mom friends: "Three a day keeps the reading specialist away." After a chuckle and a roll of the eyes, my Mom-to-be friends add our tried and true board book titles to the pile of baby gifts and toys. But I'm happy, knowing that those board books will be loved and chewed on for years to come.

Why field trips are worth the effort

Taking a group of children for an outing can be rough — perhaps more so for adults than for the young people. After all, it's up to parents and teachers to keep track of their charges, worry about transportation, safety, snacks, and more. So why bother?

Because field trips make a difference. There's research that supports field trips to art museums, aka "culturally enriching" activities, has a significant and positive impact on students. In my experience, almost all family or class outings can make a positive impact.

Celebrations fit for a new school year

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer after which schools are in full swing again. Various September celebrations are ideal complements to school, community and home activities.

In 1965, September 8 was declared International Literacy Day (ILD) by UNESCO. This year, ILD was marked by presentations and discussions (on the Monday after the official ILD) featuring among others, Alma Powell representing America's Promise Alliance and Maureen McLaughlin, President of the International Reading Association.

Getting boys hooked on reading: How can digital media help?

Did you know that boys often underestimate their ability to read? That boys, on average, read less than girls? And that boys are often less motivated to read than girls? Not only that: By the time boys reach high school, roughly half of them will describe themselves as "nonreaders."

Grounded in evidence. Part 1: Fiction

It's funny to be a teacher! When everyone else thinks of the "New Year" starting January 1st, teachers are getting ready to start their "third quarter."" Usually about our "half-time" (aka: Winter Vacation) I enjoy reflecting on our year so far, and how I can tweak my instruction to streamline our focus. So after the presents have been opened, traditions enjoyed, and champagne and poppers cleaned up, it's always a good opportunity to sit back, and begin deciding where instruction needs to be strengthened.

Getting mind and body ready for school

It's a fact. Good nutrition leads to healthy bodies and to healthy minds — minds and bodies that are ready to learn (and grow and play and do everything else that children do).

All schools seem to be moving toward more healthful lunch and snack choices. Some schools use the notion of healthy food in ways to support the curriculum while building community. Last year, about 80 schools in Washington, D.C. had school gardens.

Sure signs of summer: watermelon and weather

I love the long days of summer. I even enjoy the heat (not so much the humidity though). And what could be better on a hot summer day than a cool slice of watermelon?

Thunderstorms are a part of summer, too. But many brave children who (like a small dog named Rosie) aren't afraid of night shadows or tigers or anything else — except thunder. Rosie's boy couldn't comfort her — not even by telling her that "thunder was watermelons rolling off a watermelon truck." But the wait for the end was much easier when the boy held Rosie.

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"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln