Tag Archives: internet

Early literacy and a baby book

Today I was able to talk to a group of mothers in my area about early literacy and fostering a love of books. I am not a trained expert on the subject, but years of observation and following the research makes me feel pretty secure in my knowledge. When I hear a child who has hit 4th grade complaining about having to read it simply breaks my heart. The problem is that by 4th grade it is unlikely, though not impossible, that we can make much of a change. Where we need to instill that love of books is as early as possible.10 Family Literacy Tips

Children are natural sponges. If we want to instill a love of books, we need them to see that we share that love ourselves. The best things we can do for our kids is to be an example of someone who loves books, have books around the house, and allow them to read what they want without worrying about lexile level or even content. But more than anything, our children mimic our behavior. If they see us reading, they are more likely to read. If they see us purchasing books or going to the library on a regular basis, they learn that we value books. In lower-income homes, this can be an issue because books are often not as valued, especially when other high priority needs need to be met. In other homes, adults have stopped purchasing “real” books and instead have started relying on digital books and kids can have a hard time differentiating between the fact that you are reading a book on your tablet vs checking Facebook or your email. (For more on digital media’s impact, check out this fascinating article from the NY Times) Continue reading →

Patricia Polacco takes on Bullying

Patricia Polacco has done it again. Book after book she manages to tackle tough topics in an approachable and honest manner. In “Bully,” she keeps up with the times and considers bullying in the modern age of email, texting, and Facebook. While this isn’t something that is impacting my nine year old yet, thank goodness, I know that there will come a day when it rings true.

bullyLyla is new to the area and going to a new school. Like all new kids, she is trying to figure things out in her new environment. She immediately befriends Jamie, who is also new. The two are both in 6th grade and notice how the lunchroom separates into cliques. Lyla also notices that everyone seems to have a cell phone. Jamie tells her that she needs a phone, a laptop, and to get set-up in Facebook.

A few weeks later, when Lyla starts to get good grades and becomes a cheerleader, one of the “celebrity girls,” starts to pay attention to her. By mid-year she is considered “good enough” to sit at the celebrity table. But before that could happen, Lyla also needed a makeover.

The next day when the celebrity girls realize that Lyla is friends with Jamie, they make fun of him and she feels that he has to be her friend outside of school only. One day at one of the girls’ houses, they take their name calling one step further by “scum dumping.” This is when they go onto Facebook and write vicious things on people’s pages, including Jamie’s. Lyla asks him why people do it and he remarkably answers that “some people aren’t happy unless they are putting someone else down.” From that moment on, Lyla spent less and less time with the mean girls.

But Lyla wasn’t going to get off so easily. “No one dumps us, Lyla, we do the dumping.” Gage and her friends set Lyla up to look like she has stolen the test and compromised it for everyone else. Jamie manages to come to her rescue, but the damage is already done.

Lyla had to face a major bully. Gage didn’t look like a mean kid from the outside, but she had a hateful streak. As Lyla’s father said, “in order for people like Gage’s candle to glow brighter, she has to blow out yours.”

Middle school is tough. Everyone is figuring out who they are as individuals and judgements are made for superficial reasons. Junior high school was hard enough some decades ago when I was in it, I can’t imagine it in the age of cyber-bullying. We try to teach kids early on about bullying and kindness, but it is still a hard concept to grasp and something that they will most likely have to deal with. Another blog post is in the works about books for younger kids, but this is a must read for the 4th grade and up.