Friday, October 28, 2005

A Book Is A Child's Companion

When books come into one’s life in the context of human warmth, nurturance, and relevance to one's own interests and needs, they maintain this quality forever. It is not only the characters in a book that engage our shared humanness-the book itself somehow becomes a companion. For many people, just the sight of a book gives a sense of companionship: They look forward to encountering characters in a new book, look back on books previously treasured, and also remember the people who sensitively brought to life the possibilities of all the human worlds that live in books.

If we want our children to enjoy the companionship of books, we must allow the child's contribution to the relationship to be wholly salient. We want the child to know that he is relevant to the book. So as we look at a book with a child, we are flexible about how that process goes. We forget that we know it has a beginning, middle and end, and we allow the child's pleasure and interest to dictate what it is to which we will attend, and of what the interaction will consist. We attend to the child’s agenda. We do not wrestle with Martha in order to turn the page to which her attention is riveted in order to get on with the story, but we linger with her, to puzzle together as to why the little girl’s foot below the water in the bathtub appears not to exist. We do our best to explicate the demands of perspective the illustration demonstrates, and we spend the time we need to cover and uncover, make disappear and reappear, our own faces and hands, until this loses its interest for the child. Only then do we proceed in the book. It is not unlike taking our child to the beach to view the vast ocean or to admire the sunset while acknowledging that the tiny sandcrab that scurries over the toe of his sneaker and totally captures his attention is a wholly worthy competitor for our intent and deserves our closest mutual attention. We are flexible, and we care about what our small friend's interests are because only then can he bring his whole self to the encounter. And that is what we want. We want the child to know that he is relevant to the book.

Literature not only allows but asks of us that we bring our whole experience to it - that we allow it to evoke our memories and our feelings and then reach for some commonality of understanding that enriches us and enriches what we read. This is what we expect of the adult reader of literature. We must be sure then that we allow this to be true of the experience of children, especially of our infants and toddlers. They must be allowed to muse on what calls for musing, skip the scary part if they want to, name with pleasure that which is recognized (and name it again and again), and stop when they are ready. This is what preserves the mutuality and ensures the infant's and toddler's contribution of self to the process.

Many children's books are designed with just this relevancy and request for mutuality. Our job is not to interfere our author's often brilliant understanding of what is relevant to a child, what captures him in sight and sound, and how reciprocal a relationship there is between that author and the child. (It is, by the way, just this mutuality which makes children’s books so different from most children's television, which, with its formulaic, jazzed up, didactic style, overwhelms the child's whole sensorium, wanting nothing from him but a sponge-like absorption and diminishing the possible horizons of the child's own world view.)

As we move with the child from the first recognition of the image of a dog - the first enchanting triumph - to remembering with her dogs she has known - Grandma's dog who jumped up and knocked her over and the puppy on the street that licked her hand and made a puddle on the sidewalk - we make the art of the book her own. The child owns it with what she and we weave around it. It is embedded with the familiar and becomes richly and personally evocative. This process is clearly a part of the oral tradition. The story teller adapts the story to the listener, and the listener contributes his own visual images, his own understanding, and his own reactions. Even a child who has no access to books, but who is sung to and talked to, and for whom stories are created or to whom parents tell stories of their own childhood, will, if then introduced to books properly, learn to love the stories to be found in those books. In some sense, in the early years, the parent is the collaborative interpreter of the pictures or story written in a book to his own child - making sure that the book touches the child's world as he wants it to, and expanding the pictures or text with what the child brings to them. The experience of "being read to" becomes the same as being told a story - a story which is told because it is relevant to the child and because the telling is responsive to the child's desire.

As the child grows, she not only recognizes the image of the dog but also begins to identify with the dog - who is lost from his mommy, who has made a mess of his room, or who has found a scrawny chicken to be his friend. Now another’s creation has begun to touch the child's experience in a new way; the child's own experience expands to include the experience of others. Characters in books become the child's companions. Books themselves become companions.

Babies and toddlers are enriched by books. Even more important, the relationships between very young children and their parents are enriched by books. Books provide a source of mutual pleasure for parent and child that is likely to last a lifetime. We introduce infants and toddlers to books not simply because of what they will learn from them, but so that they will grow to love them. It is a gift beyond measure.

When books come into one’s life in the context of human warmth, nurturance, and relevance to one's own interests and needs, they maintain this quality forever. It is not only the characters in a book that engage our shared humanness-the book itself somehow becomes a companion. For many people, just the sight of a book gives a sense of companionship: They look forward to encountering characters in a new book, look back on books previously treasured, and also remember the people who sensitively brought to life the possibilities of all the human worlds that live in books.

All Contents © ZERO TO THREE All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

How Schools Can Make Reading Fun

School's aim: Make reading fun

On parent-teacher conference day at Stuart Middle School last week, you might have expected to see some parents in distress. Not Richard and Robin Raymond. Two of their five children attend Stuart, but they're doing fine in class.

It's their insatiable reading habit that brought all seven of the Raymond family to the school, at 4601 Valley Station Road, on a day when class was out.

The Raymond family came for A Tournament of Reading, a literacy event tied to parent-teacher conference day that included a book fair and contests in which winners received books as prizes.

"Our living room is filled with bookshelves, and they're all crammed full of books," Robin Raymond said. "The hardest thing we have is to get them to put their books down and do homework."

"Or chores," Richard Raymond added.

The book fair continued all week and helped raise money for hurricane victims along the Gulf Coast. During the one-day Tournament of Reading, students and parents browsed books available for purchase, signed up for library cards and competed in a book walk, which works just like a cake walk except participants play for books. Students also were encouraged to dress as their favorite character from a fantasy book.

Some parents popped into the library just to sit and scan the newspaper after their meetings with teachers.

The school's library/media specialist, Heather Waters, started the literacy events last year in conjunction with Jefferson County Public Schools' parent-teacher conferences. She said that since parents already are in the building, it seemed a good time to stress the importance of reading -- and that it's fun.

Last week's event celebrated fantasy literature, taking advantage of the continued fervor over the "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling, "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis and "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini, who was a teen when he wrote it.

Such best-selling works have prompted children to read more in their leisure, said Valerie Rueger, the school's reading specialist.

"We're just kind of riding on that wave," she said.

Reading gets a big focus at the school, which was named after famed Kentucky author Jesse Stuart. It was students' highest score on the CATS assessment last spring, at 75.3 on a scale of 140. Stuart has gradually improved its reading score, which was 57.7 in 2000. A score of 100 is considered proficient.

The school has a program called Read 180 for students who are reading below their grade levels.
Eighth-grader Krystal Worthington said the program turned her reading skills around. As a sixth-grader, she said, she read too fast and didn't understand what she had just read, until she enrolled in Read 180.

"Ever since, my reading scores have gone up and up," Krystal said, adding she now reads everything she can get her hands on.

Rueger said up to 60 students show up at 7:10 a.m., before their first classes, for a book club.
"And if I'm late, heaven help me," Rueger said.

As many as 400 students and parents typically come to Stuart's literacy events, and teacher Shonte Davis said they seem to help participation in parent-teacher conferences.

"It's a great opportunity for parents and teachers and students to come together for a common cause -- to stress the importance of reading," Davis said.


Today's Quote:

Education is something you get when your father sends you to school & college, but it isn't complete until you send your own son.

General Tips For Parents On Helping Your Children Become Readers

Take time to enjoy books and stories with your children. Not only will it help them improve their reading but it is a great opportunity to enjoy time together. Opening a book is like beginning an adventure - you never know what you might find inside.

1. Start reading in the first weeks of your child's life and don't stop! Babies love nursery

2. Talk with your children as you play, shop or work around the house. Listen to what they say. Ask questions. Point out letters and words that they see all around them - read street signs, cereal boxes or words in the street.

3. Follow the words and read the story using the pictures. As your child becomes more confident take it in turns to read. Praise your child - tell them how well they're doing and they'll want to read more.

4. Have fun! Remember that a good ten minutes is better than a difficult half-hour.

5. Try to make your reading as expressive as possible. Let the emotion of the story show through your facial expression and your voice. It really brings characters and the story to life. Try using different and funny voices for characters as this can really engage children. Talk about the words and what's happening in the story as you read.

6. Read to your children. Try to read to them at the same time every day. Bedtime is a great time to share a story. Why not let your child choose the story? Your child is never too old to enjoy a good story - keep reading to them even when they can read themselves.

7. Visit the library together. Ask the librarian for help in finding books your children will enjoy. Why not let your child join the library and have their own card?

8. Allow your child to choose their own books, comics and magazines. Find out what they enjoy - do they like animals, sports or magic? Follow their interests and let them read their favourites. Surprise them with books or magazines about their favourite interests and activities.

9. Introduce your children to different types of books; classic fiction, chapter books, short stories, joke books, poetry, non-fiction.

10. Read books, newspapers and magazines yourself, and have them visible around the home, so you and you children will always have something to read and your child will know that reading is important in your life.

By reading with your children regularly you are:

1) Stimulating their imaginations;

2) Developing their understanding of how language works;

3) Helping them to discover the joys of reading;

4) Strengthening your relationship with your child;

5) Giving them a great start to their education.

And Yeah, today's quote:

A person should have enough education so he doesn't have to look up to anyone. He should also have enough to be wise enough not to look down on anyone.

Choosing Books For Children

Here comes along a short write up on how to choose books for children. Hope you enjoy and make use of it.

Choosing Books For Children

There is evidence to suggest that children who read for pleasure do better at school, whether they are reading fiction, non-fiction, magazines or comics, so encourage your child to choose what they want!

Suggestions for choosing books

Ask your child to help you choose a book they would like to look at or read; children are more likely to enjoy reading if they have chosen the material themselves.

Don't worry too much about finding the 'right' book. The fact that you are having fun and sharing with your child is more important than the content or quality of the book itself.

Your child will probably enjoy books that match their interests and hobbies; this might be a good starting point.

Remember that joke books, comics, autobiographies, TV tie-ins and non-fiction are also valuable reading material. Try to give your child access to as wide a range of books as possible, which will help them develop a sense of their likes and dislikes.

Board books, cloth books, pop-ups and lift-the-flap books are excellent for babies and toddlers.

Ask your children's librarian for suggestions. Libraries also run holiday activities, homework help sessions and all have free internet access.

Remember that puzzles, CD ROMs and the internet are also good ways of developing reading skills.


A few quotes as usual about learning:

Education is a funny thing. At eighteen we knew all the answers - forty years later even the questions confuse us.

Education is not a head full of facts, but knowing how and where to find facts.

I will end on this note and wish you all the best.

Parents Are The Prime Teachers

Parents are the prime teachers

Today, the parental role in education should be emphasised as it has become very necessary due to the various entertainment options available for children.

A child's success at school is decided by the home environment and schools cannot replace parents in moulding and developing them.

Yet, some parents expect schools to do this. They should remember that they are the prime teachers for their children.

For example, a father can teach his son to repair a broken leg of a chair, change a spark plug, repair a punctured bicycle tube or even wash his own plate.

Mothers can teach girls to sew and cook. There are mothers who do not have these skills themselves, so how can they teach their children?

Most parents do not discuss politics, sports, religion, social etiquette or attempt to explain how plants grow and chicken are reared.

Some things they can do are:
· Expose children to the environment;
· Walk and talk with children;
· Include children in daily activities;
· take them along with them when they visit friends, parents, relatives or places of interest.
· Explore the athletic and sports talent in them;
· Expose them to teamwork, co-operation, problem-solving, and brain-storming; and
· Impart moral values and religion.

Children are the responsibility of parents and no institution can replace parents.


And here goes the quote:

Nothing makes a little knowledge as dangerous as examination time.

Signing off,


Instil Reading Habit From Young

Here come's a post from Malaysia. Courtesy : The Star

Instilling a love for books in children can be a mammoth task as much depends on how a child perceives reading.

Lorna Whiston Study Centre director Lorna Whiston said: “A child who is forced to read many textbooks in order to excel at school may quickly lose interest in reading.

“If a child is forced, at a young age, to read difficult books that are beyond his capability, then he may feel little sense of achievement and may never want to read further.

“If reading is to be fun, there should be new stories for the child to choose from and the freedom to choose whatever he wants to read,” said Whiston.

To motivate children to pick up the reading habit, the study centre has come up with various exciting English Language enrichment programmessuch as Book Week for its students.

As part of Book Week, the children were taken to the Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) Library in Kuala Lumpur, where they were introduced to the books in the Early Readers section.

The children then enjoyed interactive storytelling sessions and played story-related language games organised by their teachers.

They were also taught how to take care of their books.

In another event, the children, aged between four and six, came to school dressed as their favourite book character.

They then shared excerpts from their favourite books with their classmates and teachers. Taking on the role of some of their best-loved story characters, they had fun re-telling their stories.

“Children who are encouraged to read from young are more likely to develop a lifelong love of books. When children read, their creativity is stimulated, their language skills are extended and they increase their knowledge on a variety of subjects.

“Pupils who enjoy reading also tend to do better at school,” said Whiston.


And as usual a couple of quotes:

It's not what is poured into a student that counts, but what is planted.

An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn't teach them how to make a life.

The mind is like a stomach. It's not how much you put into it that counts, but how much it digests.

Monday, October 10, 2005

T.V. In Education

A Tip on Utilising T.V. In Educating your child.

Challenge your child to go beyond passive viewing when watching TV.

Watch TV with your children and ask questions such as "Why do you think that happened?"

Such questions will help your child go beyond the immediate and begin to form connections.

I had said in my earlier post that I would give a quote on education in my posts. It happens so, that it always slips from my mind. I would rather not be a politician, who promises and backtracks, hence what I shall do, is post the quote on & off. As I am on it, let me post a couple of them rightaway connected to what else - T.V.

1. Small children start to school these days with a big advantage. They already know two letters of the alphabet - TV.

2. It's difficult to teach children the alphabet these days. They think V comes right after T.

3. During the Cricket season, a domestic triangle is a husband, a wife & a TV set.

Hope you enjoyed the tips as well as the quotes.

Reading & Conversing at Home

Today comes along a short article on how to effect learning while conversing & reading at home. Hope you enjoy and more importantly practice the ideas. Remember, practice leads to perfection.

Reading and Conversing at Home

In listening, talking, and playing, your child develops important language and prereading skills every day. Putting thoughts into words, acquiring new words to describe feelings and surroundings, and knowing that his or her thoughts and words are valued—all help to build a solid foundation for continued language success. Here are suggestions for activities you can do with your toddler or preschooler to foster this very important developmental process.

The Art of Conversation

From infancy on, a child's attempts to communicate—whether through talking or making gestures—need to be responded to. For example, when your child motions for an object, name that object and expand on it when possible: "Here's a cookie. A chocolate chip cookie. A yummy chocolate chip cookie."

There are many other ways to encourage conversation with your child:

Let your child's interest be a focus of conversation. When something has captured your child's imagination—be it dinosaurs or fictional characters—take the role of novice and let your child take the role of expert. Ask questions as long as your child enjoys answering them.

Share family news during mealtimes. Ask specific questions that require more than a yes or no answer to get a child to respond in more detail. For example, instead of asking, "Did you have fun at the playground today?" ask, "Who was at the playground with you today?" or "What's your favorite thing to do at the playground?"

Tolerate moments of silence. Children often need time to figure out what they want to say. If you jump in and fill the silences for them, they don't get the opportunity to try to put things into their own words.

Make time for your child to meet and speak with guests in your home. Your child will learn about introductions and greetings and also may gain a new perspective by hearing a different viewpoint.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Helping Children learn about reading

Today I have this article on helping children about reading. Nice article, I think. Hope you enjoy.

Why read a book to an infant who does not yet know the meaning of a word--or of words at all? Why sing to a toddler who cannot understand your song?

Both of these activities help children make connections between words and meaning. They also help to create a warm, safe environment for children and lead to a lifetime love of reading and learning.

Some parents assume that learning to read starts with memorizing the alphabet and sounding out words, but actually the fundamentals of reading begin much earlier. Adults lay the foundation for reading every day, when they point out objects and describe what they are doing while dressing an infant, grocery shopping with a toddler, or cooking with a preschooler.

The most important thing is that teaching children about reading becomes an activity that brings children closer to the caring adults in their lives. Here are some tips for families who want to help their children make connections between meaning and words.

Talk or sing to your baby when you change his diaper, give him a bath, feed him lunch or join him in play.

Introduce cardboard or cloth books with brightly colored pictures. Be aware that at this point, your baby might enjoy looking at, tossing, or chewing the books more than being read to!

Help increase your baby’s vocabulary by playing "What’s that?" or "Where’s the teddy bear?" when enjoying books together.

Point out words on signs at the park, at the zoo, or when walking or driving.

As children begin to notice letters on blocks or other toys, name the letters for them. Read words aloud and explain what they mean.


Reading stories before bed makes a good transition between active play and restful time. Toddlers may ask you to read their favorites repeatedly. They may begin to connect pictures with words, or fill in missing words if you hesitate.

Let toddlers "write" shopping lists with you. They may want to watch you sort coupons and engage in other grocery store activities.

Take short trips to new places and talk about what is happening around you. If possible, read together about similar events beforehand and again afterwards.

Give children magnetic letters for the refrigerator, and begin spelling out words and names as toddlers are introduced to them.


Encourage preschool children to carry out the steps to written recipes, or read printed labels at the store.

At four or five, children may begin to ask questions about the print they see in books. Books with labeled pictures help children to connect words and objects more easily.

Play picture-card games with your child--but remember, they may not always play by the rules at this age!

Provide a variety of materials to encourage children to "play" at writing and reading--checks or traffic tickets, menus or greeting cards.

Primary grade children

Continue to read with your child, especially at bedtime, even if she has already learned to read.

Visit the library on a regular basis to make books a regular part of children’s lives. Show children that you read books and magazines for information and enjoyment.

Listen to the stories children write, as well as their jokes or riddles. Encourage them to write down their ideas.

Play word games such as Boggle or Scrabble with your child.

Additional Resources

NAEYC. 1998. Raising a Reader, Raising a Writer: How Parents can Help. Washington, DC: NAEYC. #530/50¢ each or 100 for $10.

National Black Child Development Institute. 1995. Young children and African American literature. Washington, DC: NAEYC. #568/50¢ each or 100 for $10.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children holds the copyright for this article. Should you need to make copies of this article, do obtain permission from them.

Today's Quote : It’s not what is poured into a student that counts but what is planted.

Events at Nehru Science Seminar & Young Buzz’s Edushastra – Finals

Events at Nehru Science Seminar & Young Buzz’s Edushastra – Finals

Well 4th Oct. was a real hectic day. A couple of events to attend. Reached Nehru Science Centre by 9 am. The director was kind enough to permit us to distribute DIMDIMA to all the participants. Seemed like a national integration program since except Uttaranchal & Lakshwadeep all states and UT’s were represented at the seminar. All children got participation prizes, there were 9 scholarships and a first prize. A very well organized event. Indus Ind Bank were the sponsorers to this event.

The other event was the finals of the Edushastra – an event organized by to honour excellent teachers from across the city. This was held at Ravindra Natya Mandir at Prabhadevi. The 1st, 2nd & 3rd prizes were Rs.30K, Rs.20K & 10K each to the winning teacher and the school they represented. Lot of celebrities graced the occasion – Yash Chopra was the chief guest. Tanvi Azmi was the other celebrity & the corporate sector was represented by Shri Sunil Alagh. Managed to distribute copies of DIMDIMA to the teachers.

Today’s quote :

Some folks are so highly educated they can bore you on any subject.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Activity at The Willingdon Club, Tardeo, Mumbai on 2nd October’05.

At the outset, my apologies for this delayed posting. Experiencing connection problems in the internet.

The Club had organized a special afternoon for children on Gandhi Jayanti - 2nd Oct. centered around celebrating and understanding Mahatma Gandhiji – The Father of Our Nation.

Shri Rahul Sood had kindly permitted us to deliver a talk on reading & children. As it turned out, my editor being a spontaneous performer switched over to another topic. Guess what Shri Sood must have thought – I promised him something but my editor delivered something else (something for the better, I believe).

Myself – (I think I should plug myself – I work for DIMDIMA – A Children’s magazine from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan - and my editor (should I plug him too ? - Shri Subba Rao – A remarkable communicator who brings out the best in children, he is pure gold, believe me) attended the event and the children were treated to an interactive session on the lines of “I am a Smart Kid”. The children enthusiastically participated in the session each one telling to the whole audience why s/he considers himself/herself smart. We had all sorts of answers – simple, honest, intelligent & yes humorous ones too. I felt that these 10 minutes with the children refreshed all of us present within earshot. In the process the parents too were entertained by the simple fact that their children were being made heroes.

There was a live demonstration of the charkha, children as well as parents were observing it closely. Some children were interested, some parents were trying to get their children interested. However, one teenager clearly remarked “So boring”. Not his fault, I feel. May be the communication from the demonstrator could have been better. A good activity, can be utilized better, maybe next year.

Later on, Madam Kumkum Somani & the famous actress – Madam Kamini Kaushal entertained the children by telling stories on Gandhiji, having a painting competition. The best painting would have been given prizes at the end of the event. In the background, Bhajans were being played on tape. “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram” & “Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye”.

And oh yes, the children were treated to snacks by Shri Rahulji.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Activity at Jasudben M.L.School - Khar - Mumbai.

Today - 01/10/2005 - A School activity day - A day I look forward since it involves meeting so many people from the community - teachers, librarians, parents and the best of all - children.

My colleague remarked that it seemed we were at a fashion show rather than at an open house of a school. It seemed parents were competing for being the best dressed, most beautiful etc. Probably this was expected, since Khar West is an upmarket area (In marketing terms SEC A & B Area).

Most of the parents went past our stall without so much as glancing at us with their children in tow. And then, they blame children for not reading. It has to be understood that parents have a great great responsibility in developing the reading habit of the child. At the very least, parents can pretend to be reading at home atleast 20 minutes a day. My daughter these days is hooked on to Chicken Soup series. To my surprise, the other day, when I bought Readers Digest, she jumped at it & I had a tough time getting it back from her. Of late, she goes off to sleep reading the Chicken Soup Book, (light remains on till the morning) in the process inflating my electricity bills. Literally, I have to pay for her reading !!!

Back to the activity at the school, Orient Longman & other book distributors too made their presence felt with a wide variety of titles. Publishers need not worry about TV & the Net snatching away readers, since children & parents were teeming around the stalls. Well written books with easy language, with pictures would always sell well. Kids are attracted by colour & graphics, I believe.

I have decided to add one quote to my each post. Obviously, these quotes shall be on education & learning. Well, here goes the first one:

"Education pays less when you are an educator".

How very true !!! I know by my experience !!!

I shall sign off now, since I have to be on the job tomorrow (Sunday) also. Oh God !!! Will have to keep a smiling face, since boss is giving company.