“One,” a Story About Bullying and Inclusion

Everyone I have read this book to–parents and kids–wants a copy. That is quite an endorsement.

Through simple blotches of color, author-illustrator Kathryn Otoshi creates a gang of personalities cleverly tied to their hues–quiet Blue, outgoing Orange, bright Green, outgoing Purple and hot-head Red in her book, One. Don’t be thrown off my the apparent simplicity of her drawings and storyline. This book is a winner, rich in language, metaphors, concepts and life lessons.

The colorful blobs of colors maintain their personalities but learn to stand up to the bully, Red, through a courageous peer. The story comes full circle when the diminished bully is asked to join the group to be included. 

Parents, teachers and therapists take notice. This book can enliven a language discussion on many levels. Strategizing on how to deal with a bully, discussing ways to include others, and recognizing feelings are some of the dialogue that can be launched from this story. 

See my full review.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Books, Elementary School Age, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Thank You Latentdesign.com, Best Children’s Photography

mother holding up her infantI want to thank my youngest son, Peter of latentdesign.com, for the use of his beautiful artistic photography on my website. I love using pictures along with my blogs and articles to give life to the words.

Pete captures kids in their rare moments of being funny, mad, silly, mischievous and just being kids!

Do realize that the best pictures on my site are Peter’s and the less professional ones are those that I snapped throughout my day. I actually travel with a camera in my purse now because often I am greeted by kids in costume, or funny situations occur as I visit homes and work with children. One of my favorites, four year-old Chloe, usually greets me in some combination of feathered high heels, a pink tutu and jewels. I guess I should take it as a compliment that my little friends dress up for me!

Here is some of Peter’s work to enjoy.

toddler portrait

 

preschooler in a bucket

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Babies, Birth-3 year-olds, Elementary School Age, Preschool | Leave a comment

Children’s Book Illustrators Encourage Reading

Children's book illustratorsHaving blogged about “More Than Words,” our public library’s program featuring four children’s book illustrators, I realize once again the importance of the pictures that tell the story. Mo Willems, famous children’s author and illustrator, grew up with immigrant parents and “read” the illustrations of books when he was young, since he didn’t know the language on the printed page. We know that young children can pay more attention to the illustrations, than to the words and linger on a page to take it all in so we need to be alert to the drawings too.

You can build your child’s language by talking “about” the page, in addition to reading it. Follow your child’s eyes to see what they are looking at and describe the picture. Talk about what you see, how it relates to your child’s life or yours and tell the story through the pictures.  As long as your child seems interested you can continue to discuss the illustrations on the page. Talk about what you like and ask her what drawing she likes. Research has shown that when parents talk “about” the story rather than just read the words (which is also valuable) when children are around 3 years old, their language skills improve at a faster pace. This is called dialogic reading. Exciting illustrations can encourage language development.

That being said, I wanted to share some of my favorite illustrators.  For a birthday gift, my friend, Jean,  gave me Dirt on My Shirt by Jeff Foxworthy, illustrated by Stephen Bjorkman who is a friend of hers. This lively Continue reading

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Books, Elementary School Age, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | 4 Comments

The Power of an Older Sibling

preschool boys reading books

When Dad was on duty babysitting, it got a little too quiet. He went searching for the boys and found them both next to the bed reading. Older brother, Will, loves books so that is no surprise but little sibling, Ben, hasn’t showed the same attention to the printed word. He was just mimicking his big brother! 

How fun to be able to take advantage of this admiration of an older sibling and his love of books! Many parents ask me for books that will hold the interest of siblings in spite of the age difference. Choose books with an interesting storyline, but less print so the younger sibling’s shorter attention span will be accommodated. Also, find books with great illustrations, to keep them both entertained while you read. Reading with lots of expression and engaging the kids as you read, drawing them into the story will keep their attention too.

What books do your kids enjoy that you can read to siblings and they stay seated??! Share your favorites in the comments below.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Babies, Birth-3 year-olds, Books, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toddler | Leave a comment

Is TV Good for Infants? Latest Research

preschooler with Teddy RukspinEver since companies like Baby Einstein started marketing to parents of babies, claiming that their DVD’s boost brain power, parents and researchers have been discussing what is truth on the subject. 

The latest study, appearing in the journal, Pediatrics, was conducted by researchers at the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School. They looked at babies who had viewed TV for about an hour a day for the first 2 years of their life. This is actually less than the average, which is unfortunately two to three hours a day.

This latest research found that children under two who watched around an hour of TV a day were not helped or hurt by the screen time. Once again, contrary to many parents’ contention, screen time doesn’t  teach your child and boost his brain power, as many brands would like you to believe. Previous studies have shown that longer periods of time spent watching TV (2-3hours per day), can have detrimental affects on children.

The bottom line is that TV is here to stay and companies continue to market a broad range of programming for young children, many shows of which are high quality. Life is a balance, so be intentional about planning what and how much your young child will watch, keeping in mind that under 2 years of age, this is not “necessary” to help your child learn.

Posted in Birth-3 year-olds, Toddler, TV | Leave a comment

Teaching Preschoolers To Share Through Books

One of Each, book on sharingHaving just spent an hour with two three year-olds, facilitating play, I realized that sharing is an ongoing challenge for preschool peers. As parents and teachers we need to be patient in the process of teaching this social tool since it takes time for children to grasp and exercise sharing.

I wanted to share (ha!) a few more picture books that you can read to your child and discuss sharing–the feelings behind complying or holding on to that toy for yourself. 

  • Will Sheila Share? by Elivia Savadier is a very simple story of Sheila learning to share. There are some things she can share and some she can’t.  Berries, juice, hugs and kisses are all options for sharing. When she realizes the downside to withholding her berries, she decides to share.
  • Continue reading
Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Books, Elementary School Age, play, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toys | Leave a comment

Picture Books Teach Diversity

My Travelin' Eye, kids picture bookIn our effort to raise a generation of little ones who celebrate the differences in friends and are educated in classrooms that includes all kinds of learning styles and disabilities, we look for good books that tell the story of turning a challenge into some fun. 

I was excited to find this gem in the “new books” section of our children’s library in town. A tale about Jenny Sue’s travelin’ eye (due to strabismus), we learn how she embraces being different by seeing the world in a whole new way.The real Jenny Sue, author and illustrator Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, has written this endearing autobiographical story from a child’s perspective. Maybe that is why she doesn’t miss a step–what it feels and looks like to have a disability, how people react, what the steps are to get help from the doctor, and how to cleverly face being different to become included. Her punchy illustrations in collage, bring a cheerful element to a challenging situation. See my full review. 

I was attracted to this book because it had a refreshingly new topic–one which I was familiar with on several counts. You see, I had a bit of a travelin’ eye as a child. When I looked to the left, my right eye grandma and grandpa with babyturned in too far, right next to my nose! I had to do exercises and wear what I considered ugly glasses beginning in second grade. Unfortunately, glasses weren’t the fashion statement they are today so I dreaded my yearly visit  to the optician to select new eye wear.

The other endearing part of the story that I related to was Jenny Sue’s mom stepping up and making her sad situation into one of turnround joy. Likewise, my mom was and is my best cheerleader. In spite of the ugly blue, luminescent glasses that I picked out, I remember my mom always telling me how beautiful I looked in them. Her impact has and continues to be positive on our family including her grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. So this blog is dedicated to my mom, almost 83 years old, who knows how to find the joy in spite of a disability. You see she has lived with multiple sclerosis for over 57 years but manages to be a light in so many lives.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Books, Elementary School Age, Preschool, Reading | 2 Comments

Articulation Speech Therapy for R and S

On Friday I attended a continuing education course by BER (Bureau of Education and Research) on “Practical Therapy Techniques for Persistent Articulation Errors: Frontal Lisp, Lateral Lisp and Distorted “R” by Pam Marshalla, MA, CCC-SLP.  I wanted to recommend it to speech-language pathologists who work with clients who have been tough to remediate when it comes to lisps and /r/.

 Pam is a well-informed, entertaining speaker who was also encouraging to SLP’s on many fronts. She outlined the path our profession has taken, with its initial emphasis on articulation, voice and fluency therapy, to the present where there is a heavy emphasis on language therapy. Even though we have come to a place where many schools don’t provide services for children with simple articulation delays (unless it is educationally significant), there are still certain kids who can’t get the /s/ or /r/ and their parents want therapy.

Pam provided a comprehensive plan to help these children, reaching back to relevant literature and techniques from the godfathers of our profession, Van Riper, Nemoy, Scripture and others, to the present with the newest articulation norms and techniques.

 Pam had a private practice until recently where therapists sent her the kids that stumped them. She clearly has a wonderful manner with kids and techniques that work.

Posted in 6-8 year-olds, Apraxia, Articulation, Elementary School Age, Speech and Language Delay, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Play-Doh for Preschoolers and Speech Therapy

playdoh zoo animalsCertain toys and games are winners as they amuse children and allow for discrete turns so a child can repeat your model, and you give them one more piece to make their masterpiece. Play-Doh’s EZ 2 Do  Zoo is so popular with preschoolers, that many parents have asked where they can get it. Target sells it for under $10. Kids have the choice of making a bird, elephant, or giraffe. A bit like Mr. Potato Head in Play-Doh, this set has all the pieces to make some whacky animals! I use it to model sounds, questions, words and phrases, while the child repeats and gets a piece to add to his project.

 There is always room for creativity as eyes are pushed in top of the head or tails stick out the side of the body. Today, a child sat the animal on a play car and sent it on its way. Their funny faces invite conversation and can be incorporated in any play scheme.

Put out the pieces when your child has a playdate and watch them create together or mix and match.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Articulation, Birth-3 year-olds, play, Preschool, Speech and Language Delay, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toys | Leave a comment

Victoria Kann, The Story behind the Illustrator

Saturday night, our Fairfield Public Library hosted “More Than Words,” a program featuring the framed art of children’s book illustrators and a chance to hear their inspiring stories of creativity. I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria Kann, the illustrator of Pinkalicious and its sequel Purplicious.

Dressed in vibrant pink, with a perky face that reminded me of her main character, Victoria shared her passion for her craft. Her advice to the crowd which included several pinkalicious little girl fans, was, “always look within, listen to your heart and go with it.” Her pink story was inspired by her two daughters, dressed appropriately in pink, her love of pink and cupcakes! She works her magic on the computer, manipulating clever collages in Photoshop.

She was surprised to find her art teacher in the crowd whom she had not seen for over 20 years. When Victoria graduated, her teacher handed her a note that said, “You’ll do fine!” A little encouragement and a lot of talent have brought her to a place of entertaining children and parents alike. Based on her pink book, she has co-authored a show by the same name that is currently playing in New York City at the Bleeker Street Theater.

Don’t pass up studying the illustrations in children’s picture books when selecting books to read to your child. The pictures that accompany the story are essential for what researchers call “dialogic reading.”  Most adults read the story to their child, but researchers have found the value of involving the child in the storytelling. Dialogic reading is when the child and adult talk “about” the story, answering open-ended questions, relating the story to their life or other story books, talking about the illustrations, and posing questions such as “I wonder how she will feel after all those cupcakes?” or “What do you like to eat that is on the green page?” or “Where would you hide the cupcakes?” Illustrations provide a springboard for such conversations as you linger on a page, giving your child time to absorb the drawings or pictures and generate language.

Researchers have found that children whose parents used this dialogic reading approach with their children made faster gains in language development than their peers who had been read to traditionally.

Victoria, thanks for sharing your time, talent and inspiration and we look forward to your next book, 

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Books, Elementary School Age, Preschool, Reading, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | 1 Comment