I spotted “The Most Magnificent Thing” while doing research on children’s books that talked about the process of making, tinker, and creating. What a gem. [Read more…] about Sunday Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing
I found this book while perusing the library with my son on our weekly visit. I had been looking for some good big brother books and this one looked great at first glance…and really delivered. My son loved it and asked for it many. many times at story time. The illustrations are whimsical and the story is short but oh so sweet.
It begins: “Spencer was a boy… [Read more…] about One Special Day: A Book for Big Brothers
I recently came across these create a story cards by Eboo while I was picking up some new supplies for my son’s play and learn space. Because we like to buy materials that add to and help him more deeply explore his interests, I thought these cards were a great early literacy activity. O loves to sit around and take turns making up stories, as well as take turns extending story endings when we read books, so these felt like a natural extension of that activity.
We started by introducing the cards by simply leaving them out, telling him what they were, and then having him handle them and look at the pictures whenever he liked.
He did that for about two days. On day three he asked me to make him a story. After he saw how I used the cards, he follow suit by choosing his own cards and asking me to tell him the story. The next progression was that after he chose the cards, he told me the action that was happening on each card. After a few more sessions of play he will be reading the stories to us.
Here’s the basic breakdown of how they work. You lay out all the cards… [Read more…] about Tell Me a Story Creative Story Cards: Early Literacy Activity
This weeks book is 10 Mindful Minutes by Goldie Hawn, with Wendy Holden. As I started reading this book I found a wealth of great information for parents and children that I wanted to share. So in order to avoid a novella sized blog post, I’m breaking this book review into 3 parts. I’ll post one a week (I won’t make you wait until next months Second Sunday Review!)
The begining of this book begins with a lovely introduction and reflections about the benefits of being mindful in general and how we can take control of our actions in very simple ways and become more mindful people and parents. Being present as a parent makes for happier children and happier parents. MIndfullness also contributes to better general mental health.
The ability to skillfully regulate one’s internal emotional expereince in the present moment may translate into good mental health in the long run
One of the most powerful points Hawn makes right of the bat is that we need to stop thinking of stress as something that just happens to us. If we take control of ourselves and be calm, we reduce the stress in a situation. Mindfulness is key to this:
The conscious awareness of ou current thoughts, feelings, and surroundings – and accepting this awareness with openess andcuriousity in a non-judgemental way. It means focusing our attention on non-doing, a crucial skill in these distracted times…by discovering the onders of such techniques as mindful breathing, which helps create a balanced neuroligical system, we cn provide the perfect climate for healthy brain function
The non- judgmental acceptance of emotions mentioned above is key for parents. We need to remember that even as we try to rewire ourselves to be more mindful, we will make mistakes. and thats ok. learning to be mindful is in many ways like parenting itself-every day is a new learning experience with ts own challenges and rewards. But by trying to center ourselves when we are confronted with a difficult situation, if only for a few seconds before we act, we can break the cycle of negative reactive behavior.
The benefits of mindful breathing are impressive. Mindful breathing:
*Calms the stress response
*Promotes Brain integration
*Fosters better sleep
Another area of discussion early on in the book is a basic discussion about how the brain works. Using simple terms and analogies for extremely complex concepts allows readers to gain a better understanding of how mindfulness increases our brain’s capabilities to perform at it’s highest level. like the fact that stress acts as a roadblock to learning and information absorption.
I personally learned something very interesting about my own learning process in this section of the book. Let’s just say I’m not good at math. Now, I can do all kinds of business math, like balance check books, percentages, stuff you do in daily life. BUT, when you show me an algebra problem my blood pressure starts to rise and I all of a sudden just go, well, kind of dumb. I always chalked this up to a myriad of things-boredom, bad teachers, my opinion on the uselessness of turning A into a number…until I read this:
When the brain senses danger from a perceived stress, it releases stress hormones and the flow of information to the pre-frontal cortex, where rational thinking and emotional regulation take place is impaired…If children go to school stressed, they won;t be able to engage, absorb, or retain information. In fact, research has shown that chronic stress can shrink th hippocampus, the part of the brain that holds memory.
One of the most inspiring points in this book is about teaching old dogs new tricks- turns out, it i possible. And that’s great news. The shaping of the brain, or neurogenesis occurs well into our 70’s. Another interesting fact? Learning enhances neurogenesis and stress inhibits it.
We can change the structure of our adult brains and even our behavior at whatever age we are just by intentionally focusing our attention. just as an injured brain adapts by mapping out new neural pathways, so brain circuits for the regulation of emotion and attention are “malleable by the environment and are potential targets of training” (Davidson, Richard). it is so empowering to know that we can create whole new pathways to better choices and happier feelings at almost any age. We don’t have to be victims of unhealthy mental habits from the past, especially not when we are teaching ourselves and our children new tricks
This information and the way that it is discusses is one of the reasons I really love this book. It’s like Cliff’s notes for the usually epic novel referred to as”How to not repeat the unhealthy mental health and negative, reactive behavior cycle.”
A few of the other fine nuggets of discussion in the beginning of this book address technology -mainly working to turn it off more, go outside, and explore- as well as its addictive properties, and how to help your children deal with, respect, and process their emotions.
Until next week’ review I leave you with this…
A peaceful, happy child is the first step to a peaceful, happy world
‘Mornin. This Sunday’s book review is more like a list. Or a review of a list. Really of several lists. That’s enough now.
Notable Children’s Books from 2012 is a list of children’s lit comprised of titles that that the American Library Association along with the Association for Library Services to children has deemed to be notable:
As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways. .
I dig it. If only we could keep these standards for adult books…
Next up! The Best Children’s Books of the Year from the Bankstreet College of Education children’s book committee.
THE CHILDREN’S BOOK COMMITTEE at the Bank Street College of Education strives to guide librarians, educators, parents, grandparents and other interested adults to the best books for children published each year. The all-volunteer committee includes educators, librarians, authors, parents and psychologists who share a passion for and expertise in the world of children’s literature. Young reviewers from all over the country, ages 2–18, read and evaluate many of our books as well.
In choosing books for the annual list, reviewers consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes. Nonfiction titles are further evaluated for accuracy and clarity. Each book accepted for the list is read and reviewed by at least two committee members and then discussed by the committee as a whole.
This list has tips for parents as well as book lists broken down by age categories. Very cool.
In January we have the John Newberry medal award coming up for the most new ground breaking children’s book. Last year’s was Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos. Definitely a cool selection.
Ahhhh, Sunday. Today’s plan: Jersey diner Breakfast (YES!) and a visit to the massive discount book warehouse (Double YES!) I love these two things. Seriously. Meat of the Gods, AKA bacon, followed by perusing the book warehouse. This book warehouse is packed to the gills with really cool books of all kinds, but has an especially large amount of children’s books. In all honesty it makes me want to run through the isles like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. I probably won’t because it would be weird, and I would most likely trip. But maybe I will. I guess it will depend on how excited I am after eating bacon.
Anywhoo, I digress. What I wanted to say before I was overcome with thoughts of books and bacon, is that I was looking up new children’s book releases to make a list for this bookstore trip and I came across this title that looked really interesting: Healing Hearts of Nature: Five Therapeutic Fables for Children. It’s from 2009, so it’s not exactly new-but it’s new to me.
Turns out this book IS really interesting. Here’s the book description:
Healing Hearts of Nature: Five Therapeutic Fables for Children, is the first read-a-aloud book of a self-help series for parents and children. Through the use of funny, charismatic, and innocent characters that experience day-to-day situations such as being bullied, skipping school, experiencing low self-esteem, or being single parented, not only are the fables perfect as bedtimes stories, but are therapeutic in nature. The book is appropriate for children of ages 7-12, but the involvement of parents, mental health professionals, or teachers, is strongly recommended for the healing process to take place.
How cool does that sound? I especially like the way that the author, Marisol Blanco, discusses how to get the most out of the book:
Marisol Blanco wrote the book, Healing Hearts of Nature: Five Therapeutic Fables for Children, with the intention of assisting children in discussing some of their most commonly experienced problems. The fables have characters that go through experiences with which children can easily identify. Although children can read the fables on their own, the book will be the most helpful if adults such as parents, teachers, or other persons, who interact with children, can make the reading and discussion a playful and entertaining activity.
The Companion Guide for the book can be used as an additional resource for adults and children with possible topics for discussion and ways to address them. It can be used in a variety of settings such as daycare centers, home, or therapy sessions, and can be processed individually or in a group format.
More about this book HERE.
Using tools like this to help kids identify and express their emotions provides children with an invaluable skill that they will use for their entire lives. People (children and adults alike) that can express themselves in a safe and productive way have less tendency to be violent or depressed, generally have less anxiety, and connect better with others, creating more solid and healthy relationships. Sounds good to me.
I think this book would be a great addition to household, school, and therapists’ book shelves.
And now, I am off to the land of bacon (I know, “shut up about the bacon already lady!”) and the giant land of discount books. I’ll share any gems I find in my next post.