Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reading to Kids

Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Children continues!

Reading to kids ... it's so important for kids. It's never too soon or too late to start reading to your child. Some parents even beging reading to their child while the child is still in utero!

In 1983, Shirley Brice Heath, an anthropologist, wrote an amazing book called Ways With Words: Language, Life, and Work in Communities and Classrooms. It is the study of young kids and families living in three different south-eastern US commnities only a few miles apart. Each of these communities, however, had very different ways of introducing kids to literacy and oral language habits. The kids, not surprisingly, developed very different strengths in their "ways with words". All of the communities produced strengths in the kids, but schools did not necessarily build equally on the different strengths, and those kids who had not built strong early literacy foundations were less successful in school.

The blog Becoming Sarah - - provides a lot of tips on reading to youngsters, including book recommendations, but also tips on how to get kids interested and involved in reading. Check it out!

And last but not least, I am always looking for new books as I start to build our family's library.

I was very excited to learn about the book Pierre the Penguin: A True Story by Jean Marzollo. It is the true story of an African penguin. Yay - I love books that teach my kids about the continent of Africa. Right now, you can have the chance to win a copy of this sweet children's book. But to be in the running, you need to hurry over to and enter by Sept. 17th. Good luck!

I was also excited to read about another children's book called A Garden for Pig by Kathryn Thurman. This book helps kids to learn about organic gardening and contains recipes. How cool! To enter to win your own copy of this special book, hop on over to and enter by Sept. 21st. This book is published by Good luck!

Last but not least, there are some really fantastic board books out there. Gone are the days where every board book is a just a list of words, letters, or numbers. One of the coolest board books for little ones that's been published recently must be Alternative ABCs! Instead of "A is for apple, B is for boat, C is for cat", Alternative ABCs gives kids the real deal. To check it out and enter to win a copy for your family, head over to and enter Sept. 21st. Good luck with this one, too!

And have fun reading to your kids! Once you start reading out loud to your kids, I think you'll quickly find it's as much pleasure for you as it is for your little one!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Have You Thanked a Librarian Today?

No, I'm not a librarian, but I really do appreciate libraries. My work as a student depends on them, but more than that, I love to read. I love the excitement of books, even though it's overwhelming to think of all the many books that have been published through the ages.

A book can change a child's (or anyone's) life. That's clear. A good friend of mine -- now a successful physicist (very smart!) said that he didn't think he'd be where he is today without the library he frequented while growing up. He comes from a small town in Oregon -- there weren't a whole lot of educational opportunities back when -- and school wasn't hugely challenging for him -- but he had the library. And to the library he went every day!

In the USA, we are extremely fortunate in our library system, and we should do whatever we can to support it and help it to continue to thrive. In many third-world countries, libraries are a true rarity. In Malawi, for example, most schools and communities have no libraries. If there is a library, you probably aren't allowed to take the books away because there are so few of them. I recently read a memoir of a young boy in Malawi who was fortunate enought to live in a place with a library. His was a rural farming community, but nonetheless, an NGO had established a library there. It changed his life. Although he was forced to drop out of school at the end of his primary education due to poverty, he taught himself electronics from a science book he found at the library. He built his own wind turbine and managed to bring electricity to his family's home. And he did some other amazing things, too. But those library books were needed to help him find an outlet for his drive and intelligence. Today, remarkably, given his humble origins, he is a student at Dartmouth College.

I highly recommend his book: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba.

To read some other posts by bloggers who appreciate the library, go to:

Some Favorite Mommy Blogs

If you visit Top Mommy Blogs ( or Top Baby Blogs (, you will find some fantastic family-oriented blogs. But here are a few of my favorites that you won't find on those lists:

1) The Poe Fam
The Poe family recently welcomed home their second child. Now they've got two adorable boys to cherish.

2) One Day You'll Thank Me
Here's a mommy with a great sense of humor. They live in Spain. I love visiting this blog for a good laugh!

3) Mackville Road
Blog posts are accompanied by gorgeous photos of the family life in a small town in Vermont. Lovely.

4) Becoming Sarah
OK, this is actually quite a well-known blog that does rank up there. But I love it! Another mommy with a great sense of humor. Some very witty posts.

Oh, and by the way, my series on Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Children will continue soon. I've just been very busy! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

$30 GC to Ouitoujours Etsy Shop

Check out Ouitoujours Etsy Shop. Then when you're all finished oogling at all of the beautiful things, like paintings, embroidered pillow cases, etc, hop on over to to enter to win a $30 gift certificate. Ends 9/04. Everything has the feel of folk art from Eastern Europe. It's gorgeous!