Sunday, October 28, 2012

kids vote too

Election day is almost here, and in keeping with the political theme, I decided to explore what public libraries are doing to help youth become interested in the political process. I came across this article from the Denver Post detailing the efforts of the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library (located in Broomfield, Colorado) in teaching kids about the importance of voting. Young children can cast their votes for their favorite stuffed animals as well as their favorite types of books. Teens, meanwhile, are able to vote for their preferred presidential candidate in somewhat more realistic mock election. The Broomfield Election Division even lent real voting booths to the library to add an air of authenticity to the experience.
Based on the article, it seems as though the children are having fun and learning a lot in the process, which is always an important part of youth programs. This particular program also allows the kids to relate to their parents by having them cast their votes in a mock election. And I am of the opinion that it’s never too early to teach youth about the importance of voting and participating in the political process. I’m glad the librarians at the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library feel the same way.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

another review

This week, I read a few reviews (here and here) of yet another children’s book that I hope to check out. It’s called I’m Bored and it’s written by one of my all-around favorite persons, Michael Ian Black. The book tells the story of a young girl who protests that she is bored, and so she picks up a potato to play with. The potato, in turn, tells her that he is bored and would rather play with a flamingo than with a kid. Annoyed, the girl walks off to go play. In comes a flamingo, who then complains to the potato that he is bored. The message here is clear: people who complain they are bored are no fun to be around, and you’re better off thinking up ways to occupy your time. Not a bad message to send in my opinion!

From what I’ve seen, the illustrations seem to perfectly pair with the story’s style. I was intrigued to learn the illustrator maintained a blog throughout the writing/drawing process. It can be found here and provides a unique, behind-the-scenes view into the publication process. The New York Times review has a suggested age range of between 3 and 8 years old.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

teaching kindness

As a way of continuing this week’s bulletin board assignment about book reviews, I decided to check out the latest offerings from the New York Times. Conveniently, there was a recent review (linked here) to coincide with October being known as National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month (admittedly, this was news to me). I decided to do a bit more research and came across the website for Stomp Out Bullying, whose focus is on “reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, decreasing school absenteeism, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country.” I feel this is both a noble and necessary cause that deserves national attention. While I don’t have kids of my own, and don’t really spend a ton of time around young children, I know how hurtful they can be towards one another. And raising awareness of the issue is one of the first steps towards positive change.

The three books mentioned in the review focus on accepting and appreciating people for who they are. Of the three, I took a particular interest in the message presented in Lauren Thompson’s The Forgiveness Garden. The book tells of a long-standing feud between two villages and how two children worked together to dismantle the hatred. The book ends with an open-ended question that allows the reader to imagine what was said when these two former enemies speak to each other for the first time. This is a powerful message to send to young children, and I hope to check out the book myself to see if it does the same for adults.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

kids and e-readers

While catching up with a friend of mine at the LEEP dinner this evening, talk turned to what was going on in our classes, which led to a brief chat about this blog. She then suggested I look into TumbleBooks, which bill themselves as “e-books for e-kids.” More specifically, TumbleBooks are animated, talking picture books and include a number of popular titles from major publishing companies. Subscriptions to TumbleBooks are available to public and school libraries, and kids can also gain access to the books from their homes. The targeted audience for these e-books range from pre-school aged children to later elementary aged kids. I was struck by the notion that parents would use e-readers to teach their young children to learn how to read, and sought some public (and scholarly) opinion on the matter.
As it turns out, e-readers may not be the best option for teaching young kids to read. This report on a study conducted by researchers at Temple University’s Infant Laboratory in Philadelphia and Erikson Institute in Chicago suggests that use of e-readers severely limits interaction between parents and children, to the detriment of kids’ burgeoning comprehension skills. This article from Time Magazine touches on another interesting idea: parents are less than enthusiastic about letting their kids handle their expensive tablets and e-readers, which could lead to a less than favorable experience for both parties. And lastly, this article from the New York Times provides opinions from many parents (who are frequent users of e-reading devices themselves) who prefer to read with their kids solely using print books.
The research suggests that we shouldn’t mess with tradition – kids seem to learn better when reading from print books. And despite the fact that kids learn a great deal by imitating their parents, it seems it would be best to hold off on using e-readers until they’ve acquired basic reading skills.