“There are many kinds of courage. Awesome kinds. And everyday kinds.” – Bernard Waber
These words from Waber’s book, “Courage,” can be applied to many of his familiar characters. There is Ira, from “Ira Sleeps Over” (my favorite book by Waber), who must decide whether or not to take his teddy bear when invited to stay the night at a friend’s house for the first time. Lyle (of “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” and many follow-up books) saves a neighbor from a burning building and teaches us that we can’t judge someone just by how they look. And as title characters “Evie & Margie” learn, it can take a great deal of everyday courage to admit feeling jealous and repair a friendship.
Waber passed away on May 16, and his signature illustrations, warm wordplay and gentle treatment of complicated emotions will be very much missed. Check out one of Waber’s many wonderful books in celebration of his great talent and contributions to the world of children’s literature.
“Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo.” – Paul Simon
Ah, the family trip to the zoo. Mom would throw together bologna sandwiches, pick up some store-brand soda and chips, toss them all into the cooler and load up the station wagon for the two-hour drive to the zoo. “I get the front!” “I get the back!” “I get the way-back!” I always got the ‘way-back’ and didn’t really have to call for it – no one else wanted to squeeze in between the cooler and the stroller back where you couldn’t roll down a window, but I knew that was the best place to be seen by the truck drivers and to get them to blast their horns by pumping my fist. “Honk! Honk!”
For us, “the Zoo” meant The St. Louis Zoo. We’d find a parking spot along a street in Forest Park and hike our way to the entrance. As soon as we walked past the vertical ZOO sign, we would get a balloon. I always thought it was extravagant to pay for a big balloon, especially when we scrimped on our lunch and such. I eventually learned the reasoning; the balloon was like a homing beacon that allowed the adults to spot us if we ventured too far away from the group. Brilliant!
The Zoo had a train…a bright red train. While seeing the animals was free, riding the train was not. We always begged and wheedled to get to ride the train. My savvy mother would hold her cards pretty close to her chest, saying, “Maybe if you’re good.” Years later I learned that she always planned on walking to the back of the Zoo and catching the train back to the entrance. “I didn’t want to walk all that way!” Tricky, tricky survival-mode mama. (The Zooline Railroad celebrates it’s 50th anniversary this year!)
We’re fortunate here in Columbia, having two zoos close enough for a day trip; The St. Louis Zoo, a leader in animal conservation and education, and the ever evolving Kansas City Zoo. Check out their websites, consider joining their Friends groups and get your plan on! Meanwhile, check out these zoo reads at DBRL: Continue reading
You sit down with your baby and a board book, and she listens for a bit but then tries to eat it or throw it. Or maybe she uses it as a drum. Don’t despair—at this early stage on the road to reading, it’s okay if babies listen and look at the pictures for a while and then lose interest. Stay positive and simply try again another time. If your baby enjoys these short interactions with you and the book, you are actually promoting early literacy!
To support your young child along the path to reading independently, help him or her develop a positive association with books. Researchers call this interest in reading and the enjoyment of books “print motivation.” When you are reading a book with your child, follow these tips for making the experience fun and engaging. Continue reading
I do NOT like overly sappy books! I don’t! Usually. Until now. “Little Treasures: Endearments From Around the World” by Jacqueline Ogburn has surprisingly taken over the place of honor on my desk. This mix of sweet and silly names for little ones celebrates the unique terms of endearment from different world cultures.
Some of my favorites are:
- docinho de coco – Portuguese for “little coconut candy”
- xiao pie dou – Chinese- for “little mischievous pea”
- knuddelbaerchen – German for “little huggy bear”
- dhanaya – Arabic for “a part of my existence.” Continue reading
At the dinner table, my three-year-old and I play this game. I scoop up some food on my fork and say, “This bite is BIG!” She does the same and declares, “This bite is ENORMOUS!” “Humongous,” “giant” and “immense” get their turns, with us trading synonyms until we run out of words.
Vocabulary, or knowing the names of things, concepts, feelings and ideas, is one of the six early literacy skills. Research shows that children who have heard a lot of words are more ready to read when the time comes. To build your child’s vocabulary, name objects around you as you go about your day, and read books together right from the start. If you come across a word that your child doesn’t understand, explain its meaning to her, or for older children, show how to use the dictionary.
Nearly every book provides the opportunity to introduce vocabulary or explore new meanings for familiar terms. Any of those countless picture books that label objects – like vehicles or parts of the body - are fantastic for introducing the youngest children to new words. Nonfiction books that look in-depth at a single topic are also great resources for discovering new words. Here are just a few of my favorite picture books for building vocabulary and exploring interesting words. Continue reading