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Reading is so Distracting, said No One, Ever.

That’s because it’s usually the other way around. Other things can be so distracting to the act of reading—the loud kid in the library, the new must-see show on television. However, this story reported on our very own Vermont Public Radio, called "Small Change in Reading to Preschoolers Can Help Disadvantaged Kids Catch Up," sheds light on an interesting find. Subtle changes in how a preschooler is read to can have a significant impact on how well that preschooler learns to read.

Barbecues, Traffic Jams and, What? the Civil War – Oh, We Must Be Blogging about Memorial Day!

There’s one thing I love about Christmas -- it’s that quiet, almost deserted feel of a town on Christmas morning, when no one is out hustling about, when people are spending their time together in the warm indoors. There are no traffic jams and busy sidewalks. It’s perhaps the only “down time” during all of the holiday season! Fast forward to Memorial Day. Memorial Day IS a day of hustle and bustle, with lots of driving around to the neighbors’ or relatives’ barbecue, where we’ll eat hot dogs, pasta salads and watermelon at picnic tables. Yum!! Everyone will feel joyful knowing that summer has officially begun. And leading up to Memorial Day most of us will talk about how bad the traffic or the weather is going to be. Because that’s what Memorial Day is all about: traffic jams, potential rainstorms and barbecues!

The Homework Debate: Loving to Learn or Learning to Loathe?

Here’s an interesting article from the Washington Post about the role of homework in our children’s lives.

The author, Vicki Abeles, a mother, activist and director of a film on education in America called “Race to Nowhere,” argues that homework not only inhibits true learning, it also leads to unhappy, disengaged and disgruntled children. She argues that homework “does not leave time for those non-academic pursuits — lying on a blanket under the sky and puzzling out the constellations, peering under rocks, putting a nose in a book for long, lost hours — that can shape a child’s personality, aspirations and dreams.”

STEM Friday! Bridges and Tunnels

This week for STEM Friday, we are featuring one of our newest books, Bridges and Tunnels: Investigate Feats of Engineering with 25 Projects.

If you've ever had the pleasure of driving across the Golden Gate Bridge with your children, you've heard their exclamations of awe. Not to mention your own! Bridges and Tunnels: Investigate Feats of Engineering invites children ages 9 and up to explore the innovation and physical science behind these amazing passageways that tackle seemingly insurmountable obstacles like vast canyons and huge mountain ranges.

Mother’s Day – A Day Like Any Other Day!?!

Breakfast in bed with a handmade card, fresh flowers and chocolate on the kitchen table, or perhaps dinner out at a fancy restaurant where your kids’ manners shine like the silverware? Does this sound too cliché? Or maybe on Mother's Day, cliché is just what you're looking for (even if you don't want to admit it)!

To our Mothers out there: What do you expect from your children on Mother’s Day—from gifts to behavior? It's probably better to rephrase this question as, What do you WANT from your children on Mother's Day? If you focus on expectations, you know where that can end up. Tell us, Moms, do your kids do anything unique for you on Mother’s Day?

Personally, I like this Mom’s attitude towards her children on Mother’s Day: “I expect that they won't be perfect and won't make me feel like a queen for a day. I expect there will be whining, petty arguments, and I pray that even in those moments that I will be thankful that I am blessed to be called Mom by my precious kids." So try to remember that whining and petty fighting is not about YOU and don't let it spoil your day if (and when) it happens! Deep down inside, your kids probably even want to be perfect angels for you on Mother's Day.

Let’s Celebrate BOOKS!

With the idea to promote the fact that books are really good for kids, Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian for the Boy Scouts of America, proposed the first Children’s Book Week back in 1913. Thanks to Matthiews, Children’s Book Week is now the longest-running literacy initiative in the country! From May 7-13 events will take place from coast to coast. Go to the Children's Book Week site to check out what’s happening in your area.

There's some great stuff going on, like writing workshops at a children's bookstore in Baltimore, Maryland, opportunities for kids to share their own writing in Bellingham, Washington, and a library scavenger hunt in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. And all across the country are storytimes, readings with authors, and book signings.

Take the Screen-Free Challenge!

Studies conclude that too much time spent in front of the television or a computer screen can potentially hinder development—neurological and physical development—especially in children. Last week we posted about the significant amount of time children now spend indoors in front of screens instead of outdoors among nature, and how this can stifle a child’s relationship with the “real” outside world.

It’s no secret: kids need nature and nature needs kids, not in the future, not when they’re in college studying environmental science to help save us from global warming. The relationship has to start now, while they’re young and curious.

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