One of the best ways to understand the neuroscience of early brain and early literacy development is through a sports metaphor. “Serve and Return” refers to the infant’s extraordinary capacity to take turns not only initiating an interaction (Serve) but also responding to a conversation (Return) with the most important people in the infant’s life. (see: http://www.developingchild.harvard.edu).
When babies and parents are interacting, two important things happen: 1) the relationship between baby and parents deepens and bonds and, 2) this bond facilitates the baby’s desire to not only listen for the rhythm and patterns of the language, but to study what word-sounds look like on their parents’ mouths.
Like a diligent student attending to homework, babies are collecting important data from their parents so that the neural pathways for language (and later literacy) among their brain cells form and strengthen.
Bonding, listening and gazing come together to build the social, emotional and language foundation necessary for learning to read and succeed in school.
So give your baby the 3-dimensional world that builds bonding, listening and gazing …. daily reading.
I had the opportunity to reflect on why I wrote my 2013 self-published book, Make Time for Reading – (www.readingfarm.net).
What worked about the final product is that after almost 10 years in development, I was proud of its quality. I did not compromise on book design, (Elizabeth DiPalma, email@example.com), book illustrations (Peter J. Thornton) and book printing (Universal Wilde, Westwood, Mass). All 3 were top-notch choices. I wanted a beautiful book and I got one.
What I appreciate about my book is that I get to leave something behind. My book is my legacy and it is, thus far, my best work in 45 years of working with families and children.
What inspired me to write the book was our daughter’s personal journey toward becoming a reader. Starting in her infancy I had the distinct privilege of leading her on a path filled with songs, rhymes, chants, crayons, markers, stories, books, word games, and libraries. She mastered reading by first grade and read recreationally like her life depended on it all through elementary and middle school. Fast forward to 2015 where she made the Dean’s list her first year at UMass Commonwealth Honors College; no surprise there. Her 6-year journey to reading is chronicled in my book in musical rhymes.
What I am committed to is that all children have the opportunity to learn and love to read. This is clear. So clear that at my eulogy (whenever that happens) ….. this is what I want to be remembered for.
THE JOURNEY TOWARD LITERACY BEGINS AT BIRTH!
TODDLERS = ON THE MOVE!
Some toddlers are not interested in sitting, listening and looking at a book. So wait until nap time or bed time when you see their little eye lids begin to droop, and read softly, soothingly. Keep reading for a minute more even after they have fallen asleep.
Read to them while they are in their high chair eating even if you think they are not listening. In this way, you are also feeding them new words and ideas.
Most of all, be patient and and don’t miss a day of reading.
The pay-off is huge!
This is page 4 of my book,
Make Time for Reading- a Story Guide for Parents of Babies and Young Children available at http://www.readingfarm.net.
Sometimes as parents we are just too tired to read every, single night.
So what’s a great alternative?
Tell your child stories! Stories build closeness and an appreciation for family traditions and memories ….especially funny stories you might tell about yourself as a child.
check out books-without-words from your children’s library. Then you can make up the story as you go… with help of course from your little one.
Over the past 10 years I have been writing and re-writing a book to help parents prepare their young children to become good readers.
Convinced that a great story and great art can translate science, I wrote a children’s story enhanced by parent messages based in our understanding of how the baby brain gets wired to learn to read. The beautiful illustrations compliment the text (story) so that the book is easy to read by parents of all reading and educational levels.
The name of my book is: Make Way for Reading: a story guide for parents of babies and young children and I’ve decided to self publish.
I am raising money for production, promotion and distributions costs on a web based platform at http://www.Indiegogo.com. My campaign has a 2-minute video ‘pitch’ and a description of what investors will get for their money.
I have a Grand Plan. As the book is being completed, my teammate and I are looking for a corporate sponsor who will pay for enough copies to distribute free of charge- to programs that work with parents of babies and young children across the US.
Go to http://www.Indiegogo.com. In the search box type Make-Way-for Reading. (don’t forget the hyphens) … OR the direct link to my campaign is:
Little kids loved to be read Dr. Seuss books and Dori Chaconas books because both authors are masters of not only rhyme but of rhythm. It turns out our kids’ little brains are biologically wired to listen for the parts and patterns of their home language as away to prepare for speaking, reading and spelling. This is called phonological awareness and it develops as we we expose them to books, rhyming, word play and singing. At 4 and 5 years old, phonological awareness is a potent predictor of reading acquisition.
One way I developed phonological awareness with my little one was through word games we played in the car, as she rode in the grocery cart, right after reading time and before bedtime and, or in the bath. She loved the games so much, I produced an 8-minute film called “Raising Readers” which shows how children play word games with one another and their parents. If you have a pre-k child, invite your child to watch along with you to learn the word game!
Last April 2011, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood filed a FTC complaint against a company called “Your Baby Can” and its founder Robert Titzer. The company had reported 185 million in gross sales since 2008 before their doors were forced shut for false advertising. The product in question was “Your Baby Can Read”- a series of flash cards and videos retailing for as much as $200. The CEO of the company agreed to settle the FTC’s charges for $185 million – equal to the company’s gross sales.
With all the excellent research now available to us – there is little disagreement that babies learn best eye ball-to-eye ball, face-to-face. Relationships, not screens are the conduits for learning and language development. We also know the connections in the brain for the FOUNDATION for reading need the first 4 to 5 years to organize and strengthen — at least for most children. Besides, what is the rush to read? When we send our children to kindergarten:
- knowing their letter names;
- some letter sounds;
- phonologically strong; and
- able to print most of the letters in their names-
they have the essential tools to learn to read. But more importantly, if we have been reading to them all their little lives, they will learn to love to read too. For more information on the Federal Trade Commission’s ruling see: http://www.commercialfreechilhood.org.