Talking to Kids About Current Events

Whether you get your news from tv, the web, radio, Twitter, Facebook, or a newspaper, you've likely seen the headlines about the death of Osama Bin Laden. For adults, news like this can bring up a variety of emotions and take a while to fully process. Imagine then, the difficulty that many children have in trying to contextualize and fully absorb current events of this magnitude.

For tips on talking with children about tough issues and somewhat scary current events, check out this article from PBS.org.

Since many young children were born after the events of September 11, 2001, a conversation about the history leading up to this week's news may be in order. The Children's Library offers several child-friendly databases for history, social studies, and biographies.  These online resources, while compiled from print sources (and thereby appropriate for most homework assignments), are updated continually and offer the most current information for students. 

For additional resources and information, stop by the Children's Library or contact us at childrenslibrary@darienlibrary.org.

photo courtesy of Flickr user Abhisek Sarda

21st Century Parenting Discussion: Multi-Media Narratives & Interactive Fiction

Multi-Media Narratives & Interactive Fiction:  The New Reading Experience for Kids & Teens

Wednesday, March 9 at 7 PM in the Community Room

The media complains that kids don't read anymore--they are too tired, too distracted, and too busy to read books for fun.  In fact, in Darien, only 22.5% of students in grades 7 to 12 said they spend three hours a week reading for pleasure (Search Institute Youth Survey Results, 2008).  Would that change if we changed the way we think about reading?

Ariel Aberg-Riger, Chief Creative Officer at Fourth Story Media (NY), explores interactive fiction for teens in this talk about multi-media narratives and the new reading experience for young people.

This talk will explore how an interactive fiction series for teens works--what's in books versus on the web, how the community interacts with a story and with each other, and present examples of members' creative writing.  There will be a discussion focusing on exciting reading-based interactive projects and initiatives, and where the future of multi-media narratives for kids and teens is headed.

Raising Our Daughters - Raising Our Sons

book cover of Raising Our Daughters        

As a parent, do you:


• Worry that you are not doing enough?
• Struggle with embarrassing issues?
• Seek ways to reduce power struggles?
• Want to do everything you can to be
 an effective and competent parent?

 

book cover Raising Our Sons

Parents of boys and girls in 3rd and 4th grades are invited to join this 10-week Parent Discussion Group held in the Darien Library Conference Room. Using the Raising Our Sons and Raising Our Daughters Parenting Guides you will meet weekly with parents of children of the same age and gender to help prepare you and your children for the tween and teen years.

Tuesday mornings, 10 - 11:30 AM

February 15, 2011 - November 15, 2011

The first session will meet on Tuesday, February 15 at 10 AM in the Library's Conference Room.

Darien Library is a member of Thriving Youth: Connected Community, an initiative of the Human Services Planning Council for developmental asset building through meaningful relationships, experiences, skills and opportunities that benefit all our children. Thriving Youth: Connected Community is a movement in Darien to address the needs of our young people which were brought to light in the Fall when the Search Institute conducted the 40 Developmental Assets survey in our Middle and High Schools. If you missed the results when they were announced you can still view the presentation as a pdf here.

To see the list of Developmental Assets that will be discussed in this series, click here.

Space is limited - to register for this program, sign up by calling (203) 669-5235 or email childrenslibrary@darienlibrary.org

Can Reading Decrease Tantrums?

Can reading aloud to children limit tantrums? 

According to a new study in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, it can!  Researchers found that toddlers who possess a spoken vocabulary at 24 months show an increased ability to later on control their emotions and self-regulate.  The rationale behind the findings is that children who have the ability to verbalize their frustrations are able to more effectively control their own behavior. 

And what time-tested method have parents and caregivers used for generations to help babies and toddlers begin to develop language skills?  Reading aloud!  So, stop by our Children's Library and pick up some Tantrum Stoppers... ahem.... that is, books.

adorable yet super angry child photo courtesy of Flickr user christine [cbszeto]

"My child is a Level H reader. How do I find those books in the Library?"

"My son is a Level G.  Can you show me that section?"

"My daughter's teacher just informed us that Katie is between a I and a K.  How to I find books at her reading level?"

"Where do you keep your C books?"

These are questions that we children's librarians are asked almost every week.  Parents, caregivers, and children will frequently come to us with a Leveled Reading list or instructions from their teachers to find books on the Guided Reading scale (this method of reading instruction, also known as the Fountas and Pinnell system, uses a scale from A to Z to indicate increasing levels of book difficulty.)

 

Since public libraries are organized and arranged to facilitate browsing, searching, and to inspire a lifelong love of reading, you won't find our Children's Library organized by the A to Z levels.  So, how do you locate books that are appropriate for your child's reading level? 

 

Here are a few ways to find great books for your child:

1. Ask a Children's Librarian. 

We pride ourselves on knowing great children's literature and enjoy making recommendations.  We will usually begin by asking you or your child what kinds of books you've read recently and whether those books felt "just right" or not.  We can help you find similar titles, ones that are a little harder, or a little easier. 

2. Check out our F5 Learn to Read and/or our Kids I Read section. 

For children just learning to read on their own, a great place to browse is in our F5 Learn to Read area.  These books, also known as beginning readers, are designed to help newly emerging readers recognize common vocabulary, anticipate rhyming words, construct meaning through carefully placed illustrations, and build confidence. 

For children who are reading independently but not quite ready to delve into Harry Potter, check out our Kids I Read section.  Filled with popular chapter book series, these books help keep new readers engaged but not overwhelmed. 

 

3. Use the Five Finger Rule.

What is a level H or K or D anyway?  What does it mean?  It can be frustrating for both parents and children to locate books on their assigned Guided Reading level.  Oftentimes, the Guided Reading lists given to parents contain titles that are out of print or unavailable. 

One simple and effective way to judge whether any given book is too hard or too easy is The Five Finger Rule.  Here's how it works:

- Ask your child to start reading a page from the book.  Anytime they come to a word that they cannot pronounce or don't understand, hold up a finger.

- One finger means the book in question is probably too easy.

- Four or five fingers means the book in question is probably too hard.

- Two or three fingers means the book is probably JUST RIGHT.

Looking for more information on finding great books for your child?  Stop by the Children's Library anytime or contact us at childrenslibrary@darienlibrary.org

photo of child reading courtesy of Flickr user John-Morgan; photo of hand courtesy of Flickr user Phineas H.

 

 

There Is Still Time To Register for 21 Things!


Join in the fun – come play and learn with us!  Register online or contact the Children's Library at childrenslibrary@darienlibrary.org or 203-669-5235.

You are raising kids in a digital world. Facebook, Twitter, and a growing number of websites and social tools are becoming increasingly important in most aspects of our 21st century world. Information literacy is crucial to your children’s success in school and technology is now completely integrated into your child’s life. Today’s students want Web 2.0 tools to be a part of their learning lives because these are the tools that enable them to connect, collaborate, create, and engage in learning that is relevant, contextual and experiential.  

Why should they have all the fun?

Join us in 12 weeks of learning through engagement in online technology, in 21 simple activities that you can do on your own time, at your own pace. This program is designed to help you learn about, and how to use, Web 2.0 technologies so that you may better support, guide, and parent your digital native kids safely and confidently through both the perils and the possibilities that this brave new digital world offers. 

This program is inspired by the Learning 2.0: 23 Things program developed by Helene Blowersat the Public Library of Charlotte &Mecklenberg County and adopted by many other libraries and organizations since then. Content and style for 21 Things for 21st Century Parents has been borrowed and duplicated under a Creative Commons license. We thank them for sharing the program so that we may spread the ideas and make learning fun for parents too!

November is Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, a time set aside to raise awareness about children and teens in foster care.  Did you know there are over 115,000 children currently in foster care awaiting permanent placement? 

National Adoption Month goes back to 1976 when Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis announced the first Adoption Week.  The idea spread rapidly and in 1984 President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week.  In 1995, President Clinton expanded it into the entire month of November.

In 2009, President Obama issued the following statement as part of the National Adoption Month Presidential Proclamation:

"All children deserve a safe, loving family to protect and care for them. In America, thousands of young people are waiting for that opportunity. During National Adoption Month, we honor those families that have strengthened America through adoption, and we recommit to reducing the number of children awaiting adoption into loving families.

America is a country rich in resources and filled with countless caring men and women who hope to adopt. These individuals come from all walks of life, united in their commitment to love a child who is in need of the protective arms of a parent. We must do more to ensure that adoption is a viable option for them. By continually opening up the doors to adoption, and supporting full equality in adoption laws for all American families, we allow more children to find the permanent homes they yearn for and deserve.

This month, we also focus on children in foster care. These children are not in the system by their own choosing, but are forced into it by unfortunate or tragic circumstances. These young people have specific needs and require unique support. Federal, State, and local governments, communities, and individuals all have a role to play in ensuring that foster children have the resources and encouragement they need to realize their hopes and dreams.

The course of our future will depend on what we do to help the next generation of Americans succeed. This month, we celebrate those families brought together by adoption and renew our commitments to children in the foster care system."

Check out the Darien Library's wonderful collection of picture books, informational books, and stories about adoption.  Stop by anytime this month to pick up Adoption booklists created by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.

Goo Goo Gaa Gaa: The Importance of Baby Talk

The New York Times' recent article on baby talk and babbling confirms what generations of parents (and children's librarians) have know for years: those "ba ba" and "da da" utterances that babies make are more than simply adorable; they are the precursors to language development. 

According to one expert, infants begin by making squealing sounds without any identifiable syllables.  By the age of six months, babies (typically) start forming vowel sounds ("aaa"  "ooo") and with practice, consonant sounds ("mmm") by the end of their first year. 

An interesting takeaway from the NYTimes piece was this advice derived from the results of a recent study on language accquisition of babies:

"....if a baby looks at an apple and says, “Ba ba!” it’s better to respond by naming the apple than by guessing, for example, “Do you want your bottle?”  Offering new vocabulary words, even to children too young to form those words, helps strengthen their understanding of language and ability to name new objects. 

Perhaps the most important result of all these new studies on language development was the discovery that "Babies have to hear real language from real people to learn these skills."  There is something irreplacable about the face-to-face contact between a parent and a child that television, even educational programs, cannot duplicate. 

One of the best ways to facilitate this brain-building interaction is by sharing a book with your baby.  As Horn Book editor Martha Parravano so elequently states in A Family of Readers, "Despite all of our society's technological advances, it still just takes one child, one book, and one reader to create this unique space, to work this everyday magic."

Interested in learning more about early brain development?  Charlie Rose has a wonderful series of videos on the brain.  The Developing Brain video may be of particular interest to parents. 

incredibly adorable baby photo courtesy of Flickr user koka_sexton

 

The Death of the Picture Book? Hardly!

 A new article in the New York Times, Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children, suggests that the picture book is slowly going the way of the dinosaur.  According the to article, parents are increasingly encouraging their children, as early as kindergarten, to read "big kid" chapter books in order to help their children in an ever-competitive educational environment.  As a result, bookstores are stocking less picture books and publishers are offering less new picture books each season.

I'm curious if the NYTimes' Julie Bosman has visited her local library recently.  I wish she could stop by our Children's Library here in Darien.  She might be quite surprised at the extraordinary number of parents and caregivers curling up with a picture book in one of the big comfy chairs, or on the carpet, or at the puzzle table, or over a hot chocolate by the Cafe.  Her eyes might well pop when she notices the foot-high stacks of picture books that moms and dads routinely check out for their children (of all ages).  

We Children's Librarians know the power of a great picture book.  Using picture books is  staple in our baby and toddler programs.  But did you know that we also use them in our preschool and elementary-aged storytimes?  

The picture book is a unique work of art.  Combining text, illustration, and design elements, a good picture book does more than simply tell a good story.  Picture books can teach and engage a child's understanding of visual literacy (a skill that this new generation of digital natives will absolutely require to be successful in both academia and professional life.)  

Parents invited to be Mystery Readers in their child's classroom often ask us for read-aloud suggestions.  Whether they are visiting a first-grade class or a fifth-grade class, can you guess what kinds of books we nearly always offer?  We even have a special section in the Children's Library filled with picture books specifically for older students.  These gorgeously illustrated works may look thin, but are full of rich themes, well-developed characters, history, and humor.  Perfect for older children who are reading independently.

Graduating from being a pre-reader to an independent reader doesn't have to mean the end of enjoying books with artwork.  Chapter books and picture books can live happily together on a child's bookshelf.  Whether it's revisiting favorite picture books to read again or discovering a new crop of more sophisticated illustrated reading choices, independent readers will flourish when encouraged to read variety of books.  

Stop by the Children's Library soon with your reader and tell us about some of your favorite picture books and let us help you find some new favorites, too.  

photo courtesy of Flickr user John-Morgan

Teaching Financial Literacy to Kids & Teens

Are we creating a generation of young people who have unsustainable spending habits? We know that young adults can have exceptional levels of credit card debt. How can you, as parents, help teach your child Financial Literacy?

Financial Literacy can be taught from a very early age and can come in many forms.  Darien Library is here to help you, help your kids. Use your Library card as a training ground for teaching credit.  We've put together a series of programs that explore fiscal responsibility for kids, teens and parents this fall. Come and join us September to December 2010.

For further reading, see our resource list of Library materials tagged with "kids and money."

The Programs:

For Parents - kids + money

For Parents and Teens - Paying for College and the Teen Debt Crisis

For Children - Counting Coins

For Parents - Family, Money and Habits - Nathan Dungan, author*

For Teens & Children - Tweens vs. Teens Monopoly Showdown

*Mr.Dungan's appearance at Darien Library is made possible by Grammery Advisors, YWCA Parent Awareness and Darien Library.


kids + money - Film screening and discussion

September 16th 7 PM - Community Room

What do teens really think about money? In this documentary, filmmaker Lauren Greenfield goes straight to the source and asks them. After the film, join us for a discussion about how money can play an influential role in their development (with Lauren Pote of Child Guidance, Darien).

*Special Sessions added November 4th 10:30 AM & 7:00 PM

After the 7 PM screening of the film, please join us for a discussion about how money can play an influential role in their development, with Larry Rosenberg, Ph. D of Child Guidance Center of Southern CT.

 

Paying for College and the Teen Debt Crisis

October 14th 7 PM - Conference Room

This program is for parents and teens. Jill Russo Foster, author of “Cash, Credit, and Your Finances: The Teen Years,” will cover the two biggest sources of teen debt: college tuition and credit cards. You'll learn about different funding options such as: student loans, FAFSA, financial aid, work study programs, and more. Jill will help you teach your teens financial management so they'll be ready for life at college and beyond.

Counting Coins

October 19th 4:15 PM & December 8th  4:15 PM - Children’s Program Room

It’s 1880 and here comes the Wells Fargo horse-drawn wagon! Using interactive activities based on the historical experiences of the great American Express trade, this program introduces kids to money and finance - how to distinguish between needs and wants and how to build savings.
For children ages 5-8; sign up by calling or emailing the Children’s Library (203) 669-5235 childrenslibrary@darienlibrary.org
This program is made possible by Wachovia Bank, Darien Branch

Family, Money and Habits - Nathan Dungan

November 10th 7 PM - Community Room

In this highly interactive presentation, participants will:
• Discover new ways to talk and think about money among family members and between generations
• Develop a financial decision-making process that honors each person’s values
• Set clear financial goals that include saving and sharing
• Receive take-home tools to use with other family members, peers, etc.

Nathan Dungan is the founder and president of Share Save Spend®. For over 20 years, he has been an industry thought-leader on helping youth and adults link their money decisions to their values. He is the author of Prodigal Sons & Material Daughters; how not to be your child's ATM and his new book Money Sanity Solutions; linking money and meaning comes out this fall.

*Mr.Dungan's appearance at Darien Library is made possible by Grammery Advisors, YWCA Parent Awareness and Darien Library. Darien Library and YWCA Parent Awareness are members of Thriving Youth: Connected  Community.

Teens vs. Tweens Monopoly Showdown

November 13th 2 PM - Conference Roommonopoly game money & pieces

Will you rule Park Place or build an empire on Atlantic Avenue? Show off your financial wizardry in our first-ever Tweens (kids ages 10-12) vs. Teens (12 and up) Monopoly Showdown! No sign up necessary. Just drop-in!

 

Additional parking for evening and weekend Library programs on Thorndal Circle (behind Nielsen’s).


Photos courtesy of Flickr Users - Ken Wilcox (clear piggy bank), All In Green (pink piggy bank), mtsofan (Monopoly pieces)

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