Monthly Archives: July 2016

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Introvert parenting introvert

I know talking about introverts and extroverts became really popular after Susan Cain gave her TedTalk and published her book Quiet. I have seen her TedTalk, read the article she wrote in The New York Times (I think?) that sparked the idea for the book, but I have not read her book. The thing is I’ve known long before she became popular that I was an introvert. I’ve also known that introversion-extroversion is a sliding scale. My husband is a lot more outgoing than I am, but he certainly has some introverted qualities and I am far less introverted than some of my friends. 

When Quiet came out it inspired a bevy of articles about introverts parenting extroverts and vice versa. I think they offer a lot of food for thought and good advice. I read a couple of them when Cam was little and I began to wonder where she would fall on the spectrum of introversion-extroversion. Now that she’s a bit older (almost 5!!) I’m starting to discover the answer to that. Turns out she’s a lot like her father. She is outgoing, but still needs that alone time to recharge her batteries. 

This past weekend was an excellent example of how that works in our family. Thursday we went to the zoo for dinner with two families. Friday night we drove several towns over to have dinner with another friend’s family. Saturday we were out and about running errands and then went swimming at Grandpa Tom’s house, then dinner at another friend’s house. Sunday we went to a birthday party in Napa. I knew in planning this that I would be fried by the end of the weekend and I suspected Cam would be too.

Friday night ended in tears as we left our friend’s house. Cam didn’t want to leave because she was having fun. While she loves to play, she’s usually pretty willing to leave when it’s time. She has never been the kid you have to pry away from something kicking and screaming. The tears were the first sign. Saturday night dissolved in lots of tears and opposition. Sunday was a lot of the same. By Sunday there was a lot of asking if we were “there yet”, another behavior we rarely see, and yet more tears and clinginess. 

I knew when I planned the weekend it was going to be too much and I was right. I usually limit us to one “event” per weekend or every few days. I don’t think we had much choice this weekend though (many of these dates were the only ones that worked). I do think I could have been better about making sure we had breaks between activities and got to bed earlier. My husband was frustrated with Cam and I was too, but we also knew her brain was just overwhelmed and wasn’t getting what it needed to recharge. This meant lots of hugs and cuddles even though we weren’t really feeling cuddly. Thankfully, because I was just as spent I knew exactly how Cam felt. 

I guess my point in writing this is a reminder to parents to consider how your child needs structure and downtime. We all need to be sure they got enough sleep, ate recently, and aren’t getting overstimulated. But don’t forget the power of their personality in the equation when you start seeing difficult behavior. 

Diversity Swap: Wild Berries by Julie Flett

Starting this fall I am going to be regularly posting primarily on books. This is the start of one of three book series I am going to be running that gives you diverse book selections to try in lieu or in tandem with classics. While I am passionate about getting diverse books, which are often new books, into kid’s hands I am not advocating that we remove the classics from their hands before placing the diverse ones there. This series is intended to give you more books, not fewer to read. For similar recommendations be sure to check out We Need Diverse Books Summer Reading Series. They are doing the same thing, but feature a wide age range for their books. Book posts will appear (usually) on Fridays. 

This first book I am presenting is pretty close to the classic, but many of them won’t be exactly analogous. Most of us know Little Sal and her mother from Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal. If you are unfamiliar, go check it out. The art is lovely and the story is both funny and nostalgic. This classic has been around for ages, and with good reason. Children and parents alike love the story. 

Blueberries for SalFor another book about a grandmother and child going out to pick blueberries and enjoy nature, try Julie Flett’s Wild Berries. Both stories take place in similar locations. Flett’s book will work well for younger audiences as well as older ones (Blueberries for Sal is rather long, although engaging). I think this book, like Sal is very timeless. In Sal, it’s clear it’s the 40s or 50s, but really there is no reason this exact story couldn’t be happening today. The same is true in BerriesWild Berries also features the Cree dialect which can open up discussions about the number and variety of Native Nations that live across the US.  

Wild Berries

Flett’s art is incredibly beautiful, be sure to check out her other books (I particularly like We All Count, a counting book in Cree and English).

 

Books, Books, and More Books

So, you may have noticed that I’ve really been posting mostly about books lately. There are several reasons for that, the biggest being that this past year I was officially working in a library and my world has been books. I read a lot. I read to see if books are right for our library. I read to see if I can use them in lessons. I read them to see if they need to weeded out of our collection. I read them for fun. I read them to see if Cam would like them. I read them to Cam. 

Please don’t get the impression that libraries and librarians are all about books. I am not actually paid to read books. I am paid to shelve them, process them, and teach kids that come to visit me in the library. A big part of that teaching has nothing to do with pleasure reading. Nothing. At. All. I do work hard to make sure my students like to read, can read, and come in to read for pleasure. While pleasure reading is incredibly important, I also realize that it isn’t for everyone. Just like baseball isn’t something everyone wants to do. However, reading for information, reading to learn, reading to inform is of the utmost importance. So is evaluating what you are reading. Evaluating it critically. Looking at something and deciding if you agree. Deciding if an article is well reasoned and makes sense. Looking at who wrote an article (or book, or whatever) and sussing out their motives and evaluating those. Basically I teach critical thinking. That is what a librarian, especially a school librarian, is really there for. That is why you don’t see me writing a lot about literacy activities to force your child into interacting more with a book. I do write a lot about why or how a book might work for a family or child. That is just how I think about books. 

One thing I have become incredibly passionate about, and I’ve said this before, is getting more diverse books onto our library shelves. Personal libraries and institutional ones. And that’s where this passion and this blog have begun to collide lately. In light of all the recent crappy events in the world I think it’s more important than ever that we get positive representations of diversity (i.e. non-white) into our children’s hands, minds, and hearts. Books are an excellent, non threatening way to do that.

I am still trying to find how I want to focus my attention here and honestly that is a constantly moving target. I still plan on sharing what’s going on on the family farm and the things I am doing with Cam, but right now I want a space where I can promote books, particularly good diverse ones, with parents. I have a library blog that you can check out which is nearly all reviews, but I focus there on talking about books and how they can work for a library collection and that is very different beast from the home environment. 

The single best things you can do to make your child love reading are:

  1. Read to them
  2. Don’t make it a chore: No reading logs, no timers, no page number requirements.
  3. Let them choose what they read to themselves and what you read to them. Yes, even if that means a book you hate like Captain Underpants.
  4. Don’t tie it with punishment or reward: Don’t withhold reading for not doing chores, don’t make it a punishment for not doing chores, and don’t make them interact with a book they don’t like. If they have to read something particular for school I highly recommend you read it out loud to them. And PLEASE talk to them about why they are not enjoying it. Boring is not a response. Show them how to be more specific and articulate in their criticism. Encourage them to share those thoughts with their teacher. And be honest about your opinon about the book. I tell Cam all the time if I don’t like books and why (usually because they are racist).
  5. Read to them some more
  6. Did I say, read to them? Yes? Well, do it again. 
  7. Make sure they see YOU reading for pleasure. I know MANY parents that proudly say they’ve read all of two books in a year (or fewer) and yet fight with their children to make them read 30 minutes a day. Take a look at your relationship with reading. Seeing you read is going to be a much more effective motivator. And if you don’t hold yourself to a high reading standard, why hold your kids to it? If you don’t value it enough to do it 30 minutes a day, why would they? This also applies to #3. Don’t make them read high brow literature when all you read are New York Times bestsellers. By and large those are not high literature. That’s fine! We all read books to escape and have fun. Much like we all enjoy a candy bar or bag of potato chips from time to time. Just know that kids and their reading habits can and will look like yours. Just like your eating habits. 
  8. Know that reading doesn’t just happen in chapter books. Picture books are reading. Comics are reading. Text messages are reading. You read all day everyday, you just don’t think about it. You read emails, tweets, articles online, Facebook. That’s all reading. Don’t hold your child to an impossible standard of only reading the most difficult nonfiction text they can. And make sure they know reading comes in a lot of forms and formats including audiobooks. Even if they aren’t your preferences, they might be for your child. 
  9. Make sure they are seeing other people in books as well as seeing themselves. This can be difficult, but keep looking. 
  10. And just for good measure, read to them. Even when they seem way too old. 

Friday Five: Trucks and Big Machines

I think all kids love trucks and big machinery and my daughter is no exception. It’s always an exciting experience when there is road construction going on. We peer out the window every time I hear the street sweeper go by. Here are five books that celebrate trucks and construction equipment:

Truck Talk1. Truck Talk : Rhymes on Wheels written by Bobbi Katz

I’m sorry to say this one is out of print. I do belive you can find it used and we were lucky to find it a couple years ago reprinted through the Scholastic school market (in one of those book orders that schools always have). It’s a collection of short, clever poems. Each one focuses on a different type ot truck and it explains what it’s purpose is. Our favorite, the car transport truck that carries cars piggyback. Each poem also includes a picture or two of the truck in action.

 

 

 

 

Stanley the builder2. Stanley the Builder written and illustrated by William Bee

I’ve talked about Stanley before I think. He’s a busy little rodent. The text in these books is incredibly simple as are the illustrations and yet, they are so appealing. We read these all the time and neither of us gets tired of them. In this book Stanley is helping build his friend Hattie’s house. In the process he uses several trucks/machines to help out including that orange bulldozer that is on the cover. 

 

 

 

 

Construction Site3. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site written by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

I don’t particularly like this book. For one, it’s a bestseller and that usually indicates average to low literary quality and high marketability. But Cam loves this book and so do a lot of young children I know. The story says goodnight to all the different machines found on a construction site. Pretty basic premise. The illustrations are cute. 

 

 

 

 

 

Diggers go4. Diggers Go written and illustrated by Steven Light

This one is a little young, but it’s just so much fun! Especially that wrecking ball. I think it was this book that inspired Cam to ask if they would be using a wrecking ball to tear down the house behind us. Ha! It makes an excellent read aloud with all the noises that the machines make. Get silly and really make the sounds. Have your child join you. The form factor is interesting on this one. It’s short and long. Sometimes it’s fun to mix up the size of the books you interact with. 

 

Truck5. Truck by Donald Crews

I love Crews illustrations. They have such clean, neat lines in them. Truck follows a truck on it’s journey to deliver tricycles. It’s wordless so you can make up the story as you flip through the pages. There are lots of things to look at and speculate about. I know wordless books seems like they’re for very young children, and they certainly can be, but don’t rule them out for kids who can read. They give children the opportunity to tell a story and focus on their visual literacy. It’s a good place to ask them why they think a certain action is happening (what clues are in the illustrations) or why they think something is part of the story. 

 

 

 

Bonus titles: Here are a few other books you might want to check out.

  • Trucks written and illustrated by Byron Barton
  • I’m Dirty, I’m Fast, I Stink, I’m Brave by Kate and Jim McMullan
  • Demolition and Construction by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

The Diverse Bookshelf: Furqan’s First Flat Top

Furqan's First Flat TopFurqan’s First Flat Top written and illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo

Furquan has always worn his hair short and curly, but one day he decides that he wants to try a new style. He asks his dad to take him to get a flat top. The two venture down to the barbershop where Furqan frets over what the new hairstyle will look like and if it will be too flat. Dad calmly reassures him until Furqan can see the new ‘do and realizes how fresh it looks. 

Why is personal hygiene so hard for children? In our house we battle over toothbrushing, showering/bathing, hair brushing, and changing clothes. Battle may be too strong a word, but Cam hates anything that resembles self-care and I don’t think she’s alone in this aversion. 

I originally bought this book for my library where I’m trying very hard to get a lot more diverse literature onto the shelves. It is a a little self-published jewel, funded by a Kickstarter campaign. When the package arrived, beautifully addressed and complete with three stickers of some of the artwork, Cam wouldn’t let the book go. We’ve read it several times since at her request. I’m going to have to buy another copy for work. 

Liu-Turjillo’s watercolor illustrations are as masterful as they are charming. He perfectly captures Furqan’s expressions and body language. Throughout Dad has this gentle, loving expression on his face that perfectly matches his calm reassurance and support. I really think the illustrations are half the appeal here. All the people are so expressive and you know exactly the conversations they’re having just by looking at them. The barbershop is bright and lively and interesting. 

Liu-Trujillo also perfectly captures the weird, illogical anxieties kids have over everyday things, like haircuts. Furqan frets that his hair will be flat like a record or a skateboard or a pancake. Those are things kids would come up with and worry about because they’re flat, even though they don’t resemble hair at all. What I initially thought would be a good book for my library about the worry a child feels about changing their look, turned out to be a great book to help Cam verbalize her nervousness about a first haircut. I think she likes seeing another child struggling with the idea too and may eventually come around. 

One final thing to say, there is a mother mentioned in the text, but she isn’t part of the story. I love seeing and reading books to Cam about involved and loving fathers. This is an excellent example of one such story. 

A worthwhile addition to any bookshelf, whether or not hair brushing is an issue in your family.

Friday Five: Potty Training

There are a lot of different facets in potty training, from underwear to pee and poo to sitting on the potty, and my daughter has struggled with each one. She is still not fully trained at nearly five. Over the past few years I have gathered a number of potty training books to help her process through her worries. Here are five, plus one bonus book that we’ve found helpful. 

Underwear Book1. The Underwear Book by Todd Parr

Todd Parr was on last week’s list too because all his books are wonderful. This one is great for kids who are unsure about wearing underwear. He tells you a list of dos and don’ts that are guaranteed to make you laugh hysterically. It also features a wide range of (oddly) colored people, male and female, human and animal. The underwear are in all different styles, maybe some more comfortable and plausible than others. 

 

 

Vegetables in Underwear2. Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman

 Another one that is meant to convince reluctant underwear-ers that they’re the bees knees. This one is totally hilarious showing all different vegetables modeling their skivvies. The broccoli on the cover walks you through different kinds and when you wear them. Then he finds some babies. But wait, babies don’t wear underwear. Sorry, babies! 

 

 

 

The Saddest Toilet3. The Saddest Toilet in the World written by Sam Apple, illustrated by Sam Ricks

For those kids that are a bit hesitant to sit on the potty. I think adults will appreicate this one as much as the kids. There are plenty of subtle nods to potty humor. Danny won’t sit on the potty, he’s not sure he’s ready. The toilet is saddened by this and runs away from home. Danny and his mom go out to find him in the city and Danny finally feels ready to sit on the potty. 

 

 

Ruby's Potty4. Ruby’s Potty by Paul and Emma Rogers

A rhymed book about sitting on the potty and using it as intended. Ruby does a lot of things with her potty. Everything maybe. It goes in the bath tub, it goes to the park, it even carries art supplies. The one thing she doesn’t do is sit on it and pee. Will she be able to figure out just what a potty is for? I suspect she knows all along, but hasn’t chosen to use it yet. The end features a triumphant Ruby holding the potty up. A good book for sharing what exactly that funny little pot it used for. The book is sadly out of print, but if you can find it used it would make a good gift with a new potty. 

 

 

Time to Pee5. Time to Pee! by Mo Willems

Okay it totally walks you through what to do when you get “that funny feeling”. Hoardes of mice holding signs, wearing crazy headgear, and hanging in different poses present the words in the book and help the little friends along to the potty where they pull their pants and undies down and pee. Ends with hand washing which surprisingly not all potty books do. 

 

 

Polar Bear's UnderwearBonus Book: Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera

Polar Bear can’t find his underwear so his friend mouse vows to help him. They go through the book finding various pairs of undies, but none of them are Polar Bear’s. This book is absolutely hilarious. Kids who love to laugh at underwear will be on the floor with this one. Each page features a cut out of underwear and the page turn reveals who is wearing it. But it’s the conclusion that is the best. Polar Bear has been wearing his tighty-whities all along! He just couldn’t see them because he is also white. Oops. The humor in this just might convince reluctant underwear-ers to put on a pair. 

Summer of Science: Round Up 5

This week ran a little less efficiently. I was teaching a makerspace class in the afternoons which compressed our day into a couple hours. I let stuff go and didn’t stress about it. It is summer after all! Please see the widget in the sidebar for pictures from each day. 

Day 1: Garden Harvest

I didn’t get a picture this time, but there were more tomatillos, squash, tomatoes, and peppers waiting for us in the garden.

Day 2: Lego Building

Our neighbor came over to play with Cam and they got out the Legos to build with together. Cam has told me she wants to be a builder when she grows up. 

Day 3 & 4: Machi Koro

I bought this card game at Target for Tom and I to play, but Cam saw it and wanted to give it a try. There was a lot of practical math and economics involved with it and she won the first game. She ended up asking to play again and again. 

Friday Five: Be Yourself

This week I thought I would highlight five books that encourage children to be their own person. I think this is something many kids (and adults!) struggle with so sending the message that you are okay just as you are is incredibly important. 

You Be You1. You Be You by Linda Kranz

This one is pure inspirational fluff. It has an incredibly obvious message. And that’s okay. Plus the pictures are what make this book for kids. The fish are all painted rocks and they make for something incredibly visually engaging to look at. Cam will pore over these pictures finding different sizes of fish, different patterns, and different colors. As a parent I love hitting that message that it’s okay to be unique. 

 

Doo-Wop Pop2. Doo-Wop Pop written by Roni Schotter, illustrated by Bryan Collier

This book is not overtly about being yourself. A group of shy kids come together with the help of the school janitor who teaches them to sing doo-wop. The group slowly comes out of their shells and connects with their class, their school and their community. The book shines in its themes of friendship and finding your place and encourages kids to find what their passionate about, even if it’s not what everyone else is about. Collier’s illustrations, as always, are beautiful. 

 

 

It's Okay to Be Different3. It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr

Todd Parr’s book also have messages loud and clear, but they are so positive and affirming. His illustrations are delightfully simple and bright. And many of the differences he highlights are funny and endearing. But don’t be fooled. There is depth here too. He encourages children to really be themselves even if it’s different from their peers or from what they are taught is “normal”. 

 

 

A Color of His Own4. A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

 Chameleon changes color to match his surroundings, but he wants to have a color that belongs just to him. So he tries staying put in one place. On a leaf. You can guess what happens as the seasons progress. Then the chameleon finds a friend and he discovers that being himself is a lot better with a friend. 

 

 

 

Let Me Help5. Let Me Help! by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Perico just wants to help his family celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but all the activities he joins he makes a mess of. After flying down the street and out into the town Perico finds his family on their rented boat and discovers how he can be helpful just by being himself. Cam loves this book and the pictures are bright and colorful and inviting. The ending is very sweet as the parrot finds his place.