Tag Archives: parents

Down with Censorship

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I always have interesting feelings when it comes to censorship, and reading Christine Jenkin’s chapter “Censorship: Book Challenges, Challenging Books, and Young Readers” brought up all the feelings–good and bad.

How can I have mixed feelings about censorship? First, let me assume you’re a librarian (or will be one shortly) and assure you that I’m not pro-censorship, not in the least. But Christine brings up important aspects of ordering materials where you debate in your mind a purchase of something and that you might not end up buying it because of potential issues down the road. It’s not selection in this case but censorship.

Sometimes you have these reactions without even realizing it. I order materials for our YA section (really it’s the middle school collection). My coworker orders for High School. Things that are on the cusp we’re consistently sending back and forth to each other–is this you? is it me? It’s not that we would consider not getting it but we don’t want it to go to the wrong collection–it needs to get into the hands of the people who want to read it. It’s very easy to slip into this way of thinking so you always need to second guess yourself on why you’re not buying something. I’m lucky that I have someone to bounce titles off of. When in doubt, I always order it. I can read it and if it’s wildly inappropriate it can be added to the high school section.

The second reaction I always have to censorship is my reaction to the people who want a material removed, not because they’re worried about their child but all the other children who might read it. Or who might read Harry Potter and want to practice witchcraft. Or who might read any number of things can get the wrong idea.

Now, I don’t have children but a long time ago I used to be one and I still think like one. The things that had the most influence on me growing up were my parents and friends. Not books. And I read a LOT. Do not be concerned about children reading books and getting ideas. Spend time talking to your children and passing along your opinions, morals, and ethics if that’s what’s important to you. Read books together and have conversations about how this fits into your family’s values. Or how the character does something wrong (whatever wrong may be) and what your child thinks they should have done instead. Be a parent.

Imagination is okay. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Not only is censorship awful because who is one person to decide if something is okay for all children and teens (everyone and every family is different) but remember: the moment you tell that kid or teen that they can’t read something because it’s bad for them, they are going to try extra hard to get a hold of that book and pass it along to their friends.

Okay, rant over 🙂

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Helping Babies Learn

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Confession: I do not have kids. I’ve never taken child development classes or anything like that. I’ve babysat, worked in the kids department of my library for 4 years, watched a best friend’s child go from infant to toddler, but yet I’ve never really sat and thought about the miraculous thing that is a kid’s mind.

This week in class we’re looking at early literacy and Every Child Ready to Read. Sometimes, let’s be real, class articles can be a bit dry. These book chapters were fascinating. Here’s some amazing information from Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz:

–Babies are born with a lot of brain cells (100 billion) but they’re not connected. What makes electrical impulses between the cells? Sensory experiences: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. (Chapter 1 page 6)

–Serotonin helps the electrical impulses and the connections. When does the brain produce higher levels of serotonin? When the baby feels loved and cared for. (Chapter 1 page 6-7)

–“Emotions boost memory by creating a release of chemicals that act as a memory fixative. When emotions are engaged, the brain is activated….High levels of stress have a deleterious effect. (Chapter 1 page 7-8)”

Honestly, it’s a little hard for me to wrap my brain around baby brains. It’s incredible to think that these tiny little things when they’re born are wired to start receiving everything we give them, and everything that we do–tell stories, talk to them, read to them, love them, hug them, care for them–will lead up to and prepare them for being ready to read.

Isn’t it simple and obvious when you think about it? That a child who is read to in a positive and fun environment will associate reading as being pleasurable instead of being a skill. That talking to your baby about what you’re doing, pointing out vocabulary, showing them words on a page, rereading the same book 57 times in a row because they say “Again!” is building skills that will lay a great foundation for getting them ready to read and creating repetition that builds memory and learning. And these are things that you can do from the moment they’re born!

As they get older you can start helping early literacy development by embracing the six early literacy skills (Chapter 1 pgs 12-14 ):

  • Print motivation-having an interest in and an enjoyment of books
  • Phonological awareness-the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words
  • Vocabulary- knowing the names of things
  • Narrative skills-ability to describe things and events and to tell stories
  • Print awareness-noticing print in the environment, how to handle a book, how to follow words on a page
  • Letter knowledge-knowing that letters are different from each other, the same letter can look different, each letter has a name and is related to specific sounds

Be ready and able to point them out during storytime or just having a conversation with a parent (or even your friends with children!). It can make a huge difference towards a child having a strong foundation towards starting to read.