History is always in the making. Important events that your kids will read about one day are happening now. We offered some tips for raising a good citizen, and this election season is the perfect time to get your kids excited about civics.
We spoke with Michael J. Berson, Ph.D., professor of social science education at the University of South Florida, about ways to engage your children during this exciting time in history.
1. Hold a mock vote at home.
The Electoral College can be difficult even for adults to understand and kids may not be able to grasp the concept of the popular vote. A better way to familiarize kids with the notion of voting is by holding a mock election at home.
“Your family can vote on small things, like what to have for dinner that night,” says Dr. Berson. “The idea is to show them the power of choice, which they will carry with them later in life.”
But what happens when one sibling outvotes the other’s choice of mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner? Show your child how to “campaign” for her favorite meal the next night! This will not only teach her how to react when she don’t get her way, but will also help her understand how to enact positive change for an issue she cares about.
2. Read to your kids about elections
“One of the best ways to teach your children about the political process is by reading to them,” says Dr. Berson. “Read biographies of former presidents and don’t forget to read about first ladies as well.”
We often leave the TV commercials on in the background without thinking about them, but negative political ads could send the wrong message to kids. “It’s important for children to have visuals of the candidates,” says Dr. Berson. “Try muting the TV when negative ads come on and use the visuals to explain in positive terms who the candidate is and what issue the ad is talking about.”
4. Attend political events as a family
This is a great way to for kids to participate in an election, but not all political events are appropriate for children. “Younger children may be frightened by hecklers or negative protestors at speeches and rallies,” says Dr. Berson. “A more developmentally-appropriate option would be to attend a parade that a candidate is in.”
5. Show your patriotism
It may not be appropriate to dress your child in t-shirts or stickers that promote a candidate they are too young to fully understand. Dr. Berson says that a better option is to give your child a flag to wave if you are attending a political event.
6. Keep it positive
Dr. Berson says that it’s good to show children your sense of connection to a particular party or candidate. However, you should always speak respectfully of opposing parties. Teaching your child to respect both sides is a great lesson that will carry over into other relationships in his life.
7. Discuss platforms, not parties
Encourage your child to create his own opinions by talking to him about different sides of issues as opposed to talking about the different parties.
8. Relate the election to your home and community
The best way for kids to understand politics on a national scale is by showing them ways to actively get involved in their home or community. You can start by letting your kids think of ways to improve the area around them by working on community service projects that they are passionate about. Sites like Volunteer Match, Do Something and The Volunteer Family offer great ways to learn about kid-friendly service opportunities in your community.
Children of Older Mothers Are Healthier Later in Life, Research Reports
While older mothers are at a higher risk for miscarriage, a new study shows that children of older mothers are healthier in their adult life. (via NBC News)
Pediatric Melanoma Increasing 1 to 4% Each Year
Doctors urge parents to be aware of the signs of pediatric melanoma which manifests differently in children than in adults.(via Science Daily)
Researchers Find Possible Treatment for a Unique Form of Autism
A team of researchers may have found a treatment for a certain form of autism with epilepsy in a common nutritional supplement. (via Science Daily)
Embarrassment Keeps Children from Reading, Research Says
A new study showed that children are reading less because many say they would be embarrassed to be seen reading a book. (via Huffington Post)
Florida Officials Being Investigated for Housing Disabled Children in Nursing Homes
Investigators say Florida officials are violating state law by housing hundreds of disabled children in isolated nursing homes unnecessarily. (via Washington Post)
We are happy to announce that our very own Todd Tarpley, general manager for Parents.com, released Ten Tiny Toes, his latest children’s book.
The book celebrates the most memorable moments parents can experience with their little ones, and it revolves around an appreciation for cute baby feet!
Reading to kids is a great way for parents to enrich their children’s minds and show how much they care; Ten Tiny Toes’ combination of an endearing storyline with cute illustrations makes this book fun to read.
Tarpley lives in New York City with his wife and two sons. His first children’s book, How About a Kiss For Me?, was released in 2010.
Marc Brown, illustrator of Ten Tiny Toes is also a children’s book author; he is the creator of the best-selling Arthur Adventure book series and creative producer of the PBS Kids television series, Arthur.
My daughter starts second grade next week, which means only one thing: We’re in a frantic race to finish the summer packet she needs to bring in during the first week of school. She’s down to her final worksheets, one of which requires an extensive summary of a fiction book. She’s been dragging her feet, but I know a perfect book to get her moving: Rocket Writes a Story, by Tad Hills. Maybe your child has read the book this is based on, How Rocket Learned to Read: In it, Rocket the dog reluctantly gets reading lessons from an assertive little yellow bird, and the whole world opens up for him after that. In the sequel, he’s now an avid reader who’s eager to write his own story, but doesn’t think he has anything worth writing about. The yellow bird teaches Rocket about inspiration, and between that a new friend he’s made, he creates a beautiful story. If you read it, tell me if it was just me or if the ending got you a little teary-eyed, too…
It’s Children’s Book Week, which means this week is another special reason to encourage your kids to read! This celebration of books (sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader) officially began in 1919, though the idea was originally formulated in 1913 by Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America. To date, this week is considered the longest-running literacy program in the U.S. (Read more about the history at bookweekonline.com)
Since spring and rain are on my mind (it’s been endless wet weather in New York), here are some new and old spring-related books that are perfect for the season:
Gem by Holly Hobbie – The author/illustrator of the “Toot and Puddle” series showcases her superb watercolors in this (mostly) wordless book about a frog and a young girl’s discovery of the world.
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano – Spare and poetic as a haiku, this first-time author focuses on a boy waiting for his garden to bloom. Subdued illustrations by Erin E. Stead, who won the 2011 Caldecott Medal for “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” are a perfect accompaniment.
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – A tribute to nature and the environment, Seeger shares the different shades of green that exist in the world, along with scenes of what a world would be like without green. Strategic cut-outs on each page also give a hint of what will come next.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown – Inspired by the High Line in New York City, this story follows a little boy as he plants a rooftop garden with the hope of transforming a dark and dreary world into something bright and bold. (Brown’s signature drawings are detailed, lush, and vibrant.)
It’s no secret I love children’s picture books (and collecting them), so I’m excited to present this fun book trailer for Revenge of the Dinotrux by Chris Gall, a sequel to Dinotrux (imagine Transformers meets dinosaurs). Gall writes and illustrates his own books, combining clever ideas (dinosaur-like trucks!) with colorful and bold illustrations. In fact, I own one of Gall’s earlier books, Dear Fish, which is about what happens after a young boy writes a letter to all the fish in the sea, inviting them to visit him on land!
In this Dinotrux sequel, watch out as Garbageadon, Craneosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus Trux try to take over the world!
This cute and catchy music video came across my inbox yesterday and I’ve watched it at least three times. If you love books and reading as much as I do, you will also love this video from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the largest non-profit children’s literacy organization. RIF just launched the national ”Book People Unite” campaign to encourage book lovers to band together, and this Public Service Announcement features an original song produced by The Roots.
A montage of assorted puppets (by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop) and animations (by Curious Pictures) of beloved book characters (Pinocchio, Curious George, Babar, Humpty Dumpty, Clifford, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and Madeline) are all seen or heard singing ”Book People Unite.” Famous musicians and celebrities such as Chris Martin from “Coldplay,” John Legend, Regina Spektor, and Jack Black also contribute vocals for the characters or make appearances alongside them. LeVar Burton, who hosted “Reading Rainbow,” also makes a cameo. (NYTimes.com also has a feature-length piece about the video.)
Last year, RIF provided 14 million books to 4 million children, and the non-profit hopes to give more books to the 16 million children living in poverty in our country. To show your support for literacy, sign the “Book People Unite” reading pledge and receive a free download of the song.
Can you spot all the book characters or match them to the celeb voices?