Archive for the ‘The Vegetarian Dragon’ Category

There’s an interesting article in The New York Times today about e-readers and children. As you may have heard, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently advised doctors to remind parents at every visit  that they should read to their children from birth. Additionally, they recommend limited screen time for children; no screen time for children under two and less than two hours a day for older children. That’s pretty powerful stuff.ereading

So the question unfolds: is using an e-reader as powerful as the printed page, and unfortunately, the study results are inconclusive. The studies suggest that the interaction between parent and child, the discussion about what is being read, is quite important for the development of language and researchers further suggest that using e-readers that read to the child (in lieu of a parent) do not generate that discussion and, thus, slow the development of language.

The article points to a 2013 study of children ages 3 to 5 which indicates that children whose parents read to them from a traditional book had better reading comprehension than those whose parents read from an e-book. The reason being that more time was spent focusing on the e-reading device than on the story. This result was borne out by two other studies.

Another factor is that e-books contain more than books. There are links to games. There are other sound effects. These diversions limit the conversation and dialogue between parent and child, which is a main, but not the sole, point of reading.

My unscientific opinion? I’m not an e-reading fan. I love the tactile nature of books and especially some children’s book. Pat the Bunny on an e-reader is missing something. Children’s books come in all sizes and shapes which don’t fit into the e-reader format. And imagine trying to turn the e-reader upside down to read the upside down writing on the page. Imagine reading Peter Sis’ Madelenka on an e-reader where the Herbwriting is in circles.

Lastly, there’s the thrill of going to the bookstore and perusing the collection for just the right book, sitting on the bookstore floor reading it and then going home and reading it some more. That’s how Lisa and I found Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass and Debbie Harter. It gave us hours of reading pleasure.

However, any reading is better than no reading, in my book (pun intended). Of foremost importance is reading. However, whenever possible, open a real book. The size, smell, shape, writing style and feel make it a much more rewarding experience for parent and child.

End of sermon!!!


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I will warn you now, this will be a meandering blog post, describing a meandering day with twists and turns. So, a question. How old are you before you’re too old to read children’s picture books? The answer…you’re never too old to read picture books.

One Saturday, Susan and I started out early from Warwick. Our goal was to visit Roger’s Book Barn in Hillsdale, NY.RogersBookBarn Secondarily, we wanted to stop at the Hillsdale General Store. Roger’s is in the middle of nowhere and you can meander through its aisles for hours. Needless to say, we both got some books…me some mysteries (but, of course!). Fun was had.

HillsdaleGeneralSToreNext was the General Store. It was so cute and very tempting, but we restrained. Being hungry after shopping, we entered Crossroads Food ShopCrossroads right next to the General Store for some very tasty pancakes (me) and omelets (Susan). So, Hillsdale has more to offer than we imagined. If you ever want an adventure, try it.

Not wanting to rush our way home, I let Susan pick the route.  Surprisingly, it led us to Hudson, NY. For the longest time, we both kept on saying “Remember that town we went to that we really liked? What was its name?” Well, it turned out to be Hudson. As we walked its streets, I kept saying, I remember the streets being much wider. Susan kept on saying, it was near the river and I remember it being cuter. Obviously our memories were playing tricks on us…making us remember the sunnier side of the street.

Further in our meandering, we hit Saugerties, NY and the Inquiring Minds Bookstore.InquiringMinds Which brings me back to the question: How old are you before you’re too old to read picture books? And the answer: Never!!! Because there, in the MadlenkaInquiring Minds Bookstore, staring at me, face out, was Madlenka by Peter Sis. A quick scan of the book and I knew it was mine. I used to read to my children all the time and even when they were in their teens, we’d go to Barnes & Noble and look for the perfect children’s book. I knew Madlenka would fit the bill. (Other perfect picture books are the standard, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass and Debbie Harter and There are Rocks in My Socks Said the Ox to the Fox-we each have our own copy of this one-by Patricia Thomas and Mordicai Gerstein.) Madlenka has a loose tooth and she must tell everyone. So she runs downstairs from her apartment and walks around the block telling all her friends, the baker, the newspaper vendor, etc. Sis’ view of the world is unique. I can’t even describe how he draws the courtyard of the apartment complex. The book has cutouts. You need to turn the book this way and that to read everything. The drawing is AMAZING! You can read Madlenka over and over and find something new in his drawings. I must now go and get his other books, some including Madlenka and some without.RocksInMySocks


So, I’ll end my meandering tale now and tell you that a meandering day of bookstores and sightseeing and new towns is the perfect day. And if it ends up with a new favorite book, all the better.

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