When my children were younger, I had the naïve expectation that they would be willing accomplices in my plan to create a “poetry at sunset” moment, a time taken out of the day to celebrate this art form, memorizing or reading something that had meaning for them or was just plain fun to read out loud. My reasoning was that, if they could recite commercial jingles or sing the lyrics of their favorite songs, they could rather painlessly indulge Mom in her hare-brained scheme to make them familiar with a mode of expression and creativity that has been around for ages.
HA! Reality set in after the third or fourth session. Having 3 children, with 8 years between the oldest and youngest, and all the attendant school and extracurricular activities, as well as my having to work evenings after my husband got home, I began to realize that it was a scheme that may have worked in a different era, one with more leisure and time for reflection, but not in my time!. As the years went by and I became a single mother, it was all I could do to keep the our home together, financially and emotionally, much less indulge in activities that seemed so trivial in the face of everyday reality.
Reading has always been my escape, and around this time I began listening to audiobooks, as well. Listening to Martin Jarvis reading P.G. Wodehouse’s hilarious stories of Blandings Castle saved me during the darkest times and helped me to keep a positive mindset for my kids. The language of another era, from another place, distanced me from my present, and the absurdity of the characters and their situations helped me to maintain my ability to laugh.
As it so happens, poetry, reading or creating it, does this for so many in need of emotional support. The action of reading or hearing someone say what you can’t find words for, or to find that someone feels the way you do, can be reassuring and provide a deep source of comfort. Also, poems can be celebrations, of nature, of love, of family, of life. The framework of poetry, although made up of numerous styles, allows the poet to weave together images and ideas that must stay concise and to the point. The format is powerful in that its impact is concentrated; one word may conjure up many associations, perhaps a variety of them, depending on the audience. The connection is visceral, personal and highly subjective.
Of course, the beauty and musicality of language is what draws the reader to poetry, as well. Nursery rhymes, read or sung, are usually a child’s first introduction to poetry. Rhyming picture books introduce language being shaped to fit a story. Many studies show the importance of poetry as a tool for teaching literacy to children and new language learners (how many of us sang “Frere Jacques” growing up?).
Poetry for kids is usually fun and instructive. Incidents and accidents of childhood are described with humor (Shel Silverstein) and scary things explained away (Jack Prelutsky). Nature, siblings and school are frequent topics, being of paramount importance to the young reader. There are also poems that teach history or science in small, digestible bits that are nonetheless potent.
Novels in verse for young readers have become increasingly popular in recent years. Ostensibly, it’s because books in this format come across as deceptively short and easy to read. The authors say so much with fewer words and more white space. Yet once drawn in, the readers are taken on a journey that allows them to access the pertinent parts of the story, sometimes an emotionally difficult one, and fill in with their own perceptions what the author has not overtly written.
And eventually I was validated in my desire to introduce poetry to my children. One day my eldest son came home from a college English class and recited William Blake’s “The Tyger” to me, saying “Mom, this is for you.” My cup runneth over!
In this constantly changing, fast-paced tech world, we can sometimes forget how important proper email etiquette is. Technology has engaged teens especially, with positive fast-paced interactions. Unfortunately, many negative effects can result from not using proper email etiquette. What is appropriate with friends in emails and on social networking sites may not be appropriate when looking for a job, applying to college, or conversing with someone in authority. Being correct in your email correspondence is key to standing out.
The five practices of literacy are talking, singing, reading, playing, and writing. These practices are fundamental to children’s growth as future readers. Believe it or not, caregivers are the best people to help their children learn these practices just by doing everyday things with them. Here are some tips to get you started at home.
Talk with children even from the time they are infants. They are listening and learning from you and are looking to you to see how words are formed and sound.
Think of a word and together with your child, find words that rhyme with it. Words that rhyme with cat are bat, hat, and sat!
Sing nursery rhymes such as Itsy Bitsy Spider and Humpty Dumpty. While singing, turn to your child and encourage them to sing along.
Clap to music that you hear on the radio. This helps children recognize rhythm and also can help children in the future when they are learning to sound out letters when reading.
Pick out a book from the library and sit with your child as you read. Make the experience something they will look forward to and not something that is a chore.
While reading ask questions about the book. Was there something funny that they noticed? Did they like the book and want to read other books like it?
Let your child engage in different types of play! One day they could be engaging in unstructured play such as having a birthday party for their favorite toy and the next they could be interested in playing a board game with specific rules.
While playing with your child do not feel tempted to “lead” the play. Give your child the opportunity to tell you what is going on in their mind and see how that influences what you are playing.
Have your child make a Valentine’s Day card. Don’t worry if you see scribbles, the mere act of scribbling shows that your child is working on their writing skills.
Ask your child to draw something special to them (this could be a pet, a favorite toy, etc) and speak about the drawing. Is there something there that your child wants to talk more about? They may feel that they’ve just drawn the world's tallest robot giraffe!
Try out some of these tips and help your children on their way to becoming readers!
Are you looking for an inspirational message for a recent graduate, or maybe for yourself, about living your best life? Perhaps one of the following will inspire you or someone you know to reach higher and pursue lifelong learning!
Public Libraries are the ‘People’s University’ and the place for lifelong learning. Are you a curious person? Good for you! Curiosity leads to learning! If you have a desire to keep learning even if you graduated a long time ago, please visit us. We have books on a wide variety of subjects – “libraries are storehouses of knowledge and provide free and open access to the accumulated wisdom of the world.”* If we don’t have what you’re looking for we can usually borrow it for you from another library. In addition to books, we have subscription databases to a myriad of resources which are not available by “Googling”! They are resources comprised of documented facts, written by experts in their fields. If you need help in finding the information you seek, please stop by the Reference Desk and speak with one of the librarians – we will help you find it!
“The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history.”
- Carl T. Rowan
*source: www.idealist.org The New York Public Library
Did you know that writing can have a number of benefits to you both physically and mentally? Below are a list of ways writing has been proven to benefit your body and mind:
Writing expressively can help injuries heal faster. Expressive writing, according to a study from New Zealand researchers, involves writing about your most personal, deep-rooted feelings, desires, and fears. An article from Harvard Health discussed how stress, trauma, and unexpected life developments — such as a cancer diagnosis, a car accident, or a layoff — can throw people off stride emotionally and mentally. Writing about thoughts and feelings that arise from a traumatic or stressful life experience — called expressive writing — may help some people cope with the emotional fallout of such events.
Write it, don't type it, if you want knowledge to stick. Writing can help you better retain the information you are writing, according to research. That’s because in the physical act of writing, signals are being sent from your hands to your brain to build motor memory.
Spending just 15 minutes a night writing down what you’re thankful for could do wonders for your sleep, according to an Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being study. Researchers found that study participants who wrote down a list of things they were grateful for before bed experienced longer — and better — sleep.
Keeping a gratitude journal may help you feel happier. An article from The New York Times reported that people in the study who kept a gratitude journal that they wrote in once a week for two months were more optimistic about life compared with people who did not keep a journal.
Articles from Everyday Health and Healthy Women say that keeping a journal or diary is an effective stress relief exercise, and people who write in a diary or other notebook reap both physical and emotional benefits. You can use journaling to help you deal with stressors you don't feel comfortable sharing with others. Stress psychologists have shown that journaling enhances immune function and can alter the course of chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Come and tone up your writing muscles at the Islip Public Library during a two-part workshop in August, Writing to Exercise Your Mind: Mondays, August 15 & 20 from 2- 4 pm. Your writing coach, Anne Kelly-Edmunds, will lead stimulating writing exercises, group discussion, and offer constructive feedback that will help you to hone your talent.