Friday, February 15, 2013

New foreign language picture books!

The Wellesley Free Library just received a batch of new bilingual picture books in Hindi, Gujarati, and Tamil!  Come and check them out in our foreign language section!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? in Hindi and English (English and Hindi Edition)   

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A book for Valentine's Day!

From Publisher's Weekly

Part concept book and part poem, this eye-catching picture book is a reassuring valentine for any day of the year. Despite the emphasis on shapes, Sperring (The Sunflower Sword) isn’t offering an introduction to circles, squares, and triangles: “This is the shape that we are./ The shape of you and me,” he writes, as the opening spread shows two smiling figures—one large, one small—in white silhouette, defined by a sea of colorful shapes that surround them. A focus on bodily shapes continues (“This is the shape of my hand,/ the hand you hold on to”), serving as an entry into related objects and settings (a spread about food follows one about mouths; a look at feet and shoes paves the way for a scene featuring vehicles). Debut illustrator Paterson fills the pages with crisp and colorful objects, often accented with sound effects (a friendly dinosaur offers a gentle “raaaa,” birds chirp and tweet). It’s a lovingly designed and visually appealing portrait of the places, animals, and objects common to a child’s world, with the invisible but perceptible adult presence hovering in the background. Ages 2–5. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2012

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Focus on Caldecott!

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.


2013 Medal Winner

This Is Not My Hat by Jon KlassenThe 2013 Caldecott Medal winner is This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen, published by Candlewick Press.
In this darkly humorous tale, a tiny fish knows it’s wrong to steal a hat. It fits him just right. But the big fish wants his hat back. Klassen’s controlled palette, opposing narratives and subtle cues compel readers to follow the fish and imagine the consequence.
“With minute changes in eyes and the slightest displacement of seagrass, Klassen’s masterful illustrations tell the story the narrator doesn’t know,” Caldecott Chair Sandra Imdieke said.

2013 Honor Books

Creepy Carrots book cover
Creepy Carrots!, illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
Jasper the rabbit loves carrots until he notices they are everywhere. He is convinced they’re coming for him! Pronounced shadows, black borders and shaded edges enhance this ever so slightly sinister tale with a distinctly cinematic feel. This is one serving of carrots children will eagerly devour.

Extra Yarn book cover
Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
A selfish archduke threatens to halt a little girl's transformation of a colorless town and steal her box of magical yarn. Klassen's innovative digital technique results in shifts of color that signal character change and critical turns of plot -all done with just the right stitches of humor.

Green book cover
Green, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger and published by Neal Porter Books, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press
In this original concept book, Seeger engages all the senses with her fresh approach to the multiple meanings of “green.” Using thickly-layered acrylics, word pairings and cleverly placed die cuts, she invites readers to pause, pay attention and wonder.

One Cool Friend cover
One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group
Energetic line and dizzying perspective combine for a rollicking tale of Father, Elliot and a highly improbable pet (or two). Buzzeo’s text, brimming with sly wordplay, earns its perfect counterpoint in Small’s ink, watercolor and pencil illustrations with chilly details and visual jokes that invite many repeated readings.

Sleep Like a Tiger book cover
Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Surrounded with dreamlike images of crowns, ornate patterns and repeated visual motifs, her parents coax her into bed. Using mixed media artwork on wood enhanced with computer illustrations, this is a whimsical story with universal appeal.

Members of the 2013 Caldecott Medal Committee are: Chair Sandra J. Imdieke, Ph.D., Northern Michigan University,Marquette, Mich.; Elise DeGuiseppi, Pierce County Library System, Tacoma, Wash.; Kerry J. Gleason, Wilmington (Del.) Institute Library; Sarah J. Howard, Daniel Boone Regional Library, Columbia, Mo.; Nancy J. Johnson, Ph.D., Singapore American School; JoAnn M. Jonas, San Diego County Library; Dr. Melanie D. Koss, Northern Illinois University, Department of Literacy Education, DeKalb; Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library, Washington, D.C.; Dr. Miriam Martinez, University of Texas at San Antonio; Dr. Claudette S. McLinn, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature, Inglewood, Calif.; Kiera Parrott, Darien (Conn.) Library; Carol Hanson Sibley, Minnesota State University, Moorhead, Minn.; Michelle M. Willis, Scotch Plains (N.J.) Public Library; Maida Wong, South Pasadena (Calif.) Public Library; and Dr. Nancy P. Zimmerman, University of South Carolina, School of Library and Information Science, Columbus, S.C.
The Newbery and Caldecott Medals and Honor Book seals are property of the American Library Association and cannot be used in any form or reproduced without permission of the ALA Office of Rights and Permissions.

The Willoughbys

Book List Review
*Starred Review* The ever-versatile Lowry offers what she calls an old-fashioned story, complete with stock elements such as a baby left on a doorstep and a nanny who transforms her initially ill-behaved charges. Sly humor and a certain deadpan zaniness give literary conventions an ironic twist, with hilarious results. The Willoughby family consists of bossy elder brother Tim, twins Barnaby A and Barnaby B, little sister Jane, and their parents, who are despicable. Mrs. Willoughby insists that the twins share one sweater, and Mr. Willoughby abruptly stops reading aloud Hansel and Gretel one evening because the mother in the story has given him an idea abandon the children! The parents take a vacation and, while away, sell their house, leaving the children and nanny to shift for themselves. Meanwhile, the children plot how to become orphans, like children in an old-fashioned book. Many are the ways used by children's novelists to get their protagonists' parents out of the way, but Lowry's solution here is particularly inventive and wickedly amusing. A glossary humorously defines words seldom seen in newfangled books (the new nanny: villainous, lugubrious, or odious?), and an annotated bibliography comments on 13 old-fashioned children's books referenced within the story. Great fun.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2008 Booklist

Saturday, February 2, 2013

How true are our assumptions about screen time?

How True Are Our Assumptions about Screen Time?

By Lisa Guernsey
Video, TV, interactive books, screen-based games: Young children today are practically bathed in this stuff as young as toddlerhood. What is the impact? As a parent who is simultaneously fascinated by and worried about the impact of electronic media on my children─and as a journalist and researcher specializing in education, technology, and social science─I have been digging for answers. Along the way I’ve come upon several research findings that overturn conventional wisdom. Here are five common parental assumptions that the research does not necessarily support.

Assumption 1: As long as the content is “educational,” it’s good for children.

What the research shows: Children don’t always learn what the program creators intend; sometimes they actually learn the opposite. 

When I started the research for Screen Time, I expected to find what many of us have been brought up to believe: As long as a program is teaching the children something, as long as it seems to send positive messages, as long as it is produced by an educational station I trust—everything is fine. But I wasn’t prepared for the wide variation among programs that label themselves as “educational.” Many parents wrongly assume that their children will automatically understand what is happening on screen. But the way information is presented can support or get in the way of a child’s ability to comprehend. Simply having characters utter nice new words, for example, doesn’t mean that toddlers or preschoolers will learn what those words mean. A show that has characters pointing to and labeling objects can be a big help, but a show designed by people without a clue about the language development under way among its audience (in my book and presentations I pick on Veggie Tales and Bob the Builder) may not be building language skills at all.

One eye-opening study focused on the program Clifford the Big Red Dog. Researchers (Mares & Acosta 2008) asked whether kindergartners were grasping messages of tolerance and kindness in an episode about a three-legged dog. Although the point of the story was to show that friendship overcomes physical differences, the University of Wisconsin researchers found that children were likely to be more intolerant after watching the show. How could that be? The researchers theorize that the story’s delivery backfired. Because the bulk of the episode was focused on the dog’s physical differences (with only a few minutes at the end dedicated to all the characters joining happily together), children may have been too preoccupied with the dog’s three-leggedness to catch the moral lesson. The designers of the show didn’t seem to recognize how kindergarteners interpret, recall, and learn from what they see.

Assumption 2: The TV may be on in the background, but my children aren’t affected.

What the research shows: The TV shows in the background may be impacting your child more than you think.

Nearly 40 percent of families with children up to 4 years old have the television on most or all of the time (Rideout, Hamel, & the Kaiser Family Foundation 2006). When my daughter was 1, I remember thinking that it didn’t matter whether the television was on or not. Look, I would tell myself proudly, she barely notices. She’s not lured in the least. But once I delved into the research, I learned that even if young children don’t seem to be paying attention to it, background television can have a more negative influence than one might think.

Some of the most potent research on background TV comes from a series of experiments in a lab at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (Schmidt et al. 2008). The lab was set up to look like a living room, with toys, a TV, a couch, a coffee table, and some magazines. Mothers brought their 1-, 2- and 3-year-old children to that room, where for 30 minutes of their visit the TV was on. For another 30 minutes, it was off. Careful observation of the children in these experiments showed a significant difference between the way children played with their toys in each condition. When the TV was on, children bopped from toy to toy, spending significantly less time with one toy than when the TV was off. Even when they weren’t looking at the TV, and most children in this study weren’t, it seemed as if something was distracting them. The background TV, whether it was the noise or the flash of images, was interfering with their play.

University of Massachusetts researchers also looked at how parents’ interactions with their children differed under TV-on and TV-off conditions. They found that when the TV was on, there was a 21 percent decrease in the amount of time that parents spent interacting with their children. And the quality of those interactions (as measured by how actively they played together) decreased too (Kirkorian et al. 2009).

Assumption 3: All media for children under age 2 is damaging.

What the research shows:  If parents use media with children under 2, they should make sure that screen time leads to social interactions with their babies and toddlers, instead of replacing those interactions. Parents should avoid exposing their very young children to adult-directed programming.

In 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics reiterated its recommendation discouraging parents from using media with children under 24 months of age. The AAP’s statement cited three reasons: a lack of evidence on children learning from television or video before age 2; a few studies showing a link between the amount of TV that toddlers watch and later attention problems; and some studies pointing to how parents and playtime are affected by always-on TV. From a “do no harm” perspective, AAP’s reliance on this research makes sense, and much of it is based on respectable peer-reviewed work in medicine and health.
But the fact is that many children under 2 do use screen media, so some researchers point to the value of paying attention to how those families select and use that media. Researchers are coming to agree:  How parents approach media matters. For example, Alan Mendelsohn, a pediatrician and researcher at New York University, has shown that negative impacts typically associated with television watching can be lessened when parents talk to their babies about what they are seeing on screen (Mendelsohn 2010).
Another way of looking at young children and screens is to explore whether a child might learn from watching or playing with what is on screen. A growing number of studies show that what is on the TV or tablet (the content) can make a big difference. For example, when researchers followed up on their study that originally showed links between television viewing and attention problems, they determined that the content of the programs mattered. When they looked at children under 36 months old who had watched “educational” programming (defined in part by programs that contained no violence), the link to attention problems disappeared (Zimmerman & Christakis 2007).
Also important is how parents manage media use in daily routines and interact with their children before, during, and after they watch and play (the context). The needs of the child have some bearing here too. Even at the same age, children can be very different developmentally. A verbally precocious 21-month-old may be able to learn some words directly from a video while another 21-month-old may not, as was shown in a 2005 study on Teletubbies (Grela, Krcmar & Lin 2004). That study, it should be noted, was conducted in a laboratory and designed to look specifically at whether babies could pick up the meaning of a word when it was connected to a particular object labeled by speakers on screen. As shown in other studies, the way words are used in children’s programming is an important factor in determining whether children will learn them. And a vast collection of findings from other studies makes clear that learning language (not just learning words) is dependent on social interactions between people.
By synthesizing the studies on children’s health, learning, and media interactions, I’ve concluded that we as parents could do the most good for our children by focusing on the three C’s—content, context, and the individual child.

Assumption 4: Scary movies and TV shows just go over children’s heads.

What the research shows: Scary programs influence children’s sleep and more.

In my interviews and conversations with parents, I have come across a fair proportion who don’t worry about showing their preschoolers movies or TV shows that were made for older children and adults. Their children, they say, don’t seem to be bothered by moments of aggression or distressing scenes. And surely they are too young to really understand what they are seeing anyway.
But research on the content of TV and video programs watched by young children suggests that parents may want to pay more attention to what appears on their TV set or tablet after all. A growing number of studies are finding links between children’s cognitive development and “adult-directed television” (think C.S.I., the evening news, or even PG-rated movies that have scary scenes). A study at Georgetown University, for example, gathered data on family media habits and tracked children’s growth over several years (Barr et al. 2010). It found that children who performed poorly on cognitive tests at age 4 were the same children who were put in front of adult-directed TV when they were 1 year old. Poor scores also were linked to the watching of these programs at age 4. One theory is that when watching adult-directed TV, children’s minds are in fact quite busy trying to figure out what is going on, but the scenes and characters are appearing faster than they can fully understand and mentally process given how little background knowledge they have to draw upon.
Research (Garrison & Christakis 2012) reported in the August 2012 issue of Pediatrics highlights another reason to pay attention to content: sleep schedules. Anyone with a young child understands how critical sleep can be—especially for parental sanity—so it’s worth examining whether exposure to violent content could interfere with bedtime and naptime. Using data from a randomized controlled trial with 565 families in Seattle, researchers Michelle Garrison and Dimitri Christakis at the University of Washington examined the impact of a parent-support program intended to help moms and dads choose age-appropriate and nonviolent media for their 3- to 5-year-olds.

The program worked. Sleep problems declined for children of parents assigned to receive the support (coaching and educational materials) compared to those who didn’t. And the support was most effective for families that initially reported watching higher levels of violent media than other participating families. In other words, the mechanism for reducing sleep problems was the reduction in exposure to violent TV.

Assumption 5: E-books are distracting to young children.

What the research shows: It’s all about how they are used.

It’s true that many e-books for children come with so many bells and whistles that children merely click around on the screen without paying much attention to the storyline. It’s also true that some research has uncovered parents’ tendencies to focus on the technology (telling their kids when and where to click) and not the story when reading an e-book with their children. This is leading children to recall very little about what was read. In a small study conducted at Temple University, for example, “behavioral directives went through the roof” while reading comprehension sunk (Parish-Morris, Collins, & Hirsh-Pasek 2006).
But after reading these studies carefully, it becomes clear that at least two factors are at play: the design of the e-books and the behavior of the parents. Tackle these issues, and electronic books could be no different or better than printed books. Some e-book companies, for example, are designing picture e-books to favor highlighted text and engaging storylines over distracting playthings. As e-books become less of a novelty, parents may also become less inclined to order their children around on how to use them. A more positive approach to e-books, however, will require parents and educators to stress the importance of content, context, and the individual child (the Three C’s) in choosing media for our children.

Note: Technology changes quickly. Use the research-based NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center position statement on “Technology and Interactive Media in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8” for guidance on when and how to use technology with young children in ways that will help, not harm.
Barr, R., A. Lauricella, E.  Zack, & S. Calvert. 2010. Infant and Early Childhood Exposure to Adult-Directed and Child-Directed Television Programming: Relations with Cognitive Skills at Age Four. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 56 (1): 20-48.
Council on Communication and Media. 2011. Media Use by Children Younger Than 2 Years. Policy statement. Pediatrics 128 (5).
Garrison, M., & D. Christakis. 2012. The Impact of a Healthy Media Use Intervention on Sleep in Preschool Children. Pediatrics 130 (3): 492-99.
Grela, B.G., M. Krcmar,  & Y.J. Lin. 2004, May 18. Can Television Help Toddlers Acquire New Words?
Kirkorian, H.L., T.A. Pempek, L.A., Murphy, M.E., Schmidt, & D.R. Anderson. 2009. The Impact of Background Television on Parent-Child Interaction. Child Development 80 (5): 1350-59.
Mares, M.L., & E. Acosta. 2008. Be Kind to Three-legged Dogs: Children’s Literal Interpretations of TV’s Moral Lessons. Media Psychology 11 (3): 377-99.
Mendelsohn, A.L., C.A. Brockmeyer, B.P. Dreyer, A.H. Fierman, S. Berkule-Silberman, & S. Tomopoulos. 2010. Do Verbal Interactions with Infants during Electronic Media Exposure Mitigate Adverse Impacts on Their Language Development as Toddlers? Infant and Child Development 19: 577-93.
Parish-Morris, J., M.F. Collins, & K. Hirsh-Pasek. 2006. Electronic Books: Boon or Bust for Interactive Reading? Paper presented at Boston University Conference on Language Development, November 3.
Rideout, V., E. Hamel, & the Kaiser Family Foundation. 2006. The Media Family: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Their Parents. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation.
Schmidt, M.E., T.A. Pempek, H.L. Kirkorian,  A.F. Lund, & D.R. Anderson, 2008. The Effects of Background Television on the Toy Play Behavior of Very Young Children. Child Development 79 (4): 1137-1151.
Zimmerman, F.J., & D.A. Christakis. 2007. Associations Between Content Types of Early Media Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems. Pediatrics 120 (5): 986-92.

Lisa Guernsey is the author of Screen TimeHow Electronic Mediafrom Baby Videos to Educational Software
Affects Your Young Child (Basic Books, 2012).