Dog-eared: February 2015

News worth noting!


A thoughtful article on a new program that encourages parents to talk to their young children, based in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Quoted below is a responsive letter to the editor, published in The New Yorker on February 2, 2015:

Margaret Talbot’s article contains much of  the current thinking about immersing babies and toddlers in language (“The Talking Cure,” January 12th).Encouraging parents and caregivers to talk more to their babies more often is certainly important, but we must also consider how to expand upon the limited vocabularies of many caregivers. One solution is to read picture books. In the psychology department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, we recently carried out a large replication of a classic study showing that print has a richer vocabulary than speech. We found that the variety of words in picture books was more extensive than that of parents talking to their children. Picture books were three times as likely as child-directed speech to use a word that isn’t among the most common English words; this result was found regardless of parents’ social class. Even the language quality of two adults talking to each other fell below that of picture books. Given the fact that word mastery in adulthood is correlated with early acquisition of words, a potentially powerful leveler of family wealth and class may be as simple as engaging picture-book reading with babies. – Dom Massaro, Santa Cruz, Calif.


A poetic approach to picturebook-making by Norwegian author-illustrator Stian Hole. (Also the most gleeful snowman I’ve ever seen.)


The wonderful Cathy Butler conducts an interview with The One Who Chooses The Chosen One(s). Subtle and pointed, this had me laughing out loud.


For those who are fluent in French and who would like some ideas on where to start in French children’s literature (French as in from France; French-Canadian literature isn’t included here, alas), the end of this thorough rebuttal of a very stupid article is a good place to start. See also this academic-author-blogger’s ongoing Giftedness Project – interesting and provoking reading which fits neatly in with Jaquelin Elliott’s review earlier this month.


Dr. Seuss has a new book? Read all about it.

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