Category Archives: Poverty

It’s I Love to Read Month

books

The ability to read is essential to a life lived with independence, confidence and safety. We need to know what POISON means. We need to know which medicine is which. We need to read in order to receive texts and to reply. We need to read in order to follow a recipe.

But then there’s the other aspect of reading, the magic part, the part that can take you far away or bring you deep inside yourself. The life enhancement part.

Don’t just take my word for it. Writers have words to say about books, too. Of course, they might be said to have a vested interest in the subject, since they write what they hope we will read. But since writing and reading are two sides of the same coin, their perspective is valid.

Books are a uniquely portable magic. —Stephen King
A book is a gift you can open again and again. —Garrison Keillor
A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever. —Louis L’Amour
“To learn to read is to light a fire” — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his needs, is good for him. —Maya Angelou
There is no substitute for books in the life of a child. —May Ellen Chase
“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” – Marcel Proust

Of particular interest are quotations from those author who write books for children and youth.

We read to know we are not alone. —C.S. Lewis
I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp. —JK Rowling
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”
“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” — Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax all you need is a book!” – Dr. Seuss
“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” – Roald Dahl
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman
“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”
– Neil Gaiman

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” – Emilie Buchwald

The scientist Albert Einstein said:

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

And another scientist Carl Sagan said:

One of the greatest gifts adults can give—to their offspring and to their society—is to read to children.

Former American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy is quoted:

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

And Walt Disney once said:

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

Even comedians have touched on the topic. Groucho Marx said:

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

And…

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

And finally there’s this quote from comedian Stephen Wright.

“A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say, “How to Build a Boat.”

Which brings us back to the practical side of things and perhaps to a definition of reading that encompasses both its aspects.

Practical magic.

-30-

 

 

FAMILY

red christmas

    A Foundation of support and acceptance, a framework to buffer against setbacks and to amplify joy.

                       All kinds and sizes, for all times and seasons.

             Exemplified by Mother and Child, but larger than two.

             Fostering Integrity and initiative through love’s connection.

             Always Learning about this world we live in and how best to live in it.

             Yesterday, today and tomorrow. The past, the present and the future.

It may look like no one else’s, but you’ll always know it’s yours.

 

At this time of seasonal celebration, may those closest to you be at your side and in your hearts.

 

 

 

Summer Time

Find a flower, bend down low;

Breathe in its scent, long and slow.

 

Hold a firefly in your hands;

Watch the flicker as it lands.

 

Lie on the grass, eyes open wide;

Count the clouds from side to side.

 

Feel wet sand between your toes;

Wash it off with garden hose.

 

Put a berry on your tongue;

Taste the sweetness, old and young.

 

Feel the sun’s warmth on your skin;

Smell that fragrance; breathe it in.

 

Wake to hear the songbirds sing;

Watch a hummingbird’s tiny wings.

 See, touch, smell, taste, listen:

Summer’s promise lures and glistens.

 

Play and learn.

 

Mother Goose and other rhymes

Ring around a rosy

Pocket full of posies

Husha husha

We all fall down.

For years I’ve heard that the origins of this nursery rhyme lay in London’s Great Plague – rosy cheeks brought on by fever, posies to ward off the danger, and the final, inevitable death. What a gruesome rhyme, I thought, to sing with your children.

Well, it turns out that the plague plot line is not accurate. For one thing, the rhyme does not appear in any anthologies before 1881, long after the plague was over. For another, the symptoms mentioned in the song do not match those of the bubonic plague. And finally, there is a second verse with the final line “We all get up”. Which, of course, we couldn’t do if we were dead.

“Falling down’ and ‘getting up’ refers instead to a simple curtsey or dance movement.

This and other stories about favourite nursery rhymes can be found in the book “Oranges and Lemons: Rhymes from Past Times” by Karen Dolby (Michael O’Mara Books Limited, 2015).

It is interesting to read about the origins of some of the rhymes that have entertained and educated children for more than 500 years.

The queen with the mouse under her chair, for example, was England’s Elizabeth 1.

The little lamb that followed Mary to school one day is based on a true story that happened in the United States.

“Pat a Cake Pat a Cake Baker’s Man” was first quoted in 1698.

“Rain rain go away” dates back to the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Children, who were believed to have special power to affect weather, would chant it to make the sun come out.

It is said that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “There was a little girl who had a little curl” on the spur of the moment while holding his infant daughter.

Many rhymes were designed as learning songs – the alphabet, numbers, the days of the week. Others as an aid to making choices (“Eeny Meeny Miny Mo”) and still others as an inducement to sleep (“Rock-A-Bye Baby).

A was an apple pie

B bit it

C cut it

D dealt it

E eat it

F fought for it

G got it

H had it

I inspected it

J jumped for it

K kept it

L longed for it

M mourned for it

N nodded at it

O opened it

P peeped at it

Q quartered it

R ran for it

S stole it

T took it

U upset it

V viewed it

W wanted it

X, Y Z and ampersand

All wished for a piece in hand.

 

The fact that they have survived is a testament to their value. The times may have changed, but the needs of our children have not.

Puss in Boots

Food bowl

If the food bowl fits…….

 

Many of us, when we’re feeling overwhelmed, Google baby pictures to get our daily dose of oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding and empathy, among other things.

Some of us, judging by the number of cute kittens on social media at least, get the same feel-good warmth from feline photos.

Not too long ago, a 15-second video made the rounds of Facebook. Two kittens, two rubber boots. One in each.

The kitten in the right boot stays hunkered down inside his rubber home. All you can see are eyes.

The kitten in the left boot, on the other hand, is trying to scramble up. The weight of his paws forces the rubber to fold in on itself and down he goes again.

Sometimes he manages to get two paws into the boot beside him. It looks as if he is trying to get on top of his sibling. He does not succeed, but he keeps trying.

It is obvious that the kittens are playing, although the challenge of getting out of the boots may prove more difficult than they at first imagined. And mother is nowhere to be seen.

She has given them the independence to figure this out for themselves.

If animals play, this is because play is useful in the struggle for survival; because play practices and so perfects the skills needed in adult life” Susanna Miller

I have not been able to find out who Susanna Miller is, or what her credentials are, but I can agree with her sentiment.

It is even possible to extend the thought to humans. Children learn about their world and how to live with others in it through play. And sometimes parents need to step aside to let that play happen.

Something to think about.

 

If you would like to see those kittens for yourself, you can go to:

https://www.facebook.com/topretriever/videos/1807075689607254/

Glow, little glow worm

Firefly

At the end of each school year, the country school I attended would hold an evening picnic. There would be a pick-up ball game, adults and students playing together, followed by a weiner roast and potluck supper. As daylight faded, children entertained themselves by catching fireflies. Some with forethought had brought along glass jars in which to hold the insects. Others held the fireflies captive between two hands, spreading fingers slightly to watch the lights inside.

My memories of those nights are hazy. I remember few details. Except for the fireflies. I never forget the fireflies.

“Fireflies in the Garden By Robert Frost 1874–1963

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,

And here on earth come emulating flies,

That though they never equal stars in size,

(And they were never really stars at heart)

Achieve at times a very star-like start.

Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.”

Robert Frost, The Poetry of Robert Frost

 

Warm skies, the stars are listening.

Country night sings her song.

Fireflies light the distance.

Making me want to sing along.

– Ruthie Foster

A BEETLE BY ANY OTHER NAME

We call them fire flies or lightning bugs. We call their larvae glow worms.

Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer;

Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer

But they are not flies. They are not bugs. And they are not worms.

They are beetles. And they are bioluminescent throughout every cycle of their lives. Even their eggs glow.

They are the world’s most efficient light producers. They produce cold light, too, which is lucky for them. If their flickering produced as much heat as it does light, they would likely be burned to a crisp.

Their light is their language; it is how they talk to others of their species.

So many fascinating scientific facts to be learned if you stay outside to watch the fireflies.

“Magic is seeing wonder in nature’s every little thing, seeing how wonderful the fireflies are and how magical are the dragonflies.”

― Ama H. Vanniarachchy

What’s more, we’re having fun doing it.

I wish I was a glow worm,

A glow worm’s never glum.

“cos how can you be grumpy

When the sun shines out your bum.

– author unknown

Magic and memories. Fascinating facts and fun. All in the great outdoors.

The recipe for a perfect summer.

-30-

What I Heard at the Fathering Conference

People who work in parent-child programming are accustomed to attending conferences where women outnumber men by a significant margin.

It is a novel – and enlightening– experience to attend a conference where there are as many male participants as there are female, and where the majority of the presenters are male.

The national Fathering Conference in Winnipeg March 1 and 2 was just such an event.

Sponsored by Dad Central Canada, the one and a half day event was entitled “Side by Side: Strategies for Working with Vulnerable Fathers”.

Attending any conference always involves choices – ‘which breakout sessions do I attend?’ – and one person’s notes may not look anything like another’s as a result. When I reviewed my notes after the conference, I found these nuggets.

Father involvement:

  • Is greater in the upper and middle classes
  • Affects child development
  • Is affected by vulnerability and marginalization

Words I Will Not Forget

“I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

What makes a father vulnerable:

  • Mental illness
  • Incarceration
  • Military career
  • Newcomer status
  • Domestic violence
  • Aboriginal background
  • Youth
  • Non-residential
  • Racialized
  • Special needs

(I think I would add socio-economic status to the list. Poverty equals vulnerability in many cases and this supports the earlier statement that father involvement is greater in the upper and middle classes.)

Five strength-based assumptions:

  • Fathers desire to have regular interaction with their kids.
  • Fathers have an innate ability to nurture and care for their children
  • Fathers focus on success in all areas of their children’s lives
  • Fathers have important and unique gifts to bring to families
  • When we strengthen fathers, we strengthen kids.

Words I Will Not Forget

Adolescence is a stage, not an age.

What do dads want in a dad’s group? (as selected by dads in Ontario’s Niagara region).

  • Peer to peer
  • Evening
  • Facilitator with lived experience
  • Accessible location
  • Topics of interest
  • Food
  • child care
  • “not like school”
  • Group of dads

Words I Will Not Forget

Every time you say the words “at risk”, it is potentially prejudicial.

For further information and resources you can go to www.dadcentral.ca