Breathing and reading and beginning, oh my

In yoga class, we spend a lot of time breathing. Exhale. Inhale. Fold forward. (Whoops! Ignore that last part. Don’t want to smack into our keyboards now, do we?)

Exhaling helps us to relax. Inhaling provides energy via a fresh intake of breath – which of course means a whopping gust of oxygen!

I needed the past couple weeks for some mental exhaling, but as the summer winds down, it’s time to inhale again and gear up for a new year. What’s that you say? Still a while to go before New Year’s?

Yes – if you’re thinking the New Year. No, if you’re still acclimated to a traditional school year. Working as a school librarian, I’m still in that mindset. Parents are, too.

Unless, of course, your child is too young for school. Enjoy it while it lasts. Then you’re on the academic calendar with the rest of us, my friend. Sentenced to drool after affordable airfares unavailable during school breaks and perk up at the sight of school supplies on sale.

So I’m checking out back-to-school sales during breaks from working on my new book and reading book reviews in hopes of beefing up my fall book order. I’m also working on a letter to parents about library policies and some helpful resources.

In that spirit, I’d like to guide you to a wonderful article from the New York Times about some new research on how reading to even very young children affects their brain development. (We’re not just raising readers, we’re raising smart readers!) A study shows that listening to adults or older children read aloud not only increases vocabulary, it activates the region of the brain processing visual association.

Dr. Klass’s article is informative and intriguing, but the real clincher is at the end where she describes the wonderful things – “…face-time, of skin-to-skin contact, of the hard-to-quantify but essential mix of security and comfort and ritual” – that make the act of reading a bedtime story so satisfying.

If you’d like to help support efforts to increase reading aloud to young children, Reach Out and Read does some fine work.

And speaking of reading, I have to give a shoutout to Rebecca Petruck, who so generously created #30mdare and its prompts for KidLitSummerSchool. I read her Steering Toward Normal during my off time, and it was fantastic! Can’t wait to introduce it to my students this year.

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