Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Board Books. For Big Kids?

Last week I packed up most of the board books in my 
six year old's room. Since then, I've been constantly 
repacking them as my eleven year old unpacks them. 
Trying to understand how his brain sees them makes mine ache.
Board books offer great pluses for all young readers, and young
readers with autism may especially benefit from the direct presentation of books like the Max & Ruby board books of Rosemary Wells.
Max's First Word is a classic of cute pictures and gentle humor.
So are Max's Ride, Max's Bath and the others.
But doesn't a time come when these must be put away?
Isn't almost twelve too old to spend time on these?
What does he need from them that each must be read more
than one hundred times?
Is it that he wants to read but doesn't want to spend more than two minutes on any book that isn't Mother Goose or song lyrics?
Left to his own devices, he flips through a chapter book as quickly
as a picture book. And no, he isn't memorizing the words. 
The page numbers, sometimes, but never the words.
I'm still unsure how to handle this.
What do you think? Does your child do this?
What do you do?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dick King-Smith

Dick King-Smith wrote great animal books for the elementary school set. Short chapters, good illustrators, often set in big clear type. At almost 12, my boy is expected to read about
alcoholic fathers, dead mothers, younger siblings with cancer, 
and concentration camps. Not only does he not understand these concepts, he vehemently protests reading chapter books at all. 
Of course, he has to read something other than Seuss. 
When I choose for him I usually pick a title like The Mouse Family Robinson which tries to bridge the picture book - chapter book gap.
King-Smith, with his usual straight-forward charm, 
describes a happy family of parents and mouselings troubled only 
by the house cat. When one of the youngsters wanders off and is nearly eaten, he decides they should move. So off they go to a cat-free house.
The pictures (by Bad Kitty's Nick Bruel) and motivations could not be clearer.
My boy tolerated the book, and it should engage any child interested in mice.
-Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Doreen Cronin Live

Click Clack Moo and my oldest boy are contemporaries.  
I remember hearing about the book (which won the Caldecott) and seeking it out with satisfactory results. 
He's enjoyed the rhythm and word play of the book and its successors (Dooby, Dooby, Moo is a particular favorite).
He may never outgrow picture books, as few authors for 
older kids remember to reiterate important words like "boing."
So when Parnassus Books hosted a signing for
Doreen Cronin I planned to go. Unfortunately,
my oldest had to undergo an assessment that pm,
so I grabbed his younger brother instead.
Doreen Cronin is charming. Funny and mildly
self-deprecating, she reads well and makes
her book tours to schools as well as to bookstores.
When I talked with her briefly about my boy with
autism and her books, she instantly referenced Click Clack Moo, a book which she says parents and teachers have mentioned as a favorite of kids with autism.
No doubts in my mind as to why. Not only
are the story and pictures well matched, but
the text includes alliteration and rhythm.
Monday, my boy started a microanalysis on the differences
between the book and the musical (see previous post).
About the book he says,
"It's the pages and words I like, all the notes" (the notes the animals wrote to Farmer Brown).
"The main thing is that the cows type, and the cows went 
on strike."
Cronin's new book is M.O.M. 
a very funny "Operator's Guideto mothers.
-Spectrum Mom

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Click Clack Moosical

If you're in Nashville, you have one more weekend to see
Click Clack Moo at Nashville Children's Theatre. If you're
not, but your town has a children's theatre, you might get lucky,
or you might suggest the show to them.
NCT does many shows based on classic children's books including
picture books. Click Clack offers a stronger storyline than most,
and the adaptor has done a nice job rounding out the personalities
of Cows, Duck and Hen and their befuddled overlord Farmer Brown.
Although the book started a series, the musical sticks to the original story.
There is an intermission, perhaps to give the Cows a break from
dragging around their udders. Let your kids know. One very
young theatre-goer watched the first half entranced, but didn't
understand coming back in after going out.
Yesterday Duck (Pete Vann) left his pond for a very special
story time at Parnassus Books with author Doreen Cronin.
More on that and my conversation with the gifted
Ms. Cronin next Wednesday.
Thanks NCT and all the actors for this joyous show.
NCT strives to be accessible to all children and offered
a special show of Belle et Bete for kids with autism. At
the usual shows you can always take kids to the comfort
room where you can still see the show but sound can be adjusted
and your kids can talk or ask questions if they need to do so.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak

Every Green Hills musical story time ends with
Chicken Soup with RiceSendak's ridiculous tribute to the lunchtime favorite.  
My son likes the song,
although he will not watch "Really Rosie,"
the cartoon made out of The Sign on Rosie's Door
that features it. 
He liked the other Nutshell Library books,
Pierre, Alligators All Around, and One Was Johnny
Alligators is alliterative, 
and SoupJohnny, and Pierre all rhyme. 
I adored them as a kid.
I've mentioned how Where the Wild Things Are 
helps kids understand transgression and forgiveness. 

So does Sendak's very last book, 
Bumble-Ardy, a birthday deprived pig, invites a bunch
of dirty swine and dear Aunt Adeline finds them in her home, swilling her brine. 
"'Okay Smarty you've had your party!
But never again!'
'I promise! I swear! I won't ever turn ten!'"
Then all is forgiveness for her Bumble Valentine.
If you think that Sendak's books contain powerful psychological undercurrents,
you could not be more right.
Outside Over There and In the Night Kitchen,
like Wild Things, illustrate the kid id.
Here are links to interviews with Sendak:
Interview with Sendak from Fresh Air

Interview with Sendak from Here and Now
And Carole King's musical setting of Pierre w/animation:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Special Story Times

I am delighted to announce that this Fall, Bellevue Library will join Green Hills Library in offering a monthly Saturday story time 
especially for those with special needs. Librarian Donna Reagan
plans her first monthly Saturday story time for September, 2012.
Donna Reagan has an especial affinity with special needs 
children because her son had autism and she volunteered in a 
preschool classroom which included children with special needs.
This will give Nashville parents two Saturdays a month when
they can take advantage of a very special time.
If you do not live in an area which offers such a story time, 
and you would like one, try asking a librarian. 
That's how the Green Hills story time started. 
It's been a great success.
The librarian there reports that in the year and a half she's
been offering it, she only remembers two occasions when
she needed to read louder because of a crying child. And
reading louder is no big deal. She's happy to do it.
She also appreciates the great role modeling of the parents 
who come. Unlike some of the parents at a usual story time, 
the parents model attentive behavior and sing along with the 
She's foregone the usual cds to let the children pick the
verses to "Old McDonald" and to make sure the song
lasts as long as the children's attention does, no longer
and no shorter.
Many thanks to all of Nashville's wonderful librarians, and
a very special thanks to those librarians doing something
new and wonderful for our kids with special needs.
-Spectrum Mom